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A Flawed Fragility

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Fragility was such an interesting concept. The things that one would conceive as the most fragile, such as glass and ice and porcelain, were ambiguously items and substances that could cause cutting and lethal injury once broken in any way.

Another thing those words had in common other than their shared danger and fragility was that each and every one could accurately describe Miranda Priestly. Once hurt or provoked, the editor in chief of Runway magazine could wound fatally with a disturbing lack of force or effort on her part. Anyone who dared touch her in any way inevitably came away bloodied, feeling as though they had been cleanly cut from stem to stern.

The whole thing was rather funny, because no one who interacted with Miranda Priestly would think of the word fragile to describe her unless they were speaking unequivocally about her temper.

But she was. Miranda Priestly was more infinitely soft and fragile than any would ever know, Andy thought to herself. Fragile, frigid, flawless…

Removing her glasses and setting them down on the table, Miranda Priestly stretched tiredly as she leaned back in her chair after putting the final touches and last of her notes on The Book. It hadn’t been the most horrendous issue she’d ever pre-edited, but it certainly wasn’t the best and it had still taken her until quarter past twelve to finish. Sighing, she rolled her neck on her shoulders, grimacing at the cracks and pops she heard that to her, sounded like the ticking clock of old age as it set into her forty-seven year old bones.

Before she had time to switch the lamp off beside the arm chair she’d been sitting in, the doorbell rang. Peering through the small glass hole she saw that it was Stephen, the latest addition to her unfortunately growing collection of ex-husbands. But with Stephen, the only unfortunate thing about him being an ex-husband was that the title meant that at some point she had been foolish enough to make him one in the first place.

With a sigh she opened the door and fixed him with her signature raised eyebrow, pursing her lips as she took in his slightly bedraggled appearance, attributing it to the rain that had recently started to come down in bullets from the pitch black sky.

“Yes, Stephen? What is it that you want?”

“I just want to talk, Mir,” he stepped inside out of the rain without invitation and held out his hands beseechingly.

“It’s past midnight and I might remind you that you lost your rights to living here when you took that tawdry blonde nymphet into your bed.”

“God, Mir, what have I told you? It didn’t mean anything! Dammit, I’m the one who agreed to try and make things work after I said I wanted a divorce while you were in Paris. I did that for you. And now I make one mistake and you throw me out without a dime or a second chance?”

“If I gave you a dime or a dollar, Stephen, it would no doubt be slipped into the bedazzled polyester g-string of another hooker…Stephen, just get out. The girls are here tonight and you’ll wake them with your insane ramblings – which I’m sure I don’t want to hear any more of.”

“You fucking bitch,” he spat as he advanced towards her, his 6 foot frame towering over her petite one, and Miranda suddenly noticed the strong smell of gin coming from her former husband, and the way he was swaying slightly on his feet as he gazed at her coldly through drink reddened eyes.

“If you weren’t so goddamn frigid, I wouldn’t have to look elsewhere for entertainment. The papers have got you exactly right, and I’m sure they’d like to know that for all your fucking superiority and style, you can’t even warm up enough to satisfy the current man in your bed. It’s ironic isn’t it Mir? A frigid bitch often means a hotter screw. Are you even capable of that?”

“Get out!” Miranda hissed, her own eyes narrowed into slits now, partly from anger and partly from fear as Stephen staggered even closer towards her and grabbed her wrists before she even had a chance to move. He shoved her roughly against the wall and pressed his mouth into hers, scraping her lips with his teeth before roughly biting her lower lip until he drew blood.

“You’re nothing but a two-bit whore in nice clothes. So now I think you’re gonna show me  just how good a whore you can be. After all, isn’t that how you became so high and mighty? Screwing everyone and everything until you got your way?”

He kicked her feet out from under her so that she fell to the floor without the use of her wrists to break her fall as Stephen still held them roughly in his own.

Wrenching herself out of his grasp, she tried to crawl over towards the bathroom, hoping she could make it there in time to lock the door.

“Oh no you don’t Priestly. You lock yourself in there, what’s going to happen to the precious little bastards you spawned from your first marriage?”

Trembling from head to foot, Miranda let her hand fall from the brass knob, keenly feeling the wrist she knew he had sprained when he pinned her arms behind her head.

“That’s right,” Stephen continued, in a horribly snide tone. “You treat the world as if it’s yours to screw. Shall I do that to you now, Miranda? Shall I remind you that no matter how many husbands you go through or how powerful you are, that you’re still my whore?”

He yanked her roughly to her feet once more, ignoring her cry of pain even as she bit her lip to muffle it, not wanting Caroline and Cassidy to hear the commotion from upstairs and come down.

“No, no, no, you’ll scream for me Miranda - just as you never screamed in our marriage bed.” He slapped her across the face, the fat gold ring on his left hand that now screamed of the mockery of their marriage tearing at her cheek, leaving a series of bloody gashes in its wake as he slapped her again.

Frustrated now that she refused to scream or beg him to stop, he threw her down again, smirking in satisfaction as he heard a dull crack as her body smacked against the marble and she cried out with the impact.

She tried to raise herself again, this time managing to push herself up from the floor until she was on all fours. Eyes blurred from tears and pain, she never saw the Gucci-tasseled loafer swing backwards before it connected with her ribs as he kicked her. Once in the chest and once at the side of her face.

The final lash of his foot caused her neck to snap back violently and her head smacked against the cold marble floor, knocking her unconscious.

Stephen stood still for a moment, breathing heavily as he looked down at the unconscious woman. With the horror of sobriety creeping back at the edges of his mind, he panicked, grabbing a crystal vase and her wallet out of her purse before he ran from the house.

His current girlfriend would give him an alibi, as would his business partner unless he wanted the details of some shady dealings passed over to the IRS.

Whatever Miranda said when she woke up, he’d say that it was a concussion or something. Yeah…that’s what he’d do.

“You think he’s gone?” Caroline whispered, huddled against her sister as they sat behind the locked double doors to their room, listening.

“Yeah, I think so,” Cassidy replied. She looked nervously at her sister, “Car, d’you think we should’ve called 911 or something?”

“I don’t know,” her twin replied, identical blue eyes staring back at her with the same worry. “I mean, we didn’t hear WHAT they were saying, only that they were shouting. You don’t think he’d hurt her do you?”

“Who can we call?”

“I-I don’t know. We’ve only had the new nanny for a week and Gina’s on holiday,” Cassidy thought out loud, referencing the housekeeper and nanny as the other two people who they were around on a regular basis.

“Andy!” Cassidy’s eyes lit up as she reached for her backpack where her cell phone was.

“But she doesn’t even work for mom anymore, remember? The Paris Week fiasco 5 months ago?”

“I still think she cared the most about mom, and the other way around too. Don’t you remember how angry she was after she left? She went through 5 assistants in TWO WEEKS! Even for her that’s a record.”

But the phone was already dialed.

Chapter Text

Andy groaned as she flailed around for her phone on the nightstand, her face still buried in her pillow. “She was a lowly journalist now for fucks sake. Who the hell would be calling her at this time of night? It was nearly two in the morning.”

“Three, nine, seven…who?” She looked through bleary eyes at the number coming up on caller-id and immediately all traces of sleep were gone. Miranda’s twins? Why in the hell would they be calling her?

She quickly pressed talk and held the phone to her ear. “Caroline? Cassidy?” she asked cautiously, waiting for the snide childish voices that had tormented her in the past and that she had learned to dread months ago.

But instead two very small, very scared voices came over the line. “Andy? Andy is that you?”

“Girls, what’s wrong? Why are you calling me?” Andy flipped over to lie on her back, an arm over her eyes to shield them from the light of the bedside lamp she’d turned on in her flailing attempts to grab her phone a few moments earlier.

The concerned, caring tone was all it took for the two eleven year olds to fall apart completely.

“Andy it’s…it’s mom. We heard yelling downstairs and then there were crashes and the door slammed. I think he’s gone now but I don’t know for sure. We can’t hear anything now!” the voice Andy took to be Cassidy’s grew higher pitched and more hysterical.

“Shh, slow down, slow down. WHO was yelling? Who’s there?”

“Stephen…”

The girls heard Andy’s swift intake of breath over the phone and smiled at each other, forgetting their panic for a moment. They knew she hadn’t liked the man any more than they had.

Andy closed her eyes for a moment, wanting so badly to rush over to Miranda’s townhouse to make sure everything was okay – but at the same time hesitant to interfere in her former boss’ personal life if what the girls were describing really only was a simple fight. Miranda would NOT take kindly to being interrupted during a lover’s quarrel. Especially if said interruptee was a former second assistant who had left her in the middle of fashion week in Paris.

Even more so was the fact that it had been 5 months since that incident and her consequent change of jobs and she was STILL irrationally in love with the woman she had left so abruptly. That had been the reason behind her leaving Runway more than anything else.  Whatever she had had with Nate was long over, and there had never been anything with Christian. What there had been was the heartbreaking prospect of forever lingering in the shadow of the woman she loved. Always on the outside, and as it seemed, always failing her in some way or the other.

“Okay, okay, I’ll be there in 15 or less, okay girls? I want you to stay in your rooms until I get there unless you hear from your mom, alright? But if you hear him come back or he tries to get in your room you call 911 immediately.”

“Kay Andy, hurry please!”

The soft sound of Caroline’s sobbing in the background, spurred Andy into action before she had ended the call. And by the time she’d hung up, Andy was already pulling a sweatshirt over her tank top and seconds after was calling a cab as she locked the door to her apartment.

Unbeknownst to Miranda, Andy had had a copy of the townhouse key made. It wasn’t difficult, Miranda was so feared that Andy doubted any other assistant would have ever had the nerve to do so, no matter how reverently they worshipped at the altar of Miranda.

It was all she had of her former editor now, and she clung to it like a lucky talisman. However she didn’t end up needing the key after all, the door to Miranda’s townhouse had been left slightly ajar.

Using two fingers at the base of the doorknob so as not to disturb any fingerprints, Andy pushed the door open slowly with one hand, ready to face Miranda’s wrath if the girls had been mistaken and she was about to walk in on a lover’s quarrel or something.

“Miranda?” Andy called softly into the dimly lit foyer, assuming that if nothing was wrong Miranda would still be awake given the soft yellow light that had shone through the windows as she’d approached the house.

Walking through the front hallway, past the many flowered tables and closets that had proved so troublesome the first time she ever delivered The Book, she realized this might be the second time she walked in on a private argument between Miranda and her soon to be ex.

Her breath caught in her throat and her footsteps quickened across the tile as she saw a glimpse of snowy white hair against the deep auburn of the hardwood at the entrance to her study.

“Miranda!” the editor in chief of Runway lay in a crumpled heap at the end of the hallway, her leg twisted awkwardly underneath her and her face deathly pale but for the angry bruising that was beginning to swell across her purpling cheek underneath a nasty gash.

Andrea dropped to her knees beside the prostrate woman and she gently felt for a pulse, wincing in sympathy as she felt the painfully swollen joint of the woman’s wrist.

Upon hearing her name, Miranda’s eyes fluttered open slightly and she whimpered, flinching away from the contact before giving a low moan, presumably at the pain that sharp movement had caused.

Her eyes flew open, glassy and unfocused, but they closed again in what looked strangely like relief as they met Andrea’s own warm, brown eyed gaze.

“Andrea,” the word was breathed on a sigh before the older woman slipped back into unconsciousness, “My Andrea…”Andrea’s heart surged painfully as heard Miranda speak her name again on a sigh, a semblance of a smile playing across her mottled features.

“Shh, you’re alright, Miranda. I’m right here, I’ll take care of you,” she couldn’t help her self from whispering as she bent down and pressed her lips to a patch of unmarked skin on the battered woman’s forehead.

Rising from her knees, Andrea pulled a sinfully soft grey blanket from the arm of the couch and spread it over Miranda to keep her warm if she likely went into shock before dialing 911 as she took the stairs two at a time to go and check on the girls.

“Caroline, Cassidy?” Not familiar with the second floor of the townhouse, save for her one unfortunate encounter with the delivery of The Book, Andrea called out for the girls, not knowing which door was theirs. She knocked lightly on a set of double doors which were immediately thrown open as two identical redheaded whirlwinds threw themselves at her.

“Andy!”

“Andy!”

Dropping to her knees once more, Andrea folded them both into her arms in a tight embrace and pressed her lips to each auburn head in turn; grateful for the fact that the girls seemed to like and trust her now.

“Shh, it’s alright, it’s alright,” she soothed them in the same tone she had used downstairs on their mother. She pulled back slightly so that she could meet their eyes, “Your mom’s been hurt, but she’s going to be okay,” she soothed again, hoping with every part of her being that her words would prove to be true.

“The ambulance is going to be here any minute. Can you get dressed real quick and then show them in the front door?”

“Where’s mom, Andy?”

“She’s downstairs, I think she hit her head so I didn’t want to move her myself in case anything was wrong with her neck or back.”

The distant wail of a siren could now be heard, and andy pushed the two girls gently towards their room to get ready while she herself dashed into Miranda’s suite of rooms to throw some ‘stuff’, she thought to herself wryly, into an overnight bag. No matter how incapacitated, Miranda Priestly would not put up with the standard issue hospital gowns once she regained consciousness. Andy wouldn’t put it past her to wake from a coma if she sensed one near her person.

She didn’t want the girls to see their mother like this so she sent them to the front door once they’d packed to wait for the paramedics and let them in.

Andy knelt down once more next to the woman she had secretly loved for almost a year now, stroking her hair away from her face.

“Don’t leave,” Miranda breathed as she went in and out of consciousness. “Don’t leave me again, Andrea…”

“I’m not going anywhere, Miranda. I’m not leaving you, I promise.”

“My girls…”

“Are fine, they’re showing the paramedics in.”

“Andrea,” Miranda’s voice hardened slightly but Andrea didn’t cower as she might have 6 months ago.

“I’m not risking your health, Miranda. Don’t ask that of me…” she smiled sadly to herself. “I would do almost anything for you, but please…don’t ask me to risk your life. You can blacklist me across North America if you want, there’s nothing I can do to stop you from doing that – I. Don’t. Care,” she enunciated firmly, trying to keep the threatening tears at bay.

She didn’t have time to analyze how or why she was pouring her heart out to a woman who presumably hated her, but new voices at the front door told her the paramedics had arrived.

Unfortunately, the girls had taken them to where Andy had said Miranda was, and in doing so, saw the still, lifeless looking form of their mother.

“Mommy!” The girls rushed forward when they saw the prone, broken figure.

Andy cursed herself inwardly for not thinking that the girls would try and get back here to see Miranda, but once more Miranda’s soft voice broke through her self rebuking reverie.

“It’s alright Bobbsey’s…Mommy will be fine, darlings. Andrea’s taking very good care of me.”

The paramedic’s were now checking Miranda’s pulse, and carefully feeling her joints for evidence of sprains and breaks before they moved her to the stretcher. It was a sign of just how badly she was hurting that Miranda allowed the strange men to touch her and press at her waist to feel for fractured vertebra.

A blinding flash of possessive anger coursed through Andrea’s veins as they touched her Miranda, but she shook her head to clear her mind of the preposterous suggestion it had just conjured. She had no claim on Miranda and never would except for in her fantasies. She would do well to remember that once Miranda regained enough consciousness to send her away.

“Moving her in 3,” Andrea vaguely registered the voices of the paramedics in the background as they prepared to lift Miranda onto the stretcher once they’d decided there were no spinal injuries.

As the lifted her, Andrea wanted to cry out with Miranda as she saw the woman’s already ashen face pale further as she tried to silently endure the agony of being moved.

Knowing exactly who their patient was, the paramedics didn’t say a word as 3 extra people came on board the ambulance. Miranda was still going in and out of consciousness and the girls’ tear-streaked faces were sombre and scared as they rode in silence. Andy longed to join them with tears of her own, but she knew she couldn’t break down just yet.

Once they had arrived at the emergency doors, Andy had to try even harder to choke back her tears as she had to let go of Miranda’s hand and they wheeled her away.

Still holding the girls tightly as they clung to her sides, Andrea turned to look at one of the nurses who had met them at the doors.

“I want updates every half hour,” Andrea barked out in her best Miranda impression, a skill she hadn’t yet lost from her time at Runway. But her harsh tone couldn’t quite disguise the watery quaver in her voice, and it was that quaver more than anything else that caused the nurse to nod understandingly and promise to do so.

Despite the fact that it was just before two in the morning, the hospital administrator showed up twenty minutes later, bleary eyes but fully dressed and aware of the situation. He quickly offered the trio the use of his private office instead of the waiting room, and once he had closed the door behind them, Andrea went at him with her barrage of questions.

“Please, Please Dr. Avery, just tell me what’s wrong with Miranda. How badly is she hurt?” she strained to keep her voice at a whisper instead of the shout she would have preferred.

“I presume you’re a friend and not an employee of Elias-Clarke, young lady? Any information I give out on Miranda Priestly is strictly confidential.”

“No, I’m not an employee anymore. The girls called me at home so I came over.”

The girls in question had immediately conked out on the leather couch in the corner of the hospital administrators office, and were practically indistinguishable in a tangle of gangly arms and legs and red hair.

The doctor nodded thoughtfully, “Alright. She has a very slight concussion, severe bruising and hematoma. Her right wrist is sprained, left just bruised. Possible fracture of 2 ribs on her right side and multiple lacerations on her face, legs and torso.”

Andy shuddered, a tear leaking from her tightly shut eyes as she tried to block out the image of Miranda being beaten and thrown to the floor. She could only image the editor’s slender frame being tossed aside like a rag doll by a drunk Stephen, his large hands bruising her dainty wrists.

“Will you be staying with her while she’s in hospital? If you are I’ll need to add your name to the list for security to keep as a record.”

“Yes,” Andy made a split second decision, not caring if she ended up camping out on the waiting room chairs for the next 48 hours. “I’m not leaving her again,” she added to herself softly as she walked back over to the couch and lowered herself to the floor beside the girls.

Dr. Avery had made a decision as well, and he followed her to where she sat.

“We don’t know yet if the fetus…the baby made it.” There was nothing on file to indicate we shouldn’t run x-rays once she was admitted.”

“Baby?”

The doctor eyed her carefully again, “You understand I will not be taking the fall if this information is leaked by anyone outside of my staff Miss…”

“Sachs, Andy Sachs.”

“It’s likely Miranda herself wasn’t aware of the pregnancy yet. At six weeks, the heartbeat isn’t often detectable yet anyway…but a transvaginal ultrasound proved that she is, indeed, six weeks along.”

“Pregnant, Miranda’s pregnant…” Andy murmured to herself, the added information pulsing in her already overloaded mind. “That sonofafuckingbitch!”

At her raised voice, the girls stirred and Andy quickly lowered it again.

“But you said there WAS a heartbeat?”

“Yes, absolutely, it’s very early stages though. She also received a blow to the stomach and abdominal area that might cause problems later on with the swelling. From the imprint pattern, it appears she was kicked while on her hands and knees, multiple times.”

This time Andy wasn’t able to hold back a choked sob at the images the doctor’s description induced.

“We have a monitor on her right now however that will alert us to any uterine contractions that might lead to miscarriage. It’s the best way to keep an eye on the pregnancy without resorting to more invasive ultrasounds like the one she had earlier.”

The man sighed and rubbed a tired hand over his eyes. “Even without the assault, Miranda would already be classified as a high-risk pregnancy because of her age and medical history. She had a hard time with the girls and the birth was hard on her, even ten years ago when she was considered an older mother.”

Seeing the young woman’s stricken expression, Dr. Avery squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. Andy supposed the gesture was meant to be comforting, but she was so beyond needing simple comfort that she barely registered the man’s voice assuring her that they were doing everything they could, both for Miranda and to minimize the press, until he left the room and was replaced by the girls’ nanny.

Hugging the two girls fiercely to her, Andy promised them she would text the moment she knew anything, and Anna, that was the new nanny’s name, said she would bring the girls back after school to see their mother before they left to spend the weekend with their father as planned.

She didn’t however tell them about the baby, that was Miranda’s news to share, if it turned out there was anything left to share after Stephen’s butchery of the woman he had promised to love and cherish.

“I’m so proud of you girls,” Andy whispered as she hugged them goodbye, reassuring them once again that she would let them know what was happening as soon as she was able. “And I know your mom will be too. No matter what, you did good. Now shoo,” her voice cracked as she pushed them gently towards the door with a trembling smile, managing to lift a hand in farewell before she sank down on the vacated couch and let the horror of the last few hours sink in, the emotions she hadn’t had time to deal with earlier coursing through her veins with the ebb of adrenaline, burying her head in her hands as she sobbed, trying to cope with the myriad of emotions and thoughts she’d had to push aside in the heat of the moment until she knew the girls and Miranda were safe.

 

Chapter Text

Andrea was pulled abruptly from her thoughts as the phone in her pants pocket vibrated, rattling against the wooden sides of the less than comfortable chair she had pulled up to Miranda’s bedside once she had gotten the all-clear to enter.

Cassidy and Caroline, she hadn’t yet had the chance to further update them on their mother so the text came as no surprise, however a second text came in moments after the first that caused her to snort with laughter. She clapped a hand to her mouth so silence her slightly hysterical giggle but to no avail as Miranda’s eyes were fluttering open in response to the noise.

‘4GOT 2 ASK U 2 TELL THE DR THAT MOM HAS THE FLU - SHE THREW UP LAST 2 DAYS. XOXO C+C' Andy slipped her phone back into her pocket and picked up Miranda's hand as she stirred, holding it close to her heart and warming it with her own hands, resting her cheek on the fist their hands made. Slowly, Miranda took in the IV's and monitors all around her and bright blue eyes filled with fear as another whimper escaped tightly clenched lips. 

"Shh, you're alright Miranda, you're okay. I'm here, you're safe now." After another long moment, Miranda was able to speak, but to her horror as she attempted her usual deadly low tones, she found her voice was alternately squeaky and hoarse. 

"I know that, Andrea," she snapped, using the only other person in the room as an outlet for her fear fueled anger. "If I wasn't, there would already be newspapers heralding my return home...to hell," she qualified, seeing the confusion in the younger woman's eyes and then the hurt flashing across them. 

Andrea winced at Miranda's description of herself and then sighed, it seemed that the older woman's murmured endearments really were only the product of her concussion and not a sign of anything deeper. She was no longer 'her Andrea," and the realization had her blinking back selfish tears of her own. 

Noticing the younger woman's tears through her own, Miranda was about to ask her about it when a light knock at the door signalled the attending ER doctor's arrival. 

"Ah, Ms. Priestly, er...Miranda," the man corrected himself at the violent shake of Andy's head and the way she mouthed 'Miranda' at him silently while the woman in question glared at him from the semi-reclined hospital bed. He shot a grateful look at Andy before continuing. "Would you mind stepping out while I go over Miranda's chart with her?"

"Andrea stays," Miranda shook her head much to Andy's surprise given her earlier comments; wincing as pain shot through her skull at the sudden movement and Andy quickly moved from the chair to perching on the side of the bed so that Miranda could lean on her inconspicuously without having to lie down again. 

"You were brought in, presenting in a state of semi-consciousness..." the doctor went on to go over in more detail what Andrea had already been told by Dr. Avery until he came to news of the pregnancy. 

The doctor cleared his throat nervously before steeling himself for whatever reaction would accompany his next words. He found himself pathetically grateful for the younger woman's presence in the room and the obvious calming effect she had on his intimidating patient. Actually, if his chart hadn't informed him otherwise, he would have assumed the two women were an item. It seemed obvious to him as he watched the wordless communication and unwavering support between the two, especially in the way the younger woman placed her body protectively in front of his patient as if to shield her from any further harm. 

"The initial tests we performed upon admitting you to the hospital indicated an 8 week pregnancy, which we confirmed with an internal ultrasound," his neat spiel trailed off uncertainly as Miranda's face reddened in indignation and then paled alarmingly as she sagged against the woman beside her for a moment as she struggled to regain her composure before fixing the handsome blonde with as intimidating a death glare as she could muster given her weakened state. 

"It seems I cannot escape the appalling incompetence of others even in such an established setting as a top tier emergency room. I am not pregnant, I cannot be." Her voice wavered at this last sentence and she swallowed thickly before continuing. "After my girls were born, the doctors all but wrote it out for me that it was unlikely I would ever be able to conceive again." Miranda closed her eyes for a moment and squeezed Andrea's hand more tightly, longing to feel the young woman's embrace but too proud to ask for or initiate the contact. 

"Well apparently, you beat the odds. I can assure you, Ms...Miranda, that you are without a doubt, expecting. You'll need to follow up with your own OB of course, but..."

"Is that all?" Miranda's voice cut cleanly through the doctor's speech and he looked discomfited at the reaction. 

"Erm, yes, the uh - the police have been notified and will be here in the morning to collect your statement and t-take pictures."

"Go bore someone else with your false sympathies and mindless babbling then,

Normally, Andrea would have said something to soften Miranda's words, but the trembling frame pressed against hers and the persistent tones of the monitors were more than enough of an explanation for Miranda's behaviour. Considering what she'd just been through, if it wasn't apparent that the scared, battered woman was putting up a defensive front then the doctor didn't deserve to treat victims of abuse. 

Her breath caught as her mind reran her last impossible thought, only to realize that the impossible was true. She'd always known Miranda Priestly wasn't invincible, but to think of her as a victim would have been inconceivable if the evidence wasn't pressed against her at this moment, terrified and shivering. She looked back at Miranda only for her heart to thump painfully once more as she took in the quivering lower lip and the barely concealed tears and the working of her jaw as Miranda tried desperately not to cry in front of the stranger who'd just ruined her denial that her world was falling apart. 

Andy dismissed the doctor with a smile, with a thinly concealed threat that if a single word was leaked to the press, a blanket restriction of medical licenses could be put into effect. The man nodded once, jerkily, nearly tripping over himself in his haste to make his own threats to the staff on this floor. 

"We would like to keep you under observation for the next 24 hours because of the concussion and the abdominal trauma you sustained. All being well, we can release you tomorrow morning. A nurse will be in every two hours or so to wake you up, standard procedure for any concussion patient..."

"No," Miranda couldn't quite stifle the sob at the back of her throat as she had to face the prospect of more unfamiliar people touching her.

"But,"

"I said NO!" Miranda's face whitened and she pressed a hand to her aching ribs as she tried to catch her breath. 

Andrea jumped in quickly, "The nurses can see her monitors from the computer at the desk, if you can reduce the frequency of nurses coming to 6 hours, I was planning on staying anyway, so I can wake her every couple of hours. Dr. Avery already told me what to look for with concussions, trouble breathing, a sudden increase in dizziness or nausea, blurred vision and dryness of mouth. Does that sound acceptable Miranda?" Andy turned her attention to the woman beside her and Miranda nodded vaguely, her eyes still closed as she continued to fight against the rising panic inside her. 

The doctor fled, closing the door behind him and Miranda slumped over completely, shoulders shuddering with the violent sobs she'd been waiting to release. And now, in the warm comfort of Andrea's arms, she felt safe enough to let go. Knowing words weren't wanted or needed at that moment, Andy simply rested her cheek gently on the mussed white head as Miranda sobbed in paroxysms of grief, the shock sinking in as she took in what had taken place in the last few hours and what the consequences of those hours would be. 

Concerned that the older woman might hyperventilate and pass out again, Andrea rubbed gentle circles on her back and adjusted the bed so that Miranda was able to lie down and Andy was able to keep her in her arms.

“H-he s-said I was pregnant, Andrea,”

“I know, I know,” Andy continued to try and soothe the distraught woman in her arms.

“I’m having Stephen’s baby and he’s gone,” she sobbed in utter desolation. “I’m over forty fucking five years old. I can’t do this again, not alone, not on my own. I don’t want him back but I don’t want to do this alone… And this baby…he or she deserves to be born to two parents who want her and love her.”

It was infinitely more terrifying for Andrea to see Miranda like this than it had ever been to witness her office tirades and risk her fury during her time at Runway. Daily demands of the impossible were the norm, and so the dictatorial reign gave a sense of constancy, if nothing else.

But Andy couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to hold Miranda in her arms and offer what little comfort she could; knowing that when this was all over, Miranda would in all likelihood spurn her embrace once more and armour herself with the Ice Queen persona that served as her shield on a daily basis in the professional world.

“Hey Nige,” Andrea stood in the far corner of the spacious hospital room to make the round of necessary calls. She knew she ran the risk of waking Miranda, who has finally fallen into a fitful slumber, but that risk was overwhelmed by her desire not to leave the older woman’s side or have her out of her sight.

“Six! What’s up? I’m just on my way into the office,” the older man’s harried but cheerful voice came through the phone, tugging the corner of Andy’s lips into a reluctant smile. “You know it’s been nearly six months since you left and my heart STILL skips a beat when I see your name on caller id. I keep thinking you’re calling me to tell me Miranda’s pushed up a run-through or is on her way to the office three hours ahead of schedule.” He laughed easily.

“Nigel, I need you to come to New York Presbyterian as soon as you’ve got things running smoothly at the office.”

“Oh my God, what happened? I mean you’re talking, that’s got to be good. Do you need me now?…I’ll find some way to sneak out -”

“No, Nigel, Nigel it’s Miranda,” Andy’s voice broke slightly but she forced herself to continue.

“Stephen came home last night and, he…”

“Say no more, Six, I’m on my way. Is she all right? How bad is it? Why are you with her? Never mind, I’ll be there soon. Don’t leave her, Andy…” Nigel’s last command echoed accusingly in her ears even after she’d hung up, although the man couldn’t have known how his words had hurt her.

“You called Nigel?” Miranda’s voice was still hoarse from her earlier tears, and alarmingly close, Andy realized as she turned around to see Miranda rise unsteadily from the bed and painstakingly make her way towards the sitting area near the window where Andy was currently occupying the couch.

“He’s the only person I trust to take care of you…”

Miranda’s face darkened. “Oh, you’re leaving…” The broken, whispered ‘of course’ that followed silently spurred Andy to voice what she was feeling in much harsher tones than she had originally intended, wanting Miranda to listen and understand what she was trying to say.

“Not unless you bar me from this hospital and take out a restraining order, which I am well aware you are more than capable of doing so despite injury and exhaustion.”

“Oh,” Miranda’s voice was small and quiet as she replied, seemingly shocked and chastened by Andy’s words and her impassioned delivery of them.

Miranda closed her eyes wearily, trying to process everything that had happened in the last 12 hours and becoming overwhelmed with it all; an entirely displeasing and new emotion she intended on crushing the moment she had her strength back.

The pain, that for the sake of the baby she would not allow to be numbed by medication, was making itself increasingly evident in the trembling heaviness and soreness of her limbs, and she leaned against the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beloved city that had become her salvation and her prison after she had moved here from London.

She had never before struggled so with words or the act of speaking her mind as she did now, with Andrea. Even with the looming threat of million dollar budgets, her decisive nature was not easily swayed or subdued.

She didn’t know how to tell the young woman that she needed her here, desperately. That realization truly had come the moment Andrea had walked away in Paris. Then, Miranda had told herself she didn’t need anyone in her life, could and would get along just fine, just her and the girls and that she was strong enough not to run after Andrea and make a fool of herself. But that decision had proved nearly fatal as it had pushed her back into Stephen’s arms.

And now, when she was finally willing to forgo pride, her legs and body failed her, and it seemed her lips would too.

Andy could see the unspoken need in Miranda’s eyes and sensed her struggle for words. Letting her heart rule her as it once did in the naiveté that had run her life before Runway, Andy slipped an arm around the slender waist, which Miranda’s hand held close to her.

“Sleep now, Miranda. I’m not leaving…”

“Why should I believe you?” The harsh words were out of Miranda’s mouth before she could stop them, and she cursed herself inwardly for being such a coward that she drove people away before they had the chance to hurt her.

“We can talk later, but now you need to rest. If not for your sake or mine, then for your children’s sake; the ones who right now are with their father worried sick for you, and for the one in your belly that I know you love already, even if you can’t admit that to yourself fully just yet.”

“I’m tired,” Miranda agreed as she stood with her head resting against the cool glass of the window, not moving her gaze from the busy Manhattan cityscape below. “I am so very tired, Andrea…Too tired for games or the plays for power I would normally not hesitate to use to get what I want. But this time, Andrea,” Miranda’s eyes now turned to her, and despite the dull, exhausted cast to the bright blue Andrea could see a sense of determination and decidedness in their depths.

“This time, the object of my desire is you,” the steady gaze faltered and dropped to study the floor as she spoke quietly.

“The gift of your presence while I’ve been…indisposed, has been nothing short of a blessing. And if it should end here, I would go on to take solace in the memory of seeing you again. But I…” the older woman faltered once more but held a hand up to stop Andy as she started towards her, knowing she needed to get this out now or she would never say it.

“I thought that there might be something else, something more I mean.”

Now Andy moved forward, blatantly disregarding the tension in her former boss’ shoulders as she pulled her into a warm embrace, which the editor sank gratefully into as she inhaled the honey and lily musked scent of her Andrea.

“You were right, Miranda,” Andy chuckled wryly as she tightened her hold slightly before relaxing so that she could pull back to look the woman in the eyes.

 “Of course you were right. There was, is, something more to how I feel for you; and there has been since before Paris. Nothing else could have had me running so scared. I understood, I didn’t like it, but ultimately I understood your actions regarding Nigel and Irv. It was the thought of inevitably disappointing you that was the cause for my leaving. I couldn’t keep loving you in silence as I did, knowing you didn’t feel the same way. Watching you cry over that bastard ripped my heart out. Your pain was and is my pain. And I knew that pain would destroy me, hence the awful night with Christian,” Andy missed Miranda’s scowl at the mention of the acclaimed writer.

“It scared me how deeply I had fallen, how far I had managed to fall in a short time and not even being in a relationship.”

Miranda sagged against Andrea, her knees and heart failing her at this heartfelt confession until she could no longer stand on her own.

“Shh, I’ve got you,” Andy steadied Miranda for the few steps backward until the back of her knees hit the armchair by the window and she sat down heavily, pulling Miranda onto her lap.

Truly tired, and grateful for the gentle contact, Miranda lay her head on the young woman’s shoulder and closed her eyes, as much out of exhaustion as trepidation over the words about to spill from her lips.

“Harry Potter…” Miranda felt the vibrations of the girl’s chuckle against her cheek. “That’s when I knew what I felt for you was more than simple attraction. You took everything I threw at you and presented it back to me, carefully organized and wrapped up in a shiny ‘rebound’ bow. Your strength and grace unsettled me, and left me unsettled ever since.”

Tired to the point of tears now, the ache in Miranda’s already bruised chest grew too great to ignore, and forgoing the last bit of pride she had clung to, she clung instead to Andrea, letting the tears claim her once more as she allowed the younger woman to put her to bed.

“If I’d known…If I had only known…I never would have let him hurt me. As it was I didn’t care. It had happened before, I told myself, why shouldn’t it happen now even though we’re separated. But I swear it, Andrea,” she looked at me then, hauntingly blue eyes staring brokenly into mine before her gaze and her hands fluttered gently over her belly. “If I’d known about the child inside of me, I would have fought him tooth and nail. Oh God, Andrea, if I lose this baby because of what I let him do to me – and what he did tonight was so much worse than anything he’d done before…” her voice trailed off again in a whispered sob and Andy got on her knees beside the bed soothing the older woman with nonsense sounds and words, lightly stroking the unbruised cheek as if to remind her that human contact could be kind and gentle. 

Chapter Text

The next time Miranda woke, it was to gentle kisses being pressed to her forehead and down her cheek to her mouth.

“Good morning, Miranda,” Andy’s soft voice brought her fully into wakefulness and she moaned slightly as she parted her lips to allow further access. But after a moment or two had passed, an entirely different moan crossed Miranda’s lips and she pushed Andrea away, throwing back the covers and swinging her legs over the side of the bed as she prepared to bolt for the washroom.

 

However, she hadn’t taken more than two steps when the pressure on her injured ankle became too much and her knees buckled in response to the pain that only served to heighten the unpleasant churning of her stomach.

Despite her initial shock at being pushed away so violently after Miranda had allowed her to deepen the kiss, Andy nevertheless caught Miranda around the waist as she fell.

“Miranda? What’s the matter?” Andy vaguely registered the panic in her own voice as she struggled to keep her arms around the older woman.

A quick tensing of the abdominal muscles underneath her hand and the sweaty, flushed pallor of Miranda’s skin clued Andy in as to what the problem was and she managed to get Miranda into the bathroom in time for the editor to lunge for the toilet and empty what little was in her stomach.

“That wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping my kiss would have on you,” Andy joked wryly as she helped to steady the ill woman over the toilet.

Tears leaked out of Miranda’s eyes as she continued to retch, her fingers sweatily palming the porcelain bowl, too sick to even think of how unsanitary her current position probably was.

Once again, Andy felt the muscles beneath her fingertips convulse as Miranda began another bout of heaving. Keeping one arm around Miranda, Andy reached over with her other hand for one of the washcloths she could see neatly folded in an alcove beside the sink; and wetting one, she gently wiped Miranda’s face and mouth before throwing it in a bag marked ‘Laundry’ and getting a fresh one to press to the back of her neck.

Feeling the jerky contractions of Miranda’s upset stomach, Andy started to move her hand in small circles and Miranda whimpered appreciatively as the room stopped spinning with the comforting touch.

Barely anyone dared touch Miranda Priestly. Except of course, Stephen had dared. The thought of her third ex-husband was enough to have her clapping a hand over her mouth as the nausea threatened to overwhelm her once more. Offering Miranda a paper cup of mouthwash, Andy watched over Miranda protectively as she rinsed and spat before helping her back over to the bed, surprised but pleased as Miranda’s grip on her hand tightened as she tried to rise from where she sat, still nestled into the other woman on the bed.

Miranda just sniffed as she pulled Andy’s hand back over her belly, wordlessly prompting the younger woman to continue with the gentle massage. Andrea pressed a kiss to her forehead as Miranda nestled further into her, snuggling her head into the crook of Andrea’s shoulder before she closed her eyes and let out a soft, contented sigh.

Andrea’s hand felt so good against her uncomfortable belly, Miranda thought sleepily to herself as she once more indulged in the luxury of sleeping in the arms of the woman she was coming to realize she loved. It was a fact only several people in the world knew that Miranda Priestly was terrified of being sick. Sure, everyone at Runway had picked up on the fact that her moods were infinitely more dangerous and mercurial when she was ill, but they chalked that up to Miranda being angry that she couldn’t get as much done or annoyed that she wasn’t feeling well.

The thought never even crossed their mind that the Dragon Lady herself was truly angry out of fear. Never even mind the fact that no one seemed to care if she was ill except her girls. It was an irrational fear, she knew. But the moment she felt a bad cold coming on, her mood plummeted. This went doubly if there was nausea involved; because without fail, Miranda Priestly would cry whenever she threw up. She couldn’t help it, she was just so miserable, and the feeling of helplessness and not being in control of her body terrified her to the point of tears.

She had allowed those tears to fall today in front of Andrea when she had been disgracefully and embarrassingly ill; but the young woman hadn’t scorned her in disgust, or left her to deal with it alone. Instead Andrea had stayed by her side, comforting her and wiping her face with a cool cloth before helping her rinse the awful taste out of her mouth and laying down with her.

Never before had Miranda felt so cherished; that thought in itself was enough to cause her eyes to sting once more with unshed tears. After fighting it for so long, it felt GOOD to be taken care of and fussed over. 

In a few hours she was going to be released from the hospital, and the thought that after all that had happened in the last two days she would end up alone again was too painful to think about. So she didn’t; and like every other time Andrea had held her or touched her, Miranda was soothed into a peaceful sleep.

The next two hours were a blur as the attending physician and Dr. Avery checked Miranda over one last time before the police came and took pictures of Miranda’s injuries for the police report. And no matter how hard Andy railed, the detectives could not and would not file a charge against Stephen without hard evidence that he had been the one to assault her. His fingerprints on the door meant nothing. Nigel had arrived sometime after that and relieved Andy long enough for her to run back across town to pack a bag and grab her work stuff out of her apartment. Finally 11:00 am found Andy and Miranda on their way back to the townhouse.

Miranda had been silent for the entire car ride, save for a sharp intake of breath whenever the wheels went over a bump and jarred her bruised ribs; not having even bothered to react to the photographers waiting outside the hospital like vultures ready to dive in for the remains.

‘’’’After making sure the police and cleaning crew had cleared out, she went upstairs and found Miranda sitting on the edge of the bed, clad only in a matching La Perla bra and panty set. Her hair fell forwards and her shoulders were hunched as one hand traced the faint pink and silver lines over her flat belly. She looked…broken, and heartbreakingly human.

Andy shifted slightly and the floorboards creaked beneath her, belying her position at the doorway. Miranda stiffened at the noise as she realized someone was there before slumping over once more, famed white forelock limply hanging by her face, hiding the red rimmed eyes and swollen nose.

“Miranda,” Andrea spoke quietly as she approached the forlorn figure. “Miranda,” she repeated herself once more although the woman in front of her gave no sign that she had heard or seen her since that first creak of the floor.

Sighing softly to herself, Andy knelt directly in front of the older woman so that she was directly in her gaze, and her heart ached as she saw that the tear tracks drying on her face were also present on her belly; her head ducked in shame so that the tears that slipped relentlessly from her eyes crested and rolled down to the indent of her navel which she was so desolately contemplating.

“You should have waited for me to help you up the stairs,” Andy reached up to brush a tear away and Miranda grabbed her wrist in an almost painful vise with her good hand.

“Why are you doing this, Andrea?” Miranda whispered hoarsely. “Don’t you realize that I won’t be able to pick up the pieces again? God, I could barely do it the first time.”

“Miranda, what are you talking about? I’m doing this because I love you!” The words were out of Andy’s mouth before she could filter them. Ugh, she felt like kicking herself…what made her think Miranda was ready to hear those words? Especially after everything she’d been through with Stephen.

“It’s I who loves you, Andrea…and before you ask, the answer is no. No, my affections are not merely based on my gratitude for your actions. But don’t you see, you silly girl? This is why you HAVE to leave! Now while I have the strength to consider letting you go,” the older woman moaned. “I won’t bring you into the sordid misery of the life of the Snow Queen. What you think of as love may be only hero worship. But think, Andrea… I am more than 18 years your senior. I have two children and another on the way if it is to make it at all…I should have realized it sooner, why didn’t I realize sooner?”

Miranda rose painfully to her feet and limped across the room to the full length mirror, gazing disdainfully at her reflection. “How could I have been such an idiot? Thinking it was only the beginning of middle age spread. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could be anything else, never even mind a…a baby. Andrea you’re little more than a baby yourself, have you thought of that? The novelty of having melted the ‘Ice Queen’ will wear off, and like all others before you you’ll realize that you’re stuck with a frumpy, middle aged woman who is difficult to live with and even more difficult to love. I would be ending your life if I allowed myself to be so weak as to let you stay and attempt a relationship. I…”

Miranda realized that Andrea hadn’t followed her over to the mirror and she turned, looking for the younger woman. When her eyes finally did find Andrea, Miranda couldn’t quite bring herself to trust them.

Andrea was standing a few feet away, half naked as she tried to put on the pair of cream wool trousers Miranda had discarded.

“Andrea, what on earth are you doing?”

“These don’t fit, Miranda,” Andy let the fabric fall back down around her legs and she stepped out of the pants as she walked towards Miranda.

“Does that make me disgusting to you?”

“Of course not, Andrea, don’t be ridiculous! Haven’t you heard a word I’ve been saying?”

Andy turned Miranda back towards the mirror so that they were front to back once more. “Then why? Miranda…Why would you ever think that I would stop loving you just because your body will not always be perfect?” Andy unclasped Miranda’s bra and untangled it from the older woman’s grasp so that she could see her.

Running her hands down Miranda’s sides, Andy knelt behind her, raining kisses down her body while she slipped the silk panties off her thighs.

Standing up again, Andy gently turned Miranda’s face towards her reflection with her thumb and forefinger.

“What do you see, Miranda?”

“A frumpy older woman, who with no makeup or clothes has a fairly well taken care of but nonetheless sagging body that is riddled with stretch marks and lines...a body that has failed to please anyone who has come to it.”

“Nope,” Andy shook her head. “That’s not what I see. I see a stunningly beautiful woman, whose body has borne two beautiful, healthy children and carries the weight of the world on one slender, pale set of shoulders. Now I might not be the arbiter of what is beautiful to the rest of the world, but I know for sure what I do find to be beautiful, and that’s you.”

“I’m going to get very large, Andrea.”

“Mmm, maybe even a size 6, the horror!” Andrea slipped her arms around Miranda and pressed her lips to her neck once more. “Yes, you’re going to get bigger, Miranda. But there are a million girls who would KILL for that job.”

At this, Miranda turned to look into wistful, brown eyes whose owner led her over to the bed and turned back the covers, prompting her to get underneath them with her.

“Do you love me any less now knowing that I can’t have children?” Andy’s voice broke as she revealed her deepest secret.

“Andrea I…what?” Miranda’s voice broke slightly as she reached for the younger woman.

“Yeah, “ Andy nodded miserably, pulling her knees up to her chest along with the blankets. “And don’t you dare for ONE MINUTE even THINK of suggesting that’s why I want to be with you, when the girls called me, you didn’t even know about the baby.” Andy gestured angrily at Miranda’s belly.

“W-when?”

“Just before my last birthday, a month before I started working for you; routine pap smear ended any half-cocked romantic fantasies about kids or Nate or anything,” she scoffed, “especially Nate. I thought he was okay with it, we were both upset but it’s not like either of us had thought about kids in the immediate future anyway, but apparently he was more upset than I thought. He started bringing it up when we were fighting, about how I should be grateful he’d decided to stick around even though I was damaged goods.”

“Andrea, I never…”

“Knew? Why would you? Why should you have known, Miranda? You were my boss then, nothing more despite Nate’s accusations and my own daydreams. It was my problem to handle…and I thought I had, handled it I mean. Ugh!” Andy swiped a hand across her eyes and sniffed before running a hand through her hair and smiling wryly up at Miranda.

“See, I’m not all that perfect, either Miranda. And I don’t expect or want you to be, or want me to be. If puzzle pieces were perfect squares then it would be all too easy to break the picture apart. Call it cheesy, or corny or tacky…call it however you want it, but that’s how I think of us. Our imperfections, even the smallest of rough edges are what bind us to one another. That’s why we fit, and I know we do, Miranda, we fit.”

 Miranda hadn’t noticed the new wetness re-dampening her cheeks until Andy reached out to brush a tear away from her face. And Miranda sighed, knowing what she had to do; what she wouldn’t do for anyone else save for her girls or for Andy. She used humour to deflect the situation.

“Well,” Miranda sniffed, affecting her usual bored tones and haughty posture. “As if you could be any more insensitive, talking about ‘fit’ at a time like this.”

Andy’s mouth had dropped open in shock and indignation at the first part of Miranda’s speech, and she hadn’t quite recovered when Miranda grinned evilly at her after a moment.

“Close your mouth Andrea, it’s a decidedly unflattering position.”

“You? You! Oh my God, Miranda,” Andy spluttered before pouncing forward lightly so that Miranda was forced to lie back against the pillows with Andy on all fours above her, eyes sparking merrily.

“I, I do love you, you silly girl.”

Andy carefully manoeuvred herself off the bed so that she was once more perched on the side.

“Oh God, Miranda, I’m never going to get tired of hearing you say that.”

“I don’t make a habit of repeating myself…But perhaps, with time, I could be persuaded otherwise. And if you’ve finished keeping me up with all these needless insecurities, I think I should rest now.”

Andy growled slightly, even as she tenderly stroked back the signature white forelock from Miranda’s exhausted features and pressed a kiss to her forehead before slipping quietly from the room and turning out the lights.

“I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

Chapter Text

Miranda was finally asleep. Fifteen minutes after Andy had finally been able to calm the older woman down enough to get some rest the phone had rang and Miranda had been informed by the advisor of a soon-to-be unemployed doctor that Miranda was in fact having twins, something the attending physician had conveniently forgotten to mention in the face of Miranda's wrath back at the hospital. Miranda had fallen eerily silent as Andy berated the man on the other end of the phone for the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the doctors under his control, especially considering the hospital was considered one of, if not the best, hospitals in North America. 

Two...two babies. Not one baby to worry about, but two. Miranda hadn't broken down again into hysterical sobbing as she'd done before. It was altogether scarier to see the fierce woman with her head bowed and silent tears streaming down her face as she'd murmured to Andy in a dead, emotionless voice that she didn't expect her to stay now. That she wasn't prepared to burden the young woman with the responsibility of four children as she would be if her relationship with Miranda continued. Andy had only sighed and climbed back into bed with Miranda, cuddling the small, shivering frame into her chest and rocking her slowly, whispering words of love and encouragement, trying to show the editor just how much she wanted to be in her life, now and forever until sheer exhaustion had at last coaxed her into unconsciousness once more. 

Andrea was two floors down in the kitchen, pouring boiling water into two cups for tea when she heard the scream. Jerking suddenly at the noise, Andrea didn’t even notice the splash of scalding water across her hand as she all but dropped the kettle in her haste to get upstairs. She burst into Miranda’s room, her eyes scanning for anything out of the norm before catching sight of the thrashing figure tangled in the sheets from which horrible, choked sobs were coming.

 Crawling up onto the mattress, Andrea wrapped her arms around the still sleeping woman. “Shh, Miranda, Miranda, you’re okay. My love, you’re sleeping, it’s just a dream. You’re safe, I’ve got you, you’re safe.” Andy kept repeating the calming mantra even as Miranda’s eyes flew open, and she gasped, falling silent before succumbing to another set of shuddering sobs.

“I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!”

“Shh, what do you hate?”

“This fear, this weakness, being scared; how am I supposed to do anything?”

“You don’t need to do anything, sweetheart. Right now, all you need to do lean on me.”

“I can’t do it, Andrea. I can’t have this baby. I can’t.”

“Miranda, Miranda, love, what are you saying? You don’t want the baby?”

 “I want these babies more than anything. God help me, but I do!” Miranda sobbed, confusing Andrea even more. “I didn’t even think I wanted more children, I DIDN’T want more children. But now that I know these babies are here…”

Andrea breathed a sigh of relief, she would have supported Miranda’s decision either way, simply because she loved her – but knowing she wanted the baby lifted a weight off her shoulders she hadn’t even known she’d been carrying.

Being a writer by profession, Andy rarely felt as though she had run out of words or couldn’t find the right words to say. But as she sat on the edge of Miranda’s bed, her arms braced on the mattress on either side of the crying woman so that she was encircled in a kind of protective cage, Andy had the epiphany that in this case, words weren’t needed, weren’t necessary for the situation. So instead she bent her arms further and took Miranda’s mouth in a gentle kiss, working the tear dampened lips carefully until they parted to allow access to the moist velvet of her mouth.

It felt as though hours had passed by the time Andy pulled away, panting both with breathlessness from the prolonged contact and from the singing of the blood in her veins at the fact that Miranda had wholeheartedly returned the kiss after a moment. 

The words on Andy’s lips of ‘Let me love you,’ were overridden by a variation on the sentiment that she thought Miranda needed to hear, to understand. “Let yourself be loved, Miranda,” Andrea’s soft voice rasped over Miranda’s body like an extension of the kiss that had left her alternately rigid and pliant in the younger woman’s arms, needy with arousal and equal uncertainty.

The older woman pulled back reluctantly, a different emotion flickering over the desire darkened blue as they searched fervent, earnest brown. “I’m not always going to be this needy or affectionate, Andrea. The Dragon will rear its head in due time, it always does. It won’t mean that I don’t love you but it’s something none of my other partners were ever able to deal with and I don’t know how not to be that way, or even if I can.”

“None of your partners were former assistants now were they? Besides, I think the Dragon Lady has shown herself a couple times over the last 48 hours or so and I’m still here aren’t I?”

“For now…”

“For always, Miranda.”

“It’s just hard for me to believe it.”

“Time will tell,” Andrea kissed the much bitten bottom lip before bouncing lightly back off of the bed and holding out her hand.

“And speaking of time, the Terrible Two are about to arrive and we need to get you settled downstairs.”

“You realize, Andrea, that in a little less than seven months it will be the ‘Fearsome Four’?”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Anger, hot and fierce flowed through molten veins until her vision blurred red when Andrea saw the wince and hand pressed tightly to the still flat abdomen as Miranda edged carefully out of the king sized bed. There was no question about it, Stephen would pay for this. And if anything, ANYTHING threatened Miranda or the twins – the ones coming or the ones born… Andrea shook her head slightly to clear the murderous thoughts as she slipped a steady arm around the slender waist and let Miranda lean into her gently as they made their way down the curving staircase to the living room.

Andy had only just managed to clear the broken glass and spilled tea and get a fresh cup to Miranda when she heard the girl's voices at the front door and hurried into the hallway only to be bowled over by the same red-headed whirlwinds as from two nights ago. And remarking, as she received fierce hugs, just how sweet and affectionate the girls were when they weren't trying to make life hell for Miranda's assistants. She could only hope they still liked her when they found out how she 'liked' their mother. 

 
"Hey munchkins!"


“Andy!"

"We missed you!"

"How's mom?"

"Is she okay?"

Andy gathered the twins into a hug and nodded for the benefit of the tall, well-dressed man behind them who had been a part of her Miranda's life in such an important way before he smiled and left, knowing his ex-wife and daughters were in good hands. He was sure he'd hear the full story later, and rest assured he'd find out how that young lady fit into it all. "She's going to be fine, guys. Come on, you of all people should know she's tougher than you think." 

"Andrea? Why do I not see my babies in front of me?" Miranda's 'dragon' voice floated through the hall and Andy rolled her eyes. 

"Come on kiddos,"

"Gentle, gentle!" Andy cried out as the girls ran across the room and all but flung themselves in the direction of their mother, clinging to her as if she would disappear at any second.

"We were so worried, mom." Cassidy snuggled under one arm as Caroline took the other. 

"Yeah, we didn't want anything bad to happen to you. Are you mad at us for calling Andy?"

Miranda tightened her hold on the girls and kissed the red hair on either side of her. "Never, my darlings. I'm so grateful and so proud you called someone for help in an emergency. You did exactly the right thing."

Picking the small girl up on Miranda's right side, Andy let her lay across her own lap as she took a seat beside Miranda.

Miranda looked at the sweet faces of her babies who weren't really babies anymore. She could only hope they wouldn't hate her after she told them what she had to.

"Bobbsey's, there is something we need to talk to you about." Miranda started softly, seeking out and finding Andrea's hand as she clasped it tightly to give her strength. 

"Is Stephen going to jail?"

Miranda's eyes flashed sympathetically at the young girl just as Andrea's flashed in anger at the man who was the cause of all the troubles for this family. 

"No, Caro," Andy used the name she had heard Miranda and Cassidy use before. "There wasn't enough evidence to prove it was him, the DA's office - that's the lawyers for the police , are trying to find a way to get him though. I'm not going to let him get away with hurting your mom, I promise." She looked over at the other worried girl still curled tightly against Miranda's body who nodded before hugging her mother tightly around the waist and prompting a slight wince and repositioning on Miranda's part. 

Miranda looked up at the young woman who had turned out to be so strong through all of this, and silently begged her to continue. 

Andy nodded, understanding the look in Miranda's eyes and took a deep breath before starting. 

"So I know you guys can see your mom's pretty banged up so we're going to have to take extra care of her for a little while," this garnered a semi-glare from Miranda who normally detested being fussed over. "But she's going to need a little extra help over the next couple of months."

Almost in tandem, Caroline and Cassidy cocked their heads to the side in confusion, much in the same way their mother did when she was trying to think through something, Andy noticed, barely smothering a fond laugh. 

"I'm going to have a baby, my darlings, two babies." Miranda murmured, her eyes equally wary and apologetic. 

"A baby?"

"Twins?"

"Like us?"

"From Stephen?"

Andy quickly took over the situation, which looked at though it was escalating to a Defcon 3.

"Yup, you two are going to be big sisters. Isn't that cool?" Her raised eyebrow and threatening gaze silenced them as they saw Andy's head jerk suspiciously towards their mother who looked as though she were trying not to cry as she rested her hands on her stomach.

"Mom, it's okay. Don't cry! We're cool with it, really!"

"Yeah, we were just surprised, that's all. You have to admit mom, it's not something we were expecting."

"You're getting so grown up," Miranda held her arms out again, prompting the girls to return to her embrace from where they stood a couple feet away as they had jumped back when they'd heard the news.

"Not too grown up," Cassidy insisted. 

"You can't replace us!" Caroline joined in. "But it will be cool to boss someone else around for a change."

Andy ruffled her hair. "Alright, Munchkins, you want to give your mom a break and come help me with lunch?"

Both girls shot worried looks at each other and then back at their mother, who realized at once what the problem was. 

"I'll be fine, Bobbsey's. Go and make sure Andrea doesn't burn down the kitchen. Maria would have our heads if she returned Monday to find 'her' kingdom in ruins."

Knowing Miranda's stomach was still shaky, Andy put together a plate of finger foods; fruit and vegetables and and crackers for her to nibble on while the girls had requested peanut butter and honey - much to the chagrin of their mother and the pride of Andy. After making the girls' once in a while treat Andy loaded the dishwasher and was returning to the living room when the girls pulled her aside. 

"Andy can we ask you something?" 

"Shoot!"

"Is mom really okay?"

"She will be guys, the pregnancy's going to be pretty rough on your mom but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure she and the babies are healthy."

"But why? I mean, no offense Andy but it's weird. She's letting you touch her and do things for her. She NEVER lets anyone do that except us, not even dad or Nigel."

"That's something you need to ask your mom, Cass, but would it be okay if I was around a lot more?"

A dual enthusiastic "YES!" met her ears and she relaxed a little, knowing the girls might be open someday to learning about her and Miranda as more than friends.

"Wait," Caroline's brow was furrowed. "So does that mean you like, 'like' our mom?"

"Of course I do, Caroline,"

With a glance over at her twin, Cassidy knew instantly what Caroline was really asking and she shot a questioning look at her sister before seemingly reading what was in her mind and turning back to Andy with an understanding nod.

"She doesn't mean like that, I think she means do you LIKE our mom...like a girlfriend."

Andy was careful in her response, trying to hide the fact that interrogation by two ten year olds was nearly as intimidating as one with their mother. "What would you guys think of that if it WAS true?"

The girls surprised Andy by looking at each other for another long moment before throwing their arms around Andy's waist in a synchronized movement that nearly brought the tray in her arms onto the tile floor. 

At the sound of the second crash in the space of an hour, Miranda walked softly over to the arch above the kitchen entrance and leaned against the wall, smiling as she took in the scene before her. 

"I warned you about giving them sugar," she offered wryly before the twins re-attached themselves to her and dragged her into the kitchen.

"So mom, when are you going to ask Andy to move in?"

Miranda's eyebrow nearly disappeared into her hairline before a small snort escaped at Andy's panicked expression.

"Andrea, put that glass down before we have another accident," Miranda walked over to the flabbergasted young woman and took the glass out of her hands before wrapping her arms around her waist and pecking her lightly on the nose. "Welcome to the family, darling."

Pulling back, Miranda cast an eye at the broken glass on the floor and then towards her daughters who blushed furiously. 

"That was our fault mom."

"We'll clean it up."

"Thanks for the offer guys, but I don't want you to cut your bare feet on the glass," Andy continued easily before catching Miranda's look of surprise and approval and yep, love and getting a bit breathless.

Miranda nodded once more, "Although I'm sure Andrea would appreciate you clearing the plates up after lunch while we talk some more."

"'Kay mom," 

"My goodness, I should have gotten pregnant sooner if it's made the two of you so agreeable,"

Cassidy scuffed her foot on the ground and glanced furtively at her sister who replied, "We just don't want anything to happen to you..."

"Or the babies,"

Miranda's throat tightened again and she couldn't quite curse the hormones she knew would soon start to run rampant as she gathered her girls in her arms.

"I love you all very much, all three of you,"

"All five," Andy countered warmly, including the extra two little lives in the centre of the embrace. 

"We love you too, mom."

"But we're NOT changing diapers," the girls chorused before breaking into giggles as Miranda's playfully swatted their behinds as they scampered out of the kitchen."

"We're going to go put away our stuff before lunch!"

"Stuff? Andrea, within 48 hours have you really managed to corrupt 6 years of private education?"

"I aim to please!" Andy teased back suggestively as she drew Miranda into an entirely different embrace than the one that had taken place a few moments ago. 

Miranda sat down at the kitchen table while Andy set out the plates for lunch, surprising the younger woman - Andy expected Miranda would never stop surprising her - by taking a careful bite out of each of the girls' sandwiches before putting them back down and daintily licking a drop of spilled honey off her middle finger. 

Andy swallowed thickly, glad there wasn't anything else in her hands that she could drop or break. "You're going to be the death of me," she remarked breathlessly as Miranda teased the offending, sticky sweet digit in and out of her pink lips, wetting them with a swipe of her tongue. 

"Don't be ridiculous, Andrea, you're here now and...You’re never allowed to leave me," Miranda's voice was lower and huskier now, though Andy could still see the glimmer of uncertainty. Deciding that uncertainty needed to be remedied, Miranda's breath hitched in an aroused gasp as Andrea pressed her lips to her open mouth, delicately swiping any remnants of honey before laving Miranda's finger with equal attention. 

"Oh gross!"

"Ewww, seriously guys? Could you not do that?"

"Yeah, we're about to eat!"

"My apologies, Bobbsey's," Miranda grinned showing her teeth in a manner that told Andrea she wasn't the least bit sorry.

 

Chapter Text

Andy flopped backwards onto the silky comforter of the king-sized bed and exhaled noisily one Wednesday evening after a particularly trying day. It had been two weeks since Miranda’s attack and Stephen appeared to be laying low, his secretary stating he was in the Bahamas preparing for trial. It sickened Andy that he was in a courtroom so often as a lawyer when he was more suited to the shackles his clients sported.  Given that he worked in matters of corporate law, the people and corporations he defended dealt mostly with charges of embezzlement or siphoning surplus funds – theirs wasn’t even a violent crime.

Then Miranda had suggested that Andy move in, Andy had been shocked Miranda had so readily brought the topic up for discussion, but the older woman had merely flicked her wrist dismissively, demurring any of Andy’s stuttered protests or questions and raising an eyebrow, asked Andy if she expected her to justify her decisions.

Andy had nearly flattened Miranda when she had pressed her against the wall, showing her appreciation in the kisses and gentle bites she had rained across the pale expanses of skin her hands had exposed as she divested the luxurious garments from Miranda’s body.

Just as quickly as the decision had made for Andy to give up her apartment, any talk of a guest room was also quickly dismissed, although Miranda had added in a more halted tone that it was likely she would prefer to sleep alone at times, especially as the pregnancy advanced.

Miranda was ten weeks pregnant now, and much to Andy’s chagrin had only gained one pound so far. But Andy could hardly blame Miranda. Truly it did seem that everything she put past her lips made a reappearance shortly thereafter, and given that was the case Andy wasn’t sure she’d want to be eating either. Despite the negligible change in weight however, Andy could now see the beginnings of change in Miranda’s body brought on by the pregnancy. Her waist was slightly thicker and less defined and her breasts had swollen half a cup size, much to Andy’s delight and Miranda’s annoyance, and were deliciously delicate and sensitive so that Miranda could hardly bear even the softest of lingerie. Andy had suggested getting some cotton bras and panties, but that suggestion had only been met with a growl before Miranda stripped down to the matching lace set and inquired if Andrea had any complaints.

Yep, that had shut her up pretty quickly, Andy smiled to herself wickedly as she kicked off her heels, still flat on her back on the bed.

Her hand grazed over her belt buckle and lower, jerking her hips forward as she became embarrassingly aroused from the simple touch. They hadn’t made love for a week, once Miranda’s injuries started to heal it seemed like the morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms and changes had swept in with a vengeance, as if making up for the two months Miranda hadn’t suspected she was pregnant.  That and the fact that the morning sickness could and did hit at any time put a definite kink of the non-sexy variety into their love lives.

Andy didn’t care. Nope, she could live with a hormonal, nauseous Miranda because it meant she got to live with Miranda in the first place. And the poor thing really was miserable, in keeping their relationship from the press, the only time they could see each other was at the townhouse. Andy had no idea how Miranda was coping at work between trying to finish the divorce paperwork as soon as possible and keeping Runway’s reputation for perfection while most likely hanging her head over the toilet every few meetings.

Andy had been able to wrest seven days’ vacation from her boss at The Mirror, but she had to go back to work 2 days early to cover a story on the increased gang activity in the Bronx to coincide with a drive-by shooting.

Nigel and Emily were the only ones permitted even the slightest bit of insight into Miranda’s relationship with Andy, considering they had had to keep the magazine running for the seven days Miranda was forced into resting for the sake of her cracked ribs. And even that might not have been enough to stop her were it not for the bruises and cuts that no amount of makeup could hide. But if Miranda got any worse, even the privacy of her en-suite bathroom wasn’t going to be able to conceal the truth from Nigel and Emily, especially if Andy was able to convince her to let the pair in on news of the pregnancy.  

Just then the object of her musings walked through the frosted French doors that led into their rooms, but instead of walking over to the bed to give Andy her much fought for ‘hello’ kiss, Miranda went directly to the antique French glass mirror next to the entrance of their wardrobe.

“Mmmm,”

“Miranda? What’s wrong?” Andy sat up briskly, propelling herself off the bed so that she was standing a few feet behind her, still unable to see the reflection Miranda was so seriously pondering.

 “Nothing’s wrong,” she flattened her hands against the lilac satin Nanette Lepore blouse she was wearing, and the fabric pulled against her to reveal the tiny beginnings of a bump at Miranda’s waistline.

“You’re showing!”

Still facing the mirror, Miranda looked up and smiled widely at Andrea’s reflection, her eyes flashing joyfully as she heard the younger woman’s intake of breath and saw Andy approach her, coming closer until her hands covered Miranda’s and then dove beneath the slippery fabric, pushing it up so that she could see the faint swell for herself. She ran her fingertips over the slightly stretched skin reverently as she knelt in front of the pregnant editor, before cradling the slight swelling and rising to her feet once more, capturing Miranda’s lips in a kiss. 

“I believe the term is ‘popped’.”

Miranda watched her lover fondly as Andrea’s face threatened to split in half with her favourite smile and she chuckled lightly as they broke apart before her eyes dimmed again and her expression grew pensive and increasingly cold.

“Now you can’t tell me there’s nothing wrong,” Andy pressed gently as she ducked her head slightly to get Miranda to meet her gaze. “I’m thrilled, Miranda, couldn’t you tell?”

“Mmm, and if you’re thrilled then I’m sure Page Six will be delirious once the rumours start to spread along with my hips. And St…and him,” Andy noticed Miranda’s frustration at being unable to control the slight quaver that had shook her voice ever so slightly as she began to mention Stephen’s name.

“He’ll find out once they do…and I’m afraid he’ll,” Miranda swallowed visibly before her expression hardened. “No, he won’t have any reason to come within a mile of this child or this family. I’ll have to have Arthur draw up some sort of custody papers.”

At the first touch of Andy’s lips to her throat Miranda jerked back in annoyance. “Andrea, this is not the time…”

“Yes,” Andy stared her down firmly. “This is absolutely the time to affirm and celebrate life,” her fingers grazed Miranda’s still mostly flat stomach and began to undo the buttons. “Isn’t that what this was all about?”

As her fingers moved upwards, Miranda shivered and the ice melted from her features. “A-Andrea,”

“Shh, no more talking unless it involves the words ‘more’ or ‘darling’ or heartfelt thanks to God for what I’m about to do to you.”

Miranda just nodded now, her gaze hazy with desire that flared when Andrea led her back over to the bed until the back of her knees touched the mattress and engulfed her mind until no thoughts of him or other stress-inducing topics remained.

 

Andrea looked down at the woman beneath her on the bed, sated and gasping for air and knew that although this time she had been able to push the nightmares away for the moment, they would come nonetheless,  and she knew that THIS, the stunning, ever so slightly swollen woman beneath her and her children were worth it.

“Just call me Sandman,” Andy murmured, more to herself than anything. But by this time, Miranda had gained enough of her senses back to question her lover.

“What?”

Andy just smiled sweetly, still breathing heavily from her own magnificent release under Miranda’s own typically and splendidly focused ministrations. “No more nightmares,” she stated simply, not needing to say anymore.

They both knew that Andy would do whatever she had to do to protect Miranda, and the double meaning of her words referencing the decrease in the frequency of the nightmares that had made an insomniac of Miranda for the last decade or so.

They hadn’t stopped completely, of course, but the feel of Andrea’s arms around her at night seemed to be enough to reassure Miranda’s unconsciousness that she was safe and all was well, and the shadowy spectres that haunted her dreams slunk back, forced away by the brilliance that Miranda would all but swear shone from Andrea whenever she was near.

But still she knew, with a lingering unease as she drifted off to sleep that night that the nightmares would come, and come for her in the daylight. 

Chapter Text

The Priestly household could let out at least a partial sigh of relief as Miranda hit the 12 week mark of her pregnancy. It had been – and admittedly still was, hellish to deal with an anxious Miranda. Saying that it was an emotion she did not do well was perhaps as gross an understatement as saying Valentino made pretty dresses. Add the continuance of morning, noon and night sickness and there was little Andy could do but hold Miranda as she slept and hold her as she heaved the all too meagre contents of her stomach the mornings and evenings she was home. And despite the all-pervading nausea, there was a growing rack in the closet of clothes that were no longer able to keep their secret…or their buttons and zippers for that matter.

One morning as Miranda emerged from the closet in the third peplum detailed skirt that week she smoothed her hands over the sharply pleated flounce at her waist and resigned herself to the fact that this was about to become a trend, and for no other reason than Miranda Priestly, fashion and publishing icon was scared shitless of announcing she was pregnant.

 

Miranda finally lost the battle one evening when she actually fell asleep at the dinner table. Caroline and Cassidy just looked at each other knowingly as Andy sighed and motioned for them to take their dessert to their rooms as she started to clear the dishes. She knew the older woman would be mortified, but better embarrassed but hospitalized again.

“Miranda,” Andy laid her hand on her dozing lover’s forearm as she knelt on the floor beside the kitchen table. “Sweetheart,” that did the trick and Miranda’s eyes fluttered open blearily, blue orbs narrowed in annoyance at being woken until she realized where she was and they registered a flash of horror before Miranda schooled her expression back to its usual cool, blank slate.

“Andrea,” she began, but Andy held up her hand.

“Nope, whatever it is you’re going to say, save it Miranda.” Her voice softened and she took the older woman’s clasped hands between her own. “I love you, Miranda. More than anything…and I will always do what I think is best for you and this family, even if it means being banished to the guest room or the couch for a while. And if you can’t accept that then we have a problem…because the one thing you cannot ask of me is for me to stop loving you or your children. So tell me now if that’s going to be a problem, and” her voice shook here, “if it is, then I’ll go, but regardless we or I or someone will be informing Emily and Nigel at the very least about the babies, and if there still is such a thing, us.”

Miranda’s eyes, which had iced over and begun to flash dangerously at the start of Andy’s speech softened slightly at the corners as she looked down at the devastated expression on her Andrea’s face as she spoke about leaving her, realizing now that what she felt for the young woman kneeling so sweetly at her feet went so very much further than simple lust, desire or even pleasure at companionship. She loved this woman, as she had never loved anything except her children.

She bit back a fond smile at Andrea’s passionate argument and leaned back against her chair, feigning a look of indifference as she flicked her fingers as if in dismissal.

“Really Andrea, with your penchant for dramatics I’m beginning to think your creative skills would be more suited to the theatre than to journalism. I was just about to suggest the same thing.”               

Andrea rolled her eyes and huffed as she rose back to her feet and brushed off her knees. “You.are.infuriating Miranda Priestly…and God help me but I love you.”

Miranda then surprised the younger woman by pulling Andrea to her, kissing her fiercely before crushing her in a tight embrace. “I do love you, Andrea. Never doubt that…even when I am being ‘me’, never doubt that you are irrefutably and irreplaceably the love of my life.”

Rubbing the trembling shoulders of the older woman soothingly, Andrea pressed her lips to the soft crown of silky white and rested her cheek against it.

After a moment, Miranda broke away, looking slightly ashamed of her outburst – but before she could begin to regret her actions, Andy changed the topic, knowing that bringing any more attention to the incredibly sweet, romantic speech would only embarrass Miranda and make her uncomfortable.

“So, tomorrow?”

“Yes, yes, inform loyal minions of devil’s imminent spawning, enlist their aid and watch them flee.” Miranda paused for a moment and looked thoughtful before opening her mouth once more. “You’ll be there, naturally.”

“Yes, Miranda.”

“Cheeky girl.”

It took a moment for Andy to realize what Miranda’s previous statement had included, causing her brain to render moot the ‘do not ask Miranda anything ever rule’ that their newfound relationship hadn’t completely managed to squash yet, and hurl it blindly into the abyss.

“D-d’you mean come out to them as a couple?”

“There’s the smart, fat girl I hired, fired and fell in love with.” Miranda had hardly gotten the words out when rosy lips caught her by surprise this time and effectively quelled any further snark.

Andy pulled away, leaving Miranda to catch her breath as Andy nuzzled the pale, white expanse of skin gloriously exposed by the wide collar of her blouse, pressing kisses up and down her neck and décolleté until their lips caught in a tender and final kiss.

“Mmm, alright. Bed now…” Andy declared, pulling the older woman out of her chair by the hand and leading her up the stairs. Miranda looked uncharacteristically apologetic as she turned Andrea to face her. “Ehm, darling I’m really not feeling very well… I don’t think.”

“To sleep, Miranda. I meant to sleep, there’s nothing about an ill, exhausted pregnant woman that is conducive to romance for me.”

Inwardly, Miranda wilted again as she followed Andy up the rest of the stairs, it was going to be an awfully long 7 months then... When they reached the bedroom however, Miranda had to marvel yet again at Andrea’s seemingly limitless ability to read her mind as she caught her lightly around the waist, fingers slipping beneath and loosening the too tight waistband of the Balenciaga skirt and whispering, “But once you are feeling better, Miranda? There’s not a thing that could stop me from ravishing my sexy, pregnant girlfriend.”

“You are ridiculous,” Miranda huffed lightly, but Andy didn’t fail to notice the release of tension in her shoulders as she leaned into her. For all the self-assurance of the ‘Dragon’, Miranda Priestly the person, wife and mother was achingly vulnerable and doubtful of her worth in any capacity other than editor-in-chief, and it would be the work of a lifetime to convince her otherwise, especially considering how well her ex-husbands had worked to let her know how much of a failure they thought she was, Andy mused as she drifted to sleep that night, the object of her musings sleeping soundly beside her, an arm draped possessively over the brunette’s torso. Yeah, it was worth it…            

Chapter Text

The next morning started as it usually did, with Miranda sweeping into the bathroom at 5 am to be violently ill and Andy following to offer what little comfort she could, except Andy didn’t go back to bed after but got ready to go into the Runway and Elias Clarke offices with Miranda.

Crouched inelegantly by toilet, Miranda couldn’t help but marvel at herself and at Andrea. When she had first been pregnant with the girls she had been horribly ill as well and the first few times she had been sick, Jeremy had awkwardly tried to help her, coming in to hold her hair back – it had been longer then. But it was horribly obvious that he was doing it out of a sense of duty, which in turn had caused her to snap at him and send him away when he did try to help; and more and more often he had pretended not to wake up with her or headed into the office early. A habit, she recalled, that had stopped once she was out of her first trimester and was insatiably horny all the time. It seemed that pregnancy idiosyncrasy was one he was more than happy to help out with. But the remarkable woman beside her on the tile floor was something else altogether.

“Andrea, you really don’t have to be here,” Miranda groaned apologetically as she caught her breath and accepted the damp facecloth Andrea was holding out.

“I thought we’d already established that I wanted to be here last night.”

“No, I meant her in the bathroom. I promise you I shan’t die or collapse, it’s simply inconvenient.”

“Only Miranda Priestly would call being all but prostrate over the toilet bowl at all hours of the day merely ‘inconvenient’. I’ll remind you the doctor said that most women in your situation wouldn’t even bother getting out of bed, and she wouldn’t blame them for it.

“They’re not editor-in-chief of Runway magazine…”

Andrea ignored the last comment and gently rubbed the tummy underneath her hand, “Feeling any better?”

“No.”

“Done throwing up?”

“Yes…for now.”

“Alright, I’m going to go grab your tea while you jump in the shower. Peppermint or ginger?”

“Peppermint, please.”

By 6, Andrea was in the shower and Miranda was dressed and in her study going over the pages of The Book she had been too tired to go through the night before. When her eyes started to close again, she shook herself awake and went to go wake the girls.

Opening the door to their room, Miranda smiled at the sight of her sleeping babies. It really did seem as though it was only a little while ago she was holding the two of them in her arms, dancing around the nursery, terrified out of her mind at the thought these two little lives had been entrusted into her care. A hand moved down unconsciously to rest on her swollen waist as she leaned against the doorframe.

Brushing the riotous red curls off Caroline’s forehead, Miranda pressed her lips to the lightly freckled skin before moving over to Cassidy’s bed and rubbing her younger daughter’s back as she sat down on the lilac bedspread.

“Good morning, my loves,”

Two sets of blue eyes met her own sleepily as they woke up, and Cassidy moved to bury her head underneath the pillow.

“Oh no you don’t,” Miranda chuckled knowingly as she leaned over and plucked the pillow out of her daughters grasp.

Cassidy however took advantage of this and quickly latched onto her mother’s arm, cuddling it to her chest and lying back down so that Miranda had no choice but to lay down with her.

“No fair, Cass,” Caroline protested as she clambered out of her own bed to join them, snuggling into Miranda’s free side and effectively trapping her between them.

They all lay like that for a few minutes, Miranda’s free hand stroking through Caroline’s hair until a light knock signalled Andrea’s arrival.

“Up and at’em sleepyheads. Oh! I didn’t see the third sleepyhead,” Andy teased, surprised at finding Miranda IN bed with the girls.

Miranda gave a weak attempt at a glare before giving up and stifling a snort as Andy curled up beside Caroline and whom Cassidy promptly latched onto with her other arm.

Twenty minutes later though, Miranda couldn’t resist the clutches of reality as the clock downstairs chimed a quarter after seven.  Disentangling herself from the heap of bodies on the bed, Miranda kissed the girls goodbye for the day.

“We won’t be able to stay for breakfast this morning, Bobbsey’s. Andrea and I have a meeting at work.”

“What kind of meeting?” Cassidy cocked her head in a move so familiar that Andy couldn’t hold back her laughter at the sight of the two mini-Miranda’s staring up at her. 

She shrugged as Miranda’s gaze turned upon her as well, “However is this world going to survive FOUR dragonlets?”

The girls grinned at this. “Rawr!”

“Pray they take after you darling,” Miranda answered Andy first. “Today, we’re going to tell Emily and Uncle Nigel about the babies…and about Andrea and I.”

“Ohh,” both sets of blue eyes widened in comprehension but Caroline, ever the worrier of the pair was the first to speak.

“When are the press going to find out?” she asked in a small voice.

Miranda’s heart twinged, not for the first time, as she thought about what her girls had to deal with having her as a mother. However, like every other time recently that Miranda required saving Andy stepped in with the answer.

“We’re hoping to keep it quiet for a little longer just yet.” Neither Miranda nor Andrea voiced that the reason behind that was that there was still a fairly high risk Miranda would miscarry, having only just passed the first trimester mark. The tests she would have performed at 16 weeks would tell them much more about the state and viability of the pregnancy.

“You’re getting bigger,” Cassidy offered, shrewdly eyeing her mother’s midriff as Miranda rolled her eyes and smiled ruefully.

“Yes, Cassidy, but we’re hoping the press isn’t as intelligent as my two children. And given the amount of pranks played on reporters over the years, I have great faith that they haven’t learned yet. Besides, they’re unlikely to see me as you are, standing still in front of you and in bed.”

“They better not be seeing you in bed, remember – I don’t share.” Andy muttered under her breath as she slid a possessive arm around Miranda’s waist.

“Now off to the showers with you,” Miranda goosed her daughters lightly and they ran to the bathroom, shrieking and giggling happily, completely forgetting their earlier concern over the reaction of Page Six.

Faced now with an empty room, Miranda sighed heavily and squeezed the hand Andrea had slipped into hers as they made their way downstairs.

As had been happening far too often lately, Miranda waved away the offer of breakfast with a grimace and Andy resolved to get a clear answer from Emily how much the older woman was actually eating at the office, knowing the answer would not be a great deal more than she managed at home. At least after today, she could let Emily know the importance of having a ready supply of light snacks around for Miranda without giving away their secret.

Just as they were heading out the door, Miranda thrust The Book at Andy and turned sharply to go back into the house. “Wait in the car, I’ll be right there.”

Miranda leaned her head against the cool glass of the bathroom mirror after a particularly vicious bout of dry heaving. “Miranda, what are you doing? Talking to yourself apparently, and answering, even better, ugh.”

She emerged a few minutes later looking as perfect and icily composed as ever, or would to anyone except Andy. She could see the greyish tinge to Miranda’s face, and a cool palm against the woman’s forehead told her everything else as she felt the familiar sheen of sickly sweat that always preceded and followed the worse episodes of nausea.

“Not a word,” Miranda spoke through clenched teeth as though she were still trying to keep from being sick as the car made its way towards the Elias Clarke offices. Andy however, didn’t skip a beat and merely offered her a chilled Pellegrino from the cooler she’d told Roy to keep under his seat. Miranda winced as the water hit her roiling stomach, but managed to keep it down, which was good because they were pulling up to the glass monolith that housed her empire.

Fifty floors up, a frantic Emily was all but pawing at Nigel and demanding the details of everything he had done personally or professionally in the last 72 hours that would be cause for Miranda to call an early morning meeting.

The older man removed his Gucci framed moire glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose tightly to ward off the tension headache he was developing courtesy of the shrill tones of the redheaded creature in front of him gesticulating wildly.

“Emily…Emily! I swear, I have done nothing out of the ordinary recently.”

“Well maybe that’s the problem then!” Emily threw up her hands and continued her nervous pacing in front of the desk on which Nigel was exasperatedly perched. “Maybe she’s bored of you, maybe the entire arts department is going under the knife!”

“So help me, Emily if you do not shut that mouth you boast to so effectively control in regards to food I will personally seek and destroy every cube of cheese in a ten block radius. Besides, why would you be here if it’s me she’s firing?”

“For an audience? For a threat? For sheer perverse amusement? Much as I try, Nigel, I can not read her mind. I’m not Andy bloody Sachs!” she added under her breath.

“Mmm, and therein lies the problem I believe.”

“What?” The redhead’s tones cooled to those worthy of the woman they were discussing and she whirled to face the man on her desk who could not have said what she thought he just said. Perhaps it was time for a cube of cheese. She was obviously hallucinating…

“Andy…” Nigel continued. “You know she was with Miranda after the assault and was staying at the townhouse to help out.”

“And what, you think Miranda has killed her and is going to present us with a dead body in a Louis Vuitton weekender bag which she will then expect us to dispose of? I can’t think why she wants her around anyway. She’s Miranda fucking Priestly, she doesn’t need help. She has a housekeeper and Roy and…and she has me!”

Knowing that nothing would convince Emily other than a two by four to the head, Nigel just sighed once more and let the topic die. They’d find out soon enough, he reasoned, seeing Emily’s cell phone light up with a text from Roy and tuning out the continued ranting of Miranda’s first assistant which he had cause to believe would soon only be audible to the canine race. The entire canine population of Manhattan if the decibel level of the vitriol she was spewing was any indication.

“Decaf, for the last month, decaf!” Emily sniffed at the incoming text. Forwarding threats to the current second assistant, Emily thought of something she hadn’t before and her eyes grew wide and fearful.

“What if something is wrong?”

“I thought we’d already established that this was likely not good news,” Nigel commented drily.

“No, I mean with her. I mean, she’s been drinking decaf for a month now and when she switched over she muttered something about not mixing caffeine with the medication she got from the hospital. What medication is she still taking a month after? And she’s been so pale lately, Nigel, of course I’ve had to pretend not to notice…what if something really is wrong?”

Emily was too lost in her thoughts to notice her usual sounding board falling silent himself. Truth be told, Nigel had noticed the changes in Miranda as well, subtle as they were. At first he’d thought it was simply residual stress or trauma but recently they had been in several meetings with her where she had excused herself suddenly with the justification of a phone call she had to take. And when she’d returned, both times her face had been utterly colourless and she’d reached for her water glass with a hand that was barely but still perceptibly trembling.

Both however, snapped immediately to attention as the elevator’s chime announced the arrival of their leader.

“Andrea?”

“Andy?”

Two mouths, one painted a glossy fuschia that clashed so horribly with her hair it was now considered ‘in’ and one tanned and gently stubbled dropped open as a second person stepped out of the elevator just behind Miranda.

Knowing there would be people watching through the glass walls of the outer office, Miranda merely dropped her coat and bag on the desk of the unfortunately now late second assistant and breezed into her office, letting her employee’s names drop gently from her lips as Andrea, still carefully schooling her face blank, followed.

“Have a seat,” Miranda instructed the dumbstruck pair as she took her own.

It was a good thing they were conditioned to obey as what happened next would certainly have brought them to their knees were they still standing when it happened. Andy perched on the side of Miranda’s desk and the older woman reached over for her hand, entwining their fingers together which Andy then brought to her lips tenderly with a wistful, sad sort of smile.

Miranda pressed a delicate hand to her stomach, wincing slightly as her face paled to a frightening shade of greyish green and she swallowed, Andrea noticed, with a great deal of difficulty.

 “You’re not feeling good at all, are you sweetheart,” Andy wrapped her arms around her and pressed her lips to the side of her forehead.

“Miranda?” Nigel was the first of the two to speak, Emily was still wide eyed and silent, hands clutching the sides of her chair so tightly it looked as though one or other would soon break under the pressure.

“I’ve called you both in here this morning to discuss a personal matter with you. I know I don’t have to remind you of the discretion you will both need to use should you continue working here after you hear what I have to say.”

Andy rolled her eyes and shook her head. “What Miranda means,” at this a particularly icy glare was sent her way from the woman in question, “is that we trust you with this, and we need your help.”

“I knew it,” Emily whispered, “I knew something was wrong. My God, how serious is it?”

Miranda rolled her eyes, although watching her out of the corner of her eye, Andrea knew she was secretly pleased that the younger woman was so concerned about her.

“As you know,” Miranda continued, “Stephen and I are legally separated and the divorce should be finalized by the end of the year.” Andrea felt her hand squeezed when Miranda mentioned the man’s name and she squeezed back, running her thumb soothingly over the other woman’s hand before taking over.

“We were also told that the police were unable to charge Stephen for the assault because he had left the scene, and any fingerprints or other evidence not directly tied to the attack wouldn’t hold up in court because he had lived in the townhouse until several months earlier. A private security firm we’ve contracted has told us that Stephen is currently in the Bahamas on business and will return at the end of the month.”

“Do you think he’d come after you again?” Nigel jumped in, concerned. For all his flamboyance, he had no problem getting his hands dirty with the slime of any creature foul enough to use his hands on a woman, especially if that woman was Miranda Priestly.

“As much as I despise the man he’s smart enough not to get caught if he’s sober, and I’m, I’m afraid of what he’ll do once word gets out that I’m pregnant.”

“Pr-pregnant?" 

Chapter Text

“Pr-pregnant? You’re pregnant? You’re pregnant…right.” Emily stood and started her nervous pacing again as she talked, her mind flashing through everything those two little words would mean, both for Miranda and her in the coming months.”

“With twins,”

And Emily was down…Not unconscious, but she had suddenly felt unequal to the task of remaining upright any longer and she had sort of staggered and went down.

Nigel had yet to say anything, uncharacteristic for the man, and instead he rose silently and walked around Miranda’s desk, pulling her up gently from the seat with a hand before folding her into his arms.

Tucking her head into the broad chest of her employee and best friend, Miranda sighed and accepted the unfamiliarly familiar gesture, taking strength in the warmth of her friend’s embrace and feeling uncharacteristically loved. If her girls and their father, her first ex-husband were in the room, Miranda would have everyone she cared about all together.

“Congratulations Miranda,” Nigel said softly, “on all the new additions to your family.” His gaze flickered over to Andy as well who beamed up at him before her gaze focused again on the woman in his arms like she was the sun and centre of the universe, which of course she was.

“But Nigel, do you realize what this means?” Miranda’s eyes were bright with tears she stubbornly refused to let fall and her voice caught huskily.

“We’ll get through it, Miranda,” he found himself in the uncommon capacity of reassuring the publishing icon. “What is family for if not for pulling you along, kicking and screaming through hard times? Besides, I know you Priestly. You can’t tell me you don’t want these children, remember that I knew you when you were pregnant with the first set of twins. And despite the moaning and griping and complaining that went on behind closed doors, you loved those girls from the moment you knew they were in your belly. They melted you from the inside out, and until Andy, they are what stopped your heart from freezing in the interim. They may not have been planned, they may not be coming at the best time, but you want them so badly that you’re willing to come here now and tell us all of this to keep them and your family safe.”

Emily had managed to collect herself during Nigel’s speech and in the wake of Miranda’s tangible rising panic had managed to find her calm and she stepped up to the art director’s side and addressed her.

“Whatever it is that I can do, I will, Miranda, for any member of your family,” Andrea knew just what it had cost the cool Brit to give even that small burst of emotion and she caught the redhead’s eye and mouthed her thanks to which Emily nodded, giving a small smile of her own before clearing her throat and briskly flipping to a new page in her Lacroix printed notebook.

“Thank you, my friends.” Miranda smiled, almost shyly, before disappearing into the bathroom to freshen up. “So that Andrea will have a chance to thoroughly overburden you with what she feels is pertinent information and instructions,” she added over her shoulder.

Once the door had clicked closed,  Emily rounded on Andrea and Nigel swatted her on the shoulder. “Six? Do you know what you’re doing? Are you sure about this?”

“More than my own life, Nigel, I swear to you. It nearly killed me the first time I thought there was no hope for us, I’ll be dead or damned before anything separates us again.”

“I suppose now is as good a time as any to squash my admittedly long time infatuation, especially as I’d never allow myself to be a size four despite that being Miranda’s new obvious preferences. But I will say this,” Emily punctuated her next words with the blunt tip of her pen poking Andy’s chest. “You better take care of her, or I will personally hunt you down if I have to ransack the receipt drawers of every greasy Thai takeout restaurant in New York!”

“Killing me with kindness here Em. But to the point, she will never admit to it, not even to me, but she needs taking care of right now. She’s strong enough to do it on her own, but not with Stephen looming over her head, and not without nearly killing herself to do it.”

She glanced over at the closed bathroom door and chose to make her next speech quick and to the point so that she could get to Miranda, if she was right about what was happening behind the closed door.

“Em, I’ll be sending you a list of foods that do not make her nauseous at the moment, a list which is extraordinarily small. There’s no way she can eat anything before she gets into the office at this point, hopefully that will change now that she’s just past the 12 week mark. Make sure there is a separate cooler bag in the fridge with containers of fruit and cheese and crackers that she can snack on throughout the day, and if by some miracle she starts craving something and actually brings herself to ask you to get it, please do. She’s not taking in nearly enough calories. Also, fairly soon we’ll need to start quietly gathering samples from the designer’s maternity lines. All being well, we’re hoping to make an official announcement regarding the pregnancy after her four month appointment where we’ll know much more about her and the babies’ health. I don’t know the new second assistant so keep her occupied away from anything that might make her suspicious. And Nige, when I can’t be here, I need you to come and check on her, which she will hate, and I’m sorry in advance. Despite her reluctance to say it, she loves both of you but Nigel, you are her best friend and she will need someone by her side at meetings and during conferences with Irv to cover for her until this is made public.”

A muffled cough from behind the bathroom door elicited a sigh from Andy as she knew her love was being ill again.

Nigel followed her eyes to the closed door and nodded once, decisively. “Go. We’ll meet for drinks later this week and you’ll have no excuse for not giving us the scoop oh-sneaky-journalist…Come on Emily, you’re still looking a little pale, let’s find you some cheese.”

Andy closed the office door behind them, ignoring the curious stare of the new second as she stepped through the elevator doors with a decaf latte that was, Andy knew by how long she’d been gone, far too cold to be acceptable. Not that it would be anyway with the state Miranda was in this morning.

She pushed the white wood and glass paned door to the private bathroom open and her heart ached as she saw Miranda doubled over the porcelain bowl for the fifth time that morning.

Miranda made a small whimpering sound as her roiling stomach offered her a momentary respite from the vicious ejection of its contents. Andy grabbed a few tissues from the box by the sink and dampened them slightly before folding them into a makeshift cool compress that she held to her ex-boss and lover’s feverish forehead. “Shh, I’m sorry, I’m here now, you’re okay,” she soothed, knowing how upset and scared Miranda got whenever she was sick to her stomach.

After another seemingly endless bout of dry heaving, there really was nothing left to come up after the events of that morning, Miranda palmed the sweating porcelain and forced herself to her feet, looking at Andy so pitifully that Andy gently pulled the woman to her, rubbing her back in wide circles as Miranda allowed herself a moment of weakness in her lover’s arms.

“My love,” Andrea’s voice broke into her thoughts. “I think we need to call Dr. Jansen. No, this isn’t normal Miranda,” she played her trump card as she felt the older woman stiffen slightly. “With all this vomiting, the babies can’t be getting enough nutrients, and you certainly aren’t.” Her hand found the small swelling hidden by the peplum detail of Miranda’s skirt and she let her palm curve around it.

“Can I phone and ask her to come over for a house call?” Normal obstetricians would never do this of course, but Dr. Jansen had long catered to the wealthy mommy elite of Manhattan; and in Miranda’s case, understood the importance of discretion as well as the increased level of care her patient would need nearing fifty and pregnant with twins.

“A house call is acceptable,” Miranda relented, fondly cupping the younger woman’s cheek before allowing the ice and steel back into her face as she prepared to leave.

“Have Roy at the front doors in two minutes,” her frigid tone didn’t have its regular effect as her throat was sore and raspy from the wash of acid and bile, coming out more husky and weak than the clear and sharp tones she had tried to command as she barked at one of the new ‘Emilys’. “I’ll be working from home the rest of the day. That’s all.”

Glancing at the coffee, Miranda decided that it was vitally important now that her reputation as Ice Queen remain intact and really, the silly girl couldn’t possibly think the drink she was offering was anywhere close to the realm of ‘acceptable’ and so reached out and easily dumped the entire thing into the wastebasket beside the girl’s desk.

“I believe there is a certain kind of neural damage that precludes one from being able to judge temperature from simply touching the object. I suggest you take yourself to a GP before you lose more than just your job.”

With slightly more spring in her step, Miranda stalked into the waiting elevator to join Andrea, who merely suppressed her smile until the doors were closed.

“Feel better now?”

“Quite.”

Andy smirked once they were in the car on their way back to the townhouse , “My ferocious dragon lady…I should have warned her, I knew when I heard her come in it would already be cold.”

Miranda gave a quick, tight smile in response, and Andy wondered a moment what she’d done wrong until she noticed a telltale hand slip beneath Miranda’s suit jacket to rest on her belly and she scooted closer to her; not saying anything, knowing Miranda wouldn’t want to listen to her chatter, just sat close enough so that the woman beside her could unobtrusively rest her head against Andy’s shoulder for the ride home. 

“I’m scared, Andrea,” Miranda whispered; so quietly Andy wasn’t sure she was even supposed to have heard it. Miranda didn’t meet her eyes but kept her gaze determinedly focused out the window, affecting an air of nonchalance.

“And not of what Stephen could do to me, but what he could do that would hurt my children. He’s a lawyer, and a successful one, if he petitions for custody and gets report of the assault thrown out…And even if by some miracle he never comes near us again,” Miranda paused and Andy could see her fingers tighten over her abdomen. “I don’t know that I can keep them safe even in my belly,” this last part she spoke so quietly Andy had to strain to hear the dying whisper on her lips.

“I’m so tired, Andrea. I’m old and I’m tired and I’ve been so ill…it will be a miracle if they’re born healthy or born at all.”

Even though her head was turned towards the window, at this last sentence Andy could see the first tear fall, followed by a second and a third in quick succession.

“It’ll be okay, Miranda.”

“Don’t say that! How can you know that, how can you promise me that and not break your word?” Miranda huffed, moving away from the younger woman angrily.

“Because between myself, the girls and Nigel and Emily, we’re not going to let anything happen to you or these babies. I know you have never wanted or needed to in the past, and for all I know you may not even need it now. But you have people who love you, unconditionally, Ice Queen or no you are ours. And when you need to, you can lean on us. I won’t let you fall to save my own life, Miranda, you know that. Nothing is more important to me than you and the girls.

“What I would do without you, Andrea…I can’t bear to think -”

“And you don’t have to, because there’s never going to be a time where I would ever leave you, alright?” Andy’s hand covered Miranda’s where it rested on the swell. “Now no more worrying, not today. If you worry too much you’ll give the babies wrinkles…”

“You are ridiculous,” Miranda sniffed with a teary smile.

“Isn’t that why you keep me around?”

“Mmm, that and I find your breasts particularly alluring,” Miranda teased back, letting her eyes close as she snuggled, yes Miranda Priestly snuggled, into the shoulder of the woman she loved for the rest of the trip home through rush hour traffic.

“Alright, now go change into something comfortable,” Andrea stressed the last word once they were home, “Dr. Jansen said she would be here within the hour.”

Miranda refused to have the doctor see her in bed and so Andy made up the couch in the study on the main floor.

“Will you at least have a nap until the doctor gets here?”

“A nap…Honestly, Andrea, I haven’t had a nap since the first week I was home with the girls, and that was after being kept in the hospital for several days after complications during delivery.”

“Complications? You’ve never said anything about that.”

“Dr. Jansen has forwarded copies of the medical records, both of ones done in hospital and the investigation I had done afterwards.”

Andrea was silent and scooted farther down the couch so that Miranda was laying down as she talked, fiddling nervously with the fringed hem of the afghan.

 

“It started off as what I suppose you would call an easy labour, though I assure you it didn’t feel that way at the time. I was alone in the house except for Gina, how pathetic is that? My housekeeper was the one to call for my driver to take me to the hospital and take my overnight bag to the car instead of my husband.

Once I was at the hospital, my blood pressure just kept rising and rising and there were so many doctors coming in and out. Eventually the doctors said that my blood pressure had cut off some of the oxygen to the placenta and the babies were in distress and ALL I could think about was how I was failing at the most important thing in my life.

The one thing that no one else but me could do, the one job a mother has and I told myself that I was failing it before my beautiful girls were even out of my belly.

I overheard them talking about prepping me for an emergency c-section and I started to push…I later found out that I hadn’t been fully dilated at the time and that that had accounted for the tearing and blood loss that followed.

I didn’t care though, Andrea, all I cared about was getting my babies out safely, so I pushed.

I blacked out from the pain, and when I’d woken up again Caroline was halfway out and one of the doctors had his hand inside me while the nurses held my legs apart. It was so awful…there was so much blood and Greg was frozen across the room with this, horrified look on his face like I was some monster who needed to be sedated. He didn’t understand, Andrea…These were my babies.

I couldn’t even hold my first baby girl when she was out, they whisked her away to give her oxygen because her skin was tinged blue. The doctor told me to rest then but I couldn’t. If Caroline hadn’t been getting enough oxygen, who knew what state my other baby was in?

 I kept pushing even between contractions, the nurses kept yelling at me to stop, and I saw one of them go near the IV with a needle so I pushed her away. Why couldn’t they understand? I didn’t need to be sedated, I needed to know my girls were safe.

 Less than a minute after Caro was born, Cassidy started to emerge. Her hand was up by her head in a difficult position, it was so little Andrea. I could see the reflection in the doctor’s glasses, just this little hand and I wanted so badly to reach down and touch that tiny little hand and help to pull her out, but the nurses yelled at Greg to come and hold my hands so I couldn’t, like they thought it would comfort me to have him hold my hand.

But all I could think about was that tiny hand between my legs so pushed Greg’s hand away along with the nurses and grabbed the back of my knees so I could push better.

All I could see and feel was flashes of crimson and the pain coursing through me, and then it was over and she was out. My sweet Cassidy was out, screaming beautifully and waving both precious little hands in her fury. But they took her away too.”

Miranda’s tears continued to fall and her shoulders shook, remembering the fear and the pain and the confusion of her daughters’ births. “It was an hour before they let me hold them. And I could hear them as they cleaned up the room and changed the sheets. They all thought I was psychotic and had post-partum depression. After all, what kind of woman pushed her husband away, refusing to hold his hand or talk to him for the entire birth? No sane woman, or one with a heart, they said. It didn’t take long for the rumours to start that I’d put the babies in danger by delivering naturally just so that I wouldn’t have a scar from the C-section. When I was released I took my medical report of the birth to the best obstetricians and, and they said what I had known to be true at the time. That the babies needed to be born as quickly as possible…But the damage had already been done, I was vilified as a woman who would endanger the lives of my children for the sake of vanity. Don’t they know I would have endured a hundred scars or surgeries for my girls? I nearly ruptured my uterus and the doctors said I couldn’t carry another pregnancy to term. And if I do at my age the risks for terminal birth defects and Down Syndrome is one in twelve. People think I don’t care because I don’t talk about it but that doesn’t mean I haven’t read every conclusive piece of literature I could get my hands on.”

Andrea gathered the trembling woman even closer in her arms. “That’s why I wished it away when I found out…It’s so unfair, that I won’t be able to keep them.”

“Of course you will. Of course we will. Don’t you dare underestimate my Miranda, and don’t you dare underestimate me. You know in my old circles I was considered the stubborn one. And Dr. Jansen’s gonna be here soon to check on you and the babies. And in a few weeks we’re going to have some more tests done that will tell us more about these two troublemakers,” Andy’s hand found Miranda’s belly and rubbed soothing circles as she talked.

“Honestly, I’ve never in my life cried so much as I have with you,” the tone was accusatory but Andy could sense no real venom behind the words, just embarrassment and fatigue.

The bell rang then, and Andrea left Miranda to freshen up her hair and makeup as she went to answer the front door.

Fixing the tear-marred lines in her makeup, Miranda leaned heavily on the table in front of the hallway mirror, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls,” she murmured grimly before restoring the armour to her features and greeting the reaper, or guest rather, at her door.

 

Chapter Text

“Doctor Jansen, thank you for coming.”

“Not a problem, Andy, I was on my way back to the office from a delivery; 6 lbs. 8 oz. of screaming baby girl.”

Despite herself, Miranda smiled at this before gesturing down the hall towards the study. “I’m sure you’re busy, doctor, so if you could reassure Andrea that I’m fine you’ll be free to attend to patients in more dire straits than I.”

The doctor raised an eyebrow as she followed the silver-haired woman down the hall, feeling distinctly as though she were being led deeper into a trap of sorts. “I’ll be the judge of that. Andy mentioned the morning sickness hasn’t eased up since you started your second trimester last week. How many times have you thrown up so far this morning?”

“Four,” Andy answered for her.

“Five,” Miranda corrected, a slightly sheepish expression crossing her features as she sat on the couch next to Andrea. “I didn’t mention I had been ill while you were in the shower,” she admitted.

“And then there was right before we left the house.”

Of course she had noticed that, Miranda thought to herself fondly, though not without a little unease at just how easily the young woman could read her.

“With your weight being what it is, that frequency and intensity of morning sickness isn’t something we can let continue with no consequences. If you’re throwing up more than six times a day you’ll need to come into the hospital for an IV drip so we can make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients for proper growth of the fetuses and we may need to admit you for Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Try eating a cracker or some form of carbohydrate before you get out of bed in the mornings and if by mid-morning you’re still not feeling up to solid foods I want you to be drinking smoothies to keep up your sugar levels and get some calcium and vitamin C and B into you. If you’ll lie back, Miranda, I’ll feel for fetal growth and uterine position.”

Miranda didn’t look especially happy about this but complied out of concern for the babies.  The doctor’s hands were cool as they pressed on different parts of her abdomen, measuring growth from her pubic bone to just beneath her navel and both women watched the doctor, wondering what and how she could feel what she did and assess from that simple palpation.  

Once the doctor was done, she took out her blackberry and entered the findings of the examination into her patient log, giving Miranda the privacy to sit up and rearrange her clothing before they continued their conversation and she unrolled the blood pressure cuff to wrap around Miranda’s arm.

“Okay, so uterine growth is tracking on the low side of normal range for fraternal twins, but you are petite yourself and they’re still within an acceptable range for their gestational age. Women over the age of 35 do also have a greater percentage of babies with low birth weight so unless growth drops from that range it’s safe to assume all is going and growing well. Given that you’re small, Miranda, you’ll probably start to feel round ligament pain soon from the stretching your body is going to have to do to accommodate these babies. Some pain is normal, but if it’s severe or you feel it’s more of a cramping feeling, call the office immediately or go to the emergency room.”  

Miranda nodded, thinking to herself how tight and full her lower abdomen had been feeling for the last week and knew it wouldn’t be long until the muscles stretched enough to form a more noticeable rounded bulge. This was also why she craved Andrea’s touch, it was foolishness she knew, but she secretly swore she could feel her blood pressure dropping with the younger woman’s gentle massage of her belly whenever she felt ill or upset. And it came so naturally to the girl to be so unapologetically and genuinely affectionate.

The doctor paused here to scrutinize the gauge on the BP cuff and pursed her lips, not knowing how closely she was emulating the woman in front of her. “Okay, blood pressure’s a little high for my liking. This could be simply from the stress of vomiting or it could be an indication we need to watch out for pregnancy-induced hypertension which is also a concern with AMA.”

“AMA?” Andy wrinkled her brow in confusion at the unfamiliar term.

“Mm, yes. It stands for Advanced Maternal Age.”

Miranda’s nostrils flared dangerously at this, and it was only the constriction of the cuff around her arm that brought her ire down, reminding her that especially now, stress really could harm the babies.

“The second trimester normally brings on mild hypotension in women as well, that’s a lowering of blood pressure that can cause dizziness and fainting so watch out for that, especially if you’re not eating regularly to keep your sugar levels up.”

Doctor Jansen ripped a sheet off of the pad she was writing on and handed it to Andy as she stood. “Here’s a prescription for a mild anti-nauseant, I’m hopeful it will at least allow her to keep some food down even if it doesn’t cure the nausea completely.”

“Thank you again for coming on such short notice,” Andy said as she showed the doctor out. “We’ll see you in a couple of weeks for the 4 month appointment.”

“My personal cell is also on the sheet, please feel free to call me with any questions or concerns in the meantime.” She paused. “I won’t lie to you, Andy…this is a dangerous situation. But if anyone can pull through it it’s the woman in there.”

“Thank you.”

Andy made a show of stretching as she walked back into the study. “So, pretty lady. Did you want to lie down with me for a while?”

“Andrea, you can’t believe that I don’t for one second know what you’re doing.”

“Mmm, nope I’m beat. Besides, resting for a little while holding my beautiful girlfriend in my arms doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me,”

“Alright then,” Miranda huffed, turning her head into Andy’s shoulder so that she couldn’t see the reluctant smile at her lips.

Unwittingly, Miranda confirmed Andy and Dr. Jansen’s suspicions of just how ragged she was running herself as she slept for the next three hours.

She had drifted off so quickly that Andy hadn’t had a chance to switch sides. And she was sleeping so soundly and sweetly in Andy’s arms that the younger woman couldn’t bring herself to move from the study’s sofa, even as she was finding herself increasingly aware of the numbness in her right arm and her screaming bladder.

Finally, just as Andy was giving up on wracking her brains for a way to move without waking Miranda, blue eyes opened and blinked at her sleepily.

This woman really was too adorable for her own good, Andy thought fondly to herself as she pressed a kiss to the snowy crown.

“And what would you be smiling at?”

Andy answered candidly, “Just thinking of your reaction if I told you just how cute you are.”

“Really, Andrea, cute?” the sarcastic murmur held a tone of love, however, that permanently fixed the smile to Andy’s face.

“Are you hungry? I could make you a smoothie. I texted Cara to pick up organic Greek yogurt and fresh fruit while she was at the market today.”

“Hm, acceptable,” Miranda inclined a regal silver head as she settled herself behind her desk.

“What did you want in it?” Andy called out from the kitchen as she pulled out the blender from the cupboard beside the oven.

“Surprise me.”

After a few moments though, Andy had to double over to contain her laughter, as a voice floated out of the study.

“Raspberries.”

Adding freshly squeezed orange juice to the protein and calcium rich yogurt mixture, Andy grabbed a handful of raspberries and threw them in as well; minutes later going back into the study and placing the mango-peach-raspberry concoction in front of Miranda who eyed it with interest albeit slightly warily, as she wondered in the privacy of her own mind if it would make a reoccurrence shortly after consumption.

Out of the corner of her eye, Miranda was distracted by Andrea’s constant fidgeting on the couch across from her desk, especially seeing as it was unlike the younger woman to do so.

“You’re being ridiculous,” Andy muttered to herself, forcing her attention back to the article on her laptop screen rather than the woman at the desk. This is stupid, Andy, focus on the damn article. Finally it became apparent that neither woman was going to get any work done and Andy slammed the lid of her computer down before stalking over determinedly to Miranda’s desk and leaning over the back of her chair.

Long, lanky arms wrapped around Miranda’s shoulders and the editor turned to arch an eyebrow at her younger lover.

“I’m sorry,” Andrea murmured into Miranda’s neck. “I just hate that the last person who touched you wasn’t me or the girls. It’s stupid, and childish, I know, I just ugh…I just don’t like the idea of other people touching you, but that’s my problem to deal with, I know. I…”

The younger woman’s blathering was stopped as Miranda patted the arms wrapped around her reassuringly.

Andy’s hand slipped beneath the chocolate brown silk Donna Karan palazzo pants to palm the getting not-so-slight curve of her waist. “I have no right to be so possessive, of course the doctor and even other people will need to touch you, I…”

“Andrea.” Miranda’s voice once again stopped Andy’s babbling and she opened her eyes that had closed involuntarily at the pleasure of having Andrea’s hands against her bare skin. “You have every right. It’s the same right that allows me to despise Christian Thompson even if he hadn’t conspired against me with Jacqueline for the simple reason that he touched you, and didn’t understand the privilege gifted to him.”

“I think it’s a good thing I’m not your assistant anymore,” Andy smiled as she straightened up again. “We’d never get any work done...On the other hand I can’t watch you all the time so maybe not.”

“Mmm, a double bonus then,” Miranda teased, chuckling to herself as Andy stuck out her tongue.

“We’re home!” Twin voices rang out from the hallway as the girls burst through the front door. “Andy?”

“We’re in here, guys” Andy called out.

“We?”

“Mommy!”

Miranda’s heart gave a painful twinge as she heard the excitement in her girls’ voices at having their mother home when they returned from school. For all the privileges they had as her children, they were deprived of the simple little things that had the power to make the biggest difference.

“Mmm, hello my darlings,”

“Why are you home so early, mom?”

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes, Bobbseys, mommy’s fine. The doctor was here today and so far everything is fine with the babies.”

“When are we going to find out if they’re girls or boys?”

“Or both,” Caroline added to her sister’s comment. “I read that fraternal twins can be one of each.”

“Twenty weeks is usually when they reveal the gender, but we may find out at sixteen because of some extra tests your mom may have done.” Andy explained.

Miranda’s brow creased slightly though she remained silent at Andy’s comment. They had discussed the tests that could be done before briefly, but hadn’t been able to decide one way or the other. In the case of amniocentesis testing there was a .06-.86 % chance of procedure related miscarriage, and Chronic Villus Sampling, or CVS, was even higher at 1 in 100. At Miranda’s age, the pregnancy was riskier, and therefore the tests were more common as a result, to detect any abnormalities. However, because the risk of miscarriage was already increased with age as a factor, the stakes were even higher.

As the girls chattered about their day, Miranda’s cell rang, and glancing down at the number the editor suppressed a shiver, forcing a smile back on her face as she turned back to her daughters. The slight tremble of Miranda’s shoulders, however, was not missed by Andy and she instinctively moved closer, a hand on each of the girls’ shoulders.

“Yes?” Miranda spoke sharply into her blackberry, visibly tensing as she did.

As the caller on the other end spoke, Miranda’s face lost all colour almost instantly, and she reached out to steady herself on the edge of the gilt Louis XIV table she used as her desk.

As Miranda listened, she faintly registered a gentle warmth and pressure on her back as Andrea guided her to sit back in the chair she had just vacated.

“Has he given any indication as to why he’s cutting the trip short?” Miranda’s hand found its way to her belly, cradling it with fierce protectiveness as if reassuring herself they were still there and still hers.

Now Andy knew exactly who Miranda was speaking to, and there was only one ‘he’ whose mention would elicit the uncommon reaction from the woman.

 At Andy’s gasp the twins heads swivelled around in eerie tandem.

“What, what’s the matter?”

“Girls, why don’t you go find a movie for us to watch before dinner?”

Tempted by the rare treat, Caroline and Cassidy still stood protectively by their mother, eyes going back and forth between the two women who had always protected them in the past, confused at seeing fear in their eyes and in their voices. 

“What’s wrong with mom?”

“Go,” Miranda’s voice came out in a whisper, but the emotion behind it was forceful enough to send them scurrying out.

Kneeling next to the chair, Andy prised Miranda’s hand from off of her stomach where Andy was sure any there would be bruises or nail marks and rubbed it between her own, warding off the goose bumps she could see forming along the other woman’s skin.

“Call me with any new developments,” was the clipped response Miranda gave before ending the call and setting the phone down on her desk with forced calmness, not looking at Andrea for a long moment.

Only two words came from her lips, and they were breathed so softly Andy could barely hear them.

“He’s back.”

Chapter Text

Still kneeling by the older woman’s feet, Andy lay her head in Miranda’s lap, knowing she had to wait for the older woman to sort through her emotions before she would speak.

Miranda’s hand stroked through the silky chestnut strands and she focused on breathing evenly, knowing if she threw up again Andrea would insist on taking her into the hospital.

Her eyes fluttered closed in relief as she felt Andrea’s hand curve around her waist, thumb brushing carefully over her bloated waistline.

The low moan of relief turned to a single, choked sob as the soothing motion swept away any guards she had erected against her emotions. Instantly, Miranda found herself wrapped in Andrea’s arms, clutching the younger woman’s shoulders so tightly she feared she would leave bruises as she sobbed into the pale smooth neck, burying her face in the comforting warmth.

Andy led Miranda back over to the couch, sweetly stroking and petting over the distraught editor, and peppering her forehead and cheeks with kisses when Miranda finally raised her tearstained face to meet Andrea’s.

“I don’t know what to do,” Miranda admitted softly. “I don’t know that I have the strength to face Stephen and his lawyers, and Irv and the press. Part of me just wants to slip away in the night.”

“That wouldn’t make you happy in the long run Miranda…I know you love these babies, and you love the girls, and me…but you also need Runway, it’s a part of you. And one day you may leave, but that day isn’t today or tomorrow. And we’re all here for you, and no one is going to think any less of you for asking or accepting help. If they know you, they’ll know how much courage it took for you to ask at all.”

“And besides,” reaching with her free hand, Andy opened the laptop that had been left forgotten on the nearby ottoman. “You’re not the only one with connections.”

“I spoke with my Uncle John, he’s a detective for the NYPD Special Victims Unit. Whoever the police were that took your statement, they neglected to mention a slew of charges we could have successfully filed against Stephen at the time.

Miranda’s gaze, though blurry and tear-filled, scanned the open document on Andrea’s computer with intensity usually reserved for The Book.  

“Forcible touching and menacing in the second degree are the only two he said were all but sure to stick. The others, which include robbery in the first degree and assault in the second degree will depend on re-examination of the evidence by the defense AND prosecution if we decide to re-open the matter. If the first two go through, it will mean anywhere between 6 months to 4 years for two class A misdemeanours; the other two are B felonies, and if convicted Stephen will face 25 years.”

“Why? Why didn’t we know this before?”

“I’m sorry, Miranda. I didn’t even think to question what the police said past the point of what you saw in the hospital.”

“I’m not blaming you,” Miranda’s head whipped around to face Andy with growing concern. “Please don’t think that, darling.”

Andy kissed the uneven ridge of Miranda’s nose to let her know all was forgiven before answering the very next question Miranda had been about to ask.

“As for what’s next, we’ll need to give our statements again and have copies of the hospital medical records sent over to my uncle’s precinct. I’ve already taken the liberty of contacting Arthur Millen,” Andy named Miranda’s lawyer. “I should have done that the moment we got to the hospital the night you were hurt…” Andy mentally berated herself, hating that if she’d actually gone through with her law degree that she might be of better help to Miranda. Of course she couldn’t fully regret her decision, following her heart in one matter had led her to finding its other half in the silky-haired fashion editor snuggling into her side. Knowing that with the partial exception of the two redheads and the St. Bernard in the other room Andy was the only person and only one of Miranda’s partners to have ever been allowed access to this side of the enigma that was Miranda Priestly.

Nope, Andy thought, as she walked with Miranda to the entertainment room to join the rest of what she was starting to think of as her family, at this moment, and despite what the future threatened to bring, Andy had no regrets.

“What’s the matter with mom? Is she sick?”

“Is something wrong with the babies?”

“Nope, just a bad bellyache,” Andy chirped absentmindedly as she rummaged around in the cupboard for the exact flavor of tea she knew Miranda would be wanting as soon as she felt well enough to put anything past her lips again.

“Oh my god, you are truly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” Andy cooed teasingly as she re-entered the media room to see Miranda curled up on the couch, the fluffy comforter she had commandeered from the linen closet pulled up to her mouth as she peered up at Andy over it, pouting slightly.

“Hmmph, you were gone a long time.”

“Twenty minutes, tops!” Andy insisted, setting the tray down on the low-slung side table as she crouched down in front of the couch to meet Miranda’s accusing gaze.

“How’s the tummy feeling?”

“Terrible,” Miranda replied sulkily as she arched the offending part of her towards Andrea, all but begging to be touched. “It requires immediate attention.”

Andrea just rolled her eyes and laughed as she less than gracefully clambered behind Miranda on the couch so that one hand could stroke through the woman’s soft, white hair while the other exacted the ‘required’ ministrations on her belly.

It amused her how ‘catlike’ the pregnancy was making Miranda, though for all she knew, with the right person, Miranda’s desire to be petted over was nothing new.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Caroline’s nervous gaze flickered between her mother and the floor beside her where Cassidy had settled.

Miranda smiled gently, thinking not for the first time of just how different the girls were if you knew them at all. Caroline, her ever orderly ‘mommy’s helper’ and a keen worrier; and Cassidy: free-spirited and a snuggler from the day she was born. The two girls, well on their way to becoming young women, sitting in a pile of blankets at the base of the couch were a million miles away from the two precious little squirmy bundles she had held, curled up on her chest – sweet little breaths puffing onto her skin in a rhythm that was very nearly in tandem.

“Mummy’s stomach is just very upset, Bobbsey’s.” Miranda held her hand out towards her eldest, motioning her to join them before resting her own head on the softness of Andrea’s chest, feeling the vibrations as Andy quirked up an eyebrow at the girls.

“Alright squirts, what are we watching?”

Chapter Text

“Sergeant Munch, I’m grateful for you taking the time to meet with us, I understand this unit is unfortunately especially in demand.”

“John please, Miranda.” The older gentleman clasped her hand warmly, and the eyes that at first glance contained a hard-bitten cynicism softened into a wry warmth so reminiscent of her Andrea’s that she couldn’t help but smile softly in return.

Sergeant Munch opened the door of an office and ushered them inside before introducing them to the two other occupants in the room.

“Andy, Miranda, this is Captain Cragen, my boss and the head of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit.”

“Captain,” Miranda acknowledged the man with a respectful nod of her head before her gaze turned to the stunning brunette at his side.

“Olivia Benson,” the woman offered before John had a chance to speak.

“She’ll be the lead detective on the case as Munch can’t be seen working a case involving a member of his family,” Cragen nodded over at Andy.  “She also happens to be the best detective on the squad.”

“Hey!” Munch protested comically before his expression turned serious once again. “Seriously, Liv is one of the best.”

“Stop it you guys, you’re making me blush,” the woman laughed easily as she walked towards Andy and Miranda. Her face and voice took on a distinct low timbre that rivalled Miranda’s most deadly tones as she locked eyes with each of the women in turn and spoke in all seriousness now.

“We will get him, I promise you. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve dealt with an arrogant prick who believes everything and anything he lays his hands on is his for the taking and to use as he likes.”

“Will my daughters need to be brought into this? They were home the night of the attack.” Miranda asked, although there was no question as to what she expected the answer to be. Feeling a warm hand slip behind her to rest on the small on her back, the tension eased in her shoulders slightly and she leaned into the subtle embrace, an interaction that wasn’t missed by Detective Benson.

Olivia dipped her head slightly as she admitted there was a possibility the girls would be called forward to testify, however their DA would do her best to ensure the girls be kept out of the investigation and the court proceedings as much as possible.  “It will depend on whether the defense calls the girls forward.”

“Why would they do that?” Miranda asked sharply, “surely nothing the girls could say would help acquit Stephen, if anything it would be the opposite.”

Andy blinked as she realized what Olivia was talking about, her year of pre-law coming back in the face of the current investigation.

At Andrea’s exhale, Miranda turned to the younger woman, who nodded slowly.

“The girls, if they’re declared swearable, will only be able to testify that that they heard raised voices from downstairs – not that they heard Stephen. We can try to bring that they heard his voice in front of the jury but you can bet the defense will throw it out claiming hearsay.”

“Surely the jury would believe my daughters would recognize the voice of the man who had lived with them for the last 3 years. Even if they were to do a lineup…”

Andy shook her head again, giving her hand over to Miranda who seemed in need of something to hold onto as she realized the difficulties they faced ahead.

“The defense will use the argument that the girls’ identification of Stephen’s voice in a lineup is inadmissible because it’s possible that they’re only picking out his voice because it’s the only familiar one to them, and therefore their recognizing his voice is compromised by your previous living conditions.”

“Very good, Miss Sachs,” Cragen’s eyebrows were raised slightly as the younger woman finished her assessment.

“Stanford pre-law, years ago,” Andy admitted, blushing slightly at her uncle’s knowing grin.

The next few hours were a blur of statement, interviews and written accounts; and by the end of the day both women were completely shattered. Miranda for having to live through the events again and make herself vulnerable in the retelling; and Andrea, watching her go through it. She knew that in this case, Miranda’s memory for detail was as much a curse as it was a gift. After the final statement had been read over one last time and signed, the pair were left alone in Cragen’s office as they waited for the DA to file charges against Stephen. Miranda let her head fall to Andy’s shoulder and the woman placed an unobtrusive hand on her hip and pressed her lips to the snowy crown beneath her chin. Miranda sighed, grateful for the silence and the peace that Andrea’s presence and Andrea’s presence alone could give to her. She had been talking and talked to all day, and she knew the younger woman wanted to know what she was thinking and feeling, but she also knew that Andrea understood that voicing those worries would only irritate Miranda. And so they simply sat, the light physical contact between them telling each what they needed to know about the other; still, Andy drew both comfort and concern from the equally tense and limp body pressed against her side. The effort it had taken for the older woman to keep her mask of icy indifference while recounting personal details was bound to take its toll in another facet of her life, pushing the emotions away only meant they would resurface at some later, unknown point. All which led back to this moment and its purpose in letting down the burden of holding up those walls and seeking refuge in the safety and strength of an embrace that was not her own. A light knock on the door signalled Detective Benson’s reappearance, giving Andy and Miranda a moment to straighten and separate. Pulling a chair closer to the threadbare couch, the detective gave them the rundown of what would happen next.

“Just a few final questions, Miranda, so the defense doesn’t have any opportunity to blindside us with any other information that may be relevant to the case. As a lawyer himself, you can be sure Stephen’s going to try and drag you through the mud and discredit you in front of the jury.

Miranda paled slightly at the mention of the jury, Andy pursed her lips and brown eyes flashed angrily as she mentally cursed Stephen for the millionth time for putting Miranda through this. Re-living the assault with the added humiliation and discomfort of having to reveal personal details to a group of strangers.

 

Miranda stiffened, but the stunning older brunette was seemingly immune to the ice in the older woman’s stare. “Are you currently in a relationship?” Det. Benson carefully avoided looking at the younger woman with this question, knowing better than to assume despite her surety that the two were together.

“Yes.” Miranda’s lips thinned as she tolerated the personal question.

“Were you involved with this person or anyone else prior to filing divorce papers?”

“No.”

Even though she was no longer touching Miranda, Andy could feel the tension reappear in her lover’s body and she slipped her hand into the older woman’s, squeezing it reassuringly as Miranda shot a sharp glance in her direction, silently questioning her actions in front of the detective.

Andy patted the hand beneath hers before bringing it to her lips and turning her gaze towards the detective.

“With the assumption that this information will not leave this room or this precinct until absolutely necessary, Detective Benson, let me make this simpler for all of us. Yes, Miranda and I are in a relationship. It started the day after Miranda’s assault while we were in the hospital. Nothing happened between us prior to this date despite any feelings that would indicate the contrary. Miranda’s medical records from the attack will also be called into question I presume, so we can also confirm that Miranda is almost thirteen weeks pregnant with twins and intends to carry through with the pregnancy despite its high risk status. Biologically, Stephen Tomlinson is the babies’ father however, as of yet, he is not aware of their existence.”

Miranda’s features, which at first registered mild surprise, had settled into a smirk several sentences in to Andrea’s exposition and explanation of the unique circumstances surrounding the case, saving Miranda from having to do so when her nerves were already run ragged from the in-depth interrogations of the day.

Det. Benson smirked right back and nodded her head in Andy’s direction in acknowledgement before addressing the room once again.

“Once the charges are officially filed and served, Mr. Tomlinson’s lawyers will have access to Miranda’s formal statement as well as access to the medical reports from the emergency room intake. I would strongly suggest issuing a statement or releasing some information to the press to give you a foothold before all this breaks. I don’t imagine Stephen’s lawyers will think twice about leaking any sensitive information to swing public opinion in his favour.” She glanced pointedly at Miranda’s slightly swollen waistline, not flinching when Miranda’s gaze narrowed and her lips pursed.

“She’s right, Miranda,” Andy muttered as she exhaled noisily and flopped back against the sofa. “Even if he does hold off telling the press immediately, once these charges are announced you’ll be in the public eye more than ever; even if you declare potato sacks the next big trend, I don’t think we can hide your bump for much longer, especially not for another three weeks or so like we had hoped.”

Having been careful not to do so thus far in the presence of the detective, Miranda’s hand slipped to her stomach and she unconsciously mimicked the familiar circular movements of Andrea’s usual, casual caresses as she swallowed the uncomfortable truth of the younger woman’s statement. It didn’t sit well however, and Miranda breathed in carefully through her nose, willing her stomach to settle before she lost every last shred of dignity within the four walls of the precinct building.

“Easy,” Andy resumed her position directly beside Miranda and Olivia watched as the younger woman’s mere presence calmed the elder’s, at least to a point where she could speak.

“It’s too soon!” Miranda insisted in a harsh whisper. “If something were to happen and it had already been made public, I…”

“Don’t think like that, Miranda.”

“If I don’t, who will, Andrea?” the older woman’s patience that had been at breaking point all day finally snapped. “Will you? Or will you simply maintain the foolish fantasy that everything will be fine. You may not have lived long enough to know this, Andrea, but rest assured I have, and you can be equally ‘assured’ that everything does not always turn out alright, no matter how much we may wish or will it.”

Miranda stopped suddenly only to press her hand to the spasming muscles in her stomach, whose sharp contractions could be seen clearly despite the looseness of her blouse and a low, nearly silent moan escaped through gritted teeth.

“Hey,” a cool hand cupped her chin and turned Miranda’s face to look at hers. “Look at me, come on. Now deep breaths, easy…it’s okay, just breathe with me.”

Detective Benson had slipped out of the room without notice to give the couple some privacy, but now she returned, several minutes later with a bottle of still mineral water and a glass which she set down on the desk next to the pair.

Beneath her hand, Andy could feel jerky movements of Miranda’s stomach muscles slow and she continued to rub the her back for another long moment until she thought she would be able to speak without retching.

“Do you need the restroom?” she questioned gently, moving the white forelock from Miranda’s embarrassed gaze.

The older woman shut her eyes and shook her head no, before opening them again and moving her hand away from her mouth, reaching out shakily for the water on the desk.

As Miranda regained her composure, Andy turned to Detective Benson. “Is there anything else today that requires Miranda’s presence here? Or are we able to go home and wait for the call from the DA.”

“Alex, ADA Cabot I mean, just texted me. Charges have been filed and Stephen is being served as we speak. The only other decision you have to make for the moment is whether or not to file a restraining order against him.”

“Why wouldn’t we?” Miranda asked sharply, some colour returning to her cheeks.

“In order to be able to enforce the order, Stephen will have to be notified of your location within a kilometre or so between now and the trial date.”

“No.” Miranda said instantly, taking another sip of water to cover the tremble of her lips as she spoke.

“But Miranda,” Andy started.

“I said no, Andrea. He has taken enough from me, I won’t be made to feel a prisoner in my own city.” Miranda’s voice was hard and sure, but her eyes showed such exhaustion and pleading at the corners that Andy only sighed and took Miranda’s hand as she acquiesced.

“You can always change your mind,” Detective Benson tried to ease their respective worries as she handed over her card, scribbling her personal cell number on the backs. “Call me if you have ANY questions or concerns, okay?”

“Thank you, detective. Please pass on my and Andrea’s gratitude to your captain and the rest of your squad for the compassion and discretion you’ve shown in this matter. Rest assured, the NYPD will be receiving a larger than usual cheque from me this Christmas.

“We’ll get him, Miranda.”

Miranda nodded once sharply before donning her sunglasses and sweeping out the door, leaving Andrea to follow.

“Thank you, Detective Benson,” the young brunette smiled brightly at the woman holding the door before her features darkened and hardened past what the older brunette would have thought possible. “Get him.”

Chapter Text

After the charges had been filed, decisions had had to be made imminently now about the when and how of announcing Miranda’s pregnancy, as well as the divorce, the trial and her relationship with Andrea. So it was only a few days afterwards that the morning dawned that would see the news become public. Leslie had been working overtime along with Miranda’s lawyers to see that her position as Runway’s editor-in-chief was secure and the Elias-Clarke board had been informed of the unusual circumstances that would surround the announcement. Nothing had been heard from on Stephen’s end, they only knew he had been granted bail until the arraignment in a week’s time.

“Oh my God, I can’t stand it,” Andy groaned, flopping her head down on the breakfast table dramatically before pushing back her chair and standing.

Now in the middle of her fourteenth week, Miranda had ‘popped’ even further and developed what Andy could only best describe as a small, defined pot belly, not that that particular description would ever be voiced – especially not to Miranda. Still, Andy found the incongruous bulge adorable, even more so whenever she saw Miranda with her hand casually resting on her belly as she made corrections in The Book at night or rubbing it absentmindedly as she tried to decide what to wear in the mornings.

“What on earth is it you’re going on about, Andrea? What can’t you stand?”

“How freaking, ridiculously cute you are with a baby bump.”

Miranda rolled her eyes, but was helpless to stop the corners of her mouth from turning upwards in a fond smirk. “Believe me darling, nothing about it feels cute when you’re ruining the zippers of thousand dollar couture trying to cover it up.”

“You know, I’m still all for you walking around in absolutely nothing. I think it’s a marvelous new trend.”

“Dear God, the day when Andrea Sachs gives Miranda Priestly fashion advice.”

“Mm, don’t think of it as fashion advice,” Andy lowered her head so that she could nuzzle the older woman’s neck , murmuring in a softer tone so that only Miranda could hear, “think of it as me trying to make you feel as good as possible.”

Miranda’s eyes nearly rolled back into her head in pleasure as the younger woman’s fingers discreetly loosened the fastenings and soothed over the sore, red markings and raised ridges.

“Mom, you’re gonna smush the babies!” Cassidy said with some alarm from across the room as she looked up from her cereal.

“The babies are very well-protected my darlings, don’t worry. Besides, my adorable children are so perfectly made for ‘smushing’, as you call it.”

“Ack!” Twin shrieks rang out as Miranda pulled both of them close with an arm and smacked her lips against their cheeks to prove her point, and the pair ran out of the kitchen to wash the YSL suede lip lacquer off their cheeks before they had to leave for school.

“The morning papers will be out by now,” Andy said, coming up behind Miranda again as she stood at the kitchen counter. “How are you feeling?” She voiced the loaded question, knowing that to get any form of straight answer she had to tread carefully.

“Unfortunately, it’s the public who will decide that for me,” Miranda covered the hand around her waist with her own, taking comfort in the warmth of the young woman’s palm against her and intertwining their fingers.

“But remember who it is that shapes public opinion.”

“In fashion darling, not in matters of news and gossip.”

“Miranda Priestly is i-m-m-o-r-t-a-l,” Andy drew out the last word. “She is a goddess and therefore can, and does do what is ill afforded to lesser beings. She is Miranda Priestly, she can do anything.”

“The faith you have in your ‘goddess’…” Miranda stroked a finger across Andy’s cheek as she cupped her chin fondly. “I only hope it’s not misplaced.”

She slipped out of Andy’s embrace, disappearing into her study. Andy didn’t follow, knowing her presence wouldn’t be welcome at the moment.

After pacing a few times behind her desk, Miranda’s attention was diverted to her open inbox, flashing on the screen of her laptop. Ignoring the latest messages that had come in, Miranda’s gaze fell on the message Andrea had sent to her parents the day after they went to the police station and that she had BCC’d Miranda on as well as Doug and Lily.

Hi Mom and Dad, Hope you’re enjoying your cruise. By the time you get back, the media will be all over the news I’m about to share with you. I’m seeing someone – and no, that’s not what will have attracted the tabloid sharks, although considering mom’s lamenting about my lack of a love life you might think it would be. Jokes aside for the moment however, I am seeing someone, and it’s serious. I’d known them for a while because of work for about a year now, although we only became involved in the last two months. Most importantly you need to know that this person is everything I never realized I was missing in my life, and I finally feel like I’m growing into the person I’m meant to be now that I’m with them. We love each other, unconditionally – and we fight, and we laugh but most importantly we love each other, as equals and partners. You also need to know that ‘they’ are a ‘she’. Unexpected? Yes. For both us, believe me, but being together doesn’t feel like choosing between the sexes, it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. Neither one of us ever imagined we would ever have the other as a lover, and neither one of us would ever have guessed that person was female. Does this mean I’m a lesbian now? I don’t know. I certainly don’t have these feelings for any other woman, and I know that I never had these feelings for Nate, much as I once cared for him.

As for the ‘who’ in the equation, the explanation is not so simple. Dad, do you remember last year when you came to New York for a visit? The person who interrupted our dinner plans? Yep. That’s her. Now before you turn the cruise ship around so you can question my sanity, go back and read the last paragraph. Then think about it, sit and talk for awhile & then respond to this email. I’ll be here waiting, at home with my family.

Love always,

Your Daughter Andy

Miranda closed her laptop and glanced at the clock for the hundredth time that morning. The car would be here soon to take herself and Andrea to the Elias Clarke building where there was a press conference scheduled later on in the morning. Oh God, and before that there would be Irv to deal with, not to mention the crowd of paparazzi she knew was waiting outside the building thanks to a text she had seen on Andrea’s phone from Emily.

Not for the first time, Miranda found herself wishing they had had more time.

The next ultrasound was in 10 days’ time; the results from the other tests would be in by then as well, assuming everything went as planned. She would be having the amniocentesis as it had the least risks attached to it, not that that assuaged her anxiety over the procedure she was scheduled for next week.

“You had better be alright,” she whispered fiercely, pressing a hand to the curve of her stomach. Closing her eyes once more Miranda leaned back in her chair and slipped her hand beneath her blouse until it came to rest on the firm, rounded belly she would soon no longer have to fear people discovering. If only she were far along enough to feel movement, perhaps then she would feel better about the events the arraignment had set in motion. Pressing down on the small bulge, Miranda concentrated all her energy trying to feel any hint of movement or wriggles or any sign that would tell her her babies were strong and healthy. As the clock chimed half past seven though, a light knock came at the door, followed soon after by Andrea.

“Miranda? Roy’s here, we have to leave soon.”

Miranda moved her hand away from her stomach and turned away to straighten her outfit. She stiffened as she felt Andrea come up behind her. Surprisingly though, the young woman didn’t say a word; all she did was adjust the vintage Hermes belt buckle before taking Miranda’s hand in her own.

“Andrea?” Even as felt the name leave her lips Miranda didn’t quite know what she meant to question or expected to hear in reply.

It seemed Andy did though, and she made sure to meet the unsure cerulean gaze as she answered.

“I’m right here, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

As they pulled up to the Elias-Clarke building, Miranda reached for Andrea’s hand reflexively as the horde of reporters, news teams and paparazzi burst into a frenzy of activity at the sight of the black Mercedes pulling up to the curb. Miranda was generally able to eye most paparazzi into submission had they the least idea of her status and reach in publishing, but this story was seemingly too good to pass up and the likelihood of Miranda following through on any threat was negated by the sheer collective manpower this morning’s article had conjured.

Usually, Miranda was out of the car before Roy had the chance to unbuckle his seatbelt, impatient to start her day and already irritated at the prospect of the incompetence she was no doubt going to find once she stepped into the office. Today however, Miranda was exceedingly and shamefully grateful for Roy’s gallantry as he put himself between Miranda and the crowd in a protective gesture, slipping back into his long-ago military training as he placed himself as a buffer between the jostling throng and the petite woman fighting against the instinct to cover her belly against any askance blows from the numerous cameras and microphones being shoved her way. Andy however, kept a protective hand on Miranda’s lower back even as she shielded her from the brunt of the flashes. Two of the Elias-Clarke security guards had come outside at the latest commotion and formed another barrier between Miranda and the crowd so that the pair was able to slip through the mob with minimal difficulty.

Once they were safely inside the building and in the elevator on their way up to the Runway offices, Miranda exhaled shakily, leaning into Andrea for a brief moment of comfort before allowing the steel back into her features as the doors chimed open.

A nod of her head prompted Emily and Nigel to follow Miranda into her office.

Once they were inside and the door closed, Nigel stepped back to inspect her outfit; a structured but feminine red Carolina Herrera tulip skirt with the fabric folded into inverted pleats that met at the waistband into which was tucked a filmy white chiffon tie-neck blouse with silk cuffs. Mahogany crocodile leather pumps circa 1940’s Prada and matching Hermes belt with gold hardware completed the look along with a simple knotted gold chain and Movado timepiece.

“Very nice,” he mused, motioning with a finger for her turn around so he could see the whole effect of the outfit.

“What do you think, Nigel? I know the papers have all reported the pregnancy but I didn’t want to draw any excess of attention or hide it completely so that the paparazzi go wild trying to get a first shot.”

Eyes widening slightly in surprise at the abnormal situation of an uncharacteristically insecure Miranda, Nigel covered his surprise with a careful scrutiny of the publishing icon before giving his opinion.

“I would say the shape perhaps hints at the pregnancy – but the way it’s held out structurally means that the fabric doesn’t cling to your belly or show the actual shape other than the topmost curve.”

“An illusion then, “Miranda’s lips curved upwards in a rueful smirk as she ran a hand over her abdomen, drawing in the material so that it clearly outlined the bump, showing that the distance between the fabric and skin was, in actuality, next to nil.

There was an audible intake of breath from Emily as she was confronted with irrefutable physical proof of Miranda’s pregnancy and a cheerful chuckle from Nigel.

“My goodness, we certainly are growing. If I didn’t already detect elevated levels of hormones in the room I would be tempted to make some pithy play on words with ‘upscale’, but I rather value my job and my loins so I believe I’ll refrain.”

Miranda eyed him sharply, “Wise choice.”

Moving forward to clasp his friend’s hand in his, Nigel squeezed them gently. “You’re glowing, you know.”

Andrea and Nigel could both see that Miranda was pleased and uncomfortable with the compliment at the same time.

“We’ll leave you to it, I believe Irv will be calling the ‘impromptu’ press conference to order in a few minutes and all Runway personnel are expected to be in attendance.”

“Impromptu my ass,” Emily muttered underneath her breath and then blushed furiously as Miranda raised an eyebrow. “Well we all knew he was planning to do it,” she justified lamely, going silent as Miranda actually gave a wry chuckle at this.

Turning back around to face Miranda’s desk after closing the door behind Emily and Nigel, Andrea smiled softly at the image presented to her. Miranda, silhouetted against the morning light coming in the floor to ceiling windows, staring pensively out at the traffic below, reflexively running a manicured hand back and forth across her stomach as she stood, lost in thought.

“God, you’re beautiful.”

Miranda turned away from the light and Andy saw her gaze soften and warm slightly as she accepted a kiss from her although her voice still held a tinge of sadness as she responded.

“Only to you, darling.”

Andy’s hands settled around her waist until they caught Miranda’s. “I do think, however, that if you want the press not to focus on your pregnancy then you might need to refrain from touching your belly so often.

Miranda’s brow furrowed for a moment until she realized what her hand was doing of its own accord and stilled her hand, moving it to rest on Andrea’s as she took up the comforting touches.

“I don’t remember being like this with the girls, needing to feel them constantly, reassure myself they’re still there.”

That they won’t leave you; Andy finished Miranda’s thought silently before responding.

“There was less threatening them. And the one thing the press of all people should know for sure is that Miranda Priestly is a fiercely protective, loving mother to her children.”

Miranda let her head fall back onto Andrea’s shoulder as the younger woman slipped open a buttonhole in her blouse and brushed the bare skin beneath with the back of her thumb.

“I hate that he can make you do this.”

“You let me deal with Irv, darling.” She paused slightly at this before turning in the embrace to cup Andy’s cheek in a cool hand. “I’m afraid I’ll need you for the other monsters under the bed.”

“You have me. Always.”

Just then a text came through from Emily and Andy sighed before pocketing her phone and pressing a kiss to the palm still cupping her cheek.


 

“I understand you are all here today in response to the articles published this morning regarding Miranda Priestly. I am able to confirm that Miranda is in a relationship with Mirror reporter, Andy Sachs who previously worked under her as a junior assistant.  As long-time editor-in-chief of Runway, Miranda has always been cognizant of the reflection any actions in her personal life may have on the magazine, and I can put to rest any rumours or idle speculation of their involvement during Ms. Sachs’ tenure at Runway. That is all the information relevant to the public or press and any further comments on the nature or circumstances of their relationship will not be acknowledged by any members staff of Elias-Clarke Publications. The same rule applies for any comments regarding the news of Miranda’s pregnancy. The only comment from this office is that we wish Miranda and family all the best on the coming additions and know that Miranda’s professionalism will ensure the quality, artistry and innovation Runway is known for will not falter during this time.

It was one thing to be paraded in front of the press to appease the oily little chairman of the board – it was another entirely to be thrown to the wolves as Irv had just done by granting the press an all-access pass for questioning.

Andrea was the only one close enough to Miranda to hear the almost inaudible gasp at Irv’s last words, but Nigel, Emily and even Serena looked particularly murderous as well as four concerned gazes followed Miranda’s progress to the Elias-Clarke podium that had been brought out by maintenance just for this purpose at Irv’s command.

The transparent Lucite and gold lettering of the stand provided little in the way of camouflage or a shield against the hundreds of camera flashes that went off as Miranda made her way across the marble entryway of the building that was currently being put to use as a platform. Outwardly, Miranda was the picture of cool indifference but for the delicate sheen of sweat on the back of her neck just below her hairline. Unconsciously, Andy found herself slowly moving closer to her love, all the while sweeping her gaze across the sea of her so-called ‘peers’; she swore she could almost see the predatory gleam of saliva. It seemed as their mouths opened in one fearful, gruesome maw as the throng began to shout out questions, the sudden increase in volume and clamouring bodies making it appear as though the mob was closing in on the suddenly small frame of the editor.

“Miranda, how long have you and Andy Sachs been in a relationship?”

“How long have you known you were gay?”

“Do you make a habit of sleeping with your assistants?

“I believe Mr. Ravitz has already answered many of your questions. I have never engaged in inappropriate relations with any member of Runway or Elias-Clarke; any relationships I have partaken in have all been initiated and conducted outside of the workplace.”

Andy stopped a few steps behind Miranda as she began to respond to the allegations, knowing the older woman wouldn’t appreciate her interference in something she admittedly knew very little about dealing with. It was only when she saw Miranda’s hand twitch in the direction of her belly as though she were desperately trying not to cradle the bump as she frequently did when she was especially anxious or stressed that Andy’s protective instincts went into overdrive, and her sense of social propriety was eroded as her vision turned red.

 “Is that why Stephen filed for divorce?”

“Did you ever have a threesome, or did you not want to share?”

“Miranda, will the pregnancy influence the outcome of the criminal trial against Stephen Tomlinson for assault and attempted rape?”

“Is this baby the product of rape? Or is crying rape a tactic for the divorce settlement?”

Miranda gripped the slick Lucite of the podium firmly, making every effort not to let her shoulders slump in relief at feeling a warm, strong hand at the small of her back as Andrea stepped up beside her.

What the beautiful brunette didn’t expect was for the reporters to become even more frenzied as they snapped the first shots of the couple together.

She was furious but held it together, managing to refrain from ripping their heads off literally or verbatim as she listened to the filth and rumours the disparate tabloids and newspapers would all be pandering before today’s issue had even cooled from the presses.

“Due to legal reasons, we are unable to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation against Stephen Tomlinson. Obviously, our primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of our children. As more details about the trial are released, I would hope that my colleagues in the press would have the decency to report the facts accurately and without idle or harmful speculation. We will do our best to keep you informed with any relevant facts if in return you provide the courtesy of leaving our family in peace during this difficult time and not harassing an expectant mother or her children.”

“I want any meetings pushed back by an hour,” Andy spoke coolly as she led the small group back into the lobby. It was only when Miranda made no comment at Andy’s sudden takeover of her schedule that she realized that hour would be necessary to try and sort out whatever was going on in Miranda’s head. Ideally, she’d like to cancel the woman’s meetings for the entire day, take her home and put her straight back to bed. But an uninterrupted hour in her office would have to suffice instead.

“Thank you,” Miranda whispered quietly once they were alone in the elevator.

“For what, sweetheart?” Andy frowned slightly as she tucked a piece of hair behind Miranda’s ear, not moving her arm from around the older woman’s waist; needing her to be close as much as Miranda needed her close.

“For everything,” Miranda lifted the hand from around her waist and pressed it to her lips. “For defending me,” a bright smile slowly grew as she raised her eyes to meet Andrea’s, “for protecting ‘our’ family.”

Chapter Text

Once Miranda was back in her office with the new Emily having been dispatched for coffee, Andy excused herself from the room without looking at Miranda and nearly fleeing down the hall. Nigel’s gaze flicked over briefly to Miranda, whose expression flashed a mixture of hurt and confusion only to be schooled back into a mask of feigned neutrality. The gleam of tears however, kept threatening to destroy her composure and she dismissed Emily and Nigel curtly, shutting the doors to her office after them.

Emily shot her own look over at Nigel, who was already turning to head after their friend, answering the redhead’s silent command. “I’m on it.”

Andy tried to school her expression into one of calm, her mood worsening as the reactions of the people she passed let her know she was failing miserably. She didn’t know where she was going, only that she couldn’t let Miranda see her like this. Miranda needed her to be calm, to be strong, and at the moment she was feeling anything but.

Given that the building was still surrounded by the press, there were few places she could go to hide or collect herself – it didn’t help that most of the office walls were glass. The majority of Runway employees were still making their way back up to the 17th floor after the press conference, so Andy was able to slip in to the Closet unnoticed, walking to one of the back corners where rejects from Fall 2010 were waiting to be processed and donated, having finally been cleared out three years later.

Nigel had seen a flash of familiar brunette go through the doors and he grabbed Lucia from accessories, instructing her not to let anyone in until his say so.

He was grateful for the baby-soft leather of the $1700 Ferragamo brogues he was wearing as he quietly snuck up on the young woman from behind, not wanting to scare or startle her for fear she would bolt again. Her breathing was ragged and uneven as she fought to control the anger bubbling up inside her. But her brain kept sending up images and flashes of Miranda and the events of the press conference; questions about the attack, her marriage, the likelihood of a successful pregnancy at 50. With each question, memories of finding Miranda unconscious, the nights the older woman had cried herself to sleep clinging fearfully to Andy’s shoulder, the worse nights where the older woman wouldn’t even come to bed for fear of the nightmares and would lock herself up in her study and not even Andy could talk her out of her headspace all flung up in Andy’s mind.

Suddenly, it was all too much and Andy screamed, letting her fist fly out to hit the wall before crumpling to her knees as harsh sobs tore from her chest.

Before she could slide completely to the floor, Nigel caught her up in surprisingly strong arms and she clung to his chest, crying as though her heart were breaking. Uncharacteristically he said nothing – made no wry comment, offered no empty platitude, just held her as she needed to be held after keeping it together for so long.

After several long minutes, Nigel tilted her head upwards with a finger under her chin and offered her his handkerchief. “Come now darling, any more tears and even Runway’s laundress magicians won’t be able to salvage my vest.”

She hiccupped disconsolately before turning back to meet his own concerned gaze with her anguished liquid, brown one. “I can’t do this.”

Nigel’s heart dropped but his expression remained steady. “What do you mean by ‘this’?”

“This standing by, this impotency! It used to be my job to fix anything that went wrong and I did! But now…” she broke off, looking around helplessly. “All I’m doing is causing the problem.”

Nigel nodded, still schooling his features blankly as he asked, “So why didn’t you think of that when you broke up her marriage? Or when you left her unconscious, beaten and pregnant on the floor of her own home after assaulting her in a drunken stupor?”

“What? Nigel, what the fuck are you talking about? I didn’t do any of that!”

“Exactly.” He sighed, exasperated and not a little sad and bemused at how poorly two of his best friends seemed to view themselves.

“Andy, you are what is keeping her sane; as sane as Miranda can be anyway. Since you came back, since you first showed up here actually, hideous blue sweater and all, Miranda has been happier and lighter than I’ve ever seen her. You heal something in her soul, Andy. You soothe whatever ache it is that has made her so hungry and so wary and such a bitch and so untouchable. I see something in her face that I’ve never seen before, the only time I’ve ever seen it before you was the day after she gave birth to the girls and I went to see her in the hospital and she was alone in the hospital room, holding those two tiny babies for the first time.”

“What did you see?” Andy croaked hoarsely, asking more out of duty than out of hope for the answer.

Nigel smiled sadly. “Peace.”

Bit by bit, he slowly saw the Andy he knew return. She scrubbed her face with her hands and sighed as she let the truth of it sink in.

“Ugh. You’re right Nigel. Of course you’re right.”

“And you know what she’s thinking right now?”

“That I’ve been freaked out by the press and decided that it was all too much and that I’m going to leave her,” Andy replied with dawning comprehension. “Shit Nigel, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do. I’m trying not to freak her out, to be strong for her.”

“So? What’s too much? When are you going to look around and realize you can’t do it after all? What is she worth losing? Your job, your friends, your family? Figure out at what point to cut your losses. How much is Miranda worth to you?”

“Everything! She’s everything…”

“So don’t let some misguided notion of having to be perfect or strong destroy everything.”

Miranda was seated on the middle of the couch, her arms wrapped around herself, shoulders shaking with suppressed sobs. Her head snapped up as the door opened, ready to fire the person who had dared to disturb her when her door was closed and who was now seeing her like this, broken.

Anger, sadness, relief and joy flared in her chest as she saw Andrea come back through the door, but before her overwhelmed mind could make a decision as to which of her cycling emotions to pick, she felt her lower lip tremble and was helpless against the tears that followed.

Andy saw Miranda’s features flash through a multitude of emotions before crumpling once more into a mask of despair.

“No, sweetheart no; oh no, don’t cry.” Andy saw Miranda’s lower lip quiver and felt her own heart throb painfully in her chest as Miranda turned away, a fist pressed to her mouth to stifle the sobs and the other still wrapped around her waist as though she were trying to keep herself from falling apart.

Ignoring Miranda’s usual preferences for displays of affection in public or at work, Andrea gathered the shaking figure into her arms, rocking back and forth gently as she crooned words of comfort and reassurance until Miranda’s death grip on her sleeve loosened and she sat back.

“I’m sorry if I scared you.” Miranda bristled slightly at the implication out of habit, even knowing it was true, and Andy held up a hand to silence the older woman knowing she was about to make a defensive remark. “I just needed a minute to clear my head. This is all a bit overwhelming for me too, you know? I got so wrapped up in trying to be the strong one that I snapped, and I didn’t want you to see that I was weak.”

Miranda shook her head, wincing at the pounding the simple action induced after her crying jag. “No Andrea, it is I who should apologize, and I’m sorry. I realize now I’ve been treating you as my assistant all over again, except this time you’re catering to my every emotional whim and that’s not fair, especially when you haven’t had any experience in dealing with a situation like this before.”

“But that’s just it! I want you to lean on me. I want to be strong for you because I know how much strength it takes for you to let yourself be vulnerable.” She paused and took a deep breath. “But you have to start believing that I’m not going to leave you. I don’t know what else I can say or do to make you believe that."

“I do trust you, Andrea, implicitly; with myself and my children. It’s me I don’t trust not to do or say the wrong thing that will ultimately drive you away like I have all the rest. But unlike all the rest, this is the one that would kill me when it ended.”

“I’m going to need air again, or to take a walk or a night out; but that’s healthy. I know you need your space just like I need mine, and that’s why I don’t push when you go into your study and shut the door. I trust you to come to me with the important stuff. But the next time you have doubts or get scared that I’ll leave, think about this” she paused and gently pressed her lips to Miranda’s before voicing the obvious corollary. “I will always come back.”

Miranda’s hand crept to the back of Andrea’s neck and pulled her in closer to deepen the kiss. After a moment, they broke apart, breathing heavily and Andy rested her forehead against Miranda’s as she caught her breath that the older woman took away so easily even just with her presence. “I will be with you forever, Miranda. This is my forever, you are my forever and my everything. As for the press and the trial and anything else that’s going to get thrown our way, we’re just going to have to take it one day at a time.”

“I’ve never been particularly good at waiting,” Miranda murmured wryly as Andrea continued to nuzzle her neck as she spoke.

“Alright, well how’s this? On Thursday we’re going to go in for the amnio and then next Wednesday when we get the results we’re going to know if it’s two more girls or boys or both growing in this belly.” She smiled and brushed back the white forelock as her other hand curved around the bump. “And then we get to plan the nurseries and fight about names. And then, sometime after that you are going to get very large and after some screaming and swearing and sweating and possibly cursing my name and crushing my hand, you are going to deliver two healthy babies and then we’ll come home from the hospital and I’m going to spend the rest of my life loving you and watching our children grow up to become their own kind of neurotic.”

“Sounds wonderful,” Miranda breathed against Andy’s chest as her eyes closed under the ministrations of the younger woman’s fingers running gently through her hair and lulled by the soft vibrations of her voice.

Setting the alarm on her phone with her free hand for the next 20 minutes until Miranda had a lunch meeting, Andy fell asleep to the slow, even pattern of Miranda’s breathing

Emily looked up as Nigel came back through the offices and stopped at her desk, waiting for Miranda’s door to reopen so they could begin their meeting which he was pre-emptively early for to the tune of about half an hour. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah…it will be.”

Chapter Text

She's alive! And also apparently taking to referring to herself in third person. Anyway, sweet readers, as always my muse would dearly love your thoughts and comments.

Also there is some smut in this chapter. There hasn't been a ton so far I know. Attempting to stretch myself as a writer, and being straight don't have the same insight or relevant experience for femmeslash pairings! That being said, there still won't be a ton, but there it is for your consideration.


"I think I've changed my mind about the amniocentesis," Miranda mentioned nonchalantly the evening before the scheduled procedure as she went through The Book in bed.

"Okay…" Andy tried to wrap her head around Miranda's sudden change in opinion. She walked out of the bathroom where she had been getting ready for bed and slid underneath the covers, propping herself up on one elbow only so she could see Miranda's face as it scanned across the pages she was determinedly focusing on instead of Andrea.

"Do you want to tell me why?"

"I don't believe it will do any good, and there is still some element of harm for the babies. What if there's something wrong, Andrea? There is so much this test could tell us and there wouldn't be anything we could do about it. I don't want to have to make the choice to terminate the pregnancy even if science still insists they're little more than a paltry amalgamation of embryonic cells."

"Hey, hey! How did we get from amnio to abortion? Look at me, Miranda. If those tests tomorrow show something wrong with the babies, what do you think is going to happen? If the babies have Down Syndrome are you going to want to abort? If they have cystic fibrosis or some other congenital defect that makes them different are you worried that you'll be ashamed or embarassed?"

"No, and I hope it would always be no. But Andrea, much as I want to say no, I can't even consider the possibility of something being wrong. I don't know how I would cope and neither do you. The fact remains that I do not know if I would be able to raise a special needs child. Love? Of course, but raise or raise successfully? No."

Now Andy moved The Book from Miranda's lap and lay her head to rest in the perfect, concave valley between Miranda's breasts and where the rise of her belly began.

"There was a girl in my junior high, Cathy, who had Down Syndrome. She was the only person I had ever met or seen before with a physical and mental 'disability'. It's not an excuse, but grade seven really sucked for me, and for once I wasn't the loser who didn't fit in; that was Cathy. She was a really sweet girl. One day she brought in homemade cookies for Valentine's, and Melissa, that was the head of the seventh grade 'clique' I was in, told everybody not to take any because they might catch Cathy's disease. I…I knew you couldn't catch Down Syndrome. Melissa knew it wasn't contagious either; but I froze, and when Cathy came around with the tray I just shook my head and looked away. I saw her later though, tipping the whole, untouched tray of cookies into the garbage can. I hated myself for that. After that I didn't hang out with Melissa anymore because every time I looked at her, I saw the expression on Cathy's face and the image of thirty carefully iced cookies being thrown out because they had been made by her. But neither could I face Cathy, and I ended up eating lunch alone until high school, which was what I had been afraid of in the first place. It's alright to want a healthy child, but I know we would love her, I know you love her already in the gentle way you touch your belly when you think no one is watching. And no matter what you might be afraid of, I know you would love them. We're all a little bit broken in some way."

"How do you make everything better?"

Andy smirked. "Sweet talker, now roll over a little bit so I can work out those knots and we can both maybe get some sleep tonight."

Groaning her appreciation at both the offer of a backrub and the closing of the topic, Miranda wedged a pillow under hips and turned over, slipping her nightgown over her shoulders as she did so.

Twenty minutes of Andrea's hands on her hyper-sensitive skin had Miranda clenching her legs together even as the rest of her body melted under the tender ministrations. She could feel the burn of Andrea as more of the wet heat pressed itself against her bottom and the backs of her thighs.

Andy could practically feel the energy rolling off Miranda in waves; powerful, electric, intoxicating and drawing her in as though her soul was being pulled into Miranda's body and the need to combine her energy and mesh it with Miranda's was overpowering as she looked down at the form she had originally straddled for the sake of massage.

Pale curves that nearly glowed from the combination of moonlight and arousal; the delicate hitch of her breath and the way she arched her back with a soft exclamation of surprised pleasure as long brunette tresses trailed over the inner skin of her thighs and worshipful lips and tongue teased the taut skin of her swollen belly. Warm palms cupped full breasts and slid down her body with lingering touches; the same warm palms that wrapped around her body to rest at the small of her back, their heat soothing the strain as she arched her back violently at the sudden blissful sensation of being filled by Andrea. Thrusting her hips forward, Miranda dug her heels into the mattress, mouth opening and closing as she tried to formulate words, but only succeeding in whimpers, gasps and moans. "Andrea…m-more…Oh God, yes, yes." Just when Andy thought the body in her arms couldn't be drawn any tighter, the older woman stiffened and convulsed, a shaky, ragged cry being torn from her lips as her orgasm tore across her body.

This was vital. This is what was necessary for life. It was Miranda. It was only Miranda for her.

Miranda was aware of soothing kisses being pressed to her skin as she came back to herself after the violent and much needed release in Andrea's arms. Unlike the previous ones, these kisses were meant to quieten and soothe rather than inflame.

Lowering the trembling frame back to the mattress, Andy's focus shifted to the wet, pink mouth that whispered "love you" on a sigh as blue eyes reopened and met brown, understanding the implicit need in their liquid depths. With Andy's body still crouched over her like a cage, Miranda moved both hands to the perfect breasts that swayed so enticingly in her vision now that it had cleared from the powerful haze of orgasm. Now it was Andy's turn to stiffen and arch as one delicate hand moved to tease the sensitive flesh between her thighs, coaxing them open until they were spread as wide as she could bear. Cool air teased the heated lips of her entrance and she mewled in delicious frustration as a leisurely fingertip trailed around the edges, just slipping in to tease the wetness before leaving her empty and aching for Miranda's touch.

From those gentle, teasing touches, Andy screamed as the flat of Miranda's hand suddenly pressed against her, the heat and pressure and fullness catapulting her into a nearly painful orgasm that rocked every nerve ending from her hair to her toes. Still moving her palm in slow circles, Miranda pressed her lips to the damp skin of Andy's shoulder as she felt Andrea come down from her release slowly, relishing in giving the younger woman goose bumps as she stimulated heavy aftershocks with her hand until both fell into an exhausted sleep.

"Andrea!" Miranda shook Andy's shoulder roughly a few hours later. "Andrea, wake up. I feel it!"

"What? Wha's wrong? You feeling sick?" Andy shook her head slightly, trying to clear the sleep from her mind as she tried to figure out what Miranda was talking about.

Pale, sage green silk was bunched up around her waist as she leaned back against the pillows, arms cradling the bottom and top of her small belly.

"I feel them," Miranda whispered, her face lighting up in a wide grin as she met Andrea's gaze.

"What? Are you serious? They're moving?" Andy bounced up onto her knees beside Miranda.

"My babies," Miranda whispered again, as though speaking at a regular volume would scare the gentle movements away. "There they are."

"Did you doubt it?" Andy teased gently, pushing the white forelock back behind her ear.

Miranda moved her gaze back to the belly she still cradled in her arms.

"You are so fucking beautiful it hurts." Andy leaned forward and kissed Miranda with tears in her eyes before moving to rest her lips against the firm mound in a softer kiss.

"Hi babies. Mama and mommy love you so much and we can't wait to meet you in a few months. But for now you two stay snuggled up in mommy's tummy until you're big and strong and we can hold you in our arms.

Miranda laughed joyfully as Andy's voice vibrated through her navel before stopping with a sudden gasp. "There it is again."

"What does it feel like?" Andy's hand kept a gentle massage of Miranda's belly, needing the contact despite the fact it was too early for her to feel anything from the outside.

"Mmm, like butterfly wings brushing against your skin or a fish," Miranda's eyes were closing now and her voice grew softer as she dropped off to sleep, helpless against the somnolent lure of Andrea's hands and voice as well as her own exhaustion.

Andy was quick to join her, although in the moments of hazy lucidity that preceded sleep she couldn't help the thought that came to mind of the fact that this latest fear, minute as it had ended up being, was only the smallest of battles in a much larger war.

Chapter Text

“Mom, are you ok?” Caroline eyed her mother anxiously over her bowl of cereal the next morning, small brows knitted together in concern as she took in the way Miranda’s hands stayed all but glued to her belly and her eyes stayed dreamy and distant.

“Yes Bobbseys, the babies are just moving around in mommy’s tummy.”

“Really?”

“Can I feel?”

Andy just narrowly grabbed the stools from crashing to the ground as the two excited almost eleven year olds rushed over to feel their new siblings.

“Mmm, they’re still too little to feel from the outside,” Miranda explained, covering the two small pairs of hands that had attached themselves to either side of her belly.

Andy joined in the conversation, walking over from the coffee machine with her mug. “But once the babies are a little bigger, you’ll be able to feel them all the time – you’ll probably be able to see them moving around as well.”

“Like in Alien? Ew!”

“Not eww, Caro. It’s cool!”

Cassidy pursed her lips in an endearingly familiar gesture. “Is the test today gonna hurt the babies? They have to use a needle right?”

“The needle is just going to collect a sample of the fluid around the babies so the doctors can look at it under a microscope to make sure everything is developing correctly. We’ll be home before you come back from piano practice after school.” Miranda reassured her as yet youngest daughter.

“Maybe we can even watch a movie before dinner if your mom’s not too tired.” Andy winked at the girls before handing them their backpacks, hearing Roy pull up to the townhouse.

The amnio wasn’t scheduled until two o’clock, and Miranda had originally taken the whole day off, hence the unusual pleasure of sleeping in until the heathenish hour of 8 am and being there when the girls left for school, but now Andrea noticed the restless movements of the older woman and the way her teeth kept catching her bottom lip.

“Hey,” Andy approached the anxious figure, wrapping her arms loosely around her waist but keeping far back enough so that she had to look her in the eyes.

“Did you want to go into Runway for a few hours? We can go for lunch and then to the appointment.”

“You wouldn’t mind?” Miranda quickly dismissed the thought of pretending that hadn’t occurred to her; and looking into the familiar warmth of the brown gaze found that Andrea knew it was an offer of escape from the worries that tightened her chest and shortened her breath.

“It’s Thursday. You won’t be in the office again until Monday and by going in today you can reassure yourself that everything’s on track so you won’t have to worry about more than one thing. Well, two things.” Andy smirked, letting her thumbs slip under the loose tunic top Miranda was wearing to rub in gentle circles, still keeping her hands firmly on Miranda’s hips as she pulled her closer.

 More grateful than ever for the exquisite gift she had been given in Andrea, Miranda inhaled shakily before attacking Andrea’s mouth with her own, trying to put everything she was unable to vocalise into the kiss.

 

Even with a swollen belly and a more rolling gait, Miranda Priestly could still scare the living shit out of someone with the same efficacy as her pre-pregnancy days had afforded her, if not more with the added threat of increased hormonal instability looming over the heads of the unlucky.

“Ray Ann, if I had wanted to feature shapeless gingham smocks, the text on the doors would read The Prairie Home Companion. Seeing as they read ‘Runway’, I would recommend bringing me something than Laura Ingalls rejects by the end of the day or you’ll no longer have a reason to walk through those doors.”

As the thoroughly chastened clacker flew out of Miranda’s office Andy looked up from the couch where she had set up shop for the morning and was working on her articles for The Mirror.

“Do you know what that does to me when you’re standing there, all pregnant and cute and then you tear someone down, making me hot as fuck? Do you know what that mixture does to me?”

Miranda looked up at her innocently before her eyes narrowed familiarly. “I don’t believe I asked you to comment, Andrea.” As she spoke she arched her back slightly and rubbed the protruding swell of her belly, keeping Andy in a kind of dazed hypnosis until she realized what Miranda was doing to her.

The wicked, pleasured glint in the older woman’s eyes told Andy that she knew exactly what she was doing and Andy rolled her eyes before placing her own hand on the couture-clad swell and leaning in for a kiss. “You’re evil,” she growled, sucking on the lower lip that had curved up in a knowing grin.

“Thank you, darling.”

Less than two hours later though, Miranda’s good mood had disappeared. She hadn’t said anything, but the faint scowl on her lips that Andy was extremely tempted to kiss off, in conjunction with the quiet exasperated sigh every time she glanced over at her usual lunch fare, Andrea having consented to eat in the office so Miranda could deal with a misplaced layout urged Andy to her feet.

Crouching down next to Miranda’s chair, Andy slipped her hand underneath Miranda’s blouse to run her fingers over the gentle curve of exposed skin between the blousy Vivienne Westwood Anglomania shirt and the form fitting YSL skirt that sat just on the older woman’s hips in deference to the bulge that would continue to dictate what Miranda could wear out of her ‘old’ closet. It was only the clever draping of Miranda’s shirt that concealed the bare swell so that no one over 3 feet tall would be able to see the strip of her uncovered skin.

Miranda spoke very softly as she looked down at her desk, both hands rubbing gentle little circles on her belly. “It’s not what the babies want,” her voice was almost a whisper and Andy had to physically restrain herself from cuddling the forlorn looking woman in front of the whole office.

Andy knelt next to the chair and covered Miranda’s hands with her own as she tilted her head upwards for a kiss. “What do the babies want, my love?”

Anger, frustration and embarrassment all flashed across the editor’s face as she struggled to admit her unsavory, plebeian cravings.

A long, drawn out groan could be heard from the doors of the editor’s office, almost through the closed glass doors. And if it hadn’t been for the glass doors and open blinds, the groan would have sounded decidedly sexual if one did not know that the reason behind it was a greasy, fast food burger that was quickly disappearing down the gullet of one fashion and publishing icon.

“Good God, Sachs,” Emily muttered to herself from her position in the outer office. “Isn’t it supposed to be the pregnant one who gets cravings and the license to ingest as much cellulite as they can hold?”

Now it was Nigel’s turn to smirk as he came through the outer office doors with the now-recovered layout. As amusing as it would be to see the redhead’s reaction, he was NOT going to be the one to tell her the timbre of the sounds emanating from the inner office meant that they were coming from Miranda.

As the clock ticked closer and closer to two o’clock however, Miranda found her lunch was not sitting well. Exhaling slowly to calm her roiling stomach, Miranda leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes and focusing her energies on breathing evenly through her mouth. The uncomfortable twinges still hadn’t eased a few minutes later and Miranda could feel equal parts of fear and bile rise in her throat as the pains shifted slightly, intensifying until they could be indisputably classified as out and out cramps.

“Andrea,” Miranda’s voice cracked with fear as she sat motionlessly, terrified that at any moment the cramps would set off bleeding and signal a miscarriage.

“Mm?” Andrea hummed distractedly, not wanting to pull her eyes away from the screen until she had made sure the phrasing was correct in the sentence she was working on.

“Andrea!” the voice had quieted to a harsh whisper, but the panic laced through it pierced through Andrea’s brain until it was as though Miranda had screamed.

Andy practically lunged towards Miranda, all thoughts of her article gone in an instant even as the laptop hit the floor. Her hands fluttered around the hunched figure, not wanting to touch her for fear of causing her any more pain or risking any damage.

“Something’s not right!” Miranda’s breathing was laboured and shallow as she searched Andrea’s eyes for reassurance, her heart felt as though it was going to beat out of her chest.

Resting her hands lightly on Miranda’s legs, Andy forced her own panic back and rubbed the stockinged knees under her palms, knowing there were about a million different things the pains could mean.

“Do you feel any spotting or bleeding?”

Miranda shifted slightly in her seat, feeling for any sign of wetness before shaking her head. “No.”

The low, soothing tones of Andy’s voice coupled with the gentle repetitive motion of her fingers across her knees allowed Miranda to slow her breathing so that the feeling of lightheadedness faded slightly.

“Does it feel like the round ligament pain you’ve been having?”

Again, Miranda shook her head in the negative.

As Andy asked the questions she had texted Roy who was now waiting outside.

She spoke the next two words carefully, knowing Miranda’s interpretation of them could go the way of a hundred different variables.

“Roy’s here.”

Miranda nodded, the hand not clutching Andrea’s still pressed to the site of the pain.

“Have Emily cancel Jason Wu. Reschedule the meeting for next week and have Nigel make the rest of the decisions for the last page of the layout.”

Andy texted the directives to Emily from where she was still kneeling on the floor next to Miranda.

“Done. Do you think you can walk to the car?”

Miranda nodded, donning her sunglasses even before she left her office so that no one would be able to see the redness and worry lines around her eyes.

“Thank you,” she whispered, clutching her coat a little more tightly over her shoulders as they went down the elevator.

“Always.”

During the ride across town, Andy called ahead to the doctor’s office to let them know they were coming in ahead of schedule and that Miranda was experiencing cramping and discomfort along with shortness of breath.

Her symptoms had eased somewhat by the time they were shown to the examining room, and Miranda started to feel a bit ridiculous as Dr. Avery met them immediately at the door, her mask and scrubs still in place as though she had very abruptly left after her last appointment.

Not wasting any time, Dr. Avery changed her sterile gloves for a new pair and rolled her stool over to the examining table where Miranda had lain back with Andy’s assistance, adjusting her clothing so that the older brunette woman could start her examination immediately.

Glancing at the blood pressure cuff she had strapped around Miranda’s arm the minute the other woman was admitted, Dr. Avery nodded before turning back to her patient, gently feeling her belly before instructing her to put her feet in the stirrups.

“Blood pressure is high, but it’s already started to creep back down. I expect it will go back down to normal even before we administer a mild sedative for the amnio.

“And the sedative, it won’t hurt the babies?” Miranda asked, repeating herself despite having asked the question multiple times before when discussing the amnio procedure.”

“It’s a bigger risk to have your blood pressure rise when you’re on the operating table even though it’s a minimally invasive procedure,” Dr. Avery assured the pair, smiling to herself as she saw the way the younger brunette’s arm circled Miranda’s shoulders and brought the tightly clenched fingers to her lips.

Adjusting the foetal monitoring belt around Miranda’s waist, Dr. Avery turned the computer monitor around so that its results were visible to her patient and her partner.

“There. Miranda, as you can see, your babies are perfectly fine. Their heart rate is slightly elevated but still within normal ranges and will almost certainly go back down as yours does. There are no signs of fluid leakage or effacement, and judging by your description of where the pain you’re experiencing is located, I can assure you that it’s not harmful.”

“What is it then?” Andy queried, her concern still evident even after Miranda’s shoulders had slumped in relief at the doctor’s pronouncement. “Is Miranda alright?”

“This episode was almost certainly a panic attack coupled with gas pain brought on by indigestion which was exacerbated by the stress Miranda was feeling about the tests today.”

Now it was Andrea’s turn to breathe a sigh of relief even as Miranda’s face reddened, a look of horror spreading across her features, contrasting oddly with the conflicting emotion of relief at the knowledge that there was nothing wrong with the babies.

Hearing her babies’ heartbeats, fast as they were, was enough to slow Miranda’s racing pulse even before the sedative started to take effect. Satisfied with the latest read-out from the monitors, Dr. Avery began preparations for the amniocentesis, administering the local anaesthetic and setting up the ultrasound that would guide the needle through to the amniotic sac.

Despite the fear still flooding the synapses of her brain, a warmth spread in her chest as she watched the hazy grey blur of the ultrasound screen take the shape of two tiny babies moving gently in the womb.

“My babies,” Miranda murmured, transfixed by the image on the screen until Andrea’s own shaky voice broke through.

“Oh God, they’re perfect. Look at them, Miranda. Oh, they’ve gotten so big since the last ultrasound!”

Dr. Avery had taken opportunity of their distraction and began the slow insertion of the nearly foot-long needle, only warning them as the needle became visible on screen as it penetrated the membrane. Drawing back the plunger, she removed about an ounce of fluid before withdrawing the needle, careful not to pull and widen the all but microscopic hole in the amniotic sac as she pulled out.

“Now as we discussed, we’ll test the amnio cultures for the live fetal cells and alpha-fetoprotein levels and we’ll discuss the results at your 18 week checkup, which is also when we’ll do the structural ultrasound to measure each baby’s growth. You’ve also finally started to put on weight, which is excellent.” Miranda blushed lightly and Andy fought to hide a smirk as she thought of the cravings Miranda had begun to have in the last week; cravings that in the last week had included no less than six hamburgers, four pineapples and on one occasion that still made Caroline and Cassidy gag, olives and peanut butter.

“As for post procedure instructions, plenty of fluids, plenty of rest and as little stress as possible. Ah, and no sex or other strenuous activity for the next 24-48 hours.”

Miranda had returned enough to herself to this point to smirk slightly in the doctor’s direction and raise her eyebrow in a questioning glance. “And here I thought you said as little stress.”

“We got it doc, thanks.” Andy spoke up after choking back a snort of laughter. “Can I take her home now?”

“Andrea, I am not some parcel to be delivered and carted as you see fit.”

“Yes, Miranda.”

“Oh, stop that.”

“Yes, Miranda.” Andy grinned cheekily back at the reclined editor, still stroking a hand through white locks.

“Twenty minutes lying down and then a quick check of your vitals and you’re free to go.” Dr. Avery shook her head, a wry smile gracing her own features as she closed the door behind her.

 

“I’m so proud of you.” Once they were in the car, Andy leaned over to rest her head on Miranda’s shoulder, who scoffed at the remark but didn’t let go of the younger woman’s hand.

“For what? Embarassing myself? I acted an absolute fool.”

“For loving these babies so much that you were willing to put off an important meeting to make sure they were safe.”

“Hmmph…” Miranda didn’t say anything else but the lines of tension around her eyes and mouth had eased and her posture was less rigid as they simply sat and enjoyed a rare silent moment as the car brought them home.

Once they were inside the townhouse, Andrea pushed Miranda gently towards the stairs, seeing that the older woman was starting to feel the discomfort of the procedure now that the anaesthetic was wearing off.

“Go on, shoo. I’m going to make you a cup of tea and you’re going to change into your pajamas, no arguments. It’s a pajama-during-the-day kind of day.”

“Don’t forget the honey,” Miranda’s voice floated down from the third floor.

“Course not – I’ll be up in a sec…and I’ll even put some in the tea,” she called back teasingly as she set a mug down on the tray to carry up. Hopefully the lavender-mint mixture would calm Miranda’s indigestion.

As Andy had suspected, Miranda had fallen asleep even before the water for the tea had finished boiling. Andy was tempted to curl up with her, but made her way down to the study instead, the nagging feeling of being behind on her articles outweighing her tiredness.

Satisfied with the progress she had made, Andy shut her laptop as she heard the front door open and close, smiling fondly as she heard the badly hushed whispers of Caroline and Cassidy as they told each other to be quiet so they didn’t disturb their mom.

“Hey monsters, how was piano practice?”

“Fine,” came the dual answer quickly as they each claimed a hand at Andy’s side.

“Andy, is mom okay?”

“And the babies?”

“Why don’t you guys go find some movie snacks and I’ll go see if your mom’s awake and we can watch in the big bed?”

The illicit lure of popcorn before dinner won out and the two redheads raced into the kitchen, already arguing over which flavour to make.

As she made her way up the stairs with the tea tray, she stopped suddenly, the gasp of pain as the hot tea scalded her hand masking the quaver of laughter in her voice as she heard a discrete belch, and then a second not so discrete one come from the direction of the bedroom.

“Ouch, dammit!”

“Andrea?” Miranda appeared in the doorway, her hand absentmindedly rubbing her chest as though she had heartburn.

“Fine, I’m fine – just splashed tea on myself. Back into bed with you, lady.”

Lips pursed slightly and Miranda’s hands moved to lace underneath her belly as she leaned against the doorframe, mumbling something under her breath.

“What was that?”

Miranda sighed, rolling her eyes in exasperation at having to repeat herself. “I said it’s lonely…without you there, it’s lonely. I find I’m not as comfortable without you beside me.”

Feeling charmed and not a bit puckish, Andy kissed Miranda’s cheek before cocking her head to one side impishly. “And I distinctly remember a time where you said you would prefer to sleep alone.”

“Are you going to continue to make fun of me or are you going to join me? Because if you continue, I assure you I will have no qualms about sleeping alone for the week while you’re on the sofa.”

“I’m sorry. You know how much I love holding you. Even with the bump you fit in my arms perfectly.”

Mollified slightly, Miranda crawled back into bed, wincing slightly as she lifted her legs to slide under the covers.

“Could I have two Tylenol please?”

“Sure sweetheart, one sec. Is the anaesthetic wearing off?”

“Mmm,” Miranda hummed in confirmation as she flattened her palms against the sides of her abdomen, lifting her eyes to meet Andy’s as the younger woman reappeared from the bathroom with the pills and a glass of water in hand.

“Thank you,” Miranda handed the glass back after swallowing the two tablets. “They’re moving again. Now that it’s worn off I can feel them.”

“God, I can’t wait until I can feel them too.” Andy ducked down and kissed Miranda’s belly quickly before straightening back up as a crash sounded from downstairs.

“Alright, we’ll split up. You take care of these babies, I’m going to go see what the original set is doing down there.”

“Whoah, guys guys guys. It’s a mini movie marathon, not the apocalypse!” Andy exclaimed, coming into the kitchen and seeing what looked like the entire contents of the refrigerator littering the countertop.

“We didn’t know what mom would be craving today,” Cassidy explained logically, Caroline nodding in agreement from behind her where she was perched on a stool elbow-deep in the cupboard searching for what appeared to be a bag of mini marshmallows.

“Okay, okay,” Andy lifted the small girl from her precariously balanced stance.

Narrowing down the girls’ ‘choice’ to a single tray of veggies and crackers – with a few mini marshmallows as garnish courtesy of Caroline, Andy measured out the popcorn into several smaller bowls, seasoning one with the dill flavour Miranda had been favouring the past week.

“If we can’t bring Mohammed to the mountain,” she quipped teasingly, raising the stainless steel bowl in reference.

“Does mom know you compare her to a mountain?” Caroline teased back, eyes lighting up with impish glee as she smirked.

“I’d be careful if I were you,” Andy warned. “Remember, I’m the one holding the popcorn!”

Once they were all piled into the king-sized bed, Caroline and Cassidy looked at each other, seemingly holding a silent discussion until they turned towards their mother in tandem.

“Mommy?”

“Yes darlings?”

“What was it like when you had us in your tummy?”

Miranda smiled softly, and not a little sadly, as she compared the two children on the bed to the tiny babies of a decade ago when she had last been pregnant.

“Caroline was Baby A, and she liked to stretch out right here,” Miranda smoothed a hand over the far right side of her belly. “And Cassidy was Baby B and she would always curl up in a ball right in the middle and squirm and squirm around.” Miranda poked the small redhead as she spoke, making her giggle and squirm much as how Miranda had described.

“D’you think they’re gonna be like us?” Caroline’s small hand joined Andy’s larger one as it gently circled the gravid swell, careful to avoid the bruised area where the needle had been inserted.

“I hope all my babies are as sweet and smart and loving,” Miranda smiled softly as she ran the back of her hand over the soft skin on the cheek of her firstborn.

“I also think they’ll be as different as you and Cassidy are in their personalities.”

“What? We’re not different at all? You and Andy and sometimes Dad are the only ones who can tell us apart more than half the time.” Now it was Cassidy who spoke up.

Caroline’s brow furrowed, changing her features so that she so clearly resembled Miranda that Andy couldn’t help but grin despite the child’s confusion.

“In some ways you are similar, yes. And you both have many wonderful attributes that you share with one another; but you are most definitely two different individuals.”

“Think of it this way,” Andy broke in, “what is your favourite class in school?”

“Art and Science,” Cassidy stated confidently at the same time Caroline stated “English”.

“And your favourite food?”

“Pizza!”

“Pancakes!”

“See? Different!” Andy tweaked their noses as she spoke before returning to her spot, curled around Miranda against the headboard.

The redheads heard the nearly silent happy hum their mother made when she was feeling good as Miranda sighed and snuggled into Andy so that she was draped over the younger woman’s torso, her head resting over Andy’s heart; the deep constant heartbeat Miranda found so soothing lulling her quickly to sleep almost before the opening titles of the movie had finished. 


 

In case you forgot since the opening comments, given the length of this chapter, any and all reviews are appreciated ;) The muse thanks you!

Chapter Text

 

               The opening arguments for the trial were set to begin a few days before Miranda’s next doctor’s appointment that would include the anatomical scan as well as the results of the amniocentesis. The charges were going ahead as filed despite Stephen’s attempt to have them dismissed. Failing that, it now seemed as though he was going for blackmail.

By now the world knew that the fashion and publishing icon was pregnant with twins at nearly fifty years old and divorcing her husband amidst rumours of spousal abuse. Stephen was using the media frenzy to his advantage, sending her a few carefully worded emails and texts from an untraceable cell phone that threatened his going public with the more intimate details of their relationship, fictitious or otherwise.

Whereas the emails had been thinly veiled innuendo, the text messages were explicit and vulgar as he sent examples of the ‘material’ he had prepared for the press. When Miranda failed to respond to his first few attempts at communication, the content became more sinister, calls and texts at all hours alternately threatening Miranda and accusing her of choosing her own pride and wealth over the well-being of her children, of ‘their children’ he added. “Believe me, Miranda, I don’t want those brats in your belly, but if you go ahead with the pregnancy you can be damn sure I’ll be suing for custody. Makes for a good case, doesn’t it? Concerned father seeks custody of children from work-obsessed ex-wife. I can see it working, can’t you? The evidence certainly supports my story,” he had bragged in one of his earliest messages right after Miranda had announced the pregnancy.

Now he said he wouldn’t contest the divorce or fight the pre-nup and would relinquish all rights to the babies providing his silence was bought by Miranda to the tune of seven and a half million dollars in settlement. Add to that, that somehow before the trial started, after the charges were officially filed, Miranda's phone, and the incriminating texts with it, went missing from her office. Both assistants had been fired in Miranda's rage that day, although no proof was ever found that they had anything to do with it. However, those events meant that Miranda was near breaking point, the edge to her temper only fueled by hormones and the stress of the upcoming test results on the babies.

“Seven and a half million,” Miranda seethed, pacing back and forth across the kitchen a week before the trial was due to start. “He attacks me in my own home, tells me to get an abortion, and then tries to intimidate me into handing over a quarter of my net worth!”

A red flush travelled up her chest and neck, mottling her features as she continued. “’Don’t put your children through a trial, Mir, don’t put ‘our’ children through a trial!’” Her voice had risen in pitch until it bordered on hysterical. “As though he has any say over my children. How dare he try and intimidate me, and, and,” her voice grew quieter, “how can I let him?” Miranda’s voice cracked and she tried to disguise the noise as a scoff as she turned away from Andrea to pace back across the tile floor.

“Miranda, you’re allowed to be scared. Sweetheart, he assaulted you. He hurt you and tried to rape you. But he’s using that fear to try and control you.”

“The thought that I’m still married to him and that I could still be married to him when I give birth to these babies makes me ill, Andrea. I love these two little lives with all of my heart,” she turned to Andrea with an impassioned plea in her voice and gaze. “But I hate that he will always be part of their lives, whether he’s present or not.”

“You loved him at one time, Miranda. It doesn’t do you or them any good to deny that fact. You are allowed to grieve that, to grieve him and what he was before all of this.”

“I hate him for becoming this monster,” Miranda agreed, exhaustion suddenly alarmingly evident in her features, “and I hate the knowledge that I was part of the cause. For all your youthful optimism and naiveté, you must have realized that I’m the common factor in my failed relationships.”

“I’m not saying your taste in men has been excellent,” Andy teased gently, wanting to chase away the brokenness in Miranda’s expression.

Obviously, humour was not the right tactic to take at the moment and Miranda left the kitchen abruptly, going up to the bedroom and disappearing into the bathroom. Andy sighed, flopping back on the comforter. At least the girls were with their father for the evening instead of at the house.

 

It felt as though the temperature had dropped by ten degrees when she came out again, her makeup freshened, and by the stony look on her face, their previous conversation was no longer up for discussion.

“I’ll be in my study for the rest of the evening and I’m not to be disturbed. I have a lot of work to do before Paris next month.”

Andy hated when she was like this. She would shut Andrea out, making her feel as though she were a lowly assistant again instead of a partner or a lover.

“Don’t be too late to bed, honey, remember your blood pressure was up again at the doctor’s the other day.”

Miranda ignored her comment. “Don’t wait up for me. If I can get these numbers ready by the beginning of the trial, I can use the inevitable publicity to boost the Elias-Clarke shares before the budget is set for the next fiscal year. The trial and the pregnancy will certainly earn me a vote of sympathy with a good deal of the board – that should give us a $2 million leeway in expenses. Also, Andrea, I am perfectly capable of looking after myself, I certainly don’t need a hovering shadow needlessly remind me to breathe or take a nap.”

“Miranda!” Andy actually stomped her foot as she yelled, the volume and vehemence of her tone actually resulting in drawing the icy gaze for whose owner the shout had been meant for. “I can’t believe you would be so selfish and so stupid! Anyone watching would think you were simply using this as a ploy to boost Runway. At what cost are these clever machinations and manipulations going to come? That you still think Paris is an option at this point is telling enough. What are you willing to sacrifice for this? Your health, your children’s health? What about what I’ve done and given up to take care of you? And you’re just going to throw that all away, pretend it never happened. Of course, God forbid it makes the great Miranda fucking Priestly look human for once!”

Both women saw red and not much else as they faced each other.

“Take care of me? I apologize, Andrea, if I have gotten in the way of your illustrious career in writing the obits. Clearly I’ve been a burden to you, I was under the obviously mistaken assumption that you wanted to be here. But I see now, you are not a mother. You do not know and cannot know what it means to be a mother, because you aren’t one and never will be. You are in my children’s life because I allow you to be. You forget, Andrea, that somehow, in spite of my coldness, indifference and vanity, I have managed to raise two children alone for the better part of a decade. You are not their mother, so don’t you dare presume to condescend to me and tell me you know better than I what is best for them. My only regret is that I have apparently wasted your valuable time.”

The pain, so primal and animalistic, that shone in the younger woman’s eyes in the moment of silence that hung in the air after Miranda’s evisceration made Miranda feel like vomiting as she registered what she had said only moments before out of pride and anger and her stomach cramped painfully as she took a step towards her lover. As awful and hurt as Andrea had made her feel she had returned the blow much harder, as was her wont, and looking at the damage she had wrought she could only think that it had been a fatal one.

“If loving you meant losing my friends, and my family, risking my job and my own goddamn peace of mind to protect you and Caroline and Cassidy, then it was worth it. You talk about sacrifice, Miranda? What you have to sacrifice to be the best? Look at what I’ve sacrificed to be here, and willingly, eagerly, like a goddamn fucking fool! If all that means nothing to you Miranda, then I have nothing more to say; and I have nothing more to give, you have it all.”

Andy chuckled, barely concealing a dry sob as she did so, and the matte, dead, gaze she turned upon Miranda would have brought the other woman to her knees had she been able to move, to breathe as she looked at what she had just sacrificed. But the cut was too deep, she had well and truly done it this time, and destroyed who knew how many lives in that triad of sentences.

“But I loved you, I did. And now that I know you never did, what has that love gotten me? Older? Poorer? More alone than I ever was? Well congratulations Miranda, it may not have been your intent, but you’ve gotten your revenge. You’ve left me with nothing. I hope you’re happy with everything you have, but that doesn’t include me anymore.”

Andy paused and willed her voice not to shake as she felt her skin burn and crawl where she grasped the door, and she turned her head slightly, speaking to the floor.

“Tell your daughters I said goodbye.”

As she pulled the door open, she could feel every nerve and muscle in her body screaming as she fought against the all but overwhelming instinct to throw herself at Miranda’s feet, prostrate, and beg for a chance to do better. But she knew she couldn’t, she couldn’t love her any more if she tried, and the knowledge that she really wasn’t enough for Miranda, that she once again fell short of the other woman’s needs tore at her until she could have sworn she was suffocating. It was only when she found she was denied the bliss of death or unconsciousness that her feet once more started to move. Once she was past the doorway to their, to Miranda’s bedroom, she corrected herself, she did what Miranda obviously expected her to do and she ran.

“Andrea, Andrea please!” Miranda whispered hoarsely as she watched Andrea walk away…again. How, how had it all gone so wrong so fast? Knowing she had failed the young woman for the second time, Miranda tried as hard as she could to do the right thing and let the woman she loved escape from the hell of her world before she was well and truly trapped. But she couldn’t. She was too selfish to let Andrea go. Knowing she had wasted precious seconds already, Miranda lunged for the bedroom door, throwing it open and running down the first two flights of stairs before she could see the front door.

Closed, it was closed. She was too late. Painful, silent screams struggled from her lips before she found her breath again.

 “Andrea…Andrea!” Still holding onto the bannister the older woman sunk to her knees as a keening rose in her throat and was ripped from her in a howl of pain and fury and she doubled over under the weight of her grief.

“Andy?” was the last, small, whisper from the miserable creature slumped over the steps brokenly for the rest of the night that could be considered intelligible. Miranda hadn’t ever cried like this that she could remember, not after the death of her parents or the ending of her marriage; not when Stephen had nearly raped her in the hallway of her own home with the girls a floor away, not when she found out she was carrying the babies of her would-be rapist and soon to be ex-husband. This grief was entirely her own to bear, and she couldn’t.

Hours passed and Miranda was still crumpled on the stairs, her fists bruised and swollen from where she had pounded them on the stairs, screaming Andrea’s name uselessly. Her chest and stomach ached from the heaving sobs and Miranda pressed her hand against the pain in her chest that throbbed as though her heart would burst from her in search of its other half. As she registered the churning in her stomach, fresh tears sprung to her eyes as she remembered once more, with painful clarity what she had said to Andrea.

“I told her they weren’t her children,” Miranda spoke the words out loud although there was no one around, forcing herself to listen to the harsh truth. “I told her they weren’t hers, that she couldn’t love them because they hadn’t come from her own body.  How could I have hurt her like that? How could I have used her darkest fear against her like that? Oh God. Oh God, oh God. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Her disgust with herself welled up in her until Miranda could taste the bitterness in the back of her throat as the acid surged up from her stomach. She barely made it to the main floor bathroom in time for her to empty her already excruciatingly empty stomach with painful heaves, not knowing her lover was doing the same less than a block away.

Miranda heard the door open, and whirled around, still on her hands and knees, her arms too shaky to lift herself up from the sweating tile floor.

“Dios mio, my God! Ms. Priestly are you alright?” Miranda’s heart sank as the female figure shadowed in the doorway moved into the light and she saw it wasn’t her Andy and her face crumpled once again.

“Ms. Priestly let me help you upstairs,” Carmen offered, setting down the bags of produce from the Farmer’s Market and moving slowly towards the obviously ill woman.

“No,” Miranda wiped her eyes and mouth carelessly and braced herself on the doorframe as she struggled to her feet. “No, you are dismissed for today, Carmen, and tomorrow as well,” she croaked, wincing as she realized any authority she tried to insert into her voice was belied by her tear-swollen face and failing voice. “You may go after you have disconnected every phone in the house. Take them with you when you go, I don’t care what you do to them. I don’t want them here.”

“But dinner, the girls…”

“I trust you do not think me so stupid as to forget my own children.”

“No, Ms. Miranda.”

“Then it is not I who is the unintelligent party in this conversation. I said go!”

The older housekeeper immediately turned on her heel and disappeared down the hall.

Turning to the mirror, above the bathroom sink, Miranda wanted to recoil as she saw the pathetic creature who stared back at her, old and cruel and alone; and the worst part of it was that she had no one to blame but herself.

Her shoulders shuddered as she let her head fall forward until it rested on the glass of the mirror and she whispered, “but I am, I did. I did forget about the girls when I sent her home. She was right, Andrea was right. I’m not fit to be their mother.

It took every last ounce of strength for Miranda to text her ex-husband to pick up the girls after their piano lesson and climb the stairs until she reached the empty bedroom.

Taking off her clothes and letting them slip to the ground in an unkempt pile, Miranda went to the closet and wrapped herself in her grey bathrobe. As her hands pulled the worn garment from its hanger, another item fell to the floor at her feet.

With shaking hands, Miranda picked up the garish purple fabric of Andrea’s Northwestern hoodie and pressed it to her face, inhaling the scent. “Andrea…”

Blocks over, Andrea threw a wad of cash at the cab driver before stumbling up the stairs to the eighth floor walk-up of Douglas Chapman.

Realizing she hadn’t even called to see if he was home, Andy slammed her hand against the industrial painted metal several times until she could hear footfalls behind the door and it swung open to reveal a still suit-clad from work Doug, whose expression changed from annoyed to concerned in a heartbeat as he stared into the anguished eyes of his best friend.

“Doug…I,” was all Andy managed to get out before she stumbled forward into his arms and began to sob anew as she found herself pressed to the warmth of her friend’s chest as he led her over to the couch. More than an hour passed before Andy was able to raise her pounding head and accept the water and aspirin Doug had gotten up to get for her.

“Everything was fine,” she said hollowly, staring blankly across the room. “Everything was fine and then I said something stupid and she closed off and I lost it. I snapped, I did, but my God she hit back harder, Doug. I had forgotten she could be like that…”

Her breathing hitched slightly as she turned to face her oldest friend. “And I left, I left her again Doug. But what choice did I have? I wasn’t enough for her, for her children. She was right, I don’t know what it is to be a mother and I never will. I left. Oh my God, oh my God, Dougie what have I done?”

Doug recognized the familiar signs of an oncoming panic attack in his friend and grabbed her, rubbing his hands up and down her arms bracingly to bring her attention in.

“Listen. Listen to me, Andy. If for one second Miranda can actually think that YOU do not have enough love to give or that you are not enough for her then there is nothing more you can do. That’s it. I know you, Andy. I’ve known you for almost as long as I can remember and you are not without your flaws, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that your love isn’t enough. You have the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I know.”

Andy was still hyperventilating, her sobs hitched with desperate breaths and hiccups that tore at her chest, bringing more tears to the surface.

“But I, I know what she’s like, Dougie. I shouldn’t have let her push me away, it was stupid. And what does it say to me that I want to go back? What kind of person wants that? How pathetic or masochistic do you have to be to want to be with someone like that?”

“You can’t go back, Andy baby.” Doug pulled her into his arms now that she had stopped fighting his embrace. “Not now, not like this. You might be sorry for what happened and how you handled things, but you can’t be the only one to apologize or give in first. Something’s gotta give if that relationship is ever going to work.”

“But the babies, she needs me Doug!”

“And maybe she needs to realize that. For all I’ve read and from everything you’ve told me Miranda is just about as headstrong as they come. Maybe this is an eye opener for her as well.”

“Doug, I don’t want to play games with her. Too many people have tried to play her and hurt her as it is. “

“I’m not saying it’s forever, doll. But I think you need to remember how to be by yourself and be happy with yourself before you go and try to be everything to somebody else again. You deserve to be more than a nurse-maid or an assistant turned lover.”

Andy’s eyes filled as Doug’s words echoed the promises Miranda had made not so long ago about partnership and respect.

“Even if she doesn’t think I am, or the law doesn’t accept me as a parent to those kids; they are, they own me Dougie and I can’t just forget them…Those are my children, I thought she knew that, I thought she wanted that. Oh God, I’ve just been fooling myself thinking I was the one person who knew what she wanted.”

“You can’t possibly know what she wants if she doesn’t know herself, Andrea.”

Doug’s full use of her name startled her, bringing her back to the present and the realities of her current situation.

“Alright, the apartment is still vacant, so I’m going to go home, get really really drunk, cry and scream some more and, yep, that’s pretty much as far as I’m planning ahead. Thank you, Doug, really, for everything. I’m sorry I burst in on your evening, thank God Trevor isn’t here,” she tried to joke, her watery smile looking more like a grimace than anything.

Doug gave his own careful grimace right back, “Andy, Trevor and I broke up two months ago. He’s been moved out for nearly seven weeks.”

Andy’s mouth opened in fresh horror at how isolated she’d become in her relationship with Miranda. So much so in fact that she hadn’t known her best friend had broken up with his boyfriend of two years. “Oh God, Dougie, I’m sorry…”

“Andy honey, it’s all right, it’s done now, its over. I wasn’t okay, but I am now and as such I’m really not sure you should be alone right now.”

Andy snorted, “Yeah, neither am I, but I have to remember how to be, right?”

“Take care, honey. You know to call me if you need anything. Whiskey, Star Wars marathon, fresh tub of Rocky Road, I’m your man.”

“You always were, Dougie. G’night.”

A blue Mercedes Benz pulled up outside the townhouse, letting out two small redheads who ran up the front steps, giggling and shoving each other as the last of their sugar high wore off from the ice cream sundaes they had managed to beg from their father at dinner.

“Mom? Andy? Cara?”

“Hellooo, is anybody home?” The front door slammed shut the girls threw off their backpacks and shoes, looking for any signs of life in the darkened house.”

“Caro, where is everybody?”

“I dunno, Cass. Maybe they had to work late?”

“Mom said she wasn’t going to work late anymore, ‘cuz of the babies remember? Besides, that still doesn’t explain where Andy is.”

Blue eyes widened, “D’you think something happened to the babies?”

“No way, they would have called us or told Dad, right?”

“I guess.”

By now, they had made their way up the stairs to the second floor, and seeing the door to the master suite ajar knocked lightly and crept in.

“Mom? Mom what’s wrong?”

“Where’s Andy?”

The woman in front of them was broken and a stranger to them. As her daughters, they had seen her in just about every situation; sick, exhausted, angry, but none of those things could come close to the terror and self-recrimination they could see in the blue eyes that were their inheritance as well.

Suddenly, the older woman lurched from the bed, swaying slightly having not moved or eaten in hours and tore through the girls’ backpacks in a frenzy before finding what she was searching for. Clutching the two cellphones tightly in her fist, Miranda turned away from them once more. “Go.”

“Mom,”

“PLEASE! Please, please just go.” Miranda all but sobbed as she sank back down on top of the comforter, curled up in a ball with her back to the door and the girls. “Sorry, I’m so sorry” were the broken whispers the girls knew they weren’t meant to hear as they turned tail and fled from the room and away from the pain of watching their hero self-destruct in a way that they hadn’t thought possible.

Once she heard the soft click that meant she was alone again, the cool glass of the phone’s screen against the fevered palm of her hand drew Miranda’s attention back to the objects in her hand. Miranda flipped open the first phone and had her breath stolen away once more, confronted by a picture of the four of them all making faces into the camera from their trip to Central Park.

Down the hallway, both girls jumped as they heard a dull crunch, quickly followed by a second from their mothers room, which was normally all but soundproof.

“What the hell happened, Cass?” Caroline was ashen as she turned to her sister, seeking some sort of comfort or reassurance. “I’ve never seen her like that before.”

Cassidy, shook her head, a lump rapidly growing in her own throat, although she didn’t quite know why.

“I don’t know, Car, but it’s not good.” Wordlessly, the two held hands as they walked to their bedroom, knowing for sure they’d be bunking together that night.

Back in the master suite, Miranda lined up the numerous decorative pillows behind her in a line, leaning into them so they would support her back. But the pillows were cold and lifeless, and they didn’t press gentle kisses to the back of her neck or massage the painfully tense muscles in her hips and legs; nor did they soothe over the roundness of her belly until she was lulled into sleep.

 

Chapter Text

“No, no, no!” a decidedly British shriek rent the air of the Runway offices as Emily’s phone buzzed with a new text from Miranda the same as the day before. “Won’t be in. No calls. No email.”

The redhead punched in the familiar number on the desk phone, so violently in fact that the second assistant actually rolled backwards slightly in her desk chair. She had only been there ten days, and to be perfectly honest she wasn’t sure if she was more afraid the publishing icon herself or her first assistant…

The young girl sighed, audibly relieved as the shrill tones of the redhead signified the call had been answered, meaning she would be spared as the target for the woman’s wrath.

“Andrea, really, this is going too far. Whatever you do in the bedroom is your and Miranda’s business, and believe me I would like very much not to think about it at all, but when it affects Runway…There’s a run-through do over Miranda requested scheduled in twenty minutes, not to mention three international conference calls and lunch with Mr. Ravitz and I have received no instruction as to how to proceed with any of them or how Miranda would like this handled so I need some answers and YOU are going to get them for me…Wait, why are you answering your phone anyway? God, if I answered my phone for anyone except Miranda in bed there would be an extremely aggravated Brazilian on my end, literally on my end.”

“Em, what are you talking about?” Andy asked distractedly, not in the mood to pacify Emily’s neuroticism as she usually did. “Is Miranda not at work?”

“No! Bollocks, Sachs, would you try to keep up? That was my bloody point in the first place. Wait, isn’t she with…”

“Gotta go.” Andy said quickly before ending the call and staring down at her phone.

Miranda never missed work. For God’s sake, the woman had worked every day up to and on the day she gave birth to the twins. For a moment, Andy considered the possibility that Miranda might be upset about the events of the other night – God knows she herself felt like hammered shit and looked it too; cheeks still damp with tears and throat aching. Then her lips tightened. No, after what had transpired that night, it was patently clear she didn’t rate high enough for that to be the case. Miranda hadn’t even cancelled her evening when her last marriage had ended, nevertheless a secret relationship of two months. The only thing Miranda would deem important enough to consider missing work was…Oh God, her children.

Andy’s mind raced through a thousand horrible possibilities in the second and a half it took for her body to catch up with her mind. Something must have happened with the girls. Andy tried dialing both twin’s numbers, but they clicked over immediately to voicemail. Her next call was to Dalton, where a confused secretary had confirmed that yes; both Priestly children were at school today.

Andy breathed a momentary sigh of relief before her heart seized once more; the babies. Fuck, even if Miranda wasn’t shattered from the events of the other night she had been so angry and worked up. Andy felt sick as she thought about what that must have done to Miranda’s blood pressure, especially after what the doctor had warned them about at the last appointment regarding the risks of preeclampsia and Miranda’s tendency towards hypertension.

It took nearly an hour to get back across the city during rush hour, and a $60 dollar cab fare that Andy really couldn’t afford if she was truly going it alone from now on. But finally, the taxi pulled up outside the townhouse. Throwing three twenties at the cabbie, Andy threw open the door and pulled out her key, fumbling with the lock for a moment and pressing the wrong buttons on the keypad until it finally, finally clicked open without managing to trigger the alarm.

The house was quiet, the girls were at school, that much Andy knew, but that there were no staff present, no Cara or Carmen in the kitchen or the laundry room twisted Andy’s stomach further as she searched the darkened, empty rooms for any sign of life.

The gnawing, twisting feeling in her stomach only grew worse as she made her way to the second floor and the master bedroom. It was locked, but after living at the townhouse for the last few months, Andy had become accustomed to the quirks of the older brownstone, and with a practiced jiggle of the handle and a quick turn to the left, the door to the master suite opened easily.

Huddled in a miserable looking heap in the middle of the bed, was Miranda. Andy blinked once and then again, but she was fairly sure the older woman was curled around her Northwestern hoodie, her face buried in the worn material so that she didn’t see Andrea enter. Her cries were muted by the fabric; a low keening punctuated by intermittent dry sobs was all that could be heard.

Not believing her eyes at the scene in front of her, Andy froze, completely and honestly thrown by the depth of Miranda’s anguish.

A choked gasp broke through Andy’s frazzled mind as Miranda looked up to see Andrea standing where she thought she never would again.

“I’m sorry,” Miranda choked out as new tears ran down her face and she lifted herself up on her arms before standing up from the bed. “Andrea, I am so so sorry, I - ”

As Miranda took a step towards the distraught brunette, the room chose that moment to spin disconcertingly and she swayed and stumbled, losing her balance before pitching to the floor.

Although she was still reeling from the shock of Miranda claiming fault and apologizing without a prompt or ultimatum, Andy still instinctively moved forward to steady, and then failing that, catch Miranda as she saw her legs tremble and give out. But she wasn’t quick enough to save them both from crashing to the floor. Pulling Miranda to her chest, Andy managed to turn mid-fall, landing awkwardly on her back with Miranda on top of her.

“Miranda?” Andy’s voice shook as she opened her eyes to see the older woman’s eyes squeezed shut as she sobbed into Andrea’s chest and gripped her sweater tightly.

Andy started to turn over to place Miranda beside her on the carpet so she could make sure she was alright, but Miranda clung even tighter to her.

Terrified now that something was really wrong and Miranda was seriously hurt, Andy ran her hands lightly over the older woman’s shoulders, arms and legs before placing a careful hand on the swell of Miranda’s stomach beneath the thin silk of the robe.

The warmth of Andrea’s hand could be felt immediately through the thin barrier of fabric, and helpless against herself, Miranda continued to jerk with sobs as she registered the worry in the younger woman’s eyes and the way she touched her as though she were porcelain, gently examining her for any injury to herself or the babies.

Andy jumped as Miranda’s hand flew out from her side to hold Andrea’s where it rested over their children. The familiar sensation calmed her down enough to begin to breathe normally again and she closed her eyes for a moment, in equal parts catching her breath and relishing the feel of Andrea’s hands on her once more, something she had accepted would never happen again and had pushed out of her mind, completely, knowing that contemplation of that one simple thing could and likely would push her over the edge.

Without realizing what she was doing, Andy began to move her hand in small circles where it rested over the babies. Relief suffused the older woman’s features. Perhaps Andrea might forgive her after all if she was willing to touch her that way. But the bubble of hope in her chest was popped as Andy seemed to realize what she was doing and moved her hand away again as though she were a red hot poker. 

“I’m sorry,” Andy started to speak.

“No, no. I’m the one who’s sorry,” Miranda managed to squeak through a raw and swollen from crying throat.

Andy blushed again, looking away nervously, “that’s not what I meant…”

“I know, I know, but dammit, I am. Andrea, please, I am so sorry. The despicable things that I said, were said out of anger at myself and my own helplessness in the situation. I know you love these babies, or you did, and I know you loved me and the girls…And I fucked it up. Again, I hurt the people whom I love the most out of my own stupid pride and anger.” Miranda could feel herself getting worked up again, and she knew that she sounded like an idiot, fumbling her words and spilling them every which way as she tried to get Andrea to see that she had never wanted her to leave and just how sorry she was.

“And I’m sorry…My God, Andrea, I am so sorry. The thought of you leaving me, leaving our family…I, I” Miranda shook her head as new tears appeared at the mention of Andrea leaving.

“I can’t, I can’t…You are as much the mother of these twins as I am, and the girls as well. And I was too fucking stupid to look past my own…and you left, and I didn’t…the girls, so scared…the babies…hurt, I didn’t mean...” Miranda’s words were incoherent now as they mixed with her sobs and Andy scooted forward on her knees, gathering the other woman in her arms as she fought uselessly against the sobs that rose in her own throat, realizing – perhaps the for the first time, the depth of Miranda’s feelings for her.

“Never, I would never leave you baby…But I felt like I failed you, that I wasn’t enough to protect  you, and that I wasn’t enough for you and the girls. That’s what you said, Miranda.”

“No, please no, I was wrong. Please, please come back, Andy.”

“Shhh, oh baby, of course I will. Of course I will. Shh, don’t cry sweetheart, I’m not leaving you. I’m not going anywhere. See? I always come back. Always.”

Miranda shifted slightly, turning further into the younger woman’s embrace and failing to stop the tears that kept coming as young, strong arms surrounded her and pulled her so that her pounding head rested against the soothing beat of her heart. close

“I’m sorry I failed you again, Miranda. I’m sorry I snapped.”

“Believe me, Andrea; I know how I can push people away.”

“But I promised you!” Andy’s eyes were filling up now as she realized for the first time that she shared equal blame for the last forty-eight hours. “I promised you, ages ago that I wouldn’t leave and again, I ran away. I left you, I left the girls. How am I any different than anyone else you’ve been with?”

“You came back.” Miranda grabbed Andrea’s hands, tugging them to her so that she would meet her eyes. “You came back. No one, none of them ever cared enough to come back before. And Andrea, you must know that I didn’t mean the things I said last night. It’s true that I know how to look after myself, but I treasure the fact that you’re so watchful. God…I’m being ridiculous. I, I just feel so old and infirm. You’re more like my nurse than anything else at the moment, like I’m some sort of doddering, fragile geriatric.”

“Miranda, if I was sick and in pain, would you leave me alone and in bed and just send a nurse in? What if the nurse wasn’t around and I needed a cold cloth, or my medication?”

“I just feel like an old, foolish woman. Foolish for thinking that I could carry these babies without issue and foolish to think that you would ever want to be tied down like this.”

“Miranda, I believe we’re both aware of just how much I like to be tied down. There’s a growing number of knotted and ripped Hermes scarves in the closet that are a testament to that.”

Miranda chuckled at that, wincing when it only increased the pounding in her head and turned her stomach. “It made me sick to my stomach to think you weren’t coming back”, she whispered, turning from Andrea’s gaze again as she admitted her weakness. God, I thought the pain would never end.”

“I know, I threw up in the rose bushes outside; and I didn’t even think I’d be able to make it that far.”

Miranda raised her head to meet Andrea’s for a kiss, only to feel the blood rush from her face and the world to shimmer and shift behind her eyes.

Moving away slightly, Miranda closed her eyes, lifting a hand to her forehead lightly as she willed the world to stop spinning and her stomach to settle.

“Miranda, when was the last time you ate?” Andy questioned, her hand still providing a steadying warmth at the small of Miranda’s back. She blushed slightly then, realizing she was fussing and patronizing the older woman just as she’d promised not to in their conversation only moments before.

“I,” Miranda faltered slightly, “I don’t remember.”

At least she answered honestly, Andy thought before Miranda’s voice broke through her thoughts once again.

“Just before we started to fight I had a salad.”

“Jesus Christ, Miranda, that was two days ago. Are you telling me you haven’t eaten anything since then?”

Still overwhelmed by Andrea’s sudden reappearance, exhausted and utterly hormonal Miranda looked away to hide the tears that threatened to blur her vision. “I couldn’t,” she admitted honestly as she used the bench at the end of the bed as leverage to push herself up with. Her legs admittedly still felt a little shaky but she noticed how Andrea pulled back and let her stand on her own power instead of rushing to help her up. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that despite her prior insistences.

“Yeah right, like you don’t need me Priestly…” Andrea tried to lighten the tone, “Now, are we going to call in for lunch?”

“Ah, yes, and remind me, Andrea, on that topic we also need new phones for the house and for the girls.”

Andrea quirked an eyebrow upwards before looking over Miranda’s shoulder, her eyes finding the sharp indent in the wall and to the plastic pieces and shattered screens on the floor. Rather than finding the humour in the situation as she first had at Miranda’s admission, Andy felt her chest tighten painfully as she realized how broken and angry Miranda must have been. God, what a mess she’d made. Looking again at the phones on the carpet, Andy’s stomach dropped.

“The girls? What do they think happened?”

Miranda swallowed, trying to focus on what the brunette was saying; something about the girls? But the simple act of standing and speaking after two days of crying jags meant that all her energy was being focused on quelling the rising feeling of nausea and blinking away the vertigo as her body registered the lack of food and proper sleep and swayed violently towards Andrea.

“Whoa! Alright, okay, first things first, let’s get some food into you,”

“Andrea, we’re not finished.”

“No,” a cool hand cupped the pale cheek. “We’re not, and we never will be. But I will continue to worry and to fuss over you, Miranda, and I’ll try to tone it down but I can’t promise any more than that. You and Caroline and Cassidy, and the beautiful babies you’re growing in this belly are everything to me, so you better get used to me bossing you around.”

Miranda sighed, a rueful smile returning some of the light to her tear-swollen face. “Yes, Andrea.”

“That’s my girl.” Before Miranda could say anything else, she felt the soft brush of lips at her forehead as Andy moved into the bathroom to start running hot water for a bath and disappearing downstairs to make lunch.

She returned a few minutes later, a smoothie in hand which she held out for Miranda to take as she settled herself on the edge of the tub.

“Andrea, I don’t need you - ” Miranda started to speak, her gaze directed downwards, towards the swell of her abdomen that crested the bathwater and on which her fingers traced careful designs. But Andy’s sharp intake of breath caught her attention and she reached out instantly, splashing the other woman as her hands left the water to grab Andrea’s before she could run.

“No! Let me finish!” Miranda squeezed the hands clasped in her own as she tried to find the right words. “What I meant to say is I don’t need you as a caretaker or a nurse or as an assistant, Andrea. I don’t need you to run my baths and fetch me things and carry and cater to my every whim.” She broke off suddenly, her gaze veiled once again as she abruptly changed the topic, a new thought causing her to shiver despite the warm temperature of the bath.

“Were you going to run, Andrea?”

Pulling her hands from Miranda’s, Andy rested her elbows on her knees, leaning her head forward to run her fingers through her hair in frustration.

“No, never mind. I’m not sure I’m ready or willing to hear the answer.”

The doorbell sounded from downstairs and Miranda let her head fall back to rest against the indent in the marble of the bathtub once Andrea had left the room, letting out a shaky sigh as she struggled with the difficult emotions swirling around in her mind.

Andy returned, pushing the door open with her foot as she brought in a tray which she set down on the duvet in front of Miranda, who had gotten out of the bath to find that Andrea had set out a clean set of clothes and changed the sheets which she had climbed under gratefully.

Miranda suppressed a small sob as she registered what was on the tray in front of her. While she was finishing in the bath, Andrea must have called out for food, because in front of her sat a hamburger which the young woman had garnished with relish and slices of pineapple; beside that sat a Belgian waffle covered in peanut butter which Andrea had spread in the shape of a smiley face. Blueberries on top had been placed in the shape of a heart. Miranda smiled, not a little sadly. “I love you too, darling.”

“I want to be different,” Andy pressed on, desperate to show Miranda that she was strong enough not to run or leave again. “I want this time to be different.”

“The fact that I am sitting in bed at 10 am on a week day, eating a hamburger covered in pineapple in front of you should tell you, as much as it tells me, that this time is different.”

“Such a poet,” Andy teased, her eyes sparkling even as she caught the glare Miranda sent her way as she tried to scowl as she chewed.

Her stomach suddenly in knots, Miranda put down the remainder of her sandwich and wiped her mouth daintily with a napkin as she tried to formulate her next sentence.

“You asked about the girls. They know, that you left at least. They don’t know why although they rightfully accused me of ‘ruining everything like I always do.’

“Miranda, I’m sorry -” Andrea began.

“I know. I know you are , Andrea. But as much as I want, need you in my life, I need to know that it is not going to hurt my daughters. As I said, I don’t need a caretaker…I need an equal, a partner, a wife and a mother to my children. For the last two days, I’m ashamed to say that it’s as though they lost two parents.”

“Miranda, hold on. Are you proposing?” Andy’s mind reeled and refused to settle as she contemplated the possibility that the woman in front of her had in fact lost her mind.

“No. Not now, not yet. But if I were to ask, when the divorce is final and the trial is over and I have regained some semblance of a waistline…”

“Yes. I would say yes, Miranda” Andy laughed joyfully, leaning forward to kiss Miranda and wrinkling her nose slightly at the odd taste of Miranda’s craving combinations.

Miranda’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright as she pulled back from the kiss, but her features sobered slightly as she once more reached for Andrea’s hand, needing the comfort of her touch.

“I will only ask this once, Andrea; and I want you to give me an honest answer, no matter what you might think my reaction may be…” she held up her free hand, gently ghosting her fingers against the younger woman’s lips to keep her from interrupting. “I didn’t plan on asking you like this, I’m sure that much is obvious. But I need to know, if you are doing this because you don’t want to lose me; because I assure you Andrea, even if you were to say no, I wouldn’t send you away. This needs to be a choice you make for you, not for myself or for the girls or the babies or for financial or employment security. You need to decide this is what you want for yourself.”

“Hey. Even if we were, or are both doing this because we don’t want to lose the other, I think that’s a pretty good reason, Miranda. And let’s face it; nothing in our relationship so far has been pretty or perfect. But all that doesn’t matter, okay? Listen to me; YOU are my perfect, Miranda. You’re not perfect, but you are MY perfect. I love you so damn much, Miranda, and I hate that I haven’t shown you that, that you still think I would leave you and the girls and I know I’ve given you reason to doubt that. Hopefully by the time these babies come into the world, I’ll have proven myself to you and I’ll be worthy of your proposal. Every card I have is on the table right now, Miranda I swear; we can go to a counselor or whatever you want. But I’m in. 100%.”

To her credit, Miranda didn’t react as Andy had expected her to at the mention of a therapist or some third party intrusion into their private affairs. Instead she simply dipped her head to one side, indicating that she would think about it. As she tilted her head though, a deep yawn caught her by surprise and the adrenaline of the conversation faded to leave her greyed and shattered, her anxiety abated enough for the moment to let her consider trying for the sleep that had evaded her in Andrea’s absence.

The brunette looked shyly on, wanting badly to wrap the older woman in her arms, feeling the physical ache of their emptiness as she stayed seated at the edge of the bed, mulling over what they had lost in the days they had been apart.

“By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.” A slightly muffled voice could be heard from the nest of cushions. Andy crawled into bed next to her and almost instantly fell asleep, not knowing that even as she slept, a smile had pasted itself to her face even in unconsciousness.

The slam of the front door woke them hours later as the girls arrived home from school. Seeing Andrea’s bag dropped haphazardly on the floor of the hall, the girls ran up to their mother’s bedroom, anxious to see if the young woman really had returned.

Andy was sitting on top of the bedcovers, working on her laptop, which she moved from her crossed legs when she saw the two redheads peeking around the door.

“Hi guys,” she offered lamely, a wistful smile twisting her lips.

Cassidy looked from the brunette to her mother in the bed and blue eyes filled with tears as she spoke. “Are you back, Andy?”

“Yes, baby, I’m back…”

Cassidy instantly burst into tears and ran at Andy, burying her face in the young woman’s stomach as she clung to her for dear life.

Caroline’s gaze, which at first had mirrored her sister’s, turned cold and Andy bit back a shiver as she was stared down by a miniature Miranda, pursed lips and all.

“Are you really Andy? Or are you just going to leave again?”

“Caroline,” Miranda reprimanded her daughter wearily, seeing so much of herself in the small face.

“Caroline…” Andy began, untangling herself from Cassidy’s arms.

“No! You promised, Andy! You said you weren’t going anywhere. You lied and I hate you! I hate you!” Horrified as she felt herself begin to cry, Caroline turned and ran from the room.

Miranda wasn’t feeling well when she woke, the highly charged atmosphere of their earlier emotional conversation having clearly drained her and sapped her of any extra energy. She knew she would have to speak with Caroline later, but for now she let Andrea go after her oldest child. Instead she lifted the covers for Cassidy to cuddle in next to her and held her youngest baby close as Andrea went after Caroline.

Andy pushed open the door to find the small girl face down on top of the bed, shoulders shaking as she tried to muffle her sobs with her pillow. Andy moved closer, but when she reached out to touch the girl’s back, Caroline flinched away and Andy cursed herself again for being so cowardly as to leave without thinking the extent her actions would have on the whole household. It was the first time she’d ever felt important and she was realizing that while rewarding and a validation of her worth and her place in the girls’ lives, it was a terrifying responsibility.

Caroline sat up, bouncing off the bed in her speed to move away from the brunette sitting on the bedspread until she was backed up against her dresser, staring accusingly at the woman who had hurt her family so badly.

“You said you were going to be the babies’ mom. We-we thought you were going to be our mom too. Moms don’t leave their kids, Andy. You left! You left us! Y-you didn’t even say goodbye and no one told us what was happening and mom kept crying and wouldn’t come out of her room, and” the little girl broke off now, deep sobs tearing at her chest until she couldn’t catch her breath.

“Oh baby, c’mere.” Andy opened her arms to receive the sobbing redhead who plowed into her, small arms tightening around her neck as Andy lifted her and moved back to sit on the bed.

“I’m sorry Car, I screwed up. Your mom and I were fighting and I was so angry, I thought she didn’t love me anymore. I’m so sorry baby.”

“You can’t leave, Andy. You can’t ever leave!”

Rubbing soothing circles on the girl’s back until her breathing evened out again, Andy pressed her lips to the soft curls at the crown of her head and continued rocking back and forth, crooning nonsense words of comfort as she felt the small shoulders shake with sobs.

“I’m not goin’ anywhere, munchkin. I can’t,” she tipped the small, sad face up to meet her gaze. And you wanna know why?”

At the small nod against her shoulder she continued. “Because you three have my heart; and now I know that I’m always going to come back to you. You and Cass and your mom, and the new babies are everything. When I thought I wouldn’t see you again it was like I forgot how to live. But I promise you what I promised your mama, and that’s that no matter what happens, no matter who yells or who leaves, because it’s okay and it’s normal for adults to fight sometimes, no matter what I will always come back to you baby girl.”

“You can’t listen to mom, Andy, she doesn’t mean it when she tells you to get out.”

“Yeah, she meant it with daddy and with Stephen, but you’re different.” Another small, high voice sounded from the doorway and Andy looked up to see Cassidy rubbing her eyes, still hiccupping slightly from her earlier tears.

Andy made to move from the single bed, but Caroline’s legs locked around her even tighter so that she clung to Andy like a koala. At that moment it didn’t matter that she was almost eleven years old, Andy rocked her baby in her arms until she felt safe enough to unfist the handfuls of Andy’s shirt she held tightly in her fists. “I’m so sorry sweetheart. Oh honey, it’s okay. Mama’s got you.” Cassidy climbed up beside Andy and curled into her free side, snuggling in under her arm as the brunette moved to press her lips to the second head that now rested against her chest.

“I want to be your mom more than anything, guys, I swear, and I am so sorry I left without saying goodbye. But I want you to know the first thing I did when I heard your mom wasn’t at work was call your school and make sure you guys were okay.”

“Y-you did?” Caroline finally lifted her face from Andy’s shoulder, sniffling slightly.

“Yes! My God, I was so scared something had happened to you, and then to your mom once I knew you two were safe, I rushed right over here.”

“So why did you leave, Andy?”

Looking down at the small, sad faces Andy’s heart broke a little further as she took in all the damage she and Miranda’s fighting had caused so that the two little girls had suffered. They asked such a simple question, but one for which she had no straight or simple answer.

“A lot of reasons, Caro, none of them good enough to give you an answer though.”

“Was it mom? Did she make you go away?”

“No,” Andy insisted firmly, making sure they both met her eyes. “I’m not going to tell you guys what we fought about, because that’s adult stuff between your mother and I and we both said things we didn’t mean. But it was my decision to leave, no matter what your mother said, okay?”

“D’you still love her?”

“Of course. I never stopped, even when I was so angry, I never stopped for a single second.” Shifting Caroline to one hip awkwardly, Andy held out her hand for Cassidy to take.

“What do you say we all go back to your mom and have a movie night?” Andy offered, wanting her family close and knowing Miranda would feel the same.  “Maybe she’ll even let us have popcorn in bed.”

The tearstained face brightened slightly as Cassidy took her hand and Andy felt a nod from the dampness of her shoulder.

Caroline reluctantly let go of Andy and slid down so she was standing by herself again, but neither girl let go of the young woman’s hand as they walked back to the master bedroom.

Miranda was resting with closed eyes that opened once the trio came back into the room.

“Mom, are you okay?”

“Yes Bobbsey, I’m just very tired.”

“D’you want us to go?”

“No, I want my babies with me, all of them.”

“What about me?” Andy smiled sheepishly, still standing in the doorway.

“Always.”

The girls looked at each other for a long moment, not saying anything. Andy turned to Miranda for an explanation of what was happening and Miranda patted her hand as she turned back to her daughters. “Darlings, what is it?”

“We don’t ever want Andy to leave again, so we thought of a solution.”

“We think you should get married so you don’t forget again.”

“Forget what, darling?”

“That you love each other. You should get married so you never forget!”

Both women started to laugh helplessly. “Lady, these are definitely your kids,” Andy wiped her eyes, resting her head on Miranda’s shoulder as she caught her breath.

Miranda was still chuckling wryly as she eyed the pair in front of her, both of whom looked highly affronted at the older women’s reaction to their plan.

“What’s so funny?”

“Yeah, you said you loved each other.”

“And Andy said she was never going to go away again, so why are you laughing?”

“Right now isn’t the right time, with the trial and the babies coming and everything that’s happening with the press and Stephen,” Andy took control of the conversation. “But after everything has calmed down and everyone is here and healthy, you can be sure I’m going to ask your mama to marry me.”

“What if she wants to ask you?” Cassidy piped up.

“Mmm, she kind of already has,” Andy tilted her head to one side, looking utterly charmed as she smiled down at the woman in question.

“What?”

“Really?”

Now it was Miranda’s turn to speak as she too dried her eyes, shaking her head at the ridiculousness of the young woman with whom she was so determined to spend the rest of her life.

“Really girls, have you ever known me to stall or question my decisions?”

Curling up again, in a nest or ‘fort’ as the girls dubbed the dubiously constructed pile of pillows, the family of four settled in to watch ‘The Parent Trap’. Both older women smiled sadly to themselves as they realized the girls choice of movie included two red-headed twins helping their parents to realize they loved each other. Halfway through the movie though, Andy felt the body lying against her grow very still before pushing the covers off of her legs and torso.

“Miranda?” Andy murmured, her lips still pressed against the skin of Miranda’s shoulder she had been kissing as they’d watched the movie. “What’s the matter?” She reached a hand over to smooth over her belly, concerned but not panicking as she watched the older woman’s expression.

“You’re not in labour are you?” Caroline asked in a dubious tone as Cassidy eyed the swell as though a scene from ‘Alien’ was about to play out.

“No,” Miranda reassured her oldest as Andy snorted with laughter. “But I think your siblings are very happy to have your mama home,” Miranda rubbed her hand over the lower curve of her belly and reached out for the girls’ hands.

Now Miranda moved her other hand and brought Andy’s to rest against a different spot on her belly. A moment later Andrea felt a tiny ripple beneath her fingertips and she realized she was feeling the babies’ first real movements and kicks.

“Oh my God,” she breathed. “Is that?”

Miranda nodded, smiling widely. “The first time,” she confirmed before turning to her daughters. “Can you feel them Bobbseys?”

Both girls nodded, giggling, and both women were relieved to see the fear from before had faded away.

“Wow, they’re strong!” Cassidy stared down at Miranda’s belly as though she expected the outline of a foot to appear.

“That they are, and hopefully they’ll grow much much stronger before it’s time to meet them.”

“Does it hurt?”

“It can later on. Right now it simply feels like a gentle nudge or flutter, but once they’re bigger it can be very uncomfortable. I know your father was convinced you two were destined to be football champions or quartersides, or whatever they’re called.” Miranda waved a dismissive hand as she recalled the long-ago conversation, turning a sharp eye on Andrea as she guffawed at the editor’s bungled sports reference.

“I love you guys so much. I can’t believe I almost missed this.” Andy’s eyes welled up once more at the thought of what she had almost missed out on because of a stupid fight. Miranda reached out to run her fingers through brown locks, scratching the woman’s scalp lightly as the brunette rested her head on Miranda’s stomach, turning to press her lips to the swell, leading Miranda’s thoughts to revolve around how much she had missed the feel of Andrea’s hands and lips on her body. It was a constant craving.

“But you didn’t, and we’re here and we’re fine,” Miranda murmured, letting her own head fall back against the pillows she had propped up behind her as Andrea’s lips travelled upwards, ghosting over her torso up onto her neck once the girls’ attention had been diverted once more by the movie.

Chapter Text

“It doesn’t fit!” Andrea heard a muted thump against the door as if Miranda had thrown something soft at it.

Miranda was sitting, hunched over, on the closed toilet seat in nothing but her La Perla bra and panties, her arms wrapped around her swollen belly watching Andrea warily as the younger woman slipped through the door. Andy raised an eyebrow at the offending garment. Miranda said nothing, suddenly finding the blue fibres of the bath mat inordinately fascinating as she refused to meet Andrea’s eyes.

Swallowing the amused grin that was threatening to split her features, Andy bit her lip, leaning against the doorframe after picking up the wrap skirt and dangling it from a finger. “Sweetheart, please tell me you know you’re not fat.”

“Fat? Of course I’m not fat, I’m pregnant Andrea. Who said anything about fat? I believe you’re the one who introduced that particular word into this conversation. I simply stated the fact that it doesn’t fit…I look awful.” The usual purse of Miranda’s mouth was compromised by teeth gently scraping and biting her lower lip, a telltale sign, Andy had come to know, of the usually imperturbably editor’s inner turmoil.

Andy gave an internal sigh. Couldn’t she have fallen for someone a little less complicated? A simpler soul rather than the brilliant and tortured mind that tossed both women in its constant tempest? She snorted internally; yeah, no, that was never going to happen. “Miranda, you know full well on your worst day you are still better dressed than 99.9% of the world’s population. Who on earth do you want to impress so badly? Oh, wait – surely not…Is it Stephen? Why on earth would you want to impress him?”

“Call it pandering to my own foolish vanity, but I don’t want Stephen looking across the courtroom and feeling vindicated in his comments regarding how plain and dumpy and common the infamous ‘devil-in-prada’ truly is and remind him of how glad he should be that he’s finally free of me.”

“If those are the words he used to describe you, then pardon my language. Actually, no, you know what? DON’T pardon my language. If those are the words he used to describe you then he’s an even bigger fucking idiot than I thought to begin with. My God, Miranda, for someone who is, for all intents and purposes, the most valuable arbiter of style and beauty across the global market, can you really not see just how beautiful you are? You’ll walk into that courtroom and blow every person in there away. And they won’t even get to see the best parts.” Miranda snorted slightly, thinking Andrea meant that she got to see her naked or in her expensive lingerie – but the younger woman shook her head at Miranda’s reaction.

“No, not those parts, even though you KNOW how fond I am of them, both of them” Andy smirked back before her expression grew serious again. “They don’t get to see you when you’re curled up in bed with me on Sunday mornings and your hair is all soft and mussed and curling. When you don’t have a stroke of makeup on and you’re all warm and rumpled and delicious in your favourite rose silk pj’s.” Andy pulled the older woman closer. “Or when you’re not wearing anything and I make you come until you can’t speak and the blush that paints your cheeks travels all the way down your chest to the skin on your belly.”

Miranda’s teeth still worried her bottom lip, but the tension in her shoulders began to ease with the slightest of increments, as did the lines furrowing her brow.

“There are so many things that make you the most beautiful person in the entire world to me. Whether it’s the real smile we get to see when you come home at the end of the day and find the girls and me fooling around in the kitchen, or the gleam in your eye when you get your way in a coup at work or the way they sparkle when we see the babies move or hear their heartbeats at the doctor’s office and the way the tips of your ears go red when I catch you talking to the babies and the soft little sigh you make when I touch you sometimes. There are so many things that make you indescribably beautiful to me, and none of those things for one second do I want to share with Stephen. You’re mine, Priestly. The rest of the world can’t have you, nuh-uh.”

“Yes, well.” Miranda sniffed pointedly as Andy watched the worst of the tension seep out of her shoulders. She thrust the wrap skirt into the young woman’s hands as she swept back into the closet, leaving Andy to file the garment away in the section of the closet reserved for clothes that no longer fit due to the pregnancy. The fact that that section of the closet was just about to pass the halfway mark gave Andy all the more reason to be grateful that the day after the trial and follow-up  doctor’s visit for the amnio was allotted for the grand unveiling of the designer’s custom-made maternity offerings, all of which were currently being held in The Closet at Runway and kept under lock and key by a small team headed by Nigel and Serena, with Emily as the master coordinator.

Arriving at the courthouse, the stairs had already been cordoned off and security guards kept the clamouring press under control. From their side of the car, Andy and Roy both saw the reason for the press’ excitement. Stephen and his lawyer had arrived and appeared to be making a statement if the smug, self-deprecating expression and wildly jostling reporters were any indication. Roy swore softly under his breath, turning the steering wheel abruptly so they were taken back out into the traffic of the roundabout and had to circle the building several times until there was space again to pull through.

“What on earth? Roy, what is the meaning of this? Why are you taking us back out into traffic?”

“My apologies, Miranda; some guy cut me off so I couldn’t cross into the right lane,” Roy lied smoothly as Andy rubbed the woman’s arm bracingly, seeing how excruciatingly tense with nerves the editor was, even without seeing her soon to be ex talking to the press.

At least they hadn’t had to pass him on the stairs or in the hallways, Andy thought gratefully as the bailiff escorted them into the courtroom. Beneath the hand that rested on the small of the editor’s back, Andy felt the muscles tense familiarly and her own heart and stomach surged in sympathy as Miranda fought her body’s visceral reaction to seeing the man who had assaulted her and fathered the children currently lying so still in her belly as though they too felt their mother’s fear.

Andy sat on the outside seat of the table with Miranda and her lawyer so that she blocked the older woman’s view and could intercept any messages or motions from Stephen without it becoming readily apparent to either the rest of the room or Miranda.  She was still grateful, however, when the large pale oak doors swung open to reveal the judge and the court was subsequently called to order.

 An hour later, the opening arguments had been made, and it was now Stephen’s turn as the defendant to refute or reply to the charges being laid against him by the ADA, Alex Cabot, of menacing in the first degree, assault, sexual assault as well as breaking and entering and trespassing.

As the beautiful but stern blonde began to speak, it was obvious that Stephen and his chauvinist friend lawyer, had both been of the opinion that someone so attractive couldn’t possibly be of any real use in legal matters such as these, and as such, were both sitting mouths slightly agape as the young woman coolly rained down a, and there really was no other word for it, a shit-storm of legal jargon and condemnatory remarks as she provided further exposition of the events of that evening.

Finally, the defense attorney found his voice and stood to refute the comments being made. “Your honor, this is clearly nothing more than a legal manoeuver being made in very bad taste. Arguments over the divorce settlement, served by Mr. Tomlinson himself no less, have come to a standstill and Ms. Priestly is obviously utilizing her skills in creative editorializing to save herself from having to pay Mr. Tomlinson what he is rightfully owed from the dissolution of their marriage. Furthermore, using the children they conceived in an attempt at reconciliation as bargaining chips in these proceedings hardly speaks to Ms. Priestly’s character or suitability as a parent.”

“Using? The, the children?” Miranda’s voice had lost its usual low, seductive tones and cracked piercingly as her nails indented the table in front of her.

Andy gently covered the tight fists with her own, wishing they weren’t surrounded by so many people so she could bring her lips to the pale skin and kiss away the indent marks Miranda’s nails had left on her palm. She had had the foresight to request a closed courtroom, however the level of public interest in the trial and the subsequent uproar it would have caused at the attempted restriction of free speech and freedom of information meant that the request had been denied, albeit reluctantly. The most the judge could do was ban any recording devices or cameras. However, this also meant that the vultures in the gallery were even more watchful and careful in their scrutiny, and not likely to miss any detail or juicy tidbit that would send the sales numbers for whatever tawdry rag they worked for, into the stratosphere.

“He wanted them aborted!” Miranda whispered as the judge, an older black woman, sent her a warning glare for the outburst. “First he denied paternity and now he’s going to try and use it to leverage the divorce.” This time it was Alex who shot them a glance that clearly said ‘shut up’ before she started to read from a copy of the medical report they had received at the hospital detailing Miranda’s injuries.

“Miranda Priestly was brought in by ambulance and presented with a concussion, severe contusions along her torso and extremities consistent with being forcibly held down and struck repeatedly. From the pattern of injuries, forensics was also able to deduce that the victim was kicked multiple times – the pattern of bruising indicated a men’s loafer with a tassel.”

“I bought those for him,” Miranda whispered, unable to take her eyes off the Ziploc evidence bag Alex was now holding up for the room to see.

“The people would now like to enter into evidence a pair of men’s loafers, Gucci, size 10, found at the apartment of Stephen Tomlinson. In addition to matching the pattern of bruising, epithelial cells matching a sample of Ms. Priestly’s DNA were extracted from the grain of the untreated leather strips that make up the tassel, along with traces of blood.”

“The defendant did, in fact, live with Ms. Priestly for a number of years up until very recently, so it can hardly be held against him that his clothing picked up traces of debris from the home. Isn’t it true that the human body loses 30 to 40 thousand skin cells per minute on average?”

“It would indeed, Mr. Jeffries. And we did indeed find desquamation residue that would match up with several years accumulation and loss.”

“See? Means nothing!” The slap of palms hitting the flat wooden table echoed jarringly as Stephen crossed his arms smugly.

“Mr. Tomlinson, as a member of the bar you should know better than to make that kind of outburst during testimony. Any further interruptions and you’ll be out of my courtroom.”

“My apologies, your Honor.”

The defense and prosecution both gave their versions of the events of that night before Miranda was called to the stand to testify. Miranda let go of Andy’s hand and rose from the table the picture of calm; buttoning her blazer as she stood she walked across the courtroom to take the stand.

Andy saw the jury’s eyes collectively focus on the swell of Miranda’s belly as she walked. At 5 months pregnant with twins, the bump had swelled to just over her navel, widening her hips and causing her to walk with a deeper sway and slightly slower gait than the impatient staccato of her walk before had previously allotted her.

As she took her oath and sat, Miranda could feel the stare of dozens of pairs of eyes and she fought the urge to place her hand on her belly as she swore to tell the truth as quickly as she could so she could sit down and be shielded from the gazes. This wasn’t pure media sensationalism – that she was used to; this was feral and perverse and hungry. But meeting the warm brown gaze across the room, Miranda once again found her reserve, regaining her equilibrium before fixing the watching press with an ominous glare that at once seemed both indifferent and threatening.

“Ms. Priestly,” Mr. Jeffries, Stephen’s defense attorney began, and Miranda fought the urge to roll her eyes. This was going to be a trial in more ways than one.

Andy watched as Miranda coolly took the balding man through the events that took place the evening of the assault, her voice calm and low as she gave the requisite details. When she came to the part where Stephen had pushed through the door, her voice faltered somewhat as her mind fought to not remember that awful night.

Andy coughed loudly, pleased when the harsh sound was enough to draw Miranda’s attention and she was able to meet the other woman’s gaze, nodding and taking a deep breath so that Miranda echoed her actions and was able to speak again.

“I told him to leave. That he had lost any privileges or right to be in my house when he had slept with another woman. He pushed his way in front door, and when I told him to get out he began cursing and yelling. He, he grabbed me by the wrists and pushed me against the wall, kissing and biting me before kicking my legs out from under me so that I fell, unable to break my fall as he still held my wrists in his – I believe that’s what accounted for the wrenched shoulder as well as the sprained wrists in the medical report.”

Her eyes clouded over now and she closed them, unable to look at Andrea as she spoke the next part, knowing she should have been stronger, should have fought harder.

“He began to unbuckle his belt, saying he would have everything that was owed to him, including me. When I tried to crawl to the bathroom, he lifted me by the shoulders and threw me to the ground and kicked me, warning me to be silent unless I wanted him to go to my girls.”

Miranda’s guilt ridden gaze moved once more to find Andrea’s, and she flinched at the anger in the younger woman’s eyes and the tense set of her neck and shoulder as she appeared to be forcibly restraining herself from leaping up from the table. Alex leaned over to whisper something into her ear and Miranda watched as most of the anger drained from the young woman’s face, only to be replaced by an excruciating sorrow as brown eyes met blue again. The older woman sighed in relief, she wasn’t angry – not at her anyway.

“I felt my head strike something hard and I lost consciousness. When I came to, the first thing  I remember is hearing a voice and feeling something wet on my cheek before everything went black again.”

“And that voice belonged to Andy Sachs?” Alex questioned.

“Objection! Your honor she is leading the witness, who by the way is her girlfriend and ex-employee so will obviously say whatever Ms. Priestly has told her to.”

“I counter with an objection, your Honor,” Alex interjected smoothly. “Mr. Jeffries is placing an unfair bias on the jury’s mindset with his subjective and unfounded accusations of wrongdoing and conspiracy on the part of my clients.

“Enough! Ms. Cabot, you will let the witness state the name and identity of her attacker and any other parties involved in the events of that evening. Mr. Jeffries, you will watch your mouth in my court. Is that understood?”

“It is.”

“Yes, your Honor.”

“Who did you see when you regained consciousness?”

“Andrea Sachs.”

“Can you point her out to the rest of the courtroom?”

Miranda began to roll her eyes at this, but caught herself and lifted a hand to gesture to the brunette, now the only person left sitting at the table.

Andy’s testimony proceeded similarly to Miranda’s, although the younger woman wasn’t able to stop the tears from falling when she recalled finding Miranda unconscious outside her study. Listening to the young woman speak so passionately and earnestly, Miranda was more grateful than ever that this curious, glorious creature had found her way into her heart and her life and the lives of her children.

Soon enough, however, it was time for Stephen to take the stand. Silver haired, smiling and handsome, he made a good impression on the jury, despite the testimony they had just heard.

Beneath the table, Andy saw Miranda’s hands move protectively over her belly as Stephen started to speak, both women listening in disgust as lie after lie spewed forth from his lips.

“I came over to see we could discuss the divorce settlement out of court, like adults; and yeah, I had had a drink or two before I got there. Facing the ex is not something any guy in his right mind wants to do.”

“And did you enter the house?”

“Absolutely, I came in the door after Miranda opened it. It had started to rain and it still felt like my house, you know? 5 years we had been together but now everything is all ‘what’s mine is mine’. I just wanted to put this all behind us.”

“What happened then?”

“She threw herself at me; completely lost it when I tried to leave after she refused to discuss the divorce. Started screaming about Runway and her reputation and the press; then she starts going on about how she’s pregnant and I’m the father and how I can’t do this to her.”

Stephen turned his gaze to the judge, hangdog eyes and plaintive tone willing the older woman to realize him as the victim in the situation. “I just tried to get away. That’s all, I swear. I’m sorry if I hurt her.”

Now he turned to Miranda. “I’m sorry if I hurt you Mir, in any way, but it’s over.”

For a terrifying moment, Andy thought the older woman was going to be sick – the way her skin paled as Stephen addressed her and the convulsive swallow and shallow breaths all indicated imminent disaster.

“Breathe,” Andy murmured, her lips barely moving as she kept the older woman’s gaze and let her thumb brush against the pulse point at Miranda’s wrist. “It’s almost over.”

“After I pushed her away, I got the hell out of there.”

“How would you explain the intensity of Ms. Priestly’s injuries.

“If she had hit her head after I pulled her off of me and lost consciousness, then she wouldn’t have been able to lock the door after I left. I haven’t had keys to the house in months. My guess is that some lowlife took advantage of that and beat the crap out of my ex-wife before grabbing what he could and taking off.”

“And if she attacked you, as you say, why didn’t you go to the police?”

“I didn’t want to cause her any more pain or embarrassment.”

Court was adjourned for the day shortly after Stephen had finished his testimony, the jury filing out to their respective rooms to no doubt discuss what they had just heard.

Miranda was stone-faced as she swept out of the courtroom, however instead of going directly to the car as Andy had expected, the older woman turned abruptly down another hallway until the pair came to a vacant restroom.

Andy didn’t think much of it, despite the fact that Miranda despised public washrooms; the babies had changed her tune enough that she accepted the compromise of using a completely vacated restroom lest she have an accident as the babies grew and continued to press on her bladder at the times it was most inopportune and inconvenient.

Andy registered it as odd when Miranda didn’t at first make certain that the bathroom was empty before entering fully, her concern only growing as the editor ignored the stalls and hastened over to the sink.

One hand supported her belly as bent double, she retched over the smooth porcelain; long miserable sounding heaves interspersed with desperate gulps of air.

Miranda felt Andy’s arm come around her back and curve around her waist so that their hands were twined together as she supported the older woman’s slight weight.

Feeling the muscles beneath their joined hands spasm and contract violently, Andy inwardly cursed the man responsible, damning him to the same hell and worse that he was putting Miranda through, her heart breaking a little more as she felt faint movement under her fingertips.

“I think he upset the babies too,” Andy tried to joke as she offered the editor a damp paper towel and a water bottle from her purse, seeing as it had been several minutes since her last bout of illness.

“I n-need to sit down,” Miranda murmured, her eyes closed and her features pained as she straightened up only to slump and lean heavily on the younger woman as her legs suddenly felt disconcertingly unsteady.

She let herself be led blindly, the dizziness almost overwhelming. When Miranda finally opened her eyes again to a room that had stopped spinning, the first thing she noticed was the coldness of the air in juxtaposition to the warm, curvy body on whose lap and shoulder she was resting. She shivered, only to find herself immediately enveloped even more tightly in long, strong arms; and after a moment, she let herself melt into the warm body further, allowing herself to take comfort in the young woman’s embrace and under her ever tender ministrations.

The younger woman didn’t say anything. What was there to be said that hadn’t been already. Besides, both women felt as if there had been enough talking about serious and unpleasant manners that day.

“I think your feet are getting swollen,” Andy murmured quietly as she adjusted her grip on the editor, letting her cheek rest lightly on the snowy hair.

“The shoes,” Miranda flexed her feet slightly and grimaced as she wriggled her toes inside the leather and stocking prison. She eyed the 4 inch Donna Karan pumps with equal parts disdain and reverence, admiring the supply charcoal leather and the line of tight stitching that echoed the sore, swollen indents on the appendages in question.

“I wish you’d stop wearing those things; especially now that you’re in the second trimester and 5 months pregnant with twins,” Andy sighed, knowing any attempts at changing the editor’s mind would be futile. But it was just like Miranda to surprise her.

“I have, for the most part,” the older woman surprised her by saying. “I’ve been tending towards 3 inch or lower or stacked heels at the office, and I’ll likely continue reducing the height as the shift in my balance changes.” She looked slyly up at Andrea, “However, I have read that frequent foot massages help to improve circulation and reduce swelling.”

“Is that so?”

“Mmm.”

“I suppose we’ll just have to test that hypothesis tonight then.”

After a few more minutes, Miranda felt well enough to lift her head from Andy’s shoulder and gently swing her legs around until they once more touched the ground. As expected, her feet protested, but her stomach seemed to be behaving for the moment and she teased a stray curl back into place before nodding at Andy to open the door. Their appointment with Dr. Jansen was in an hour, and Miranda was sure Andrea was going to attempt to force her to eat something in the hour they had until they were due at the clinic.

“Shall we?”

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Chapter Text

“Miranda, your blood pressure is still quite high.” The doctor unwrapped the Velcro cuff from Miranda’s arm and gestured for her to lie down on the examining table.

“My life isn’t exactly stress-free at the moment, for many reasons.”

“Me included,” Andy whispered sadly, remembering the relative trauma of their last falling out, causing Miranda to squeeze her hand reassuringly before continuing.

“Many reasons,” she repeated firmly, “not least of which include upcoming testimony on the part of my ex, or soon to be ex-husband as part of the ongoing trial against him for assault and battery.”

“I understand,” the older brunette broke off and chuckled lightly, raising her hands in mock surrender as Miranda’s eyebrow reached dangerous heights and her nostrils flared dangerously at the woman’s insinuation that she knew what the editor was going through. “Okay, okay, I DON’T understand specifically what you are going through per say,” her tone grew serious once more. “But you need to understand, Miranda, that if you don’t find some way to mitigate this stress, it will have consequences for you and the babies.”

“I do understand the concern, doctor.” Miranda inclined a regal head.

“And I’m sure I don’t need to inquire whether you would be amenable to being put on precautionary bed rest until your BP levels have come down?”

“I’m afraid that would prove rather a waste of both our times.”

“The find a way to relax,” Dr. Jansen stressed again, “High blood pressure and hypertension can be a response to stress and anxiety over specific events in our lives but it can also be an indicator that your body simply is not tolerating the pregnancy as it should.”

“I understand. Truly, I do, and I thank you for your candor Dr. Jansen.”

“You CAN call me Rebecca, you know” the doctor smiled and shook her head.

“Mmm,” Miranda hummed lightly in response although she didn’t say anything further and Andy could see that the older woman had just about reached her limit for polite conversation and her patience was beginning to wear thin, especially given that she had yet to see the babies.

The older brunette chuckled wryly as she watched the swift change in her patient’s face, understanding the moniker of ‘Dragon Lady’ better than she had since first reading the ridiculous nickname in the papers.

Andrea’s lips twitched slightly in ill-concealed displeasure as the doctor rolled up Miranda’s blouse even further and starting pressing, rather too firmly in Andy’s opinion, on Miranda’s abdomen.

“Relax darling, I’m fine.” Miranda brought Andrea’s tightly clenched knuckles to her lips before grunting slightly in discomfort at the activity going on below.

The doctor smirked, albeit sympathetically, “I know it’s uncomfortable, but this way I can get a better idea fetal growth and position before the ultrasound.”

Andy had the grace to blush slightly. “Sorry,” she gestured to herself with her free hand in an adorably awkward manner, “First time mom here. Kinda nervous…”

Miranda’s nerves all but faded away as the younger woman described herself to the doctor as a ‘new mom’ and she brought Andrea’s hand to her lips again.

“So are we interested in finding out the genders today?” the doctor raised an eyebrow at the women whose full attention was still on the screen and on the babies.

“Yes!”

“I daresay this pregnancy has come with enough surprises already,” Miranda murmured wryly, although she couldn’t quite hide her smile as the swish-swish thump of the babies’ heartbeats filled the room.

“Alright, then I can tell you, from the amniocentesis and from what I can see here, is that on this side,” she moved the Doppler to the left “we can see a good-sized baby boy.”

Andy’s hand instantly flew to Miranda’s belly, as Miranda’s went to her mouth.

“A boy?” Andy’s eyes flicked back and forth between Miranda and Miranda’s stomach, while Miranda’s eyes stayed glued to the screen.

“A son,” she turned her head to look at Andrea. “We’re going to have a son.”

Andy moved to kiss Miranda, bringing her hand to cup the older woman’s cheek before realizing that there was something sticky on her fingers. She had forgotten about the conducting gel covering Miranda’s belly in a thick layer, and when she had moved her hand to where the doctor said the baby was, had gotten the thick goop all over her hand without realizing it.

Andy looked sheepishly at the other two women for a moment until she decided she didn’t care, laughing joyfully as she accepted the paper towel from the smiling doctor and focusing back on the grainy image on the screen.

“And the other baby? Is it healthy?” Miranda questioned the doctor as the wand moved to the other side of her belly.

“This is the one you say you feel kick more, right?” Andy smoothed back a lock of white hair, still unable to wipe the wide grin from her face and not caring that she probably looked like an idiot.

“More often,” Miranda corrected her slightly. “This one is more active, but the movements aren’t as strong. Is that alright?”

The editor was growing concerned now as she took in the older brunette’s silence and the lines that had appeared on her forehead as she moved the probe around, pressing deeply in some areas before moving back over to the side of the first baby.

A quick, tight, smile preceded her second announcement. “You’re having another daughter.”

“My God, that’s amazing! You’re amazing! Did you hear that Mira? A boy and a girl – a brother AND a sister for Cass and Caro.”

But after the initial leap of joy at the realization that she was expecting a son and a daughter, Miranda felt a flicker and then a heavy blanket of fear set in as her years of experience at reading people’s emotions in order to manipulate them set in, and she didn’t like what she saw in the OB’s face.

“What is it, doctor? What’s wrong with my children?”

“What?” Andy looked completely confused as her head swung back and forth between the two other women, trying to figure out what was going on.

“What is it? Nothing’s wrong,” she paused now, “Is it?”

“Tell me. Now.” Miranda’s voice was dangerously low, her eyes narrow as she stared down the woman in front of her, who was now studiously wiping the gel off of her stomach as if carefully considering her next words.

Dr. Jansen sighed, and Andy’s stomach dropped all the way to her feet. “It’s possible. No, I apologize, it’s more than possible - it’s likely that your babies have what is called ‘Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome’.”

Now clean of the jelly, Miranda’s hand not held tightly in a death grip Andy flew to her belly, cradling the bump with one arm as she leaned over slightly, eyes closed as she focused on regulating her breathing.

“Isn’t that usually considered fatal?” Andy was the first to speak, guessing correctly that Miranda couldn’t bring herself to speak the words.

“In some cases, yes,” Dr. Jansen confirmed with a nod of her head, and Miranda let out a low moan although she didn’t open her eyes. “However, and listen to me Miranda, from what I can see from the ultrasound, your babies have a mild case. In severe or advanced cases of TTTS that are considered a stage 3 or 4 out of 5 on the Quintero Scale, one twin is generally found to have noticeable congenital anomalies due to the uneven distribution of nutrients – in other words, one gets too much blood while the other essentially starves or has its growth restricted because of the unequal pressure on the amniotic sacs. In your case, Miranda, the structure of the blood vessels and their pattern of distribution across the placenta, means that there is only a minute differential.”

“So they’ll be fine,” Andy’s voice was high and thin as she desperately tried to hold on to the joy and hope that had filled the room only minutes before.

“I can’t promise that. The same tube defect that isn’t allowing your daughter enough nutrients is funneling the excess to your son which is putting strain on his heart. There’ s no way to say for sure at what point it will cause difficulties. For instance, the sooner we can deliver your son the better, while it’s imperative for your daughter that you go as close to term as possible so that her lungs and other organs have the chance to fully develop and mature.”

Another whimper escaped from Miranda’s lips at the doctor’s words and Andy squeezed her free hand even more tightly, bringing the white skin to her lips before turning her head slightly to question the other woman once more even as her eyes never left the woman beside her.

“So what are our options?”

“In severe cases where one or both babies are at serious risk for multiple organ failure, reducing the pregnancy”

In a second, Miranda was back, her eyes flashing dangerously as she straightened and let go of Andy’s hand and her voice, instead of its previous low and dangerous tones, was nearly shaking with fury. “Reducing? As in choosing which one of my children to KILL?”

Andy gasped, looking at the doctor in horror, sure she wasn’t really hearing correctly and not believing Miranda was either.

“That is NOT an option,” Miranda whispered harshly, almost hissing as she tightened the grip of the hand that was still clasped protectively over her swollen midsection. Andy’s hand quickly settled over where she knew the other baby lay as if to cover its ears and keep it from hearing what was being suggested.

Dr. Jansen bit back a frustrated sigh, knowing the two women in front of her were scared to death and truthfully probably worried out of their minds at her explanation of the diagnosis. “Wait,” she held her hands out, “uber-premature delivery or reduction of the pregnancy is often the only option to ensure survival of at least one of the babies. However, those options are generally reserved for very advanced cases, which as I have explained, you are not and perhaps won’t be. Currently, the measurement of fluid around each fetus in combination with growth markers for gestational age put your babies in an early Stage II. Every treatment option has its own set of risks, and I would not necessarily recommend such a drastic course of action at this point. What we WILL do is monitor your babies condition and their growth very closely over the next few months and do a more in-depth analysis of their cardio-pulmonary function when you reach a gestational age where the babies would be considered viable if delivered. Usually, that occurs around 28 weeks, although in otherwise healthy pregnancies of a single baby, a preemie has survived having been born as early as 24 weeks.”

“That’s still 6 weeks away, 10 if we aim for twenty eight.”

“If any point, I feel either of the babies goes beyond acceptable levels or developmental markers for gestational age, we will discuss our options then and either deliver them or attempt to repair and reroute the blood vessels via laparoscopic surgery. However, my hope is that it doesn’t come to that. Without getting your hopes up, there is a chance that being so early in the pregnancy, this could correct itself and your body and the babies’ will adapt and be able to compensate and adjust for the discrepancy. Still, even if that doesn’t occur, I am still fairly optimistic that with the extra monitoring and having caught this early, I am still confident in your ability to successfully deliver two babies, even if the timeline is adjusted somewhat. Now I’ve taken very specific measurements of both babies today, so in a week’s time we’ll be able to see if there are any changes in their condition that we need to be concerned about.

Dr. Jansen leaned forward and took both of Miranda’s hands in hers, visibly startling the older woman who had been lost in her own thoughts so that she could only blink dumbly instead of pulling away from the overly familiar touch. “Miranda this is NOT your fault. There is nothing you or anyone could have done to prevent this. This condition was present from the very beginning of the pregnancy.”

Miranda’s lip trembled as she spoke, sounding uncharacteristically meek. “But I didn’t know until I was almost 8 weeks along, and they ran x-rays after the assault and, and once I forgot to eat for two days…” Miranda’s eyes darted around the room, her breathing becoming faster and faster until she was nearly hyperventilating. Her eyes finally landed on Andrea, terrified as they asked a silent question Miranda wasn’t sure she wanted the answer to, if it was the one she thought she would get.

“No. No, baby, this wasn’t anyone’s fault. I don’t blame you, I’m not angry; and don’t you think for one second that you’re to blame for this. You heard Dr. Jansen. Look, the amnio told us the babies don’t have any chromosomal or genetic defects. We will get through this and they’ll be fine. These are Priestly babies.”

“You can’t promise me that,” Miranda whispered, closing her eyes again as if she were in pain or it pained her to speak the words that came next through her lips. “Do NOT promise me that…because I’ll hate you if you’re wrong, and I CAN’T lose you as well. I can’t, I just can’t!” Miranda’s voice had risen once more to a hysterical pitch before resuming the quiet woodenness as a stray tear tracked down her cheek.

“Okay, okay,” Andy soothed as Miranda finally fell apart, clutching at the younger woman’s shirt like a lifeline. “Shhh, sweetheart, you are never going to lose me. Shhh…No matter what, I am always going to fight for you,” Andy murmured into the white hair as she wrapped her arms around the shivering frame even more tightly, barely registering the click of the door as the doctor stepped out to give them a moment. 

The sobbing continued however, and Andy lost the battle against her own tears as Miranda grasped at her shoulders, pressing against her even further so that Andy could feel the firm swell of her belly pressed against her and was reminded of what they stood to lose and how much it would hurt if they did.

“What I am going to promise you Miranda is that we WILL get through this. We are going to do everything we can to bring two healthy babies into the world. But even if,” Andy’s voice cracked and she cleared her throat, “even if God forbid something should happen and we don’t…I will still be here, and I’m still going to want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Miranda sobbed even harder, unable to speak, and Andy did the only thing she could think of, she simply held her and let her cry, knowing that after such a long period of time keeping her emotions hidden, what the older woman needed was to be allowed to cry, and told that it was okay.

Finally, Miranda’s grip eased on Andy’s now very damp and wrinkled blouse, although she still leaned heavily against the younger woman, saying nothing but accepting the proffered tissue and make-up removal cloth, barely reacting as Andy moved to take the soiled tissues crumpled in her hand that now lay limply at her side.

Dr. Jansen knocked lightly before coming back into the room, her gaze sympathetic  even as her tone was professional. “You can call to make an another appointment for a week’s time; Darcy at the front desk will take cre of that for you and she’ll provide any extra literature you may want to read over.” Her tone softened slightly as she turned her head to meet the younger woman’s gaze. “Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any more questions; and I realize it’s of little use, but try not to worry. We’re going to keep a close eye on everyone.”

Miranda didn’t even glance at the doctor until her last sentence where she told them not to worry. At that, she glared at the woman before sweeping out of the room silently, not even waiting for Andrea to catch up as she donned her sunglasses before she stormed out the doors of the clinic to the waiting car outside.

“So? What are they?” Roy stood outside the Mercedes waiting, a wide grin splitting his broad, honest face, and Miranda choked back a sob before sliding into the backseat and pulling the door closed without a word to the older man. Truthfully, she didn’t have for him. She had never imagined she would feel as if she were letting down Roy. He was her driver for God’s sake, surely she shouldn’t care where she stood in his regard. But she did, and she had failed him along with so many other people she was realizing cared for her and for the babies.

God, she had been so foolish! Andrea’s presence in her life had brightened her world and her outlook so entirely that she had all but left behind the veil of shrewd realism that had protected her in the past.

Bewildered at the editor’s reaction, even knowing her as he did, Roy’s heart sank even further as the brunette, usually cheerful to a fault, came out of the clinic with a sombre expression, her eyes dry but rimmed with red.

“Andy!” Roy reached out to lay a hand on the younger woman’s arm as it looked as though she would walk past the car, she was so lost in her thoughts. “What the hell happened in there? Is everything okay with the babies?”

Andy smiled softly, but it didn’t reach her eyes as she responded, her already bruised heart throbbing painfully as she realized how many people loved these babies already, and cared so deeply about Miranda.

“It’s a boy and a girl,” her voice was little more than a whisper as they were still technically in public, and Roy’s smile returned tenfold and he whistled. “What are you talking about Andy? That’s great news!”

“But they’re not growing properly. One twin is getting more than the other.”

“So what does that mean?”

Andy shrugged helplessly, wishing more than anything that she had the answer, or at least a better one than they had been given. “We don’t know. We just have to wait and see how they develop.”

Both pairs of kind, brown eyes flicked over to the tinted window of the car at the word ‘wait’, knowing that the woman behind was anything but patient, especially where her children were involved.

“Ah jeez…Andy, I’m sorry. If there’s anything…”

Another sad smile followed as she squeezed the man’s arm in recognition of his offer before slipping into the car where Miranda was waiting.

Miranda was nearly comatose by the time they arrived back at the townhouse, and disappeared up the stairs the moment they had gotten in the front door. She hadn’t said a word since they had been at the clinic and Andy knew better than to try and fill the silence with empty chatter.  Sighing at hearing the door to their bedroom slam, Andy decided to try and get some work done before the girls came home from school and they had to explain everything to them. Maybe that could be put off though, if Cara took them for a treat after piano. But no sooner had she reached for her phone to text the other woman than the girls burst through the door, chattering excitedly knowing today was the day they had been promised they would get to find out the gender.

“So what is it? What are they?”

“Are they boys or girls or both?”

“I bet it’s girls.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“If it is, Emily owes me fifty bucks!”

Andy felt a flash of anger at the woman upstairs; not for the babies’ condition, not at all. She knew there was nothing that could have been done to prevent this save for Miranda miraculously becoming twenty or thirty years younger. No, she was angry at Miranda for making her be the one to have to break the news.

She explained to the girls as best she could about the babies’ condition without scaring them any further with the facts or statistics. She didn’t reveal the genders though, that had been something Miranda had so been looking forward to, and hopefully the prospect of getting to share some good news with Caroline and Cassidy would give Miranda something positive to focus on and look forward to, for the short term at least. But despite her careful explanation, she still saw the twins’ hands clasp together during her speech – an action Andy recognized as something they only did when they were feeling particularly insecure or anxious about a situation.

Taking the girls upstairs, she opened the door to see Miranda still in her work clothes, curled up on top of the duvet. Red rimmed eyes were downcast as she gently rubbed her belly where the ultrasound had told them the tiny baby girl was.

Wordlessly, Caroline and Cassidy crawled up on the bed, cuddling up on either side of Miranda. As the older woman felt two sets of small arms wrap around her, she closed her eyes and willingly gave up the battle, letting slow, silent tears escape tired eyes.

After researching what she could and sending Cara and Maria home for the evening, Andy went back upstairs. Opening the door to their bedroom, Andy breathed shakily as her throat closed up and her heart throbbed at the sight that greeted her. It looked like Miranda had finally fallen into a fitful doze. Caroline sat near the top of the bed, gently stroking her hair and Cassidy had propped herself up on one elbow and was carefully rubbing Miranda’s belly in small, soothing circles like she had seen Andy do when her mom wasn’t feeling well.

“Girls, did you want to go call out for whatever you want for dinner? Maybe we can have a movie-night picnic.”

Staying quiet for a moment, both redheads looked at each other and nodded before turning to Miranda in tandem.

“Mom? Do the babies want anything special tonight?” Caroline’s voice quivered as though she were trying her hardest to be brave.

Hearing her baby so sad and knowing it was because of her own reaction, Miranda pushed herself up onto her arms before standing from the bed.

“Whatever you want to order is fine, Bobbsey, mommy might just have some soup.” Her voice still rasped slightly as she tried to sound normal and ease her children’s fears. But instead of calming down, blue eyes filled with tears before the little girl shook her head violently.

“No! You’ve gotta eat! You have to eat so the babies will grow!” She stamped her foot, “Whatever. I’m ordering you food anyway.” Cassidy followed her sister out of the room as she stormed off, giving Miranda’s stomach a long last look before she disappeared down the stairs.

Miranda left the room without another word, going down the hallway to her study. Normally when she did this, Andy would leave her alone, knowing the older woman needed time alone to think things through. But right now she wasn’t sure she wanted her to think things through. However, upon opening the door to the study, Andy was not prepared for what she saw as her gaze landed on the figure in the office chair.

Chapter Text

Her back was turned to the door as she faced the window, and at first Andy thought she was talking to herself or the babies, but as she came closer she could make out a certain rhythm to the words that shocked her more than anything else. Miranda was praying. Frozen, Andy watched as Miranda’s lips moved almost without sound as she whispered fervent pleas to an unknown deity.

“Miranda,” Andy’s voice cracked as she knelt down beside the editor’s chair.

“What else is there to do? Nothing I have accomplished, no amount of wealth can…” the older woman trailed off. “God knows,” here she paused again before barking out a harsh laugh at the unintentional irony of her words, the sound making Andy cringe at the emptiness. “God knows I have hardly lived a faultless life. It’s true, I am self-absorbed, cold, often uncaring and even cruel…” She turned once more to Andrea, but instead of the bitter self-loathing Andy had seen fill the other woman’s eyes only moments ago, they now turned to her beseechingly; looking for all the world like a child, clinging to the hope she hadn’t been abandoned. “Surely, surely God wouldn’t be so cruel as to punish my children for my faults and my wrongs?”

“No sweetheart, no. No, no, no – I don’t believe for one second that that is how God works.”

“What do you believe?” the words were spoken quietly as if the speaker were unsure they really wanted to hear the answer.

They hadn’t ever discussed their beliefs or religious views before now. Truthfully, even though they had committed to each other fully, there was still so much they didn’t know about the other. When they thought about it, the amount of blanks needing to be filled in was astounding and not a bit overwhelming.

Andy considered her words carefully, knowing they were on shaky ground where neither felt in charge of the situation. “If you’re asking about my religious background, I was raised Pentecostal, although we certainly weren’t at church every Sunday. For my own purposes and in my adult life, I don’t really ascribe to any one particular religion or religious institution. There’s just too much corruption and hypocrisy for me to be able to feel right about the institution of ‘the church’ as a whole. But I do believe in God; wholeheartedly. I can’t imagine for one minute that there is not a greater purpose to this life, but instead of going to church by rote or reciting a rosary, I try and focus on where I can see God in my everyday life.” She smiled at Miranda now, “like when I said there wasn’t a day I didn’t look heavenward and thank God for you. That was literal, Miranda, there’s too much to be coincidental. There is too much variability in life to think it was all down to some quirk of science that came from nothing. How can a random event be random if the world truly is based only on science and correlating mathematical values?”

Miranda looked at the younger woman and then down at her rounded belly, thinking of the number of seemingly unrelated and impossible factors that had to come together for any of this to happen. For her to have conceived these babies at nearly 50 years old, for her girls to have called Andrea of all people because everyone else had been busy? For the young woman to answer the phone after so much time had passed and on the terms they had parted on.

“I agree,” came the soft response as Miranda moved her gaze to the window once more, stroking her stomach absently. “I was raised primarily Jewish, although my mother was staunchly Catholic; since I left home as a teenager however, neither has played an overwhelming role in my life. But yes, I think to believe that the world, that we are here by chance is a sign of great ignorance. As someone who has studied design for most of her life, I understand the many intricacies and patterns of cause and effect, and as someone who has made it her career to control those intricacies I can tell you there is nothing even remotely random about even the most abstract of designs. It is all so carefully and painstakingly calculated. Even the most ‘random’ or carelessly thrown together designs are made up of distinct physical patterns and follow the rudimentary laws of physics and geometry. And so I do not believe the ‘universe’ and what it has taken to get to this point of progress and evolution, is a random act of science. There is an editor somewhere in the sky,” she smiled ruefully and the tightness in Andrea’s chest eased slightly as bit by bit, Miranda returned to herself.

“How else does one explain what we see as a universal code of ethics or laws of morality? There is no evolutionary or scientific explanation for love other than as a deleterious mental defect that affects 99% of the population. ‘Love’ as it may be experienced, serves no other purpose. It is certainly of no measurable or quantifiable benefit to me to ensure the happiness of my children. Their survival? Yes, of course – but their happiness? In fact it is the opposite, I sacrifice and weaken myself for them, and I do so willingly, gladly even.” Miranda trailed off again for a long moment.

“I find myself wanting to be angry at God, as it seems I have been for so much of my life. I realize this is futile, and yet if there is the slightest chance my children would be spared I would gladly fall to my knees and beg forgiveness.”

“Miranda, whatever happens will NOT be your fault or because of anything you’ve done that could be considered ‘morally questionable’; and I guarantee you it will not be an act of retribution or vengeance by God. If He is God, he wouldn’t be so petty, and if He were, then He wouldn’t be God – at least not as I truly believe Him to be.” Now it was Andy’s turn to go silent before asking Miranda, “Have you ever talked to the girls about this?”

“Not as such. They were baptized in the Catholic Church at Jeremy’s mother’s bequest, and I agreed because of my own mother – and when their grandfather died several years ago we talked about what happened when a person died.”

“Do you want these babies to be baptized?”

“I don’t know. Truly, I despise what the ‘Church’ has come to stand for, and to commit my children to an institution that wouldn’t condone our relationship and would teach them their mothers are going to hell…I can’t imagine exposing them to that kind of bigotry and small-mindedness. But a part of me also wishes to know that they have whatever protection I can give them, both while I am alive and after I’m gone.”

“You promised you weren’t going to talk about that,” Andy muttered darkly, her breath catching as it always did at the thought of life without Miranda.

Miranda didn’t appear to hear her  and continued, “How do I reconcile myself with ‘committing’ my children to an institution that preaches hate in the same breath it does love?”

“So we teach them. We teach them what it is to be a good person. Even if we do baptize them, that doesn’t mean we’ll be sending them off to a convent school. Like I said, I don’t align myself with any one ‘religion’ or ‘dogma’ inside of Christianity but I do believe in God, and more than anything else – or any other rule or restriction society has imposed upon the idea of God; I believe with everything in me that God cares about love more than anything else, that God IS love. For two people to be committed to each other, and love each other…so much has changed since the days when a man and woman were together to ensure survival and continuation of the human race; and all that aside, sweetheart, we don’t have to decide right now. Right now we can hope and pray and do everything we can to grow these babies big and strong, and that includes feeding them.”

The younger woman rose to her feet. “I’m going to go talk to Cass and Caro. I think the food should probably be here in 20 minutes or so.”

“And how would you know that?”

“Pizza always takes about a half hour; and the girls are upset, and when they’re upset the answer is always pizza,” Andy grinned, wrinkling her nose as she did so, “maybe they do take after me more than I thought.”

Miranda watched the younger woman as she disappeared down the stairs, graceful and graceless at the same time in the way that only she could manage. Taking a few grounding breaths, Miranda thought back to Andrea’s admission of gratitude for whatever higher power had brought them together before letting her head fall back against her chair, feeling the gentle kicks of her babies beneath her hands and taking a page from the younger woman’s book and thanking whatever power was responsible for putting Andrea in her life. Andrea was her miracle and a gift she knew she didn’t deserve.

Another flutter beneath her hand on her right side drew Miranda’s attention back to the present as she murmured to her daughter. “Yes, yes, I haven’t forgotten you my loves, you’re my miracles too, both of you. So you my darling,” she trailed her fingers over her right side, “please, you have to grow for mommy. I want to meet you and your brother so badly, and so do your mama and sisters.”

The doorbell rang then and Miranda stood up, smiling ruefully as she noticed how she had begun to sit with her legs spread slightly to accommodate her belly and that she was unable to cross her legs as she once had. Even in standing, she had moved her feet slightly forward and used the arms of the chair for support. She was sure it made her look even more ungainly than she felt, but all she felt at the moment was grateful that the babies had grown enough to make it difficult to stand, and it was her fervent desire that they grew enough to make it all but impossible in the coming months so she could deliver two healthy children.

Unfamiliar voices sounded from downstairs and Miranda frowned. Surely, Andrea had paid for the food. She knew the young woman was friendly but even so she couldn’t imagine her striking up a conversation with a delivery person in the open doorway of her home.

Fear gripped her heart as she flashed back to the night of the assault, and for a terrifying moment she thought it must be Stephen at the door. He wouldn’t violate the conditions of bail though would he? He stood to gain nothing by further attempts at intimidation, especially one as blatant as coming to their door. The voices however, that had been raised at first, had quieted slightly and she moved towards the staircase – dry mouthed at the thought of facing Stephen but equally terrified at the thought of something happening to her girls or Andrea.

“Andy!”

“Mom? Dad?” The young woman had opened the door with her foot, two twenties held between her teeth as she fished around in her wallet for change – but instead of a spotty-faced youth bearing two circles of hot, melted cheesy bliss, she came face to face with her parents who looked as though they had come straight from the airport judging by the suitcases being piled behind them by the harassed looking cabbie.

“Wh-what are you doing here?”

“Andy? Is that the pizza?” One redhead skidded into the hallway, quickly followed by another.

“What’s taking so long? Oh… Hi.”

“Girls, um, oh crap.” The pizza delivery man had just pulled up behind the cab. Andy pushed past her parents, shoving some of the money into the confused looking teenager’s hand and what was left as a tip for the cabbie before rushing back into the house with the pizzas, which she unloaded onto the equally confused looking pre-teens.

“Okaaay, girls can you take these into the kitchen and finish setting the table please?

“But Andy, we just did th-”

“Please!” Andy’s voice had taken on a hysterical tinge and the two redheads disappeared back into the townhouse.

Taking a deep breath before she turned around again, going to collect her parents from where they still stood on the front stoop.

“Andy? Sweetheart?”

“Hey, you’re back from your cruise! How was it? Oh wait, wait come in. Actually, no, no don’t come in. This isn’t, it’s not a good time. What are you doing here? I never heard back from you after my email and I thought your cruise didn’t finish until next week?”

“We didn’t want to respond in an email,” her mother offered.

“We didn’t know WHAT to say. Andrea do you know how crazy this all sounds?” Richard Sachs ran a hand through his thinning hair, obviously cycling between fifty different emotions.

“Sweetheart, look,” her mother continued placatingly, her voice taking on a wheedling tone as though willing her daughter to see sense.

“The last thing we knew before we left for vacation was that you were working at The Mirror and dating occasionally and settling into your new life after a year that nearly destroyed you and all your friendships after working at that magazine, for HER.”

“Do you know who HER is? Are you aware that you are standing outside HER’s house right now?”

“We were led to believe you lived here now. Certainly you can decide when and what company to have.”

“Yes. I can. And right now? Like I said? This isn’t a good time, it’s just not. The trial began today and we had a doctor’s appointment and now you show up out of the blue, no call, and want to meet Miranda? NOW?”

“Andrea Marie Sachs. We certainly have a right to meet the person you are LIVING with and by all accounts mean to have a child with.”

“No. Not now you don’t. If you do, it’s because I allow you to, because I respect you, and love you and appreciate everything you have done for me. But I’m all grown-up. Have been for a while; and my responsibility right now is my family.

“But we’re your family…”

“And you always will be. But this right here? Those two girls you just saw? The woman who right now is upstairs and sick and exhausted and carrying MY son and daughter? They are my family. They’re who I need to protect right now.”

“From us? Andy, we’re your parents!”

Andy slumped back against the front door, suddenly exhausted herself and she rubbed a tired hand across her face. “Look. We’re just going around in circles now. I appreciate the fact that you care about me, and want to protect me and I know that logically extends to meeting the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with…”

“What?”

“The rest of your life?”

“Andy, really.”

“No! No, stop it! You’re doing it again! And you think I want to expose Miranda to this when you’re coming at all this half-cocked and fired up? You’ve been gone the last three months. Even if you HAVE been following the papers, I can bet you, you don’t have all the details. The last thing Miranda needs - that I need, is to have you come in, guns blazing when everyone is tired and emotional and start throwing accusations around.”

“But Andy,” her mother’s voice turned from wheedling to outright pleading. “Think, just THINK about this for a minute. How do you know she’s not just using you as some sort of… as something, as – as an assistant with benefits? She needs someone right now and you’re so kindhearted that we’re afraid you can’t see that she could be using you…”

“Not as kind-hearted as you think,” Andy replied, her heart breaking a little even as her voice turned cold. “Get out. I am asking you to please leave.”

“Andy, be reasonable,” her father tried to rejoinder.

“Reasonable? I think the time for reason is looong since passed, don’t you think?” Andy laughed harshly, the anger marring her usually sweet features alarming both. “You’ve come to my home, uninvited, and attacked the person I’ve told you I love? You say you want to meet her and then accuse her of using me in the same sentence. Look, I know, I KNOW it’s a lot to take in. But I had hoped you would do me the courtesy of at least acting like adults about this.

“Where are we to go? To sit in the airport until morning and wait for a flight out to Ohio?”

“It seems you’re certainly comfortable enough using her money.”

“OUR!” Andy all but screamed, “OUR money, OUR house, OUR children.”

“Honey, don’t you see? All those things are Miranda’s. What are you giving her in return, other than…”

“What, sex? Is that what you think this is about? My God, have you seen the woman? She could have anyone she wants”

“So could you, Andy! You just have to keep looking! You’re such a beautiful girl and so smart!”

“Don’t you get it? I don’t WANT anyone else. I choose Miranda, I will ALWAYS choose Miranda. And yes, I am beautiful, and I’m smart and I’m good at my job. Miranda makes me feel all those things about myself and about a million more. But even if I weren’t she would still love me.” A muffled thump behind the door and the faint movement of the curtain in the living room window reminded Andy of where she was and she held her hands up to stop any further argument from her parents.

“I’m going to go back inside now, where I am supposed to be having dinner and a movie night with my family. I will call you a cab and you can go and wait in the airport if you so desire or you can go to The Carlton where there will be a room waiting for you by the time you get there. Don’t worry about the cost; WE’VE taken care of it for you. Maybe in a few weeks we can talk again, but if it’s going to go anything like tonight then don’t expect Miranda or the girls to be there.” And with that, Andy turned and went back inside the townhouse, leaning her forehead heavily against the door as she used her phone to quickly make the arrangements for her parents.

“You,” Miranda stared past her and through the door. “You left your parents outside…for, for me?” the older woman looked as though a feather could knock her down as she stood halfway down the staircase.

“Hey!” Andy hurried over, slipping her phone back into her pocket as she reached out both arms to steady the white-faced editor.

“There is no way in hell I’m going to put you through another inquisition after everything today. We’re supposed to keep your blood pressure DOWN remember? And I know I’m not supposed to fuss but-”

“But Andrea, your parents…”

“Yes, we’ve established that. They are my parents, but YOU are my family. My parents raised me to know family is everything, so unless that lesson was wrong they’ll come around, and if they don’t then as much as it’s going to hurt, they’re not my family.”

“Because we’re your family, right?” A small voice piped up from beside Andy’s elbow.

“That’s right, munchkin.”

“So you’re not leaving?” Now Andy noticed the second redhead hovering in the doorway. She held her other arm out and the little girl ran to share in the embrace, throwing her arms around Andy and her twin.

“No baby, I’m not leaving. I’m not ever leaving, remember?”

“Even if the babies don’t make it?”

Miranda looked ill at the words, but said nothing, letting Andrea answer the question by herself as she was still unsure of the answer.

“Nothing is going to take me away from you guys, okay? And like I told your mom, we’re going to do everything we can to grow these babies big and strong – and right now that includes dinner. Is everything all set up?”

“Yes, Andy.”

“Okie doke. Skedaddle then, we’ll be right in.”

“Andrea you can’t be alright.”

“But I am. Did it suck to feel like I had to kick my own parents out of my house? Yes, undeniably, NOT a great feeling. Did I think it was necessary? Yes. And I know, I know that you would have been gracious and sat through an evening of awkward small talk and passive aggressive comments. I know you would do that for me, and at some point you’ll probably have to. But not tonight; if you really want to make me feel better you’ll let me take care of YOU tonight, okay?” She paused, “Gotta earn my keep somehow. I made reservations for them at The Carlton. I’m sorry, I know I should have asked you first and it’s a lot of money.”

“Andrea, Andrea I don’t care about the money, you know that; and you know you don’t need to ask me. It’s a shared account, both of our names are on it. I don’t ever want you to feel like you ‘owe me’ anything or that you need to somehow earn your keep or anything that preposterous.”

“I know that, and I know that it’s just my parents screwing with my head, and that you are Superwoman Priestly, I know that. Just let me fuss over you and coddle you and spoil you tonight, okay? For my own sanity. So nooo more talking. You’re going to sit on the couch and eat lots of cheesy pizza with whatever crazy topping the babies tell you to put on it; and then I’m going to give you that foot massage you were talking about earlier – and after THAT I think it’s going to be an early night for everybody.”

“The Book?”

“Is being taken care of by Nigel and Emily, who will go over what corrections they feel need to be made either before or after the MI6 meeting.”

“MI6?” Miranda’s brow wrinkled.

“Crap, didn’t mean to say that out loud,” Andy sighed and then looked sheepish as she explained. “Miranda’s Marvelous Maternity Model Management Meeting – see? And you know, you’re originally from England, so there, MI6…’

Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose. “Really, Andrea? Please tell me that you are the only Runway denizen who has heard that particular phrase.”

“WellmaybeEmlyandNigelandokaypossiblySerenatoomayhavehearditonceortwiceinagroupimessagewiththattitle…” she mumbled sheepishly. “But hey! I’m a writer, alliteration is part and parcel!” Andrea enunciated the twin p’s, looking inordinately proud of herself at the bit of punnery she had just pulled off.

“So,” she clapped her hands together. “What do La babies Priestly desire this evening?”

Miranda sighed dramatically, her shoulders drooping slightly as she glared down at her stomach. “I think they do this just to upset me…”

“Oh come on, how bad can it be?”

Forty-five minutes into the movie, the older woman was finishing her third slice of cheese pizza, layered thickly with strawberry ‘not raspberry Andrea, really!’ jam and topped with fish crackers much to the disgust of the twins and the bemusement of Andy.

Miranda was even more grateful than usual to feel Andrea’s hands on her body as they watched the rest of the movie. Even when they weren’t rubbing her (admittedly) swollen feet, they massaged her calves and traced lazy but loving patterns over her arms and shoulders during the times the warm palms weren’t resting on the top shelf of her belly and soothing the inevitable indigestion she had begun to feel after every meal now that the babies were pushing her organs up. The feeling of being so totally and completely loved, was as addictive as it was foreign to the editor and she found herself craving the younger woman’s touch as she had never expected to. Indeed, she had warned Andrea of the opposite, saying she would prefer to sleep alone at times, and that physical demonstration of affection was likely to be a limited occurrence. Miranda snorted internally, so much for that happening. She doubted she could have stopped the girl even if she had wanted do, that affection came so easily to her; and Miranda found herself reciprocating. When the budding journalist would come to bed at the end of a long day, Miranda would run her fingers through the long, brown locks, scratching her scalp lightly and making the young woman almost purr in content.

Perhaps it was simply hormones, another effect of the babies on her body and temperament, because she certainly found herself unable even to keep her own hands from mapping the roundness of her belly at seemingly every hour of the day. Andrea had pointed it out once or twice, looking so charmed that Miranda of course had vehemently denied it, scoffing at the idea she could appear so sentimental or maudlin. It was dangerous, she told herself, to appear that way, at least in public.

But at home, here, was a different matter, and it felt like the babies that were still growing resolutely beneath her heart were always sheltered by a pair of hands, and more often than not, not hers alone. Caroline and Cassidy would generally spend a few minutes every evening talking or reading to the babies and taking turns feeling them kick so that they would recognize their voices once they were born. They had almost finished the first Harry Potter book, and Miranda was sure the others would follow in quick succession now that the twins had discovered during their research that the babies’ ears were fully formed and they could hear them even from inside the womb. And Andrea had her hands on the babies it seemed as often as she did herself, and she loved that unspoken fact – that hidden little piece of knowledge that was all hers and that she could recall from the corners of her mind when the bleakness of reality set in.

When Miranda emerged from the bathroom that evening, her heart gave a familiar leap as she saw the brunette sprawled across the bed surrounded by her reporter’s pad and notes. Dismayed now as she felt a familiar moisture behind her eyes she wrote it off as a side effect of the complete exhaustion she was feeling and let her robe fall carelessly to the floor in her haste to get to the younger woman’s side.

She was almost asleep when she whispered ‘thank you’, mumbling the word into Andy’s side and then frowning in annoyance as her warm pillow shifted and moved away.

Andy sat up against the headboard. “What are you thanking me for, Miranda? You don’t need to, we already discussed this. Sweetheart

Pulled back into consciousness, Miranda eased herself up on one elbow as she tried to explain. “My God, Andrea, when I think of everything you’ve done for me during this pregnancy…” she trailed off, seemingly at a loss for words. “And to know that without you I would have lost these babies already.”

“Miranda, you don’t know that.”

“Yes! I do! You heard the doctor and I am old enough to know myself and my faults. And losing,” she faltered slightly, “losing them would have destroyed me, WILL destroy me if it happens. To fail at something so basic as keeping my children alive.” She choked back what felt like the millionth angry sob since the night Andrea had come back into their lives. “To know I have failed – looking at you, knowing what I owe to you, which is everything precious in my life…”

“Miranda, love, listen to me, please! That’s not the way this thing works. It’s not a running total or a tally of who owes whom or for what. You say you feel in my debt, but what about what you’ve given me? You have given me a home, the freedom to pursue a career of my choosing and not one necessitated by rent. A family with the woman I love, TWO beautiful daughters – who are SO smart and so funny and so kind, because of YOU, your influence and how you’ve raised them.”

“Had them raised you mean,” Miranda whispered bitterly, still caught in her trap of self-recrimination.

“No!” Andy shook her head violently, causing her long ponytail to whip against her cheeks with the motion.

“Two beautiful daughters,” she repeated firmly. “As well as the two you are carrying now. I could not love our children more if I had been the one to bring them into this world. And you, Miranda, you’ve given me your heart and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t look skyward at the end of every day and thank God for that gift, for that miracle, for YOU.”

Tears streamed down Miranda’s face, but instead of the tight pressure in her chest that had always come with crying, she instead felt a release from the awful emotions of the day and an overwhelming sense of peace as she moved from sitting on top of the comforter to draping herself on top of the precious body stretched out next to her on the bed and laying her head overtop the steady heartbeat as fingers tangled gently in her hair and urged her even closer. She was unconscious before Andy had had a chance to get underneath the covers, not waking even as the brunette carefully maneuvered them into a better position to sleep. Her head had jerked once when Andy had scooched down further into the bed, but at the first faint movement Andy instantly reached over to rub her belly and the older woman settled back down still asleep, her breathing evening out once more at the comforting circles.

God, but she loved this woman… At times it seemed as though she would always be impossible and infuriating, but then she would show the depth of her love in all the little ‘Miranda’ ways – and then there were times like now when she was in Andy’s arms and she would fall asleep when you stroked her belly. Impossibly precious moments that Andy would replay over and over in her mind throughout the day.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Miranda opened her eyes, lifting her head slightly from the soft, warm, gently breathing pillow. Andrea was still asleep and Miranda spent the next few minutes watching the younger woman whose arms were still closely wrapped around her although her grip had loosened in slumber so that one arm lay draped over her hip. Miranda began to kiss the skin beneath her lips softly, sucking lightly in some places so that the blood rose to the top of the skin.

A low, pleased sounding growl sounded from beneath the covers before brown eyes opened, enveloping Miranda in a warmth even the thousand thread count sheets beneath her couldn’t hope to achieve.

“Good morning, my love,” Miranda murmured, before lavishing attention once more on the pert nipple between her teeth. 

“Good morn – Oh God, yes, Mira, that’s it, right there. Don’t stop! Don-Oh! Oh…”

Miranda raised an eyebrow lazily at the gasping woman beneath her once she had finished, “I believe you’re becoming rather accomplished at giving orders, Andrea. You may yet be more like me than either of us realized.”

Andrea arched an eyebrow in an eerie replication of Miranda’s before giving a little smirk of her own and tossing her hair over her shoulder affecting nonchalance.

“Well in that case, we might as well skip the second half. We wouldn’t want to keep the office waiting,” the younger woman breezed, her airy, unaffected tone belied only by light scratching of her nails along the inside of Miranda’s thighs in light nonsensical patterns that were driving the older woman crazy with desire.

Andrea could hear the hitch in her breath and feel the irregular tightenings rippling across the lower curve of Miranda’s belly that told her the other woman was close. Her fingers drifted lower, skimming glistening curls before moving her hands suddenly to cup Miranda’s buttocks and pull her firmly towards her so that more of her centre was exposed and pressed against the silken warmth of Andrea’s own skin.

“What do you need, sweetheart?”

“You. Only you. Oh!” Miranda squealed slightly, trying to clench her legs around Andrea and find her release, only to cry out in frustration as the soft, pale expanse of skin kept moving just out of her reach.

“Please,” Miranda whispered.

“Ohh, you need it so badly don’t you? You need to come so hard.” Crouching over her now so that her body formed a protective cage over the older woman, Andy let her hair fall in a curtain of glorious chestnut over Miranda’s breasts, teasing her overly sensitive nipples as she pressed wet, open mouthed kisses to the tight belly that rose so invitingly, offering her everything beloved, everything she held dear; love, hope, a future, a family… The hot mouth and worshipful lips that spilled kisses over her skin sprang the final, tight coil curled deep inside Miranda and she arched her back even further, offering more of herself to Andrea until those same lips moved, finally, mercifully to where she needed them most, the gentlest of bites to the swollen nub the final straw as she was sent into the stratosphere by the intensity of her climax.

“Sweetheart. Come back to me. Miranda, Miranda my love, come back.” Miranda’s eyes fluttered open in response to the siren’s voice until the blurred shapes converged to form the sweetly concerned face of her lover, the features now forming a wide, adorable grin that held just a touch of pride and satisfaction at what those same lips had just wrought. “Mmm, welcome back.”

Cheeky thing, Miranda thought lovingly before nipping hard at the flesh that spilled invitingly over the top of the nude demi-cup lace bralette the younger woman wore. There, she thought in satisfaction as Andrea gasped and squirmed beneath her, begging for a second release. That was more like it.

“Andrea, you really should show up at work occasionally,” Miranda chided teasingly but fondly an hour later as the young woman insisted on walking into the office with her, secretly loving the fact that the younger woman was as loathe to leave her side as she was to have her go.

Enough was enough though, already she feared she depended too much on the young woman, and she worried Andrea’s attachment to her meant that she was neglecting other aspects of her life. She couldn’t remember the last time Andrea had gone out with friends or colleagues after work.

“Darling, much as you love me, I can’t imagine watching me try on dozens and dozens of outfits is a pleasurable or productive pastime.”

Andy snorted, “Are you kidding? Pleasurable doesn’t even begin to cover it.” She leaned in for a kiss. “Though I much prefer ‘un’-dressing you.”

 “Andrea, go! I will be fine, I do NOT need babysitters, especially those already under my employ.”

“I love you. Call me if you need me, okay? Nige, Emily – look after her for me.”

“Go!”

 “Okay, I’m going, I’m going!” Andy backed out of the room, hands held up in mock surrender.

Miranda sighed and turned back to the looming spectacle of garment bags and rack upon rack of designer offerings meant to contain her growing bulk.

“You miss her already, don’t you?” Nigel smirked, watching as the older woman pursed her lips in what could only be called a pout and he found Andy was right – it was freaking adorable.

Deciding that enough of her persona had been eroded by the pregnancy and the younger woman’s presence in her life, Miranda shot a decidedly lethal glare in the man’s direction that despite their close friendship, made the collar of his Missoni oxford damp with sweat and he quickly disappeared down one of the aisles to pull forward the first selection of outfits. Nope, not adorable, NOT adorable…

Miranda leaned back in the comfortable wingback chair that had been dragged in from one of the sets and sat back, taking a sip of scalding hot, decaf Starbucks before lacing her fingers over her belly, satisfied that things were once more going her way. That was more like it.

Across the city, Andy leaned back in her own chair, reading over her assignments for the week that had been handed to her on an actual sheet of PAPER, rather than over email – and she had to admit it felt pretty good.

Andy emerged several hours later, having gotten a good head start on her articles and decided enough time had passed that she could text Miranda, despite the editor’s warning that she was likely to be insanely busy with both the wardrobe try-on and the showings later that day.

A: “Got to work okay, not too many reporters. There is one problem though…”

Miranda was instantly on guard as she waited for the younger woman’s next text, which chimed soon after.

A: “I miss the belly  :( ”

M: “You are ridiculous…”

A: “How are you feeling?”

M: “If you are simply going to text the question I’ve forbidden you from calling to ask, I’m simply going to refuse to answer you or ignore you.”

A: “Then I’ll have to come to Runway and knock down the door during a run-through or something equally as drastic.”

M: “You wouldn’t dare”

A: “Try me, Priestly”

M: “…”

M: “Fine.”

A: “???”

M: “I’m fine…”

A: “See? Wasn’t that easy?”

M: “If you’re going to patronize me, I am ending this conversation.”

A: “Don’t be mad, Mira”

M: “Don’t Mira me…I’m turning off my phone”

A: “Alright, alright…”

A: “…I love you.”

M: “…As do I. I’ll see you at home tonight, I’m going to try and be out of the office by 6.”

A: “Have a good day sweetheart. Maybe start with the easy stuff and try to teach the babies the difference between two identical blue belts.”

M: “…”

Andy chuckled to herself at the lack of a response from Miranda before getting back to her story on the city’s collection of paving bids for the boardwalk.

Miranda’s lips twitched upwards in a smile as she read the last incoming text from Andrea. She didn’t respond however, knowing that her silence was more telling than any ‘last words’ she could add to the exchange.

Several hours later, Nigel Kipling stood behind the glass topped table in his office, examining several prints when his phone lit up showing the young journalist’s picture.

“Andy, it’s been less than 8 hours…”

“Nige, I need you to go check on Miranda for me.”

“And what have I done that warrants such abuse?”

“I assume you were there during the second half of the designer showings today?”

“Actually I wasn’t, there was a crisis in the printing department – the mockups were coming out a semi-tone darker than what was shown on screen.”

“Well whatever happened wasn’t good, I just got off the phone with her and she was so angry she could hardly speak or tell me what was wrong. I’m stuck in a meeting so I need you to go and try and calm her down.”

“Six, I don’t know that I can.”

“Oh come on, you know if she fires you she’ll change her mind.”

“That’s not what I meant. How does one even soothe a dragon?”

“Hey! That’s MY dragon you’re talking about, and she’s carrying two little dragons in her belly; and if anything happens to them it will be on your perfectly polished head.”

“Point taken,”

“Seriously, as much as I would love to get out of here, I just can’t. So since I’m stuck here for now YOU are the one who has to man up. She’s only going to get herself more worked up if she’s left alone to sulk and one more episode of high blood pressure will put her back in the hospital.”

“So what do I do, oh great and powerful dragon tamer?”

“First make sure one of the ‘Emily’s’ is out getting her a fresh coffee and getting it right, then just knock lightly before going in.”

“And should I manage not to drop dead in the wake of her glare?”

“She’ll probably be pacing, get her to sit down on the couch. Say whatever you have to to get her sit down and give herself a rest. If you can get her to put her feet up it is worth my weight in free drinks.”

“YOUR weight? Well that is saying something.” The older man teased.

“Mmm,” Andrea rolled her eyes and Nigel laughed at the short silence, knowing exactly what was happening on the other end of the line.

“If her breathing is still rapid and shallow, just keep talking to her softly, about anything. If at any point she objects to this, which we both know she will, tell her you are doing this under my orders, and if she still complains…” Andy paused for a moment, “tell her to think of ways she’ll get me back when we’re alone tonight.” Now it was Nigel’s turn to roll his eyes.

“Be firm but gentle. She knows this is all for the sake of the babies, so she can’t STAY mad at you.”

“This IS Miranda Priestly we’re talking about, Six,”

“When it involves our children, there is no more La Priestly, it’s just ‘mom’, now go be the White Knight I know you can be.”

Nigel knocked on the frosted glass door before entering the ‘dragon’s’ lair, earning incredulous glances from both Emily’s in the outer office.

Technically, there were three Emily’s altogether now. Two, neither of whom were actually named Emily, who acted as the traditional first and second assistants, as well as the original Emily. The latter was now dividing her time between acting as an ‘uber-first assistant’ to Miranda and shadowing Nigel in the art department as she transitioned into her post-promotion role. Technically she should be the assistant art-director full-time, but Miranda’s pregnancy had changed that for the moment.

Emily knew Andy had been prepared to beg her to stay, and much as she would have enjoyed the brunette’s groveling, she had come forward with the suggestion of staying on her own. The younger woman had pulled her into a tight hug and she had waved her off saying that she couldn’t possibly expect the ‘new her’ and her ‘new her’s new her’ to be able to perform their duties with any sort of efficacy without further training – but the reporter knew, and Emily knew for herself, truthfully, that she didn’t trust anyone else to take care of Miranda. Of course none of this had been voiced out loud, and none of it could be voiced or discussed around Miranda who would insist she could take care of herself and would resent any implication of the contrary.

As it was, the faux Emilys would take care of Runway business, while the real Emily coordinated with Andrea to accommodate and organize the more personal aspects of the editor’s schedule. Then, once Miranda had stepped away for the birth of the babies, Nigel would take over as interim Editor-in-chief and Emily would take on more of the responsibilities of the art director.

But for now, Nigel found himself with the happy task of facing down a dragon, and a hormonally supercharged one at that. “Miranda?”

“Unbelievable!” the older woman spat, her arms crossed as she paced back and forth in front of the panoramic window that looked out over the city.

“Is it really so much to ask that seasoned, experienced designers present a cohesive, well-thought out collection instead of a tawdry, rag-tag mish mash of poorly-executed garments? Am I reaching for the stars here?”

“So the showings didn’t go well then I take it.”

“I believe they would have gone better if the showrooms had caught fire.”

Nigel whistled through his teeth.

“Is it so outrageous that I’m expecting at my age? Based on today’s results, one would think I should be netted and taken to some lab for study and experimentation. The industry surely must remember it has catered to celebrities who have found themselves pregnant in their forties and fifties; Geena Davis, Halle Berry, Martin Scorcese’s wife at 52!” Miranda listed.

Miranda paused, turning to eye the bemused looking man suspiciously before moving to sit on the couch and gesturing for him to pour a drink from the nearby table and join her, waiting for the art director to take a sip before her next comment.

“Have you come to offer your letter of resignation then?”

Miranda watched, looking unfazed as the better part of a measure of scotch was sprayed across her carpet.

“My wha-what?” Nigel sputtered, doing his best to sop up the liquid from his blazer before the stain set.

“I can only presume that’s why you’re here instead of making sure the issue with printing is resolved. Besides, I’m sure your new position as chief spy for Andrea will take up much of your time.”

Nigel slumped back against the cream suede, covering his eyes with his free hand and breathing a sigh of relief as he saw the spark of amusement in the older woman’s eyes that meant he wouldn’t be dusting off his resume.

“My God, Miranda don’t scare me like that!” He exclaimed, looking wistfully into the tumbler in his hand, despairing of the waste of its contents.

Miranda actually laughed out loud. “Really Nigel, did you not think I wouldn’t see right through your little ruse?”

Now it was Nigel’s turn to smirk wryly. “It worked though, didn’t it? I’ve gotten you sitting and I can tell your blood pressure’s gone down.”

Both individuals realized they had been played, albeit lovingly, and the two friends looked at each other. Each knew the other was thinking the same thing; that they were owned by a certain brunette.

Nigel let the brunette know as much when he called her later that afternoon to tell her that her plan had been seen through almost instantly.

“So what was the problem? Were the showings really that much of a disaster?” Andy propped her feet up on her desk and looked over her notes from the meeting as she talked.

“James Holt and Ken Ubi were actively forbidden from maternity and attempting to enter the market for the next two years.”

“Ouch,” Andy hissed through her teeth. “That bad, huh?”

“Mmm,” Nigel agreed. “I saw the sketches from them, and yes – that bad. The Ken Ubi showing centred on a single kind of wrapped outer-layer that could be draped and knotted different ways, and his suggestion was to use that in conjunction with a collection of tight, knee length sheaths in a scuba knit in every colour of the rainbow.”

“One piece?” Andy tried to picture what the art director was describing. “How could one kind of garment or even garment combination work for an entire pregnancy, even if you did pair it with the sheath dresses?”

“Ah, there’s the best part,” the man’s sarcasm was clearly audible as he continued, “the outer garment’s main structural centre-point consisted of a band of fabric with a hole in the middle, meant for her belly to go through. ‘Like an enormous, lewd bulls-eye’ as I believe Miranda called it.”

“Oh Dear God.”

“Not sure about that, but she did have a good many men on their knees praying for forgiveness…”

“Any bright spots?” Andy queried.

“DVF of course, Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, a few pieces from Moschino. Most of the major design houses came through. On the special occasion side, Zuhair Murad and Zac Posen both sent some stunning sketches for evening wear and we’ve sent over her latest measurements. It’ll be a rush job, but both have promised to come through in time for Paris. Valentino will be doing her gown for the MOMA Black & White Ball as usual. One last instruction I need to send on though is whether Miranda will be wearing heels at any of the gala events.”

“So the Z’s really came through, huh? That’s something at least. As for shoes, if she’s in a floor length gown I’m going to try my best to convince her to wear flats or wedges. But even if she insists on a heel it won’t be higher than 3 inches, max.”

“And how do you expect to accomplish that?”

“Mmm, she knows what her body can take and she also knows that I’m not afraid to withhold foot massages if she ignores the doctor’s advice.”

“Ohh, you are evil,” Nigel chuckled.

“Don’t laugh,” Andy warned, “If I don’t care to her podiatric needs, I wouldn’t put it past her to enlist YOU if she can’t make time for a pedicure or a foot massage outside of the office.”

But when Miranda finally made it home that evening, the older woman looked so completely and utterly exhausted as Andy met her at the door that she didn’t have the heart to tease her about the showings or that she owed Nigel a new suit for making him spew scotch all over one of his favourites.

“Meeting ran late,” Miranda murmured into Andrea’s shoulder, forgoing hello as the younger woman met her at the door and she leaned gratefully into young, strong arms. “Girls eaten?” She swayed slightly where she stood and Andy cupped the pale cheek as she met the older woman’s lips in a kiss.

“Yes, and you need to as well. You’re so tired. You’re so tired, my love. Come and sit down before The Book comes. Come on, now tell me about your day.” Andy wrapped her arm around Miranda’s waist and led her over to the sofa in the downstairs study, watching over the older woman protectively as the editor curled her legs beneath her and leaned into Andrea’s chest with a tired sigh.

Miranda began to speak, but the feel of her head, heavy as it rested on the soft shelf of Andrea’s breasts, was impossible to ignore and she felt herself begin to slur her words slightly as the lure of sleep became overwhelming.

Now that Andy had gotten her to sit down, Miranda was flagging fast, succumbing to the exhaustion Andy knew she must have been fighting all day. Not wanting to leave the woman to sleep on the couch, Andy roused the older woman as best she could and lead her upstairs. The Book could wait till tomorrow, she only wished she had been able to get Miranda to eat something.

Miranda watched, aware but too tired to protest as Andy tenderly removed her stockings and unbuttoned her blouse, undressing her and readying her for bed before leaving her sitting on the edge as she disappeared into the bathroom.

Andy reappeared with several makeup remover cloths and proceeded to wipe Miranda’s face and remove any traces of foundation or mascara that would stain her pillow.

“The Book…”

“Will keep till tomorrow, I promise.”

Blue eyes opened wearily & attempted an eye roll through half closed lids. But then she nodded, eyes closing again as her head nestled into the pillow and made a sound between a hum and a sigh that Andy knew by now meant she was almost unconscious.

Andy stared down at the sleeping woman, gently brushing a curl off the beloved face and covering the pregnant form with the comforter before slipping out silently to return to the study and finish her articles before rejoining her almost would-be fiancée in their bed.

Andy smiled, absently rubbing the knuckle of her bare ring finger as thoughts of her fiancée interrupted any serious contemplation of subject material for her article. She couldn’t wait until she could call Miranda her wife. In the privacy of her own mind she already did. She had almost been caught saying it out loud but she had managed to cover it up each time which was good, because the times it had almost slipped out of her mouth were the evening of the confrontation with her parents and in the reporter-filled offices of The Mirror. She already spoke of Caroline and Cassidy as her daughters; she thought it was important that they know they meant just as much to her as the babies coming, even though she hadn’t been there during their earlier years.

She would have to go looking in the study for Caroline and Cassidy’s old baby books, Andy thought sleepily as she lay in bed that night, her hand moving over Miranda’s hip to rest overtop the babies who weren’t quite asleep yet even as their mother was dead to the world. Maybe this weekend…

 

Chapter Text

Miranda seemed to have the same concern regarding the girls, Andy noted as they sat curled up on the couch one evening, looking through lists of baby names and debating the pros and cons of choosing more ‘C’ names and coordinating girl to boy and vice versa.

“D’you think Cora is too close to Caro?” Miranda looked up, peering over her glasses as she drew the younger woman’s attention away from the list of names on her laptop screen.  “I don’t want Caroline to feel like she has to give up her name as well.”

“Hmm, Caro, Cora, Cora, Caro,” Andy rolled the names around on her tongue, mulling over the syllables and the cadence of the two words. “Um, I don’t think so, but we can always ask her. You KNOW how the girls have been on us to let them help choose the names.”

“I just don’t want to make this harder on them than it needs to be.”

“Miranda, the girls are ecstatic about the babies. They are SO excited.”

“What happens when the excitement wears off and we’re left with two screaming teenagers alongside two screaming infants.” Miranda was working herself into a state again and Andy sat up from where she was laying on the carpet next to the couch.

“Relax…Breathe, baby.” Andy’s fingertips rubbed soothingly across the distressed woman’s breastbone over her heart before moving to the lower right quarter of her belly.

“Tell me, what do you want to name this baby right here, underneath my hand. Who’s this?”

“Cora,” the older woman whispered uncertainly before repeating in a stronger voice. “Cora,” a smile lit up her face then that was mirrored in the younger woman’s.

“Okay then,” Andy’s grin continued to threaten to split her cheeks.

“What are you guys doing?” the girls appeared in the doorway of the study.

“Talking about names for the babies.”

“Awesome! Have you decided yet?” the girls dropped down beside Miranda on their respective sides, each placing a hand over the babies to feel them kick as was their routine.

“We think so,” Andy turned to the older woman who then turned to her eldest baby.

“Sweetheart, we wanted to ask you first before we made any final decisions.”

“Why me?”

“Well darling, you know we wanted to give the babies names that started with ‘C’, just like you and your sister, and we’ve come up with a name we like very much but we wanted to get your permission first because the shortened version of her name would be very similar to yours.”

“What is it?” The little girl looked dubiously at the two women in front of her and then at the now very conspicuous bulge at Miranda’s waist.

Andy smiled, absently reaching out again without realizing it to circle her hand over where the baby girl lay. “This baby would be ‘Cora’.”

“Like Caro?” the redhead whispered, going silent for a long moment, looking at her hands before removing them from Miranda’s stomach.

“So you ARE going to forget about us!”

Everyone in the room was shocked at the outburst from the opposite twin. Cassidy was on her feet in a flash, hands tightly fisted at her sides as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Sweetheart, what are you talking about?” Miranda was horrified at her daughter’s reaction. She had perhaps expected the girls to feel slightly jealous of their siblings, as was common, but she hadn’t imagined anything like the scene in front of her as both redheads ran from the room in tears, the twins slams of their bedroom doors resonating like gunshots in the ensuing silence.

“My God,” Miranda breathed, tears springing unbidden to her own eyes.

“No, sweetheart, no”; Andy spoke firmly but gently “there’s something else going on there. The girls I know would never throw a tantrum like that over something like this. There’s something we’re not seeing here.”

Miranda’s first response in her current wounded state was to push the younger woman away and point out that 5 months was hardly enough time to say she could know her girls. But memories of their last monumental argument and subsequent separation, no matter how brief, was enough to make the distraught editor hold her tongue.

Wary brown eyes watched the play of emotion in steely blue until the latter closed and opened once more and Andy was once more looking into the gaze of ‘her’ Miranda. The steely blue widened slightly in amazement at the remarkable creature in front of her as the young woman smiled softly and leaned forward to kiss her lips, nose and forehead all while gently running her fingers over Miranda’s forearms as her breathing evened out after the near panic attack.

The hand Andy had offered to the older woman to help her off the couch stayed tightly clasped in hers as they made their way to the second floor. The two women knocked lightly before entering the girls’ bedrooms, and seeing the adjoining door between the rooms flung open and noises could be heard from inside, Miranda began to speak.

“Bobbsey’s, I…”

“Mom,” Caroline appeared in the doorway, hands on her hips and lips pursed in an eerie replica of her mother in full dragon mode. “We get it. We’re almost eleven, we’re not stupid, or babies, you don’t need to call us Bobbseys anymore.”

“Yeah, you can save that name for the NEW twins.” Cassidy emerged from the walk-in closet, her little face a thundercloud as she pulled out a suitcase that was nearly as tall as she was.

“We’re supposed to go to dad’s this week anyway. We might as well just stay there so you can start getting rid of our stuff.”

Miranda felt her stomach rise into her throat, and despite the steady warmth of the young woman’s hand against her back that was keeping her from crumbling, Miranda could feel the brunette trembling slightly as brown eyes filled with tears.

It was Andrea who found her voice first, dropping to her knees in front of the bed.

“Why? Why would you EVER think we wanted to send you away?”

“You have mom and the new babies to be your family. You don’t need us.”

“Yeah, we’re just extra baggage that’s in the way.”

Something about the young girl’s turn of phrase didn’t sit quite right and Miranda found her voice as she pulled out the stool from the girls vanity, lowering herself awkwardly onto it, using her hand as a counterweight to her belly so she didn’t overbalance.

“Darling, has someone said something to you to make you believe that?”

“It’s true, isn’t it? Stacy said that’s what happened to her family when her dad left and her little brother was born. Now she hardly ever sees him cuz he spends all his time with his new wife Juana.”

“Sweetheart, you know you’re only spending the two weeks in a row with your father because of Paris, and the way the schedule worked out this year. It’s not because we don’t want you around.”

“But now you spend all your time focussed on the babies ‘cuz they’re sick and you’re afraid they’re gonna die.”

“They are NOT going to die,” Miranda’s voice changed, her tone uncharacteristically harsh and with some difficulty she stood and left the room.

Andy sighed, running a hand across her eyes as she tried to choose her words carefully. So much for the easy night she thought she would have. Now it seemed there was endless damage control to do on both sides. “Girls, I think you need to apologize to your mother. You know how important it is that the babies grow as big and strong as they can in case they need to be born early. That’s the only reason I’m going to Paris too for part of the time; it’s not a vacation so much as it is a health precaution.”

“We know, Andy. We don’t want them to die, we just…don’t want them anymore. It’s changing stuff.”

Andy sighed, realizing this was a battle that wasn’t going to be won in an evening. “Alright. I’m sorry you guys feel that way, because your mom and I know you’ll be the best big sisters these babies could ever have; but they’re not going anywhere and neither are you.”

“They’re not even here yet”

“Yeah, and they’re not even yours.”

“Girls, that’s enough.” Andy snapped before closing her eyes and counting to ten slowly. When she opened them again she saw the door close behind the girls and heard the ‘clunk’ of their suitcases as they dragged them down the stairs to meet their father.

Miranda’s door was still closed, but before the girls had the chance to leave, a familiar voice could be heard from the top of the stairs, and the heads of the four people standing in the foyer turned towards the direction of the sound. The editor was coming down the stairs; one hand was on the railing while the other clutched a soft, worn cream coloured rabbit, whose patina finish on the button nose had long been worn off by years of kisses.

“Cassidy? Darling? Bobbsey you forgot Mr. Bun.”

Cassidy shook her head. “No. That’s okay, give him to the baby. I’m really too old for stuffed animals anyway.”

Miranda’s lips parted soundlessly, dismay evident in her features, but the little girl had already turned away and was lugging her bag out the front door with only a wave back in the direction of her mother.

“She’s had him since she was a baby,” Miranda whispered, absently stroking the whiskers of the stuffed animal and picking at errant bits of fluff. “The first night we put her in the crib by herself instead of the bassinet to sleep she grabbed onto him – it was almost as big as she was, and every night after that she would reach out one little hand for him and would not settle if she was put in her crib without the silly thing.”

Miranda hugged the stuffed animal to her chest. “When she was 3, it was lost for a week once. I fired 3 assistants that week, one for every night I had to come home and find that my baby had cried herself to sleep again; not one of them could find a duplicate.”

“Where was he?”

Miranda let out a deep belly laugh before covering her mouth. “He had gotten mixed up in the dry cleaning somehow. We got him back the next week, carefully pinned to the clothes hanger by his ears. The tag was checked off as ‘Accessories; other; fur: animal; faux”.

“I’ve never had to speak to them like that before,” Andy remarked sadly as her mind turned back to the earlier events of the day. “Guess my reign as the ‘cool parent’ has ended.”

“Mmm, I’m afraid you’re finding out what it really is to be a parent.”

“And you’re sure you want to do it again?” Andy joked weakly.

“I do…Unfortunately, reality…”

“Is a bitch,” Andy supplied, huffing frustratedly as she flopped face down on the bed dramatically once they’d entered the bedroom.

Miranda snorted, “I was going to say ‘is never as good as the fantasy’, but I suppose either works.”

 

Knowing Miranda was leaving the next day for Paris, the two women spent the evening at home, making final preparations for the trip. As Miranda’s luggage was already packed and had been sent on ahead of her, this consisted mostly of Andy packing and re-packing Miranda’s carry-on and making sure the editor had everything she needed for the 6 hour plane ride. But before the younger woman could go over her checklist for the third time, Miranda’s cell phone rang showing Cassidy’s number.

“Bobbsey? Is everything all right my darling? Are you with daddy?”

“Yeah, I’m ok,” the small voice replied before pausing for a long moment as if the caller were unsure of their next words before they spilled out all at once. “Mommy? Can you sleep with Mr. Bun tonight so he’s not lonely? I know it sounds stupid…”

“No Bobbsey,” Miranda reassured her youngest daughter, thrilled beyond belief at the prospect of sleeping with a ratty old stuffed animal because it meant her baby was still her baby for the time being. “I’ll take good care of him, I promise.”

“Oh, um, okay then. G’night.” The little girl ended the call quickly and Miranda sighed, knowing her daughter was still upset even if she had called her.

Andy had heard the conversation through the speaker of the phone and she reached over for the device, plucking it out of Miranda’s hand and setting it on the bedside before pulling the covers back on the bed. “Alright, hop in,” Miranda could see the impish grin on the younger woman’s face, her teeth gleaming in the moonlight as she bared them in laughter at her own joke. “Hop to it!”

Miranda casually left the rabbit beside her pillow, but when Andy woke the next morning she saw that sometime during the night Miranda had reached out and was now soundly asleep, the rabbit clutched tightly to her chest as she cuddled into it.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, Andy left both soft, white denizens of the bed and began to get ready for the day.

When she returned with two steaming mugs of coffee, Miranda was lying on her left side, awake but unmoving as her hand played tag with the babies across her tummy as she tried to feel their position.

“The babies just woke up.” Miranda looked up at the younger woman, a soft smile lighting up her face as she moved her gaze upwards. “And it would appear they are greeting the day rather energetically,” she added at a firm nudge to her kidneys.

“Good morning baby boy,” Andy cooed as she rubbed the right side of Miranda’s belly, and she turned her head from where it rested on the swell and pressed her lips to the left side. “Hello, princess.” Miranda ran her fingers through the mass of chestnut waves spilling across her chest and closed her eyes in contentment, an unfamiliar peace flowing through her veins. 

“You two are going to be good for mommy while she’s in Paris, right? Mama’s going to come see you in a few days once she’s finished her very boring article.”

Miranda continued scratching the younger woman’s scalp, chuckling as Andrea’s resulting growl of pleasure made the babies kick as the vibrations travelled through her skin. “I know it’s hard working your way up, darling. But it will pay off soon…”

“Yeah,” Andy sighed, “And I know I’ve already taken off waaay more time than any other rookie should at this point, NOT that I’m complaining or blaming you for that, or you guys for that matter,” Andy referenced Miranda first with a light kiss to her lips and then two on either side of the swollen belly.

“Mmm, I do know we’ve made rather too many demands on your time,” Miranda murmured regretfully, feeling even more guilty at the fact that she didn’t feel more guilty about monopolizing the younger woman’s time.

“But hey, Greg’s been thrilled with my work so far even if my hours have been somewhat irregular; and if the office scuttlebutt is to be believed from the times I actually HAVE been privy to talk around the water cooler, there’s going to be a HUGE opportunity coming up for a story. The words ‘career-making’ have been bandied around, so fingers crossed my being in the office for a whole week, plus my work on my current story will put me in the running to cover that, whatever it is.”

“Oh my God,” Andy grinned even wider, unable to help herself as the older woman’s lips pursed in an unmistakeable pout at the idea of Andrea leaving her for any period of time. “Do you have any idea how cute you are?”

“Hmmph,” Miranda grunted, “there was a time when you feared me, now I’ve been reduced to ‘cute’.” Miranda caressed the head that had made its way back down her body and was nuzzling her belly as she gave further ‘instructions’ to the babies.

“Mommy has a lot to do this week, and mama’s not going to be there, so my little troublemakers, no making her get up to pee more than 3 times during a show, okay?” Miranda snorted and then groaned as the action did, in fact, make her aware of a certain fullness of her bladder that couldn’t be ignored.

Glaring at the younger woman as she bounced effortlessly off the mattress, Miranda pointedly refused her offer of help getting up from the bed and stalked to the ensuite bathroom, hoping against hope that Andrea hadn’t noticed the breathlessness the action caused.

She didn’t, as it happened; watching Miranda walk across the room the only thing the grinning brunette took note of was the fact that her gait had begun to take on what could be distinctly called a ‘waddle’.

Miranda’s flight left at 3 o’clock New York time, which meant the Runway group would arrive in Paris at 3:30 am their time. It was an overnight flight, which Andy hadn’t been pleased about, knowing that it meant a full day of shows a mere two hours after the plane touched ground and knowing that the editor wouldn’t have gotten any sort of decent rest on the trip over, especially now that she couldn’t take anything to help her sleep. It was Emily, however, who she heard from first Andy noted as she answered her phone, squinting at the clock next to the bed that confirmed it was just about the right time for the commercial air liner to be landing at Charles de Gaulle in Paris.

The Brit’s voice came over the line, exhausted but obviously thrilled to finally be ‘a Paris’.

“Hey Em, what’s up?”

“Andrea, her feet are swollen. What should I do?”

“Hi to you too, Emily. Has she mentioned it or does she look like she’s in any discomfort?”

“Andrea, really, do you think Miranda Priestly is going to complain about her shoes during fashion week? In Paris no less? And what exactly would you have me say to her? Oh Miranda, you’re looking rather puffy this morning. Why don’t we kick back and put our feet up during one of the most important events of the year!”

“Not this year, Em.  I’ll give you next year and probably the next ten after that to use that excuse because you’ll be right. But this year’s main event is not Paris.”

“Yes. You’re right, okay, point taken…” the redhead admitted brusquely. “But still, how do you propose I deal with this?”

“Eh, right now, they’re probably swollen because of the plane ride rather than her blood pressure. If she has to do any interviews, don’t let her do them on the red carpet or she’ll be standing there an extra hour. See if you can find a green room or somewhere off to the side, or even an empty seat next to her before the show starts and bring the interviewers to her for micro-interviews – about a minute and a half should be enough per person for them to forget about any inconvenience over the arrangement as they’ll be getting more than a single quote or statement. Also, limit the number to 5 of those, total. She’s the reigning ‘Queen of Fashion’, a little extra exclusivity in the wake of all the media surrounding her won’t hurt.”

“Right. Got it. Is there anything I should have prepared for her or anything for her suite?”

“If you can, and if it works within the schedule, arrange for a basin or a footbath from the spa to be filled with hot water and sent up to Miranda’s room 5-10 minutes before you get back to the hotel, and text me or shoot me an email to let me know so I can ‘happen’ to call her and make sure she’s using it.”

“Hot water. Footbath. Fine.”

“Thank you, Emily, and you’re welcome.”

“This is all YOUR ruddy fault you know.”

“I do have a job you know, and despite the fact that the babies growing in that beautiful belly are my children, I’m not the one with the penis, Em.”

“What I would do to Stephen if I got my hands on him,” Emily growled, “then HE wouldn’t have a penis either…”

Andy smiled, the redhead tried to hide it but she knew she cared deeply for the editor, past simple respect or hero-worship.

“By the way, you DO in fact realize that you sound like a nauseatingly love-sick puppy when you talk about Miranda?” the other woman sniped.

But the brunette’s grin only grew wider, “Mm-hmm.”

True to her word though, Emily texted Andrea back in New York once they had arrived at the hotel and been shown to their suites.

Miranda picked up the phone, not bothering with hello as she answered. “I hate that you’re not here with me.”

Andrea could hear the pout in the editor’s voice through the phone and she bit her lip against the fond chuckle that threatened to break free. “I know, sweetheart, I do too. D’you think you could maybe try to lie down for a little bit though? Just for an hour or so until you have to get ready to go.”

This was followed by another long-suffering sigh from the Paris-end of the conversation even as Andy heard the faint creak of bedsprings as the editor made herself comfortable as best she could. “Which side is it that’s supposed to be better for me to lie on?”

“The left is better for the babies.”

“Mmph.”

“You’re drinking plenty of water, right? Emily also has a prescription bottle with extras of your prenatal vitamins and the anti-nausea meds Dr. Jansen prescribed in case the jet lag makes the morning sickness come back or throws your hormones out of whack, and”

“Yes, yes. Could we speak about something other than my physical needs?”

“Mmm, but I do so love taking care of your needs,” Andy purred, laughing at Miranda’s resulting growl, picturing the older woman squeezing the pillow between her knees that she had started sleeping with to reduce the strain on her back and scowling at her through the phone.

“Really, Andrea, now you’ve done it. I won’t be able to get any rest now that you’ve got me, that I’m thinking, that…”

“Ohhh”, Andrea teased “tell me where it hurts and I’ll kiss it better.”

“I’m going to hang up now if you’re going to be cruel and torture me like this. Now, to change topics, have you spoken to the girls since I left?”

“Miranda, it’s almost two in the morning here.”

“Oh, darling I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was so late there. This must be what all those magazines refer to as ‘pregnancy brain’.” There was a longer, protracted silence until she decided to let her insecurities show. “Do you think they’ll still be terribly angry once I’m back?”

“I don’t know sweetheart,” Andy answered honestly, wishing she had it in her to lie to Miranda. “But even if they are, they’ll get over it, you know they will.”

A fretful silence met her response, so she tried a different tack. “I love you, Miranda,” the young woman’s voice rang sweetly through the speaker.

“And I you my darling. I’ll ring you later after the shows.” Andy smiled, knowing the decidedly British tone the older woman’s voice had taken on in the last sentence meant that she was slowly giving in to her fatigue and was close to falling asleep.

“Let me say good night to the babies?”

“No, I know you. You’ll just get them all worked up and then Lord knows, I’ll never get any rest. Good night, Andrea.”

“Goodnight, my loves.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

By the end of Fashion Week, the entire reserves of Runway personnel had been completely and utterly spent. Nigel was exhausted from taking over a greater part of Miranda’s duties – honestly, how the woman did it was a mystery to him even when she WASN’T pregnant with twins. Emily was exhausted from teaching the ‘new her’ the ropes even as she tried to handle them herself in addition to having to keep an ‘eye on Miranda’ for Andy and report back to the irksome, altogether bothersomely besotted brunette who had insisted she not let on or tell Miranda about these ‘reports’. Andy was exhausted from trying to bury herself in her work so that she didn’t obsess too much about Miranda as well as from the time difference that meant staying up with the editor when she couldn’t sleep because of jet lag. And Miranda was exhausted from carrying not only two children in the midst of a significant growth spurt, but also the masthead of Elias Clarke during the most important week of Runway’s calendar and with the world’s media gaze planted firmly on her growing midsection.

Emily had been doing her best to mitigate the amount of interviews and invitations accepted on behalf of Miranda, and in the spirit of keeping her promise to Andrea to ‘take it easy’, Miranda had agreed to let Nigel fly solo for a few shows and statements to the press. It would be good practice for when she stepped away during her maternity leave; she had told herself and the arts director - not knowing who needed more reassurance.

But despite the collective effort of the group, Miranda woke the Thursday morning feeling as though she had been beaten with a baseball bat repeatedly. Added to her misery was the fact that she was out of her anti-nausea prescription and she had sent Emily out to accompany Nigel on a breakfast meeting and so the extra pills were somewhere floating down the Seine drinking mimosas. It was only ten more hours, Miranda told herself, wincing as she slipped her swollen feet into the 4 inch Ferragamo’s. Miranda Priestly could certainly ‘suck it up’ for the next few hours until Andrea’s plane arrived this evening.

Try as she might however, the older woman couldn’t help but to fall into old patterns of behaviour and the ‘dragon lady’ rose again – something that did not escape the notice of her most loyal minions as they watched the aggrieved editor send countless lackeys scurrying and more than one cry. Galliano had looked close to tears as well when he realized Miranda had been absent for half of the show.

“Good God, what hell hath you unleashed on the fashion world today, Emily?”

“She is in fine form,” Emily agreed under her breath, consulting her clipboard to make sure there was zero room for mix-ups or error on the schedule that would have her head on the chopping block next.

“You would think having Andy arriving tonight she would be in the best of moods,” Serena offered, coming up behind the pair to rest a soothing hand on her girlfriend’s back.

“Well, it’s bloody well Andrea Sachs isn’t it? God knows she’ll have done something worthy of the temper ta-”

Serena’s grip tightened painfully on the Brit’s waist, not letting go even when the woman tried to pull away from the painful grip. This ended up to be a good decision as her hold on the redhead was the only thing keeping Emily upright as a cool voice sounded behind them.

“Perhaps my current temperament is due to the fact that my employees, supposedly some of Runway’s best and brightest, see fit to stand around fruitlessly discussing and gossiping about the editor-in-chief of said magazine instead of doing their jobs.”

“I, Miranda, I…” stuttered a shaking Emily as she tried to recall the exact working of the snide comment she had just made and decide whether pre-emptive suicide was still a viable possibility. But Miranda was having none of it and was in no mood to listen to any erstwhile excuses the three could offer her.

In the privacy of her own mind, deep in the dark recesses past denial Miranda knew, she understood that her demands had reached a new level of impossible. That flicker of guilt and momentary self-doubt faded instantly as her stomach cramped nauseously, setting off a new wave of pain in whatever muscle she had pulled in her back that had been plaguing her ever since she woke this morning.

Miranda turned to ask Emily for the prescription bottle with the extra medication Andy had packed for her, but another sickly gurgle in her lower abdomen meant that she spun on her heel in the other direction towards the private bathrooms in the hotel lobby.

“Right then,” Nigel turned back towards the group and clapped his hands together. “Off we go then. Emily, please tell me you have the notes from the breakfast meeting this morning?”

Feeling the cool porcelain against her clammy skin, Miranda was reminded of the first day of the trial, when Stephen had spouted an unprecedented level of what could only be termed ‘bullshit’ and she had been unable to settle her nerves or her stomach.

Miranda let her eyes close as she remembered the feel of Andrea’s hand curving around her waist to hold her steady and the gentle circles Miranda never seemed to be able to replicate with her own hand on the swell that the younger woman had so lovingly christened the ‘baby belly’. Only ten more hours…”

By the time the show had finished and the Runway quartet had been seated at Massimo’s closing luncheon, Miranda’s stomach had finally settled down, but she could barely breathe for the pain radiating from the small of her back rendering her all but useless as anything but a groaning mass.

“Miranda, what is it?” Nigel murmured, jerking his head at Emily to make sure no one was watching.

“I…it’s my back,” Miranda whispered, squeezing her eyes shut against the pain as she gripped Nigel’s arm and the side of the chair and struggled to control her breathing.

“Is it the baby?” Despite the slim cut of the Galliano skirt she was wearing in homage to the designer whose show they had attended that morning, Emily managed to crouch down next to the editor as well.

Miranda shook her head, eyes still tightly shut against the tears the pain was inciting. “No, no it doesn’t feel like that, I – I think it’s just the muscle being pulled. Damn!” The editor swore vehemently under her breath, her voice cracking as another spasm rocked through her.

Emily and Nigel seemed stunned at the profanity, mild as it was, coming from Miranda’s lips and said nothing but continued to gape uselessly.

“Oh for God’s sake,” Serena rolled her eyes and sent a prayer upwards that she wouldn’t be torn limb from limb as she steeled herself before laying her hands on Miranda’s back, trying to work out whatever knot was causing Miranda so much pain.

“Oh…Better, that’s better,” the editor’s eyelids fluttered again, this time in relief as the nearly bruising pressure eased the sharp, shooting pains that curved from her spine, outwards and down.

“It’s not the babies?” Emily asked nervously, still eyeing the editor as though she were afraid she would explode, give birth or swallow Serena whole for taking such familiarity, or possibly all three as she wouldn’t put it past her mercurial boss.

“No, it’s the sciatic nerve,” Serena murmured, pressing on a spot just above Miranda’s ass as Emily looked on with a mixture of fear and astonishment at her girlfriend who was essentially groping the fashion icon.

A sharp hiss from the editor told the Brazilian beauty she had found what she was looking for and she nodded decisively, moving her hands back to Miranda’s hips as she stood to block her actions from the view of any lurking photographers.

“I’ll find a massage therapist or a chiropractor to come to the room,” Emily added, already scrolling through the contacts on her phone.

“I will not have some stranger’s hands on me.  The answer is no; is that clear?”

“Yes, Miranda.”

“Miranda, would it be preferable if I were to try and offer some relief?” Serena offered, keeping her voice low and her gaze unreadable as the older woman’s eyes lost their teary wince of pain almost instantly to bore into her own suspiciously. “You know from my resume that in addition to my certification as an aesthetician, I am also a trained massage therapist,” the Brazilian offered.

“Andy’s not going to be here for another 8 hours, Miranda. Do you really want to wait that long and be in pain when she gets here?” Serena continued, emboldened by the obvious discomfort of the editor and knowing what she was offering was best for her.

“Even if your back pain isn’t affecting the babies, it can’t be good for your blood pressure,” Nigel added softly as he peered over the top of his glasses at the seated woman who was still gripping his hand tightly as she struggled with both the pain and the decision.

Miranda shot a deadly glare at arts director and then at the other woman, but nodded at Nigel to help her stand. Emily expected Serena to let go of Miranda, but instead the head of the beauty department simply moved her hands back to Miranda’s hipbones with her thumbs positioned firmly against the small of Miranda’s back. Emily didn’t understand until the editor went to rise and blanched instantly as the pain returned tenfold. It was only the careful application of pressure from the blonde-streaked goddess that kept the older woman upright as the former dug her thumbs into her spine.

“Keep your hand under your belly to take some of the weight off of your back until you get to the car,” Serena murmured into Miranda’s ear, her long blonde hair sweeping forwards so that the ends tickled Miranda’s cheek as they hid the younger woman’s lips and words from view.

Once they were in the car, which was thankfully a full size limousine as the team had travelled to the show together this morning, Miranda cried out again as the door was closed.

“I can’t, I can’t. Oh God, my back…please, I need Andrea.”

Emily looked as though she might faint and Nigel merely looked completely flummoxed what to do with the moaning woman in his arms, and so Serena took the situation into her own hands again after directing the driver to take them back to the hotel.

“Emily, raise the privacy screen. Miranda, why don’t you lay across the seat? It will take some of the pressure off of your back.”

The editor looked as though she might cry again as she weighed the embarrassment of lying across her employees against the shooting pain in her spine, ultimately deciding to do what she knew Andrea would have told her to and stretching out on her side on the back bench of the limo, her head resting against the scratchy wool of Nigel’s checked trousers and her feet slipped out of her shoes laying across Serena’s lap as the Brazilian continued to press against a trigger point in her spine.

“When you were walking out to the car, was the pain any better when you used your hands to lift your belly.”

“A – a little,” Miranda huffed, her breathing easing up as the trigger point Serena was manipulating released some of the tension she now realized she had been carrying in her hips.

“I’m fine. Just a slight backache.”

“You’re not fine. I can hear it in your voice,” Andy chided gently hoping to draw the other woman out. “What’s the matter?”

Out of the corner of her eye, Serena saw the editor’s lower lip tremble slightly and she excused herself with a small nod towards Miranda. She didn’t dare catch the older woman’s eye lest Miranda know that Serena had seen her in an uncharacteristic moment of weakness for the second if not third time today.

Once she was alone, Miranda released a shuddery breath. “Everything,” she snapped. “Everything’s the matter. I ache all over and I’m exhausted. I missed half the Galliano show, sitting in the bathroom willing myself not to vomit so John apparently thinks I’m snubbing him. Now Serena says the babies are pressing on my sciatic nerve and that my pelvic muscles are stiff from the extra weight and Justine isn’t here and I’m lying here half naked while my employee intends to see and touch me. And YOU’RE not here, which is even worse and I only want YOUR hands on me but I can hardly stand as it is, and, and.” A single disconsolate sob interrupted Miranda’ s rant and Andy wished she had flown out a day earlier as she’d originally planned, maybe then Miranda wouldn’t have pushed herself so hard or at the very least she could have tried the maternity support hose and ‘Belly Band’ that Andy had ordered and which had arrived at the townhouse while Miranda was gone. The more rational part of her brain cut in after a moment, reminding her that it was necessary to stay in New York if she wanted a job to return to on Monday.

“Oh baby, I’m sorry you’re not feeling good. How’s the pain now that you’re lying down? Did you want me to call Dr. Graeme to come to the suite or call Dr. Jansen and ask her opinion?”

“No,” Miranda replied, and Andy swore she could hear the sulk in the other woman’s voice. “Just be here, as soon as possible.” And with that, Andy was left smiling ruefully at a dial-tone as her cab sped towards JFK and towards Miranda.

“Hey sleeping beauty, how are you feeling?” Andy woke Miranda with a kiss after she had arrived at the hotel and put her luggage in the closet to put away later. She had originally intended to let the pregnant woman sleep, but she hadn’t been able to help herself as she approached the prone figure curled around a pillow as though it were Andy in the positions they normally slept in.

“Mmm, don’t you mean sleeping dragons?” Miranda flexed her toes as she came awake slowly, testing her muscles for any residual spasms or stiffness and was pleasantly surprised to find none. “I thought you weren’t supposed to wake sleeping dragons,” she added in a voice still husky from sleep and feeling deliciously drowsy and content now that Andrea was here.

“I believe that’s tickle,” Andy supplied as her lips did just that at Miranda’s ear before continuing their path down a throat and milky white shoulders left exposed by her gaping robe.

Once more losing the ability to think or speak clearly as the younger woman continued in her tender ministrations, Miranda still managed to choke out a slightly dazed “What?”

“Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.”

“I’ll repeat myself Andrea,” Miranda’s voice dropped warningly, reminiscent of when Andy had first started out as her assistant. But instead of fear, now coiling tendrils of heat and smoke unfurled in the younger woman’s belly at the sound and laughing she replied, “From Harry Potter…it’s the Hogwarts motto.”

Miranda sighed and moved to sit up only to have Andrea’s body press back down to the bed. “You know it really is troubling that I have such little effect on you anymore,” Miranda murmured, only half kidding. “There was a time my voice would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and this lovely pale skin to erupt in gooseflesh,” she added, her fingers ghosting over said skin and the editor bared her teeth in a grin as her touch elicited said effect on the brunette.

A choked noise was muffled in the back of Andy’s throat. “Ah-I would say you definitely still have that effect Miranda.” Her hands had found the ties to the robe and her lips had continued in their decent down the precious body until Miranda felt a tongue swirl in her navel and she shuddered violently. “Except now I think we both enjoy it a whole lot more. Besides, if I was still scared of you, there would be very little chance of me doing this.”

The long, lithe body had again shifted and teeth closed gently around one nipple, continuing to lavish the attentions of her hand on its equally sensitive counterpart; rolling the rosy tip between her fingers until Miranda could feel the ache all the way between her thighs. “And that would be such a shame now, wouldn’t it?”

“No more talking.” Miranda choked out the words, now able to do little more than gasp and groan as she writhed and arched into Andy’s hands and against the young, firm body pressed against her that God had somehow seen fit to grant her in her dotage.  She gasped again, more thankful than ever to the Brazilian goddess than the woman should ever know as her body moved in liquid rhythm in its quest to find release.

In turn, not seeing Miranda for a week meant that Andy all but combusted at the first ghost of fingertips against overheated folds.

Hours later, not having the strength or inclination to move her body where she had all but collapsed after her final orgasm, Miranda turned her head to press her lips to the damp shoulder beneath them. Nearly unconscious herself, Andy managed to discern the words out of the faint mumbles coming from the other woman.

“Excuse me?” Andy’s voice had turned cold and she sat up swiftly, pulling the blankets away from Miranda to cover herself. “Did you just say ‘Serena?’ What the fuck Miranda?”

“Oh God, darling no.” Miranda, awake in an instant as she was all but pushed off the brunette, was overcome with laughter and it was a long moment until she was able to gather herself enough to be able to correct the younger woman’s assumption, and only because she could see the hurt tears forming in the brown doe eyes whose hurt it seemed always managed to touch her own soul.

“She performed the adjustment on my back. Remember when I told you the awful pain from my sciatic nerve? I could barely move.”

Andy slowly inched back towards the entreating figure before relaxing fully into the embrace of the beckoning arms.

“God, Miranda, don’t ever scare me like that again,” Andy’s voice was muffled as she buried her face into Miranda’s shoulder.

“I promise darling, I’m sorry.”

“Good,” Andy nipped the skin beneath her lips sharply and Miranda yelped. Those same lips soothed over the spot they had marked on her shoulder as Andy growled possessively. “You’re mine, Priestly, and don’t you forget it.”

Miranda shivered, not totally out of desire as the words reminded her of the ones spat in anger from Stephen’s mouth the night of the attack. But the difference now was that she knew without a doubt that she was safe with Andrea, and even more significantly, she wanted to be hers, to give herself to the younger woman entirely – something she had never felt and thought she never would.

A dull throb at her shoulder blade as the brunette shifted her head as she sought sleep brought a smug, almost rueful smile to Miranda’s lips as she was reminded with equal intensity that neither did that mean Andrea was passive or the ‘bottom’ in their relationship. Mmm, no, quite the opposite in fact.”

As the pair drifted off, Miranda thought idly that perhaps it was because she knew the younger woman would never hurt her, she had when she had left, but not intentionally or out of malice – it simply wasn’t in the girl’s nature.

“I’m sorry I was such a bitch earlier on the phone,” Miranda murmured, wanting to know that there was nothing left that was bothering the younger woman.

“Mmm, I’ve gotten used to it,” Andy teased; but instead of the slap she was expecting she heard a sniff from the other side of the bed and she turned to look at the woman now hiding her face in her shoulder, dismayed at seeing a tear roll down the pale cheek until it fell onto Andy’s skin.

“Oh Miranda, I’m sorry. Hey, you know that was a joke. The fact that you even acknowledged that you were slightly, and I do mean only slightly snippy is huge. Why do you think you came off as bitchy?”

“But I am,” Miranda insisted forlornly, and Andy was reminded that even the great Miranda Priestly wasn’t exempt from the powerful reach of pregnancy hormones.

“Come on Miranda…D’you really think I would be cuddling with someone I thought that about?”

“Miranda Priestly does not cuddle,” came the muffled reply as Miranda entwined herself with the long limbs and tucked her head underneath the brunette’s chin.

“Of course not,” Andy murmured, tightening her hold and slipping her hand beneath the fabric of Miranda’s robe so that the older woman could feel the warmth of her skin against her own as she sweetly stroked and petted over the form so obviously ‘not’ snuggled into her still sniffling slightly. She knew Miranda would also deny any insinuation that she was affected by pregnancy hormones and so she simply continued to soothe the, obviously hormonal, woman in her arms who seemed to be suddenly so scared of losing her, the gentle kicks of their unborn children between them comforting them both until sleep overtook them.

 

“You know, I fully did not expect to have sex with you last night,” Andy commented around her toothbrush as she unpacked from the night before. “Not that I’m complaining, if that’s the kind of welcome I can expect I think I’ll start a new career as a flight attendant or something so I get to come home to that a lot more often.”

Her back to the closet door as she hung up the borrowed couture, Andy felt something warm and soft press against her back before a harder swell molded itself just above the curve of her ass and she let go of the hanger, letting the Jill Sanders shift fall to the floor as she found her arms suddenly full of Miranda.

“Such treatment of couture,” Miranda chided lightly, even as she moved closer into the embrace.

“I’ve got something much better in my arms.” A hand travelled lightly over the curve of her hip and moved to part the robe tied so loosely already that it was essentially completely ineffective at covering any part of the editor.

“Shall I simply wear you instead,” Andy’s fingers stopped just before the still swollen, tender juncture that had been the focus of much of last night’s attentions. “Yet another exclusive for Miranda Priestly?” The young woman continued her teasing banter, raising her eyebrows suggestively as she tried not to laugh. “I can guarantee a perfect fit.”

Miranda laughed, the sound rich and true as she brought Andy’s hand to her lips instead. “Darling, you couldn’t afford this,” Miranda gestured with her free hand

“Good thing I have the only ‘All-Access’ Runway pass then.” Andy teased, picking up the fallen sheath.

“Not today you don’t.” The older woman shocked Andy by plucking the garment from her hands once more and tossing it over the rack. “Today, you’re mine.” Miranda watched in satisfaction as the full mouth could do nothing more but open and close as Andrea was lost for words.

“What? I…um, Miranda? It’s Fashion Week…in Paris. You – reigning queen of the fashion and publishing industry are probably expected to be there.”

Miranda shrugged nonchalantly, but her devilish grin gave away her pleasure at having so fully thrown her lover for a loop.

“But your job…Irv.”

“Andrea,” Miranda effectively shut the younger woman up by covering the protesting lips with her own.

“I definitely do not want to talk about Irv today. I promise you, it’s been taken care of, and yes – a raise is in the cards for Emily for throwing this on her. Are you satisfied? Can we continue with our day or would you like to go on questioning me about work and Irv instead of seeing the Paris I robbed you of last year.”

Andy shut her mouth with some difficulty, but the beginnings of self-doubt she could see creeping into Miranda’s eyes had her shaking her head and pulling the other woman close, or at least as close as the prominent bulge at her waist would allow.

“Are you sure you’re feeling alright?” Andy couldn’t help herself from asking; brown eyes once more filled with love and mild concern as her hands travelled gently down the line of Miranda’s spine.

“I feel wonderful. Better than I have in ages. No nausea, no stiffness or aches, and I promise to let you know if I need to stop or rest at any point. We have the whole day before the Closing Gala tonight. Does that satisfy you my darling worrier?”

Andrea was almost giddy now with anticipation at the prospect of a whole day, uninterrupted, with Miranda, which was likely the reason for her next comment. “Well then, ‘Lay on, Mac-Up-the-Duff.’

Andy blushed bright red and squeezed her eyes shut as she realized what she had just said out loud; but when she opened them again Miranda was merely staring at her, a faint smirk on her lips as she shook her head.

“What am I to do with you, Andrea?”

“Ermm, lay on?”

Miranda threw back her head once more and laughed, the sound widening the already impossibly bright smile on Andrea’s face, and she dropped down into a crouch after stealing another kiss.

“Did you hear that babies? We’re going to see Paris!” The younger woman’s excitement was obviously infectious as a series of soft kicks followed her words as she spoke to the rounded abdomen before bouncing back upright and continuing to get ready at lightning speed. Finally, hopefully, the ‘City of Lights’ would live up to its name. After all, didn’t they live on hope?

Chapter Text

That ‘City of Lights’ that had long before turned grey and tired through Miranda’s jaded gaze, turned once more into a fairy world of twinkling lights and sparkling ivory walls that proved magnificent battlements against the outside world and the cares and crises outside them. Everything this girl touched was made better for it, Miranda mused idly as she watched Andrea take in Paris. She snorted slightly, thinking herself ridiculous for such thoughts. Love had clearly addled her brains. She wasn’t nearly naïve enough to believe it would always be like this; certainly even before now they had had rough patches and the divorce, the trial and the pregnancy added to the media blitz amounted to nearly impossible odds against their making it. But that small ember of hope that Miranda had clung to all these years still flickered against the odds against it, and when Andrea’s gaze turned to hers and she saw the love shining out of her eyes, that was somehow, impossible though it seemed, meant for her and her alone - that flicker became a roaring flame.

Wandering freely and unnoticed through the arondissements, far away from the circus and melee of Fashion Week, Miranda showed Andrea ‘her’ Paris. The tiny apartment above a café where she had lived for a year before being transferred back to England and British Runway, introducing her to the son of the man who had owned the café.

“Mademoiselle M!”

A young man in his early thirties turned away from the French press machine, beaming as he heard a soft ‘Bonjour Jacques’ from behind him. It had been more than twenty years since he had last heard that voice in person, but he would have remembered it anywhere as belonging to the young woman he recalled as a boy. Impossibly beautiful, he remembered thinking she must have been an angel, her hair lightening even at the age of 22.

“Mademoiselle M?” Andy asked, eyes twinkling as Miranda pulled back from the fond embrace the man had swooped her up in.

“I hadn’t yet become ‘Miranda Priestly’” Miranda explained. “But I didn’t want to be Miriam Princhek ever again,” her gaze darkened for a moment before clearing as she smiled and wrapped her arm around the young woman’s waist. “Alors, Mademoiselle M. You must call me Miranda now, Jacques.”

The younger man just smiled and shook his head. “My father would never forgive me if I treated ‘La princesse’ as such, although if what I see in the papers is true, you are much more ‘La Reine’ than ‘La Princesse’ maintentant

“I can’t think of how many lattes and croissants and late-night croque-monsieurs I owe him for the year I lived with your family.”

“You and I both know that were he still alive, he would never accept any kind of repayment.”

“Je suis tres desolee, Jacques. Vraiment, ton pere etait un bon homme, mieux que la plupart bien sur. If there is anything…”

“Non, thank you. Merci, but no, there is nothing I or my family need.”

“Your family?”

“Papa!” At their father’s gesture, two little girls who looked to be about three and four ran forward from where they had been standing by the door of the café with a lovely auburn haired woman. “Papa, qui est-ce-que? Son ventre est tout gros, est-elle d'avoir un bébé aussi?”

Andy’s mind took a few moments to translate the excited chatter of the older of the two girls who had been swept up into her father’s arms, while the younger hung back warily, clinging to his pant leg as she examined the newcomers. But Miranda understood instantly, and laughed at the inquisitive little girl.

Jacques shook his head ruefully. “Please excuse my daughter, Miranda, ma femme, my wife Rochelle, is newly pregnant with our third, and as you can see my daughters are consumed by all things ‘baby’ at the moment ever since they found out they are going to have a little brother.”

“It’s fine, Jacques,” Miranda assured the man, “I have two of my own at home already as well.” She turned back to the two children still eyeing her increased girth with undisguised curiosity.

“Oui ma chérie, il ya deux bébés dans ici. And I have two daughters at home as well.”

“Deux bebes?” The little girl’s eyes widened. “Que sont-ils? Ma maman dit que je vais avoir un petit frère.”

Caught up on the conversation now, Andy dropped easily into a crouch, beaming brightly at the two little girls as she reached over to rub Miranda’s belly. “Ils sont jumeaux.” Andy struggled for a moment for the word for twins and looked up at Miranda, who mouthed the answer.  “Un petit garçon et une fille.”

“Maman, je veux des jumeaux aussi! S’il vous plait?”

The adults all laughed and talked a while longer before the two women took their leave.

It was the best day either woman could recall; with no worries about the press, their jobs, the babies or the trial. In between the regular ‘tourist stops’ that Andy insisted on, Miranda showed her glimpses and snatches of the ‘real’ Paris, her Paris. This included a riverside bistro tucked away in a corner of a residential arondissement where the bouillabaisse was so good that the two women ended up in a feverish embrace in the tiny bathroom. The look of orgasmic pleasure and the sounds the younger woman made while eating, coupled with raging pregnancy hormones meant that Miranda was even less patient and unwilling to wait for her ‘dessert’ as she watched plump, red lips devouring the sweet and savoury stew, desperately wanting those lips to devour something else entirely.

The ‘Belly Band’ Andy had packed for Miranda and cajoled her into that morning seemed to be working, and despite some expected fatigue at the long hours they had been walking around Paris, there was no flare-up of her sciatic nerve, prompting the pair to begin the walk back to their hotel along the Seine instead of calling for the car straight away.

“Thank you.” Andy slowed her pace, and Miranda with her as they were walking arm in arm. She turned to the older woman as they came to the end of the walking path before an abandoned looking wharf. “Today has been amazing, and I know how much it took for you to take an entire day off during Fashion Week just to show your girlfriend Paris.”

“Andrea, I’m beginning to realize I would do anything to keep you in my life. My darling you are so much more than merely my ‘girlfriend’. And I also realize how difficult it has been these last few months and how unfair it must seem to start a relationship this way.” She held up a hand to silence the young woman’s protests.

“And I know you don’t agree with that description.” Now it was Miranda’s turn to pause, her gaze flitting briefly to the churning wake of the tide against the stone walls that seemed to echo the sudden uneasy feeling in her stomach.

After a moment though, her eyes found the warm brown it seemed she had been searching for all her life, and as her eyes settled on the familiar gaze, so did her stomach and any lingering nerves. “What I hope you will agree to, is to become my wife.” A brilliant princess-cut stone glittered in the afternoon sunlight against the pale backdrop of Miranda’s palm, pave diamonds set flush against the platinum band. “I won’t always make you happy, and I won’t always listen or concede an argument when I should, and…”

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes,” Andy crushed her lips to Miranda’s, pulling her as close as the bump would allow, her breath hitching on a sudden sob as she felt Miranda’s sigh as she threaded her fingers through Andrea’s hair and returned the kiss wholeheartedly.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Miranda murmured as they both regained their breath.

“Miranda, you never EVER have to thank me for loving you.”

“It can’t be easy, loving someone like me. No one else ever has so well…they haven’t known how to or cared enough to try.” Miranda admitted within the embrace of young, strong arms and letting her head rest against a beating heart she still couldn’t quite believe belonged to her.

“I know exactly how to love you, and once my ring is on that finger there’s not going to be a single person in the world who would try to take you away from me. I can’t fly you to Paris, or offer you wealth or power like you have for me. But I can promise to be here always, Miranda. You will have me forever, and I will love you until, and after, the day the breath leaves my body. Every day before that, and whatever comes after, I will spend loving you. And yes, probably fighting with you, getting frustrated with you, hurting you and being hurt because that’s just the way life seems to work. But we’re always going to get through that because that love is so much stronger than any hate and any anger will ever be. Deal?”

Miranda laughed softly through her own tears, not even attempting to wave them off as a by-product of hormones, and she lifted Andrea’s left hand, pressing the ring finger to her lips.

“Deal.”

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“I can’t BELIEVE you haven’t bought any clothes for them yet. We’re more than halfway there!” Andy teased as they stopped at a children’s boutique on the way back to the hotel, turning back to face Miranda only to be met with a flash of fear and guilt as it pricked at blue eyes.

“Hey, hey,” Andy soothed, dropping the onesie she was holding back onto the pile and letting her hands rest on Miranda’s forearms, still aware they were in a public setting. “What is it? What’s the matter?”

“I haven’t, I wasn’t…” Miranda uncharacteristically wavered in choosing her words, her gaze seemingly drawn to the tiny sweater she still clutched in her hands.

“I didn’t want to take the chance that…that they would never get to wear them, that we would have no need for them.”

Andy swallowed the painful lump in her throat and stepped closer to Miranda, rubbing the older woman’s hands with her thumbs as dual gazes flickered down in an unconscious gesture of protection to the curve of her belly.

“Hey,” Andy choked out, forcing a smile onto her face, “we are going to meet these babies, Miranda. I won’t promise, because you asked me not to. But I believe with everything in me that we are meant to have these babies, and to raise them, together. Now come on, we’re going to buy these today. Although I’m sure in a month’s time, the designer offerings will be pouring in. I saw the card Donatella sent you when the news first broke, believe me, the only reason these babies might not get a chance to wear all their clothes will have to do with sheer quantity.”

Miranda’s fingertips trailed over the soft cashmere, feeling the fine fabric and picturing it on a tiny warm body so that she could almost feel the imaginary weight of the infant in her arms and wondered if she could ever explain, even to Andrea, how her arms ached to feel that weight and the warmth of that tiny body cradled against her chest.

Once they were safely back in the chauffeured car, away from the possibly prying eyes and listening ears of shop assistants, Miranda spoke more freely at Andy’s gentle probing of her previous comments. “If I fail at this, everything, I have failed everything precious in my life. My family, the girls being big sisters, your chance to be a mother…”

 “I am getting the chance to be a mom. Caroline and Cassidy may not be babies, and I’m always going to regret not being able to see them learn to walk and talk and their first piano recitals and scraped knees, but they’re still my daughters and they still need me, need us, need their parents. They’ve still got a lot of growing up to do and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of that,” here she paused, smirking slightly as she pushed a stray piece of hair back behind Miranda’s ear. “Although you may need to remind me of that fact when they’re teenagers and we catch them sneaking out in the middle of the night or skipping school and mouthing off.”

 

Tonight was the gala that closed Fashion Week, and an event Miranda couldn’t afford to miss. It did, however, provide the perfect opportunity to ‘announce’ their engagement to the press. Not that they would offer an official statement until asked, but Andy’s insistence that she was never taking off the ring made the question of whether or not they would keep the news of their engagement from the press a moot one, not to mention one that charmed Miranda into an extended session of celebratory lovemaking once they had gotten back to the hotel and removed any thoughts of a nap from Andrea’s mind. 

Despite Miranda’s insistence she was feeling much better, Andy was grateful to see Miranda take a short nap before dinner, although whether that well-needed rest was borne from common sense or sexual exhaustion Andy couldn’t be sure.

Coming out of the bathroom where she’d just taken a shower, Andy smiled as she took in the sprawled, sleeping form of her lover, fiancée, she corrected herself in her mind gleefully.

One arm flung over her head and the other curled around her pillow, Miranda slept on, oblivious to the brunette’s musings as she took in the awkward position of the editor presumably undertaken in a quest to find some comfortable position to sleep. Pillows lined her back, two more tucked underneath her legs and between her knees and one wedged beneath her belly to even out the odd incline. A soft but distinctive snore met her ears and she bit her lip to keep from laughing, knowing that Miranda wouldn’t be amused at the explanation of pregnancy-induced sinusitis that was causing the distinctly unladylike noise.

It was moments like that Andy could almost forget the woman in her bed was ‘La Priestly’, and an icon she grudgingly had to share with the world as the forbearer of fashion. In those moments she was just Miranda. An hour later, however, as they got ready for the gala, Andy recalled with sudden clarity the absolute absurdity and the sheer impossibility of their coupling as ‘Miranda Priestly’ emerged from the closet in the Zuhair Murad gown she had before only seen sketches of – and the reality of the lush constellation of skin and stars as the fabric twinkled was so much better than any pathetic scratching or artist’s rendering could ever accomplish.

Thousands upon thousands of tiny beads caught the candlelight, the warm champagne-hued silver casting its own glow upon the room as the metallic threads shimmered and hazed across ones vision.

Painstaking needlework had resulted in intricate patterns that flowed over every inch of the dress, demurely but clearly outlining the deepened curves of the editor and extolling her current state of ripeness and femininity.

Sheer three-quarter length sleeves gave a further illusion of modesty even as the deeply draping chiffon at the front and back of the dress gave tantalizing glimpses of the curve of a breast and softly framed the lithe musculature of her back.

“I am so, so lucky,” Andrea breathed, tears springing to her eyes as she took in the sight of the woman she was going to marry, facing the mirror, neck arched gracefully as she demurred to Andrea to zip her up. The liquidity of the dress in motion was poetry, and Andrea once again found herself dry mouthed as Miranda turned on her heel, flaring the hem of her dress to make sure nothing was out of place.

“You know they’ll all think you’ve lost your mind, or that the stress of the trial and the later-in-life pregnancy have finally gotten to you. Why else would Miranda Priestly choose the smart, fat girl from Ohio.”

“Nonsense. If they have any sense at all, then the moment they see, or failing that, speak to you, they will understand instantly why an aging, ice queen would seek out such an exquisite, young creature through whom she could try to recapture her youth and vitality. But say what you like darling, our reasons are our own, and not even entirely understood by us if we’re brutally honest.”

The tension in Andy’s shoulders eased as she took in the almost flippant tone of Miranda’s voice. To someone on the outside, it might look as though Miranda was brushing off the younger woman’s concerns, but Andrea knew that Miranda’s comments were sincere, and she was unconcerned with what people would think because of her own certainty in her relationship with Andrea. No, Andrea Sachs wasn’t burned, and didn’t fear the fire of the ‘Dragon Lady’. Instead she was warmed by it, protected by the flames.

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“Miranda, how far along are you now?”

“Any problems with the pregnancy?”

“Do you know the sexes? Are you going to find out?”

“Who’s going to take over Runway?”

“Is it Jaqueline Follet? Will Jaqueline be the new choice for American Runway?”

As the car pulled up to the VIP entrance to the gala, Andy laid her hand over Miranda’s arm before she could move to exit the vehicle. “Just wait a sec until security’s moved the paparazzi.”

“Darling,” Miranda squeezed her nervous lover’s hand. “I will not,” she corrected herself – smiling as she lifted Andrea’s left hand to press her lips to the newly appointed diamond. “We will not be dictated to by the press, nor will we stop living our lives. There is plenty of security and you can be assured they know not to let anyone near the guests.”

Andrea continued to worry her bottom lip with her teeth and Miranda took out a tube of lipstick from her clutch to reapply the younger woman’s makeup. “I know it’s difficult and it can be scary. But I have been doing this much longer than you have, darling.”

The noise outside rose and fell again and Andy’s eyes flickered nervously out the window and then back to Miranda, who brought her hands to rest on either side of her belly. “We’re fine, Andrea.”

“I love you…so much,” Andy whispered and Miranda’s face broke into a rare, full smile that never failed to steal Andy’s breath and heart.

“And I you. Now come, let me have my moment of glory in showing the world the fair maiden the fearsome dragon lady has managed to snare.”

Andy snorted as she shook her head smiling and followed Miranda out of the car into the blinding lights of the Paris evening, “sweet talker.”

Miranda watched as her fiancée skillfully manoeuvred through the invasive questions of the paparazzi as they were separated on the red carpet. Blue eyes trailed appreciatively from Coleen Atwood pumps up a long, lean body, feasting on the banquet of bare skin before coming to rest on the gold lame Zac Posen that hit a good four inches above the knee.

“You don’t think this is a little over the top?” the brunette had asked as they were getting ready in the suite several hours earlier. “I mean, the dress is fantastic don’t get me wrong. It’s sexy and sculptural and chic, but next to you…” she gestured towards Miranda, “I don’t know, isn’t it going to look contrived or like I’m trying too hard?”

“Andrea, you are young and beautiful and meant to be wearing and testing the limits of what fashion has to offer, especially as my partner and attending a Fashion Week event in Paris. As for myself, although I may be the arbiter of all things fashionable, I cannot at my age and my ‘condition’,” Miranda grimaced at the word as she always did, hating its connotations and she wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Wear the types of clothing and garments I would choose to feature in Runway. So to answer your question, no, no, I do not think it’s too much. In fact when I chose it for you I did so because I thought the two gowns together would make a fitting visual representation and statement regarding our relationship.”

“Just as long as that statement isn’t gold-digger, okay?” Andy joked before leaning over for a quick kiss to let Miranda know she wasn’t serious in her description of herself.

Miranda’s wandering mind was yanked sharply back down to the present at the next questions from the ravening journalistsl “Andy! Taking on 4 children and a women who’s driven away THREE husbands, the last with whom she is now embroiled in a bitter settlement. There’s gotta be another reason.”

Andy’s eyes flashed darkly, although when she spoke her voice was measured but light. “Reason? I don’t think there is a reason that could satisfy what I’ll guess to be is your frankly limited definition.”

Andy felt a warm hand settle at the small of her back as Miranda came to stand beside her, skillfully manoeuvring the younger woman away from the first reporter and drawing her into her own conversation seamlessly.

“What do you think, darling?” Miranda turned back to the reporter, “Andrea has written several articles about the protocols for city and event planning…”

Once they were inside the building, Andy turned to Miranda. “Miranda, I’m sorry,” she began.

“It’s alright; and you know how I cherish how protective you are. But there are always going to be those who ask inappropriate questions, or question our intentions and cast stones. If you try to fight each one, the only thing you will accomplish is in making it so that you spend your entire life fighting, which will only fuel their fire.”

“I know that, I do, I swear. It’s just…they make me hate what I do and then I start to question everything and I hate that even more…”

“Let them say what they will, Andrea, it will not hurt me so long as it doesn’t hurt the ones I love, which most certainly includes you, darling. So don’t give them the satisfaction. If they want to call me old and foolish and decrepit, let them, I have what I most desire.”

 “Are you kidding?” Andy looked around the room and then back at Miranda incredulously. “Believe me Miranda when I say that most every man in this room and quite a few women too I’m sure would gladly give their right arm or their lifetime rights to Prada if it meant they had a chance to fuck you.”

“As much as I appreciate the sentiment, as an aspiring journalist, Andrea, surely you could find a more salient turn of phrase. I’d prefer it if that language were confined to the bedroom and the act it infers.”

Andy just smiled. “Noted, but this time I did choose that word specifically…because those people I mentioned would willingly fuck you, and you could have sex with anyone, if you chose to; but as long as I’m alive Miranda, no one is going to make love to you but me.”

 At this, Miranda shook her head, her lips curving up ruefully as she shook her head gently. “Sweet talker…”

 “C’mere, gorgeous girl, dance with me.” As they’d been talking Andy had slowly been leading them towards the dance floor.”

“Andrea, please,” Miranda scoffed lightly, seeing the younger woman’s intent flash dangerously in dark brown eyes. “I’m 5 months pregnant, I’m not exactly light on my feet.”

Ignoring the older woman’s feeble protests, Andrea only smiled wider as she pulled Miranda closer to her. But before they could move fully onto the dance floor, they were halted by the familiar, unpleasant tones of one Irving Ravitz.

“Miranda, I understand I’m to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials. Am I permitted to ask if the wedding will take place before or after the birth of your children, or perhaps after the trial of said children’s father. I suppose you’ll need to wait until your last marriage is dissolved, or has the trial taken care of that as well?”

“You can ask, but that doesn’t mean we’ll tell,” Andy’s voice and expression were suitably light and teasing, but before she had had a chance to mask it, Miranda had seen the steely flash of anger and could feel the younger woman’s hold which had been draped lightly around her side tighten protectively at the man’s attempts to unnerve the editor.

But Miranda had had far too much experience to be moved by the empty threats of an impotent bully like Irv, and she turned elegantly, still within Andrea’s embrace so that she was once more facing the younger woman.

“I believe you were going to ask me to dance?”

And whatever the accompanying text would say in the papers the next morning, there could be no mistaking the beauty of the women on the dance floor or the happiness and love radiating from both.

 

 

Walking out into the cool evening air, Andy shivered, the gold micro-mini doing little to protect her from the elements.

Pulling her creamy beige mink from around her shoulders, Miranda draped it around the brunette’s bare shoulders.

“Miranda, you’ll catch a chill. I’ll be fine.”

“Nonsense,” Miranda scoffed, waving off the younger woman’s attempt to hand her back the wrap. “Andrea, there is more than twice the average amount of blood flowing through my body at the moment, not to mention the added weight. I assure you, temperature-wise I’m quite comfortable.”

“Temperature wise?”

Miranda grimaced slightly. “You may be called upon this evening for a foot massage if soaking them doesn’t help the swelling go down,” she admitted ruefully as she eyed the studded Giuseppe Zannotti’s cutting into the now puffy flesh of her feet.  “Besides, I am the one who dressed you for this evening, so I should bear at least part of the blame for your current discomfort.”

“I think you just wanted to gloat a little.”

Miranda smirked slightly, turning her head and affecting indifference although the glint in her eyes and the way they travelled up the length of the brunette’s body gave her away and Andy laughed as she ducked around to steal a kiss from the smirking mouth. However she couldn’t have guessed the next words that came out of Miranda’s mouth.

“Do you suppose there are any cafes still open at this time of night?”

Andy quirked an eyebrow, “I saw a sign at Jacques’ that said it didn’t close till 10. We could probably still make it if we hurry. Why?”

Miranda did her best to look nonchalant, “I simply thought perhaps a sandwich would be pleasant before retiring.”

“Mmm, okay,” Andy played along. “And what would be on this sandwich?”

“Nothing elaborate,” the older woman suddenly found the clasp on her clutch very interesting as she avoided Andy’s amused grin. “Perhaps some cheese, toasted…”

“Miranda, my love, are you asking for a grilled cheese sandwich?” Andy’s eyes twinkled merrily as a grin threatened to split her cheeks. “I think I might be rubbing off on you…That or these babies really DO share my genes.”

“Really Andrea, you make it sound as if I’m some sort of insatiable glutton. It was simply an opinion I thought to voice, but if the thought is so appalling…”

“Nooo, sweetheart, I’ll go and get your grilled cheese,” Andy bit her lip to hide her smile as she attempted to mollify the pouting editor, who of course Andy knew, in a million years would never admit she was pouting over grilled cheese.

Miranda merely sniffed and turned away, shrugging an elegant shoulder as if to say ‘do as you wish’.

Still smiling, Andy called for a second car to pick her up as Miranda stepped into the first that would take her back to the hotel.

Miranda, who in fairly short order had demolished her own sandwich and half of Andrea’s the moment after it had been half-jokingly offered to her. Laying her head on Andrea’s chest, Miranda unclasped the front of her dressing gown and moved the younger woman’s hands to her stomach, gesturing to the stretch mark oil on the bedside table. The babies’ movements were calm and sleepy now that her craving had been sated, and Miranda hoped that Andrea’s touch would do the rest of the work of getting them to sleep so that she could finally attain the sleep and the rest that had eluded her in Andrea’s absence.

Andy wrinkled her nose as she brought the bottle back over to the bed and Miranda opened her mouth to ask the younger woman what was wrong when the brunette climbed back on the bed still frowning. However after a moment, it became clear what the problem was as she reluctantly slid the engagement ring off her finger to set it on the bedside table. “I don’t want to get it gross with the oil but I said I wouldn’t take it off.” Now it was Andy’s turn to look adorably disgruntled, and with some difficulty Miranda managed to sit up and kiss the plump, pink pouting lips.

“You’ve made me so happy, Andrea.”

“If I’d known all it was going to take was some fried cheese and bread, I would have tried it long ago,” Andy teased before wincing and laughing at the sharp, unamused prod Miranda gave her. “Hey! Do you want this massage or not?” Andy threatened playfully as she folded long legs beneath her, wiggling her oil-slicked fingers in the air.

“You wouldn’t withhold that from me,” Miranda purred confidently. But what most would see as arrogance and ego was belied by the love that shone from blue eyes as they met brown.

“Mmm, no I wouldn’t,” Andy capitulated. “You’re just lucky I love you so much,” she teased.

“I am,” Miranda breathed, even as sleep overtook her, “I’m so lucky…”

Andy watched the even rise and fall of Miranda’s chest as she slept, her eyes skimming across the peaceful features to the elegant neck and the rise of her breasts, and the even more prominent rise of her belly.

Pulling the covers over both of them, Andy curled around Miranda, who shifted slightly in her sleep until she was wrapped in the younger woman’s arms, head underneath her chin with one of Andy’s knees propped between her own to take the pressure off of her spine.

They were scheduled to fly back to New York first thing the next morning, and after the events of the day before and the late night, this was only made bearable by the fact that the Runway team would now be taking the Elias Clarke jet, courtesy of Donatella Versace’s bullying of Irv Ravitz the previous evening at the closing gala.

“Surely, it’s a matter of economics is it not, Irving? If not, then a matter of…que cosa, what do you call it? Ah, chivalry. Surely it makes more sense to use the jet to fly a team of people back rather than one man, no? Save the money for so many tickets? Besides,” the flamboyant Italian waved a fuschia-taloned hand in the air dismissively, “You are lucky to have Miranda here at all, flying across the Atlantic twice in one week and attending all these shows in her condition.” She turned away from the smaller man as though the matter had been settled, but Irv hadn’t quite given up, proving what Nigel had said at their first meeting about ‘tiny man, huge ego’.

“Ms. Versace, I’m not sure my assistant would be able to get a flight out so late in the day, and I need to be back in New York tonight, and then there’s the time difference, I don’t know if she’d have her phone.”

“Nonsense! That is her job is it not? If she cannot perform her duties, relieve her of them.”

Ah, Andy thought, now she saw where Miranda had mimicked a certain trait from.

During this exchange, Andy had discretely removed her phone from her clutch and now held it up, smiling brightly as she broke into the conversation.

“It’s done!” she beamed guilelessly, carefully avoiding direct eye contact with Miranda and Irv for entirely opposite reasons. Shrugging innocently at the looks being tossed her way, two being deeply amused and one enraged before all schooled their features almost instantaneously into polite versions of their true feelings, Andy quickly sent the booking confirmation to Irv’s phone. “Once an assistant,” she joked lightly before she turned slightly into Miranda’s embrace as the older woman’s arm wrapped around her waist, Miranda’s barely concealed look of triumph and amusement quickly replaced by one of abject innocence to match her fiancees as she smoothed a hand over her belly to subtly underscore the Italian’s words.

“Mr. Ravitz, you are scheduled to fly out this evening at 11:26, Gate 5 at Charles de Gaulle and the Elias Clarke flight crew has been instructed to transfer your luggage and print your boarding pass which will be waiting for you at the gate with a porter in the executive lounge.”

“Donatella,” Miranda chuckled darkly, shaking her head as she embraced her long-time friend with a kiss to each cheek. “Did you get my letter of thanks for the pieces you sent over for me?”

“Those white, wide legged trousers are a personal favourite”, murmured Andy, her hand resting just above the asset the pants showed off to such perfection.

The older Italian chuckled, “There’s a leather jacket I’ll be sending over soon that I believe you’ll particularly like.”

Miranda quirked an eyebrow, Donatella’s proclivity for leather had often been a source of their disagreements regarding what should be in fashion.

“Don’t worry, Miranda. It’s very subtle – the structure is very much that of a blazer that goes into an asymmetrical lambskin drape at the hem, so no need to worry about buttons or zippers. And of course, there are a few things in the works for the babies.” Donatella had moved from embracing Miranda to placing her hands on the editors belly as she spoke. Andy was amazed that Miranda was tolerating this, especially in public, but she supposed Miranda HAD been friends with the woman for years, and she was grateful to her for her help with Irv and the diffusion of what could have been an ugly situation…

Knowing their flight was set to leave Charles de Gaulle at 7am, they had mutually agreed on a 5 am wake up call, but Andy wasn’t surprised when she found the space next to her in bed already cold and empty when she woke the next morning.

“It seems the East Coast wasn’t quite as prepared as we thought to hear about our engagement.” Miranda flicked through the pile of newspapers from where she sat on one of the stiff armchairs across the room, already perfectly coiffed and dressed, scanning the headlines on the front pages.

“Are you regretting it now?” Andy asked softly from the bed, crossing her legs as she sat up, now fully awake.

“What?” Miranda looked up. “No! No, Andrea, that isn’t what I meant at all. I simply meant that I should have thought about the backlash for the girls while we were on a different continent, and that perhaps I should have planned it so that we would be there for them when the news broke.

“Did you tell them you were going to propose?”

“They knew I had the ring and that I was going to bring it to Paris with me, but beyond that even I didn’t know when or how I was going to propose.”

“Miranda Priestly not have a plan?”

“Perhaps that’s because with you, I’m not frightened of the outcome if I don’t.”

“You say the sweetest things.” Andy had gotten out of bed and sauntered over to the other woman.

“Well don’t let it get out, I believe I’ll need all my available ‘firepower’ and fear-mongering skills to deal with the press back in New York.” Miranda rose from the stiff armchair and met her fiancée halfway with a cup of coffee which the younger woman accepted gratefully.

“Besides, it’s not like we’re getting married immediately. There’s still so much that needs to happen and fall into place before we can even think of starting to plan any sort of ceremony or event. I’ve said before that I will not be married while I am so heavily and unattractively pregnant, and so assuming that I am able to carry these babies to at least 36 weeks that makes 13 weeks from today, plus another six after that.”

“Okay, ignoring the ‘unattractively and heavily pregnant’ comment which is so NOT true…Another six?” Andy questioned.

There was a predatory flash in Miranda’s eyes as she moved back to Andy’s side, pulling the younger woman’s body flush against her own so that she could whisper into her ear. “I believe that’s what all those books on your bedside table say is the correct timeline to resume sexual relations…and I very much plan on consummating the wedding night.”

“Oh God, Mira, you can’t say things like that,” Andy moaned, her voice catching and growing huskier as the lips that had been teasing the shell of her ear and ghosting over her neck suddenly bit down on her shoulder. She gasped, “Ohhh, the papers are right, you ARE evil.”

Chapter Text

Both women were left wanting, however, due to the time constraints placed upon them. Between that and Miranda’s growing form, more planning than usual was required for any sort of intimacy to take place simply because of the increasingly complex ‘logistics’.

The news having broken in New York overnight, the paparazzi were especially ruthless in their attempts to get a picture or a quote that would give them an edge over their American counterparts and despite leaving on time, were well on their way to being late due to the media swarm.

Miranda was silently furious that she hadn’t seen this coming, at least not at the magnitude it now appeared to be rising to, and the set of her shoulders was straight and stiff as the car wound its way through the Paris streets to the airport. Hating herself for it but unable to help herself, she wasn’t even able to soothe Andrea’s anxieties, which were even more poignant as she dealt with the vultures for the first time, she herself being at the centre of their focus as the newest piece in the puzzle and the enigma that was Miranda Priestly. The younger woman sat across from her, hands clasped tightly in her lap after having tried unsuccessfully to take Miranda’s hand.

Miranda blinked and angrily swallowed back the lump that had suddenly risen in her throat. She couldn’t, she just couldn’t accept the comfort the younger woman was offering to her so freely. She was too angry and too filled with guilt at the position she had put them in. And neither could she comfort the brunette so strong were her own anxieties despite her years of experience in dealing with the press and their ever-inaccurate depictions of her life and career and persona.

Andy swallowed back the tiny coil of disappointment and resentment that had begun to twist her insides when Miranda had turned away from her and she fought the urge to roll her eyes, knowing the other woman’s uncanny ability to know whenever she was doing so. 

She knew Miranda was nervous about returning home and what it would mean for them as a ‘couple’ as well as discovering what effect their recent announcement had had on their careers in their absence. But the tiniest part of her had to admit that she had hoped wearing Miranda’s ring on her finger would have been enough to break down the last of the icy, protective walls that kept them apart.

She barely managed not to snort derisively, knowing for sure that would attract the distracted woman’s attention. When she thought about it, even the barest of logistics like knowledge of the kind of information that they would have to fill out on their marriage license set the odds against them…Were they really going into this so blindly like her parents and Lily and the rest of the world seemed to think. Her heart said no, screamed it actually.

A light pressure on the ring finger on her left hand brought her concentration back to the present, and where Miranda still sat, unmoving and unspeaking as she stared resolutely out the window. But her fingers were gently turning the diamond on Andrea’s finger. Andy wasn’t even sure if the older woman knew what she was doing, but that small act of trust, that Miranda, even unconsciously, trusted some part of Andrea to give her comfort gave Andy her answer in tenfold, as if there could ever have been any other.

Miranda herself was frozen, she knew she should say something to the brunette who was completely out of her element. Comfort her, or explain, but she couldn’t. She could feel the younger woman’s confusion and hurt at her actions and she hated herself for putting her in that position, and at the same time couldn’t help but feel slightly frustrated at Andrea. If the younger woman thought marriage or engagement was some sort of magical relationship Band-Aid then she was sorely wrong and more naïve than Miranda had thought. Without realizing what she was doing, Miranda reached across the leather seat for the tactile reassurance of the diamond securely on Andrea’s finger, reminding herself of the younger woman’s promise that it would not leave her hand and her breathing slowed slightly.

She knew what Andrea would say if she vocalized her fears. That that ring wasn’t going anywhere and neither was she.

Nigel, Emily and Serena were already on board the plane along with the waiting crew. The furniture inside the luxurious cabin was positioned so that in addition to 6 ‘traditional’ forward facing seats there was also a ‘living area and meeting space with two armchairs and a couch loosely organized around a low coffee table specially designed to match the magnets on the china-ware so that no important documents could be ruined by the effects of turbulence.

Unsurprisingly, Miranda had made it known that the first half of the flight would be work-related and dedicated to going over the notes from the shows, compiling them until there was some sort of cohesive vision for future editions and collaborations with Runway.

Miranda tapped a fingernail against the Kate Spade ‘Pop Art’ inspired collection and motioned for Nigel to hand her the proofs from the MaxMara show.

“B-but Miranda, none of the textures match – the aesthetic is completely different.” Emily ventured cautiously as she took in the ethereal folds and pleating of the MaxMara gown in question in comparison to the retro, mod inspired miniskirt with bright red dots unequally patterned.

Miranda, instead of cutting the girl down however nodded. “Correct, Emily. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t work together.” She continued to amaze the group by explaining her thought process. “A layout centred around summer in Central Park, the bright green grass against espadrilles and the dotted Kate Spade skirt on a checkered picnic blanket with the circles in the skirt mirrored by a man with a balloon cart off to the side by the fountain. Now take that theme of joy and freedom and you’ll see just out of focus a wedding party, with three laughing bridesmaids in the forefront, holding their shoes in their hands and laughing as their dresses blow in the same direction as the grass and the balloons.”

Andy was just as much in awe as the rest of the group at the brilliance of Miranda’s mind, but she had had much more practice in dealing with her love’s agile brain and so her mouth formed a small smirk instead of hanging open dumbly.

Nigel nodded, slightly dazed. “Yes, I can see it.” He reached over for the Ipad Serena was holding and opened a new draft to take down the idea.

Pleased as she was at eliciting that kind of reaction from her staff, Miranda’s gently amused smile faded and her eyes fluttered closed for a moment as she tensed up.

Andy returned from the onboard kitchen and set the fresh mugs of coffee down on the table just as Miranda opened her eyes again and began to stand, accepting Nigel’s hand gracefully as he stood to offer his arm as Andy was juggling hot coffees.

“You may begin preliminary discussions for editorial of the July theme with that layout as the centrepiece.” Miranda instructed, releasing Nigel’s hand once she was upright and rested her hand on the small of Andy’s back as she was bent over the coffee table to let her know she was leaving the room. “I expect to see a great deal of progress over the course of the flight, with no interruptions.” Her gaze flicked to the very nearly intertwined ankles of Emily and Serena as they shared the couch, poring over the Ipad Nigel had gone back to working on.

There was a very small ensuite behind the cockpit but before the lounge area, and Andy followed Miranda as she walked through the door and shut it tightly, exhaling and letting her shoulders dip slightly, revealing her true state of exhaustion. Kicking off her shoes and unzipping her skirt an inch or two for a little extra breathing room, Miranda nipped in to the bathroom before returning, massaging one side of her belly in small circles as she lowered herself onto the mattress.

“Miranda? What is it, what’s wrong? I didn’t call Dr. Jansen before we flew out but she had said you should be fine,” Andy started to babble but Miranda reached out for her hand and tugged her slightly closer to the bed.

“Sweetheart, I’m fine. I’m just pregnant, I’m going to need to rest or sit – and that doesn’t have anything to do with how well you’re taking care of me. It simply means this process isn’t an easy one on a fifty year old body.

“Did you want me to stay with you?”

“Always,” Miranda curled her legs beneath her with a grace she shouldn’t have had at two weeks shy of being 6 months pregnant and smiled up at the brunette coyly. “But no, for the moment I’m fine. Go and socialize darling or they’ll wonder just exactly what we’re doing in here.”

“Believe me, if there was ANY chance of us doing anything of that nature in here, I’d strap on their parachutes myself.”

Miranda laughed out loud before waving her off. “Go, get out of here.”

“Yes, Miranda.”

About halfway through the flight, the Runway team had finished the preliminary layout and were drowsily jotting down any last notes. Emily and Serena had curled up together on the small couch, their petite forms allowing them both to fit in the cramped space although Serena’s legs were folded beneath her; Nigel was nodding off in one of the leather armchairs and Andy had just finished her final edits on an article when her phone vibrated against the table and she picked it up quickly before the noise against the hard surface could wake anyone.

It was from Miranda, and the only missive was ‘Come’. Slipping into the still darkened room, Andy turned on the light, keeping it at a dim level with the adjustable switch.

“Miranda?”

“I think she’s lying at a bad angle,” came a pained voice from the bed where Miranda lay awkwardly, holding a hand to the side of her belly and trying to apply pressure towards her back. “And the Braxton Hicks contractions or the ligament pains or whatever are putting even more pressure on her side and Dr. Jansen said that’s not good with the TTTS”

“What? How long have you been having Braxton Hicks?”

“They started several days after I arrived in Paris. I called Dr. Jansen and it’s not uncommon this early, for mothers expecting twins to experience them. They haven’t been regular or particularly troublesome until now. Ah!”

Replacing Miranda’s hand with her own to keep the pressure where she needed it, Andy used the flat of her hand in long firm strokes down Miranda’s side until she felt a shift underneath her fingers. Miranda’s intake of breath however indicated this wasn’t the right direction.

“Alright, alright, move onto your hands and knees,” Andy helped Miranda into the position the books and internet research had all recommended was most effective in getting a baby to move position and tried to feel for where a foot or elbow was poking out.

“Aha, theeeere, I gotcha,” Andy smiled as she caught a tiny limb which scooted away in a miniature game of ‘hide and seek’.

“Ah!” Miranda winced as the hand or foot kicked out at the tight muscle as another Braxton Hicks tightened her belly, but the final smooth strokes of Andrea’s hands against her sides seemed to have released whatever knot or cramp had been bothering her before in conjunction with the false contractions and she was able to sit normally against the pillows.

“There we go, princess,” Andy smiled and leaned over to press her lips to where she could feel the babies. Miranda turned her face slightly, expecting the same and waited for the younger woman’s kiss. But the brunette simply stood and turned to leave once more, although the set of her shoulders made Miranda think that whatever ‘this’ was wasn’t over, simply delayed until they were in the privacy of their own home. Damn.

She wasn’t about to let this wait though, she knew once the plane landed, whether Andrea was yet cognizant of the fact, an 8 hour workday awaited her back at the Runway offices, and the thought of two arguments – she refused to call them ‘fights’ – in one day was more exhausting than she cared to admit, especially with the young woman who was her peace and her solace.

“Andrea!” Miranda’s tone hovered somewhere between tentative, angry and dismissive as she sat up and began to readjust her clothing.

“No, Miranda,” Andy turned around and held the blue gaze firmly in brown with a tone that brooked no argument. “That is the kind of detail you mention to someone.”

“I told you I called Dr. Jansen -”

“And you didn’t think to call, or text the woman you planned on asking to marry? Of all the texts you send a day, of all the times we talked, you couldn’t find one moment to mention it in passing?”

“You’re not my assistant anymore, I’m perfectly capable…”

Andy mimicked the familiar phrase under her breath and Miranda’s features darkened as she continued.

“…of making a personal call to my doctor. Had there been any further action or treatment needed or other medical concern, of course you would have been notified. I didn’t want to waste -”

Andy scoffed again, “Oh, notified…Well that’s something I guess. And would it be your assistant to ‘notify’ me of my wife’s condition? Well I suppose I should be grateful for that at least.”

Angry now as Miranda was, her heart still eased slightly at hearing Andrea refer to her as her wife, even if it wasn’t yet technically correct.

“I suppose it’s more than Stephen ever got.” Andrea continued as she swung out an arm dramatically.

Any warmth that had bloomed in Miranda’s chest turned to icy shards as the younger woman crossed a line, comparing their relationship with that of her ex.

Andy regretted the words as soon as they left her lips. Before then, she knew she had been acting slightly childish, even if she had the right – but the last blow hadn’t been fair, and any higher moral ground she’d had, she’d lost as blue eyes widened in shock and hurt for the briefest of seconds before veiling over as they hadn’t for some time now when it had only been her and Andy.

Fuck.

Un-boarding the plane, Andy was reminded of her days as an assistant to ‘the Dragon Lady’ as Miranda turned away slightly from Andy’s proffered hand as she began to descend the steps to the tarmac below. Several steps down however, Miranda’s balance failed her and her grip on the railing tightened as she wobbled slightly, her ankles shaky on the metal grate in the low heels she was wearing. Andy saw this immediately and moved forward, only to see Miranda accept the captain’s arm with a brilliant smile as he escorted her down the stairs.

The smile was fake, Andy knew, and only used to charm people from whom Miranda wanted something, but it still burned to see Miranda smiling, arm in arm with a man and clearly shutting Andy out.

Once everyone had made it to the waiting cars at the edge of the tarmac, Andy sent dual glances at Nigel and Emily that begged them to take care of her before slipping into the second waiting car that was waiting to take her to the Mirror offices.

Chapter Text

Even though she had a pile of work on her desk that would take her two solid weeks to complete, Andy made sure she was home by nine o’clock, hoping Miranda would keep her promise and not be home later than 9:15.

At ten past, a cold lump of nerves had firmly settled in her stomach, and by nine forty-five, having sent multiple texts as she waited in the front entryway in one of the vastly uncomfortable chairs, she was positive Miranda was still giving her the cold shoulder. She knew the older woman was angry and hurt, and Andy had had every intention of apologizing again when Miranda had come home. But she hadn’t, and any ideas Andy had had about apologizing ebbed away with every movement of the clock’s hand as it ticked closer to ten o’clock, and then midnight. If Miranda wanted to lead Andrea’s thoughts back to her words on the plane as she’d compared their relationship to her last, her actions now were certainly driving the point home.

“Fuck,” Andy swore around 10:30, running her fingers through her hair harshly before rising from the seat stiffly. Catching her reflection in the mirror, and realizing how pathetic she looked, waiting for someone who obviously wasn’t going to come, or call, Andy kicked the leg of the chair she’d been sitting in.

Starving, but too tired to think of making food only for herself, Andy grabbed the bottle of wine from the fridge and poured herself a glass as she continued waiting.

Fine, Miranda wanted to play it like that? She thought as she poured herself a second and then a third glass as the hands of the clock continued to mock her. She knew she was in the wrong and that she shouldn’t have brought up Stephen. But for Miranda to react and to retaliate like this? It was complete bullshit! She was endangering not only her own health, but that of the babies as well. Andy slugged back another gulp of Merlot.

The bottle that had been nearly full was long gone by the time the clocks hands were nearing midnight, and Andy finally gave in to the fact that Miranda wasn’t coming home anytime soon. Glancing at the multiple flights of stairs, Andy decided in her inebriated state that they looked like a little too much effort, but not wanting Miranda to think she had ‘won’ now by finding her like this, she made her way upstairs – only staggering slightly on the steps.

Not having the energy to change out of her work clothes or remove her makeup, Andy turned into one of the guestrooms  and flopped down on top of the bedcovers– her mind now only thinking of sleep and how it was more than likely Miranda would turn her out of her bed anyway.

Just after midnight, the front door lock clicked and opened, the flash of headlights as a car drove past illuminating the hunched figure in the doorway. Locking the door once again behind her, Miranda paused for a moment, listening for any signs of life in the house or that Andrea was somewhere waiting for her. But there was nothing, nothing except a chair in the hallway that was out of place, and bending down slightly to adjust it, she saw the wine bottle rolled partly underneath the vanity, clearly empty. A twinge in her back reminded her that this probably wasn’t a good position and she straightened slowly, leaning heavily on the dresser as she counter-balanced with a hand beneath her belly.

A low grumble could be heard echoing down the empty entryway, and Miranda’s hand moved from supportive to soothing as she returned to an upright position. “Alright, my darlings, mommy will eat something”; guilt tinged her voice as she slipped off her heels. It was halfway between pain and bliss as her swollen feet touched the cold tile floor of the kitchen. What she wanted more than anything was to be in bed with Andrea while the younger woman worked out the aches and pains that suddenly seemed to flare in every joint. The low throbbing that beat at her temples didn’t help either, and Miranda found herself sitting in the dark alone at the kitchen table as she finished the container of yogurt she was eating and began to sip at one of the awful nutritional supplement drinks – too tired to think of making any sort of true meal for herself.

Seeing the door to the guest bedroom ajar, Miranda crossed the hallway to investigate. Pushing the door further in, she saw a mass of brown hair and long limbs spread out over the bed. Why was Andrea in the guest room? Was she that angry with her? The younger woman had made it patently clear in their earlier conversations that she wasn’t like the others – that she wouldn’t let Miranda push her away or leave again if things got bad. There had to be another explanation as to why the young woman wasn’t in their bedroom.

Moving closer to brush back the thick brown locks that covered her face, Miranda was hit with the alcoholic fumes on Andrea’s breath and body, and noticed for the first time that she was still clothed and her boots still on her feet.

Finding a lover passed out drunk, having chosen to sleep in a guest bedroom rather than share a bed with her was all too familiar a scenario to walk in on and Miranda’s stomach rolled.

Escaping the truth that seemingly lay in front of her Miranda turned and left the room, leaving the door ajar as it was before. Walking past the twins’ empty bedrooms sent another wave of despondency through her. As if sensing their mother’s inner turmoil and being disrupted by it, the babies began to kick vigorously, so vigorously in fact that you could see the tiny rolls and movements from underneath Miranda’s skin as she undressed for bed. Where other nights she would have been eager for the movements to quieten so she could rest, tonight they comforted her.

Now Miranda Priestly had spent many a night alone in this house before, even preferring to wake to an empty bed. But somehow, Andrea’s presence, or lack thereof seemed so much more poignant a loss.

“At least you’re here with me” she murmured. The agitated movements didn’t stop however, and instead of lying down to the sleep her mind and body was so desperate for, with some difficulty she found herself propped up against the headboard, essentially navel-gazing as it were, and attempting to quieten her restless offspring. Her hands obviously didn’t contain the same magic as Andrea’s, and she began to hum softly for a while until she was singing quietly, realizing after several minutes that her voice had seemingly lulled the babies to sleep, the movements having slowed gradually until all she could feel was the occasional shift. She continued for several minutes longer though to be sure.

Miranda thought back to the last time she had been this tired – how Andrea had led her up the stairs, taking off her clothes and removing her makeup before putting her nearly unconscious body to bed. The last faint memories she had of that night were of being wrapped in young, strong arms, words of love whispered in her ear as she rubbed lazy circles on Miranda’s belly.

Had she lost all that now? Her heart rate sped up with her racing mind, the babies woke again in response and Miranda resumed her song. Slowly shifting her swollen, almost 6 months pregnant body down the bed, she pulled a pillow between her knees and another one underneath her well-established bump. Suddenly angry, Miranda flipped over awkwardly to face away from Andrea’s space in the bed. This moping was ridiculous, she told herself. Miranda Priestly didn’t ‘miss’ anything, didn’t allow herself that luxury of self-pity or show that weakness.

The next morning, she woke aching all over, her back twinging painfully as she shifted position to get out of bed. But as she did so she recognized the rising feeling of nausea as the mattress bounced up and down in her attempts to get out of it. But the pillows she had been using to support her awkward shape in lieu of Andrea caught in the linens and in her attempt to get out of them, had entangled her legs in the sheets. Her stomach rolled threateningly and let out a half sob as she lurched over to Andrea’s side of the bed just in time for her to empty her stomach in painful heaves into the wastebasket by Andrea’s side of the bed. She had fought her on this, calling the idea ridiculous and distasteful – asking the young woman why she would want to bring refuse into the place where they slept instead of keeping one in the bathroom. Now, as she lay there, breathing heavily from exertion and the strain of lying partially on her stomach, Miranda realized the validity of her argument. Newspaper pages with notes scrawled on them and snack food wrappers conveniently hidden underneath them looked back at her as head hanging over the bucket, she felt her stomach clench, this time in regret as she looked at things that once annoyed her, and realized that she missed them… So much for her insistence last night that she didn’t miss anything.

Slowly, carefully, she untangled her legs from the sheets and got ready for the day. It felt as though she had to drag herself through her morning routine; and the sharp pounding pressure that had started after the vomiting did nothing to drive through the fog that had permeated her brain, making her unsteady on her feet as, determined to prove she wasn’t an infirm who couldn’t take care of herself, she stepped into the 3 inch pumps, the creamy Vittorio Aggliano leather straps cool against her heated skin.

Closing the door to the master bedroom, Miranda turned only to be startled by the long lean form leaning against the banister. Despite the deep purple circles under her eyesesgg

“You think that I could turn off what has essentially become my entire being? You are EVERYTHING to me, Miranda, do you understand that? For as long as I have known you, you have been at the centre of everything I do, and you know how I know that it’s different than the hero worship of ‘Miranda Priestly’? Because I can be angry and hurt and scared – and I am Miranda, I am so angry at you. But I can be all those things and still love you, and miss you and hold you at night sleeping in the same damn bed.”

Now Miranda interjected, “that was YOUR decision. It wasn’t me who threw you out, to remove yourself was your decision, YOU are the one who left.” Her voice cracked on the last word and her chest ached from the effort of holding back her tears. “I-instead I come home, exhausted, and the house is dark and there’s a wine bottle on the floor and our room is empty.” She paused to take a shuddering breath before continuing, “and I find you in the guest room still in your clothes and shoes, passed out drunk…” Her voice turned icy on the last word.

Andy’s stomach, already fragile from the night before, roiled at the thought of becoming anything like Stephen, and she barely caught back the rush of bile that issued up from the back of her throat, tasting only of acid and sour wine given her empty stomach.

“You said you were different…” Miranda’s voice was chillingly vacant as she avoided looking at Andrea by turning her head and studying the seams of the comforter as if it were vital to existence that there wasn’t a thread out of place and giving the effect that her mind had been made up on the matter.

“No, no no no, Mira…” Andy opened her mouth to explain, but shut it quickly - clapping her hand over it as she sprinted into the bathroom.

It was her own stubborn pride that kept Miranda from going to Andy and holding back her hair, rubbing her back and staying with her until the vomiting had stopped as the young woman had done countless times in the past.

Miranda made her way towards the kitchen, until a hard kick had her stop in her tracks, bent over the banister and breathing deeply until she was able to straighten. “Oh my loves…do you miss your mama?” The babies seemed to answer as the question was met with a Braxton Hicks contraction.

The uncomfortable tightness in her belly only grew worse as she passed by the vacant kitchen, dark and silent where it had been filled with laughter, and fights, and family. Her babies had been at her ex-husband’s for more than a week now, and she wouldn’t see them for another two. Three weeks. It was the longest she had ever been away from her babies, and with the new babies coming and her constant anxiety, she wanted to keep everyone close.

Deciding she couldn’t bear the awful silence, Miranda decided to forgo breakfast, and therefore any contact with Andrea – and a quick call to whatever her name was, the new girl, was all it took for Miranda to  be on her way to Elias Clarke at quarter after six.

Meanwhile, in the Runway offices, the head assistant, could be heard jabbering like an idiot as she panicked about the early arrival. Rolling her eyes as she listened to the awful caterwauling, Emily strode into the outer office and grabbed the arm of the new ‘her’.

“Right, listen… You need to stop this nonsense and follow routine. Improvise if you have to, but get it done and get it done right, otherwise there will be nothing anyone can do to reverse the situation. You!” She snapped her fingers at the second assistant, “Coffee. Now!”

As the blonde scuttled out of the office, the pretty brunette just continued to stare dumbly at Emily, who snapped her fingers in front of her several times. “Snap out of it!” Rolling her eyes again at the dumbstruck silence Emily snapped her fingers again until the dark eyes darted back to focus on Emily. “Look, you stay here, go over her schedule and make sure everything is in order for the day and get the water and magazines etc. ready. I’ll go and tell Nigel and the rest of the creative team that there is a 99.9% chance the run through will be pushed up.

Since Andy and Miranda had been together, the older woman had noticeably softened her demeanor towards the Brit, especially since she had moved over partway into the Art Dept. where she was making great success. But this morning, there was no one, it seemed, that was free from her wrath.

Seeing the outer office empty of both assistants, Miranda simply switched her anger to Emily as the only available target. She felt a momentary flicker of guilt at the look of hurt that flashed across the redhead’s face as she began to speak.

“Call La Perla regarding the change in location for Saturday’s shoot and tell Nigel I want to see him, and the advertising options for Lungha Chi. Then call Dalton and schedule a meeting with Ms. Heron, the principal to discuss the security issue the paparazzi’s presence is proving at the gates in the morning and afternoon. Reschedule my 1 o’clock call with Phillip Lim, rebook later in the week. Finally, inform the Art Dept. it will be a working lunch in the meeting room as they obviously need to be supervised. What I was shown in the primaries for that issue were simply awful.”

“Yes, Miranda.” Emily’s attention was immediately diverted to her phone, texting Nigel and sending out a mass email warning staff about the pushed up run-through. Just as her finger was on the dial button for La Perla, the phone buzzed with an incoming email from Bethany – Irv’s secretary, informing her of Irv's imminent arrival.

Miranda actually let her exhaustion show for a fleeting second as her shoulders slumped and she dipped her head, rubbing the bridge of her nose irritably. "Not today..." she growled, straightening once more as 'Miranda Priestly'.

Moments later, Irv strode in arrogantly, not bothering to recognize the other two people in the office and taking it upon himself to enter Miranda's office without notification or  permission.

Miranda eased herself down onto the chair with one hand on the armrest, the other supporting the considerable burgeoning swell.

Nigel watched as his friend and boss elegantly took her seat across from the vile form of the CEO that watched her with equal contempt and lascivious glances.

“My early trip back proved to be immensely gratifying. You see, it was an emergency meeting of the board that called me back so suddenly…

Miranda sat, stone still, a look of feigned indifference “It is my great pleasure, Miranda, to announce to you that the board has decided to review your contract at the end of the current term following a careful analysis of quarterly projections.”

Equal parts of bile and fear rose in Miranda’s throat, but her bearing and expression remained unchanged on the surface, seeming to coolly assess the situation in front of her with a diffidence and a detachment that belied her true feelings.

“Is that so, Irv? Any why should this be of any concern to me, moreso than it has any other time you have tried to turn the board against me?” Irv grinned, the soft lighting of the office seeming to take on a gleaming fluorescence as it reflected off sharp, bonded teeth that Miranda knew were stained yellow underneath the veneers from a lifetime’s habit of cocaine.

“Because this time, Miranda, the numbers back me up. Shares are down, the stockholder’s and investors’ confidence in their ‘Queen’ has been shaken and it’s showing in the E-C profits.”

In the outer office, Emily and Nigel watched with growing horror as one by one, Andy’s list of warning signs were manifesting in their leader. Her face was colourless and pale except for the outer shell of the one ear that was visible that appeared to glow a bright red in stark contrast to the lifeless white of the surrounding skin. The editor’s tense shoulders moved up and down too quickly in keeping with the small sips of air she was taking in as she attempted to control her breathing.

“It looks like that wedding will be happening sooner than planned. If I remember correctly, you said to call when the ratings needed a boost. Perhaps it’s best, you know,” Irv’s voice actually softened slightly. “This is coming at a time where you can step down without losing face. You’ll be able to actually watch your children grow up. You can make this easy or not, Miranda, but make no mistake, Runway is about to become somebody else’s baby.”

As soon as he was gone, Miranda bent forward at the waist, taking great big gulps of air as she pressed a palm to her burning chest and bid her vision to unblur at the corners.

Emily hurried in with a glass of Pellegrino that she handed to the editor, crouching in front of the hunched older woman where she was quickly joined by Nigel, who entwined his hands with hers as to keep her grounded.

“Em…Emily, get me the latest financial reports. I want to see the last five quarterly reports and projections.”

“No, Miranda.”

“What?” the older woman hissed, drawing herself back up and letting go of the art director’s hands as she narrowed her gaze.

To her credit, Emily only faltered for a second before she straightened her shoulders and repeated herself, though not unkindly.

“I will get you the reports, Miranda, but I won’t give them to you until you're calmer and its less likely your blood pressure is going to spike."

“How dare you!”

“How dare I? Come off it, Miranda,” Emily snapped, shocking everyone, including herself into silence for a moment.

“We care for you, dammit. And much as we are your employees we are also your friends, like it or not. And I care a great deal more for my friend, Miranda than I do about my boss or my position here, despite what I have sacrificed over the years to keep it.”

“Friends? We are no friends. You are my employee and you will do what I ask as your employer and the editor of this magazine.” Miranda hissed dangerously.

Emily nearly crumbled then, but it was a testimony to what she had learned under the editor’s guidance that she was able to keep her composure and continue. “Fine, you’re right. We’re not friends, and nothing I have done for you, and no secrets I have kept have been above what you would ask of an employee. But Andy is my friend, and it is my duty to her that I make sure to protect what is most important to her. The magazine will run itself, and continue regardless of what happens to you, Miranda. It may not flourish, but it would survive."

Figuring she was well and truly fucked, Emily threw aside the last of her carefully cultivated British reticence and placed a pale hand on the Proenza Schouler clad swell of the editor’s belly, starting inwardly as faint movement from beneath tickled her palms.

They are who need you right now. They are the ones who can’t survive without your care, and I know you care Miranda.”

Miranda’s nostrils flared dangerously and she turned her office chair around to face the window. “That’s all, Emily.”

The young woman gulped nervously, nodding once firmly to ground herself despite her shaking knees and turned on her heel to leave.

Long moments of silence followed her departure until Miranda’s shoulders slumped ever so slightly, although she still didn’t turn her chair around to face the remaining individual in the office who stood silently in front of the door, his silence speaking louder than any words could.

“I am well aware she is right, Nigel. Why do you think I had her leave?”

 

Andy had only been at the office two hours when she caved and grabbed her phone to make her usual post-lunch call to see how Miranda’s day was going. But it wasn’t Miranda’s number that she called.

“Give it to me, Nige.”

“She’s been ill at least once…I thought she was over that?”

“Crap.” Back at her desk across town, Andy pinched the top of her nose trying to get rid of the sudden headache she had developed. “No, not completely.” Another shot of pain through her temples, “and stress makes it worse.”

 “But she did watch the run through sitting on the couch and directing what changes she wanted made rather than doing them herself”.

“Right,” Andy wiped her eyes quickly, “that’s something at least.”

“There’s one other thing,” the man on the other line began tentatively, looking around him to make sure no one else was listening. “Not that anyone else would especially notice other than Emily, who she's all but banished for the day - she’s changed her shoes twice since she got in, and her ankles are swollen and getting worse.”

Has she eaten anything since she got in?”

“What do you think, Six? And if she has it’s long gone, But I’ll tell ya, the rest of the team loved the Smith & Wollensky you had sent over. They’d all be singing your praises still if the first person who’d mentioned your name wasn’t practically demoted.”

“Damn. I hoped by sending enough for the team, she’d feel pressured to eat something.”

“Oh Six, come on...pressured? Miranda?

“And she’s probably feeling horrible because her blood sugar is low" Andy continued "– which would be fixed if she actually ate something…” Andy ranted half-heartedly, toying miserably with the cord of the ancient landline that sat on every rookie reporter’s desk.

“What’s all this about, anyway?”

“God, Nigel, it was just a stupid fight and I had to open my mouth and call her out on her and Stephen’s relationship.”

Nigel whistled through his teeth, “Oh my Six…”. His tone wasn’t wry or joking anymore and he sighed heavily; Andy could imagine the older man running his hand over his head as he always did when he was stressed or pondering a response. “So now she’s hurt, and it sounds like she has the right to feel that way. So just let her steam herself out, she’ll cool off eventually.”

“I have to do something, I have to fix this.”

“Andy!” His voice was firm now. “You can’t. You can’t fix it. All you can do is try and prove to her that you aren’t like the others. She believed you weren’t, SHE proposed to YOU for God’s sake. If you’re right and you’ve proven her fears to be true so that right now she believes she’s facing another possible divorce and raising four children alone…I don’t see how anything you could do right now that wouldn’t come off as trite or insulting to what you put her through, even if by lying by omission she started the argument. She’s used to having her orders followed. She’s not used to being taken care of – there’s a big difference, Andy…”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

There was a long pause before Andy spoke again. “You think I don’t know that?” A hollow laugh came through the line, twisting into something unsettling and manic before ending with the beginnings of a sob before a click and the flat drone of the dial tone.

Staring dumbly at the phone she had just hung up, Andy’s gaze flicked over to the small desk calendar that sat beside it. ‘Shit!’ she exclaimed internally, ‘Shit, shit, shit, oh damn!’ Tonight was the night she and Miranda were supposed to meet Doug for dinner. As Andy’s best friend now that Lily and Nate had clearly washed their hands of her it seemed impossible that Miranda had yet to meet him and he Miranda. Andy doubted now if she could even get the older woman to talk to her, nevertheless make small talk with a relative stranger.

Taking the coward’s way out, Andy opened her email calendar and scheduled it to send an automatic reminder to Miranda , but an hour later when the editor still hadn’t replied she reluctantly picked up her cell phone to send a text.

A: Should I change the reservations for tonight to two?

Another long moment and her cell phone buzzed with a reply.

M: Have I indicated that I would not attend an engagement I previously agreed to? I’ll be at Prix D’Or for 6 o’clock.

Hoping this reply meant that Miranda was willing to open the lines of communication once again, Andy tried her luck.

A: Can we please sit down tonight and talk?

But there was no chime to indicate a response, just a dead silence on the other end.

Miranda set her phone down on the desk, looking down at it for a long moment before moving a slender hand to pick it up once more. Her hand hovered over the shiny, glass surface before dropping again as she saw how her hand trembled in the reflection.

Dammit, Andrea. Miranda thought as she breathed through her nose, her chest too tight with emotion and the overwhelming pressure in her ribcage not to cry. Pushing down the anxiety, Miranda took a deep breath. She couldn’t answer, not because she was angry at Andrea, but if she were truthful with herself it was the thought that she wouldn’t like what the other woman would have to say, or what she would say to ruin it as she always did. Keeping her distance meant keeping Andrea for now, and that wasn’t something Miranda wanted to lose. And it wasn’t, she hoped, despite what she had begun to fear when she’d found the young woman passed out drunk in the guest room. It was too familiar, too painful a reminder of what she, Miranda, turned relationships into, what she turned the people she loved into.

Her stomach cramped and her mouth was dry as the destructive thoughts swirled around in her head; but then a series of kicks bumped against her hand and she opened her eyes against the dizziness. "I don't want to lose her…" Miranda whispered, voicing the one thought that kept beating a tattoo in her heart. Her hand slipped beneath the waistband of the classic tweed Chanel skirt to smooth her hand over where she had felt the kicks. "I want your mama back too." 

Chapter Text

Andy stood outside the restaurant. Doug was already inside waiting where he had been for the last 45 minutes. He knew the mercurial fashion editor was always 15 minutes early and so had arrived a half hour early so that he was sure not to be late.

Outside, Andy continued to pace, refusing to text Miranda on principle. She would be here, she told herself, she said she would be here and she will be. A small voice in the back of her head that sounded suspiciously like Stephen’s and Lily’s and her parents’ kept pushing forward the question, ‘Will she?’ Andy knew that this was a test of sorts that she had put Miranda to, despite having had no intent to do so and despite her own status of being in the doghouse. And she also knew Miranda was smart enough to have figured it out. So what game was she playing? Did she really not want to be with her anymore?

It rankled Miranda to no end that she was being forced to participate in these childish games – even if Andrea hadn’t meant for this to be a test, Miranda knew it was one. One she had failed in the past and one it looked as though she would fail now as well. She refused to text the younger woman and apologize. She was still too angry at her for the other night. If Andrea believed in their relationship as she did she wouldn’t give up on Miranda so quickly – and she had to believe that, had to hold on to that thought and that belief so that she could claw through the current issues in her life and stay afloat.

But ten, then twenty minutes passed. “Roy,” Miranda spoke from the back seat of the Mercedes. “Isn’t there anything you can do to get through this traffic?” The usual annoyance sliced through the familiar icy tones, but years of practice meant that Roy could discern a hint of desperation. “I’m sorry, Miranda, they’ve closed 49th and Levington and rerouted through Carlton. Every direction is jammed solid.”

Miranda let her posture slouch slightly and rested her head on the headrest. She had already been nearly 15 minutes late leaving the office; one of the stills had been ruined in transit from the cover shoot for this month and another one had to be chosen in its place. None of them were right for the cover, and the result was sub-par – something Miranda Priestly did not tolerate in her publication. But there had been no alternative and even less time, and short of calling for an entirely new shoot there was no other option. Especially if what Irv had said proved to be true.

The thought of the meeting earlier with the sly, sneering little man played back in Miranda’s mind as she heard his pseudo-sympathy and his mocking tone echo in her ears. She was only drawn out of the painful recollection by an even stronger pain at the base of her abdomen.

Taking deep breaths, Miranda gently massaged the lower curve of her belly, cursing the stretching ligaments she had been warned about and which seemed to have nearly reached their limit at 25 weeks. The pain easing now, her thoughts shifted back to the events that had led to her breaking her promise to Andrea.

By the time she had caught sight of the hands on her vintage Cartier watch after dealing with the catastrophe with the stills, she knew she had all but ruined things with Andrea. She had asked the younger woman to prove to her that she wasn’t like Stephen, and in return Miranda had treated her like she had treated each of her previous husbands in the end… And she knew she should text the younger woman, she owed her that at least.

But she couldn’t, Miranda cursed herself; she, Miranda Priestly, couldn’t bring herself to pick up the phone because she was so God-damned frightened, so paralyzed with fear that she would be facing the dissolution of another relationship over the phone. She couldn’t, not again. This one would end her, and not just because it would happen so impersonally over the phone but because it was Andrea. In previous relationships, Miranda’s lateness or absence from meals or dates meant that she had already left the person in her mind. She abandoned the relationship before the idea could be formed that there was even a possibility of a breakup. It gave her the upper hand and the position of power.

But this…this wasn’t like that. If she could just get to the restaurant before Andrea and her friend left, perhaps the sight of her there would soften Andrea enough that she could convince the younger woman to talk. It held a modicum of hope for success, after all, before now Andrea had been the one begging forgiveness from Miranda.

‘God’, Miranda thought, shaking her head – not caring if the perfect snowy coif was ruined in the process as she lay back against the seat. She was so tired of this, of the counting and keeping score and the endless game of who owes whom and for what. She would settle for even ground, for a tie. She didn’t fear that idea anymore, not with Andrea beside her. That fear and vulnerability that made her so hungry for success as a means of protection and survival all but disappeared in the protective circle of Andrea’s embrace.

Douglas was truly charming, Miranda had to admit as the meal passed by in a pleasant mix of conversation that touched on everything from his job as an analyst at Goldman-Sachs to his appreciation of Miranda’s work and a history of his and Andy’s friendship from all the way back in Ohio.

Smiling slightly at something the young man had said, Miranda tensed, holding back a wince as the pain from earlier in the car returned, again radiating through the base of her abdomen and into her hips. Perhaps she was going to be forced to wear the hideous support band daily now if her body was going to rebel like this on a regular basis. It wouldn’t do to have the ‘Queen of Fashion’ as it were, wriggling around in her seat as though she were infested with fleas.

The crease between Andrea’s eyebrows deepened, and strawberry lips twisted into a moue of discreet concern as she observed Miranda over the course of the meal.

She was fidgeting. Miranda Priestly did not fidget, Andy thought to herself as she watched the older woman shift in her seat, her lips letting out a soundless sigh. Every so often she thought she saw a flash of pain cross the usually imperturbable features, but whenever she looked again, the usual mask of the Ice Queen in public had returned. She tried to catch Miranda’s eye so she could silently question her, but the older woman seemed determined to keep her distance, breezing over any talk or questions of their relationship when they came up in conversation.

Not here, not here. The mantra repeated itself over and over in Miranda’s brain as she deflected the conversation skillfully from focusing on the details of her and Andrea’s relationship. She wouldn’t have it end publically, and were Andrea to answer truthfully to even the most innocent of questions posed by Douglas Miranda was afraid the entire façade would be laid bare.

And there was that nagging pain again. Once more, Miranda shifted in her seat in an attempt to ease the pressure in her hips. Damn, if what she was feeling was the sciatic nerve again she wouldn’t be able to walk soon. She had to get home before the pain became truly unbearable and she was forced to call upon her chiropractor or God forbid, her employee Serena again.

“Douglas, it’s been a truly delightful evening, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to call it a night. The Book is waiting and I have an early day at the office tomorrow.” Miranda stood, her nostrils flaring even as her posture remained straight despite the discomfort that rising to an upright position brought.

Andy remained seated as Douglas, ever the gentleman, stood with Miranda. It was only 7:30, Miranda had been here less than an hour. She would have thought Miranda’s early departure was a result of their fight – but if she was truly furious or ‘done’ she wouldn’t have bothered even to show up. And she even offered a reason for her actions that bordered on an apology.

You’re losing it Sachs, Andy told herself as she too stood to bid Miranda goodbye. “I’ll see you at home?”

Miranda caught the question in the younger woman’s voice and managed to nod, even leaning in to brush against Andrea’s cheek and air-kiss Douglas. However, as soon as she had stepped into the evening air and could see the waiting Mercedes, she dropped the façade and grimaced outwardly, trying to apply pressure where Serena had the last time she’d been in this much pain when they had been in Paris for Fashion Week.

Back in the restaurant, Doug took a swig of Scotch and turned to face his longtime friend turned fiancée of the Dragon Lady. “Andy, she didn’t seem very well.”

“No, it’s that we’re fighting. I’m sorry she took off like that.”

“Andy I really think she was ill.”

“Well what am I supposed to do, Dougie? She doesn’t want me to fuss over her and when I ask, she insists that she’s fine. And that’s’ on a GOOD day. We haven’t spoken all day, and if the first thing out of my mouth is ‘Are you okay’ or ‘Are the babies okay’ I honestly think she will throw me out on my ass. I know she’s worried that’s the only reason I’m sticking around, even though we’ve gone over the issue a thousand times that I didn’t know she was pregnant when I came over that night. And I’m in the fucking doghouse already because I was an idiot and accused her of treating our relationship like hers and Stephen’s.”

“Yikes, I’m surprised she came at all. But back to Point A, you did confess your feelings for her after it. It’s understandable that she would think that you felt something before, and then convinced yourself that you had felt it all along after you realized there was the opportunity of a family.”

“Doug, what the fuck?”

“I’m not saying that’s what happened Andy, or if that’s even what she believes. But it’s one interpretation.”

“Oh God. Fine. You know what? Let’s settle this now. I’m done dealing with this shit. She doesn’t want to hear my apology then too bad. Maybe then I’ll be able to get some goddamned sleep tonight because she’s crazier than I thought if she thinks this, us, is over because of one fight.”

Doug, who had been alarmed at the beginning of her speech, calmed slightly after hearing how it ended, with Andy rising from the table to go after Miranda in a flurry of black silk and determination.

The server came over shortly after and eyed the lone man at the table. “Will the rest of your party be returning?”

“Ah, no, no they won’t.” Doug answered, wincing slightly as he took the cheque from the man and reluctantly slid out his Visa card, praying for the first time since he had starting working full time at Goldman that his card wouldn’t be declined. “Dammit, Sachs you owe me.”

Outside, Andy rushed down the few cement steps and past the velvet rope that was being set out for that evening when the restaurant turned into a trendy midtown bar. The older woman wasn’t yet at the car, which upon retrospection should have clued Andy in to the fact that something wasn’t right. Miranda didn’t waste time getting anywhere – and there was certainly no reason for her to prolong her at first hasty exodus.

“Miranda!” Andy forgot they were out in public and clearly visible to any passers-by. “Miranda!”

Hearing the anger in the younger woman’s voice behind her, Miranda let her shoulders slump momentarily. She couldn’t deal with this right now; she needed to get home and curl up with a heating pad and some tea. Ideally in this situation, Andrea would be by her side, working out the painful knots. But it was becoming clearer and clearer that that was no longer an option.

“Andrea, please.” Miranda’s voice came as close to pleading as it ever did, her mouth dry and her head starting to spin. “Please, we will discuss this I promise, but at home is all I ask.”

“It’s never the right time, is it?” Andy asked, not expecting an answer. The anger had drained from her voice and she looked skyward to keep her mascara from running. “We just keep missing it.”

“Andrea,”

“No. No, it’s fine Miranda. We’ll talk about it later…take her home, Roy.” Shivering slightly in the evening air, Andy turned and walked back into the restaurant only to ask the doorman to call her a cab.

Glancing in the rearview mirror to make sure Miranda was seated and ready to go, Roy was startled by the unhealthy pallor of Miranda’s face. He had seen it grey as she’d entered the car and now he watched as she pressed one fist into the small of her back, her other hand appearing to support the weight of her abdomen as she leaned forward.

“Miranda?”

“Drive.” Came the hoarse response. But despite the ragged tones, Roy understood the meaning behind them and stepped on it, making a note to himself to text Andy after he had dropped Miranda off.

Doug appeared a few minutes later, shrugging off the coat he had just gotten one arm into and draping it over the young woman’s shoulders. She didn’t face him, but he could feel her trembling underneath the wool coat and he knew how upset she was.

“Dougie for the first time I really think she’s going to leave me. I don’t know what to do, I keep screwing things up!”

“That’s how you know you’re in a relationship, honey. And the way you know that relationship is going to last is just how far you’re willing to go to correct those mistakes, even the times they’re not yours.”

“Since when did you turn from Yoda into Obi Wan?” Andy teased, trying to hide the quaver in her voice as she wiped at her eyes.

“To your woman, go you should. Happiness in should you let.” Andy leaned in to kiss Doug on the cheek and he wrapped the woman who was like a younger sister to him in his arms before turning her around, nudging her towards the waiting cab. “Go, honey.”

“I love you, Doug.”

“Love you too, Andy girl. Now go get her, and next time you better bring the ultrasound pictures of my godchildren!”

Just then a text came through from Roy and Doug snorted as the Fast & Furious ringtone rang out. ‘What? You think I’d still be alive if I’d chosen ‘Driving Miss Daisy’?’ she laughed as she fished her cell phone out of her Corso Como oversized clutch.

“Come home now. M not well.”

Andy’s laughter stopped short. “That’s really weird, Roy never texts about Miranda or personal stuff unless I ask him to specifically – he knows Miranda would kill him.” Andy spoke out loud although her words weren’t meant for anyone.

“Go,”

But before Doug had even finished the monosyllabic command, Andy had already jogged to the curb in her 5 inch Zanotti’s and flagged down a cab. All Doug saw when he turned to see where she had gone was one long, graceful leg disappearing into the back of the car.

Andy tried phoning Roy again now that she was in the cab, but the calls kept going to voicemail.

“Goddammit, Roy,” andy growled, shoving her phone back in her clutch. “Sir?” she called up to the driver, “50 bucks if you can get me there in less than 10.”

The cab now coming around the corner to their street, Andy turned to see Roy helping Miranda up the steps, and Miranda leaning heavily on his arm. Essentially throwing the money at the cabbie much like the first time she had rushed to the townhouse, Andy had the door open before the vehicle had even stopped. “Hey,” she reached out for the older woman, ready to pull Miranda into her arms but she caught herself and stuck her hands in her pockets, not knowing if she had the right to touch the older woman at the moment. She had only been trying to respect Miranda’s wishes by not coddling her at the restaurant and assuming she needed help with every small thing…but then she had turned around and saw Roy doing what she wished she could do.

Andy met Roy’s eye and he shook his head slightly before glancing down at the quickly fading woman in his arms. Seeing the younger woman’s internal struggle not to hover, the seldom heard voice rang out deeply in the night air. “Miranda,”

“I’m fine!” she sighed, rubbing her temples as the three stood in the doorway. “I will be fine, thank you Roy.” She had composed herself once more and dismissed her driver, not unkindly but unmistakeably all the same.

Now it was Andy’s turn. “Miranda…”    

“It’s just a headache, Andrea, but we do need to talk.” Miranda unlocked the front door to the townhouse and switched on the foyer light before stepping out of her shoes and padding across the marble floor in her stocking feet much to Andy’s surprise.                                                                                                                                                           

“Before we begin, could I perhaps ask for a cup of tea?”

Tea? Miranda didn’t drink tea during the day. When she was ill, yes, and mornings when she still experienced morning sickness, but never out of the blue.

Putting the kettle on, Andy came back from the kitchen to catch Miranda wincing as she held her lower belly – holding her breath it seemed until the pain was gone. “Miranda, what is it? What’s wrong?

”Damn it, I am fine!”

“Fine, you’re fine. You win, Miranda. I get it.”

As the younger woman left the room, Miranda let her head fall into her hands. God, if this migraine would just go away – but the pain was so intense it made her dizzy and unstable on her feet, moreso than the pregnancy already did, and now she was lashing out at Andrea when all she really wanted was to lie down with the other woman so she could actually rest.

Finding Miranda’s favourite cup and saucer, Andy had just finished pouring the tea when the smallest noise came from the other room, but it was enough to send cup and saucer clattering to the floor as Andy burst back into the living room to see her worst assumptions about the origin of the noise proven correct. The noise had come from Miranda, who was partially on her knees, awkwardly slumped over the coffee table.

Even with Andy’s arms linked underneath hers, the attempt to get Miranda on her feet proved futile as her knees gave out as soon as they had locked to stand. That scared Andrea most of all, and Andy was getting more desperate each time Miranda cried out.

“Andrea, I think I need to go to the hospital.” Miranda’s voice was very small and her breathing laboured and hitching as each fresh wave of pain forced a new sound of anguish from her lips, and Andrea realized she was wrong before. What scared her most of all would come with Miranda’s next words.

“I think, I think I’m in labour”.

Chapter Text

Andrea couldn’t feel her heart beating in her chest. Couldn’t feel her body trembling or the sweat on her palms. All she could feel was Miranda’s pain and fear of what was going on her own body that she was powerless to control.

“I need an ambulance at 117th and Park, 32B. High risk geriatric pregnancy with TTS twins experiencing abdominal pain and severe vertigo.” Andy threw her phone to the side of the couch and dropped to her knees on the floor beside her fiancée, who leaned forward to rest her head against the younger woman’s chest as her hand gripped the fabric of her sleeve, fumbling slightly as though she were trying to find hold of something to ground herself.

“I’m so dizzy,” Miranda’s voice was muffled, buried in Andrea’s blouse, but she still heard the catch in her voice. “I don’t, I don’t know what’s happening,” Miranda continued. “This is nothing like I ever had with the girls.”

Andy looked down at the older woman’s greatly decreased lap where her free hand cradled her stomach and linked fingers with her. What had seemed so large before now looked small and fragile, insignificant and nowhere near close enough to term to be delivered successfully.

Miranda had called it labour, but both women knew that this early and in their unique circumstances it was much more accurate to call it a miscarriage or a stillbirth. Neither though, would give voice to the semantics. All that mattered at that moment was keeping Miranda calm and her water from breaking.

“The ambulance is going to be here soon, and it’s going to be okay,” Andy lied lamely, wishing that if she said it with enough conviction that it would be true.

Thankfully, most of the rush hour traffic had cleared and the ambulance arrived less than twenty minutes after she had called, the paramedics quickly taking over and lifting Miranda onto a stretcher, attaching IV lines and monitors, pulling off the buttons on her Versace blouse as they did so.

“Are you family?” One of the paramedics turned to Andy as they stood outside the ambulance, watching the stretcher be loaded into the back with Miranda on it.

“I’m her fiancée,” Andrea flashed her ring and began to move forwards towards the double doors of the vehicle, but an arm stopped her.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry but unless you’re a blood relative or have legal documentation of your marriage you can’t ride along.”

“What do you mean I can’t ride along?” Andy’s voice took on a hard edge. “That is my WIFE in there and those are MY CHILDREN whose lives you are risking with this conversation.”

“I’m not the one holding things up, ma’am. We’ll take good care of her but you’ll have to find your own way to the hospital.”

Realizing she couldn’t win the argument AND do what was best for Miranda, Andy conceded, stepping backwards as the doors closed, the tears only coming as she heard her name called out before the ambulance doors slammed shut and the sirens started.

Andy turned in a helpless circle before jogging back into the townhouse to grab her coat and her phone before tripping out the door again, nearly forgetting to lock it in her rush to find a cab so close to dinnertime.

Andrea was beginning to wish she didn’t know all the different ways to get to New York Presbyterian as she instructed the cab driver which side streets to take to avoid traffic. In fact she’d give anything not to need to know that information.

Miranda, sick and alone, was never a good combination; and Andy without Miranda when Miranda was sick and alone was just as bad. Now at least she was in the same building, but no one seemed to want to let her near her fiancée and Dr. Jansen hadn’t yet arrived to mitigate the situation.

“Mrs. Priestly is indisposed at the moment. We need for her to calm down before we can start any type of treatment. And until we have express written permission from the patient, I’m afraid we can’t let you in to see her. The area is restricted to family only” the person at the admittance desk explained in an excruciatingly even tone.

“I AM her family,” Andy felt like screaming as she pushed away from the melamine counter. How could they not have her listed as proxy for Miranda’s medical information? That file should have been updated the day Miranda was first admitted for her injuries from the assault. Instead, that fucker Stephen’s information stared up at her from the standard form in Miranda’s patient file. She dragged her fingers through her hair, thinking she probably looked like a madwoman as she began to pace the hall.

But before she could start her second lap of the hallway, the door to Miranda’s room opened and a terrified looking orderly edged out and took off down the hallway.

“Get away from me. Get out! Where is Andrea? Andrea!

Andy looked around at the desk clerk, eyes blazing. “She’s been asking for me and you won’t let me SEE HER? I’m going in right now and staying as long as I want, and YOU better spend the rest of your shift praying I don’t sue.”

Bursting through the door, Andy headed straight towards the pair of male nurses who had been tasked with drawing blood and setting up the IV and monitors.

“Hey! Do. Not. Touch. Her. You heard her, back off. Once Dr. Jansen arrives, then maybe I’ll let you near my wife again. But until then, you heard her. Back. Off!”

Andy avoided looking at Miranda, staring the two men down until they had left the room entirely and closed the door behind them. She turned around slowly, dreading Miranda’s reaction to the scene she had just caused. But despite the authority she had still managed to command even from a hospital bed, she looked so small when Andy had first come into the room and she was surrounded by the two large men that anger took over for fear.

Miranda’s heart seized and then relaxed as Andrea had burst into the room, eyes and tongue blazing as she told off the rough male nurses that in her opinion were being a little too rough with her ‘wife’.

Her pride over the fight forgotten the moment she had first seen Miranda sway against Roy, Andy’s next move was over and onto the bed, cupping Miranda’s face before gently moving her hands down her body – neck, shoulders, arms until they came to rest lightly on her stomach.

“Miranda, what did the paramedics say? Are they coming? Are you and the babies okay? Honey, talk to me. What’s happening?” Andy was growing more desperate as the seconds ticked by without an answer.

Much to her own dismay as well as Andy’s, Miranda had started to cry as soon as the orderlies had left the room and now she couldn’t stop long enough to answer Andrea’s question. The honest love and concern she could see in the brunette’s eyes when she had fought her way inside the room and with her own fear and frustration of not knowing what was happening combined with how awful she felt and what that meant for the babies essentially paralyzed her.

Andy seemed to realize this after a moment and moved closer in. Miranda immediately pressed herself against the younger woman as best she could, trying to stop her useless crying long enough to apologize to Andrea. Andrea’s cool fingers brushed against her clammy forehead as she ran her fingers gently through Miranda’s hair. God, her head hurt so badly.

Pushing the button for the nurses’ station had had no effect in the last several minutes and Andy guessed the original two who had dealt with Miranda had informed the entire obstetrics floor that Suite B was to be avoided at all costs.

“Where the hell is Dr. Jansen,” Andy growled in a low voice in between the soft words and reassurances she was murmuring into Miranda’s hair as she held her, wanting answers she knew Miranda was desperate for as well.

“Not hell. A dinner party actually…” Dr. Jansen entered the room in a striking navy lace sheath by Donna Karan, Miranda noted, even in her legitimate distress, with a tie-neck backless design that ended scandalously low in contrast to the conservative neckline.

“Alright,” Dr. Jansen wheeled the tiny doctors stool over to Miranda’s bedside and crossed her legs elegantly, leaving Andy to wonder what in the hell she had been doing wrong before.

At one of Miranda’s last appointments, Andy had happened to be wearing a pair of Christian Lou’s from the closet that Nigel had convinced, wheedled and cajoled her into despite being half a size off and her feet were now killing her. And so cursing the art director’s name, Andy had moved to take the only other seat in the room besides the exam table.

However, it seemed as soon as she felt the chair beneath her, she shifted her weight backwards to sit and the stool scooted out from under her, leaving her sore and mystified as to what had just happened.

They nearly had two chair-related casualties as Miranda was laughing so hard she came near to rolling off the table.

She’d mock glared at Miranda for laughing until the older woman promised to ‘kiss it better’ once they were home – a promise, Andy mused as she looked in the mirror that night, that she had most definitely kept.

“Miranda, I think you just made me the first person in history ever to have a hickey on their butt! At least I don’t have to worry about anyone seeing it I suppose.”

“Darling, I work in the fashion industry,” Miranda had purred, pressing her own naked body against Andrea’s back but not quite flush due to the bump. “You know the importance of branding in my line of work.” She had nipped her shoulder then and Andrea had turned suddenly, leveraging her weight to lift Miranda and toss her lightly back onto the bed, where they had remained for the rest of the night in a flushed and sweaty tangle of limbs and whispered endearments.

Andy came out of her recollection to hear Dr. Jansen say “You’re not in labour, Miranda.” Miranda lifted her throbbing head slightly from where she lay against Andy’s chest to look at the doctor through swollen eyes. The auburn haired woman got straight to the point, speaking bluntly as she began to start the waylaid IV drip and connect it to the venal catheter the paramedics had inserted into the skin on the top of her hand while she was in transit to New York Presbyterian. She also instructed Andy, who was by this time was sitting next to and nearly behind Miranda, to hold the oxygen mask she handed her just over Miranda’s nose and mouth so that the older woman could still talk. “What you are is pre-eclamptic, Miranda your blood pressure is off the charts.”

All three women turned to look at the bank of monitors and telemetry at the side of Miranda’s bed, and even the two out of three without medical degrees knew the number was more than double what it should be.

“You’re dehydrated, anemic and exhausted, and this is your body’s way of telling you that is not up to the task of carrying these babies without issue.”

“So she’s not in labour,” Andy confirmed, trying to understand what was going on. “So why is she having contractions?”

“Dehydration can bring them on or exacerbate them, and it was probably stress and her high blood pressure that intensified them past normal Braxton Hicks. So they aren’t currently working to push the babies down through the birth canal, but they are causing uncomfortable pressure that if it gets too bad could rupture the amniotic sac which would mean we would have to deliver them immediately to avoid an infection that could be fatal for Miranda.” Replacing the medical chart on the counter, her gaze met both women’s once more before settling on Miranda. Already, her colour looked better even having only been on the oxygen for 10 minutes and the IV only slightly more.

“But your cervical swab came back negative for fibronectin and I’m fairly sure after I examine you I’m going to find that you haven’t dilated,” Dr. Jansen continued as she moved to the end of the bed, slipping on a pair of gloves and gently separating a still silent Miranda’s knees before checking her for any bleeding or signs of labour. Pulling off the gloves and disposing of them in the medical waste box, Dr. Jansen continued her exam, pressing on the bulge and feeling around carefully as the organ beneath her hands tightened and released. Her patient bit back a small sound of pain followed by a shuddering sigh and her partners hands moved to a pressure point in her back without any direction and she flexed into it instinctively.

“Okay, so being in a hypertensive state for a prolonged period of time, the babies are in a little bit of distress, and your oxygen levels are low so we’re gonna have you wear the mask for a little while and lie on your left side while we run some other tests and the IV has time to do its job. The combination of drugs and the sedative in the IV is going to make you tired, and the best thing for your baby right now is for you to get some rest so try and sleep if you can.

“I was told today that both my job and the magazine I have spent 28 years of my life perfecting are in jeopardy, I don’t see how that’s possible, and - ”

“And I’m telling you these babies are in jeopardy, Miranda. Which is more important? You decide what’s worth the risk. It’s nobody’s decision but your own.”

Then there was silence for a moment.

“Get out.”

Miranda’s voice was hoarse, but the edge was unmistakeable as her tone iced over and any camaraderie there had been between the two women moments before was gone, replaced by a cold fury Andy knew to be fueled by fear.

Dr. Jansen inclined her head gracefully, even as she kept Miranda’s stare evenly and left the room, Andy hot on her heels from her place at the door where she’d been listening silently to the exchange after she had moved off the bed so Dr. Jansen could adjust it properly for Miranda to lay on her side.

“Well that went less than optimally.”

“Because you didn’t think that would upset her?!”

“Andy, there’s a time for kid gloves and there’s a time for the blunt truth. If we hadn’t gotten her pressure down when we did, her water could have broken or we would have had to induce labour as the only way to stop the preeclampsia, and you would be in there right now holding her hand as she was forced to give birth to two dead infants and praying she didn’t go into an eclamptic seizure before she could deliver them.”

In her mind, Andy saw Miranda’s face, contorted in pain as she pushed, her hands tightly entwined with Andy’s as she sat behind her only to have her grip slacken and the doctor to place a still, too still, too small bundle of blankets into her arms.

 Andy shook her head to clear the picture from her head and turned her focus to the vending machine she was now attempting to purchase a no doubt disgusting cup of coffee from.

When she came back, she paused at the door. The drugs had finally knocked Miranda out and she was sleeping, peacefully for the moment. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed even watching the older woman sleep.

Andy’s coffee was lukewarm by the time Dr. Jansen returned with Miranda’s test results, and the doctor paused beside the young woman who was still standing in the middle of the room, lost in her own thoughts.

“I forget who she is,” Andy spoke in a low voice, her gaze never moving from the unconscious form. “What she’s done to become ‘Miranda Priestly’…She’s right, I am young, and naïve and inexperienced in so many ways she’s not. But I know, more than anything else and in a way that is never going to change, that I love her. That is my truth. It’s what I know for sure, apart from anything else.”

“Andy, the page I received just now at the nurse’s desk… I’m being called to the stand. Stephen’s lawyer sent over the paperwork this morning. They want me to testify that Miranda’s actions and behaviour during this pregnancy have put their children at risk and show her to be an unfit mother.

Andy immediately thought of Caroline and Cassidy and their decision to extend their stay with their father and felt sick to her stomach. If the press or if Stephen were to find out that particular fact, they might as well hand the trial to them. It was killing Miranda that her babies were hurting, but at the same time she knew she had to do what was best for her other babies, whose condition was so much more tenuous and whose fates indeterminate.

“What are you going to say?” Andy asked in a low tone, leaning against the railing of the bed and looking straight ahead, avoiding the other woman’s gaze.

“The truth,” Dr. Jansen replied shortly. “I can’t and won’t commit perjury and endanger all of my mothers and clients by losing my license and my practice.”

Andy bit back a sob, her cheek twitching even as she continued to stare resolutely forward.

“Andy, I don’t blame Miranda for this. The odds are stacked against her a million ways, least of all herself. I always try to have hope, but given the circumstances surrounding this pregnancy I was not optimistic about its success. She has been incredibly strong throughout an incredibly difficult couple of months, and there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that’s due in considerable part to your presence in her life. So do I think these babies are going to be born into a loving home and a safe environment? Absolutely. If you ask me, these babies couldn’t be born to a set of parents who would love them more, or who would do more for them.”

Dr. Jansen laid her hand on Andy’s forearm. “I promise you, Andy, that we are going to do everything possible so that Miranda is able to carry these babies as close to term as possible and these babies are born healthy to a healthy mother. So in giving you the long answer, no I will not perjure myself on the stand. I will tell the truth as I have seen it to be in my interactions with the defendant.”

“Thank you,” Andy turned to the other woman, eyes brimming with tears she stubbornly refused to let fall. She’d done enough of that over the last 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

“Hey, beautiful,” Andy whispered as the blue eyes flickered open, lashes still wet with tears dark against the too pale cheeks. “How are you feeling?”

“Andy,” Miranda whispered, holding the younger woman’s palm to her cheek and sighing as her eyes fluttered closed once more before flying open.

“The babies. Andrea, the babies, I can’t feel them. What happened to the babies?” the older woman’s panic showed on the surrounding heart monitors and Dr. Jansen somehow managed to be at the door in seconds.

 “How are they?” Miranda demanded, her eyes flicking quickly between the monitor and the auburn haired doctor.

“Your babies are fine, Miranda,” Dr. Jansen soothed, her voice gentle now as she tried to reassure the scared and exhausted mother as Andy crawled up on the bed and behind her, wrapping Miranda in her arms. “See?” she pointed to a dual screen monitor. “Two heartbeats, completely in line with what we’ve seen with their development so far. The medication just knocked them out too,” she gave a small smile.

Miranda’s gaze stayed resolutely on the monitors while Andy reached around Miranda and laid her hands on the bump. Dizzy again, but this time with the relief of Andrea’s touch, Miranda clung to the brunette form as though trying to climb into her as she entwined their bodies while maintaining her outwards mask of cool indifference.

Miranda felt her racing heart slow as her tired mind registered everything around her. Andrea. Andrea was here. She hadn’t left. Her babies were still inside her. Something tugged at her wrist and she looked down to see an IV port and tubing in her right arm.

“How’s the headache, Miranda? Any improvement?”

“Better,” Miranda replied,  her voice still thick with sleep and drugs as she accepted the glass of water Andrea was now offering from the side table and brought it to her lips although her hand shook slightly.

“Good, it should continue to ease up as your blood pressure continues to go down. That’s one of the signs of developing eclampsia, an excruciating headache or searing pain caused by the sheer volume of blood being forced to your head. The other factor you’ll need to watch out for that you’re already aware of is swelling of the feet, face and extremities and the dizziness or vertigo.”

 “But onto you, Miranda, because that’s what’s going to affect them most and give them the best chance at survival from here on out.”

Miranda stiffened slightly at the insinuation and being reminded of their earlier conversation before she had ordered the woman out of the room.

“Are you feeling any more contractions?” Dr. Jansen studied a pattern on one of the screens and pressed lightly on the sides of Miranda’s stomach, satisfied as she felt the muscle pliant underneath her fingers.

“Today, along with a sedative to control your blood pressure, we gave you a mixture of saline and other nutrients to treat the dehydration and anemia along with an injection of terbutaline to stop the contractions and a mild steroid to promote maturity in the babies’ lungs in case they are born prematurely. The biggest factor in whether or not these babies make it is your ability to stay calm and rested and keep your blood pressure under control. Pre-eclampsia is not a condition you mess around with, and we don’t want to have to deliver these babies early to save your life.”

“So what happens next?” Andy queried.

“Since it’s already 11, we’re going to play it safe and keep Miranda overnight and monitor her and the babies to make sure her blood pressure continues to go down and the babies haven’t suffered any lasting damage from the episode. Then tomorrow, Miranda, I’ll sign off on your release from the hospital provided you agree to a week of bed rest.”

“A week? But surely if my blood pressure has returned to an acceptable level I can resume my regular activities.”

“Your regular activities are what put you here today, Miranda. You live a high-stress lifestyle, it sounds like both your work and personal life are in some turmoil, and at 26 weeks the babies are going to hit a growth spurt soon that your body will find nearly impossible to accommodate, given your stature and a diagnosis of TTS.”

Miranda still didn’t look entirely convinced, and her lips pursed slightly even as she wriggled back into her warm, cushion whose hands immediately resumed their gentle petting. She looked down at her swollen stomach, placing her hands on it as she felt a stirring that meant the sedative was beginning to fully wear off in her bloodstream.

She turned to Andrea, hiding her face from Dr. Jansen as uncertain tears threatened to fall. “I, Andrea, the board is reviewing me. Irv finally convinced them, I, I can’t leave now…” Hidden from anyone but her, Miranda’s eyes begged Andrea to understand.

“What kind of bed rest are you suggesting?” Andy turned her gaze back to the doctor.

“I want complete bed-rest for the first day or so. That means no work, period, and only getting out of bed to use the bathroom. After that, we can reduce the restriction to spending part of the time on the couch with your feet up, and not being on your feet longer than 30 minutes. For the last three days you can begin to work from home and stay on your feet for longer periods of time so long as they’re not swollen, adding in light yoga or short walks to avoid blood clots from forming in your legs. By the end of the week, if your blood pressure has remained satisfactory, with no major fluctuations, I’ll allow you to go back to work with the promise that you will take breaks when you need them and have and USE the option to nap or rest for an hour in the middle of the day and take the time to eat a proper lunch.” Dr. Jansen listed off the conditions for Miranda’s bed rest.

“Does that sound doable?”

Miranda inclined her head gently in assent, although by the set of her lips she wasn’t overly happy with the conditions set. Dr. Jansen caught this and began speaking again as she scribbled something on her clipboard.

“Otherwise, I am perfectly comfortable to mandate a week of strict bed-rest, part of it in-hospital.”

“That won’t be necessary, Doctor,” Miranda relented slightly, her hands still protectively encircling her stomach. “While I can’t say the same for myself, the well-being of my children comes before anything else.”

“We’ll make it work,” whispered Andy.

“I know I’ve made the rules fairly specific,” Dr. Jansen continued, watching the interaction between the two women, “but the primary concern really is that Miranda’s blood pressure not rise above a certain range. If it does, it puts her at risk for stroke, or blood clots or a heart attack or even a seizure, and we’ve already seen by today’s events that the babies aren’t able to tolerate that kind of stress. Once we get that under control, it will be safe for you to resume your normal activities,” she shot a look at Miranda. “And by normal, I mean a modified work schedule and light exercise.”

Glancing once more at the clock, Dr. Jansen surveyed the two women occupying the bed; the protective stance the younger woman had taken as she wrapped herself around the smaller form, and the way the lines in the latter’s face smoothed out at the younger’s touch and the tense lines in her body eased as she let herself be comforted, wrapped in the embrace.

“Miranda, I’m going to prescribe another round of IV fluids for you – the same combination as when you were admitted so I can be sure you’re able to get some sleep tonight. I can’t imagine you would otherwise,” she raised a questioning eyebrow and Miranda nodded.

“Now you know the sedative’s going to make you really groggy, and because of the fluid you’ll likely need to use the bathroom during the night. So if you need to use the restroom, you MUST, and I mean MUST call the nurse’s station by pressing the call button so that they can help you.”

Miranda recoiled slightly and pushed herself further into Andy’s embrace.

Dr. Jansen put a hand up. “Hear me out,” she explained, “the sedative is going to make you groggy and disoriented, even more so if you wake while the full dose is still circling through your bloodstream. You’ll be lightheaded and unsteady on your feet, and the last thing you need in your condition is a bad fall.”

Miranda felt Andy’s hands curl around her belly protectively, followed by a flare of warmth inside as soft, red lips pressed themselves to the back of her neck.

“Now there’s a handrail in the bathroom, so I’m not going to insist that a nurse be with you inside the bathroom, but you’ll absolutely need help detaching yourself from the IV and monitors and have someone there to help you across the room because, like I said, you’ll be unsteady on your feet.”

Miranda looked over at Andy, but Dr. Jansen intervened as she read the unspoken question in the air.

“Miranda, Andy can’t stay with you tonight. For the most part, you’ll be unconscious and won’t even know she’s there. For another thing, she’s not going to get a wink of sleep tonight if she stays here and I think today has already aged her 5 years.”

“That’s unacceptable,” Miranda tried to keep the wobble out of her voice. Andrea couldn’t leave, she’d only just gotten her back. And Miranda couldn’t even think of spending the night alone in the hospital, left to worry and wonder until she was so overwrought that another high blood pressure episode was almost inevitable. No, it was unacceptable that she not be in Andrea’s arms tonight.

Andy was equally displeased with the doctor’s decree. It had been her plan from the moment she stepped inside the hospital doors to get Miranda in her arms again and stay sentry through the night, a contingency monitor in addition to the bank that flanked Miranda’s bedside. She wouldn’t go against the doctor in front of Miranda though. It was imperative that Miranda listen to Dr. Jansen and follow her orders, so Andy couldn’t be seen opposing or overstepping.

“I’ll let you say your goodbyes then, I’ll be back in about twenty minutes, Miranda, to change your IV. For some reason, my staff have all become mysteriously occupied with other tasks…” Dr. Jansen raised a knowing eyebrow, looking at Miranda and smirking before she left the room.

“Oh God, Miranda, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled at you outside the restaurant. I’ve been so stupid and so angry for no reason -”. The words spilled out of Andy’s mouth as soon as the doctor had left and they were alone, but was quickly cut off by Miranda, who although her head still felt as if it were filled with bricks was determined to end the argument that had brought all this about in the first place.

 “Would you stop blaming yourself for everything! My God, Andrea the fate of the universe does not rest on your shoulders nor are you responsible for the actions of another. Both of us let this stupid fight escalate into something truly hurtful and I was so focused on being angry with you that I neglected to recognize the signs for what they were.”

Miranda raised her eyes with some degree of pain to look at the monitors – concentrating especially hard on the little wavy lines and pulses next to the letters A and B. “Or are you just apologizing because you’re worried about the babies?”

“Miranda, I’m worried about YOU, I’m worried about my FAMILY. I don’t want anything to happen to you OR the babies because of some stupid fight we’re having…Do you know what that would do to me if it was my fault you were sick or hurt? That is exactly what I promised to prevent when I accepted this ring.”

“I also recall you saying we were bound to hurt each other…”

“And I was right,” Andy smiled sadly, picking up one of Miranda’s hands and holding it to her forehead and then to her mouth.  “And more than anything I wish that I wasn’t right, or that I could promise we will always be happy but I can’t, I won’t lie to you Miranda because I need your trust. I need you to trust in me, and to trust in my love for you enough so that you know that everything I do, I do thinking of you, and our girls, and our baby boy and baby girl right here. Even when I’m not thinking at all and mess up and…”

“Andrea-” a warm voice cut her off now. “You’re rambling…And I do, trust you that is, certainly more than I’ve ever trusted anyone else before. The presence of others has always been an irritating distraction, save for my girls, and on rare occasions, my ex-husbands and Nigel. But you Andrea, when I’m with you, when I’m in your arms, when I wake in the middle of the night and you’ve managed to roll me into an inescapable embrace and tangle of arms and legs…I don’t feel the panic I always have, or feel smothered or trapped. I feel safe and sure. You often speak as though I’m the strong or the dominant one in this relationship. But you hold so much power, and I’ll admit that scares me at times – but its power I have willingly given to you.”

Her tone lightened slightly and she smiled wryly. “And power is not something Miranda Priestly relinquishes without a fight in most cases.”

Andy’s smile dimmed, and Miranda grew concerned. “Darling, what is it? Did I say someth-?”

“No! No, no, not at all,” Andy pressed her lips to  Miranda’s temple before letting her head drop to Miranda’s shoulder as she cursed herself for her next words.

Relieved for a moment until she realized there was still something that was distressing the younger woman, Miranda shifted in their embrace so that she could look Andrea in the eye.

“What is it?” she repeated, her voice soft now but the tone was different. Past being simply wary, Miranda’s expression was cautiously grim.

Andy glanced back over at the monitors and sighed, rubbing her temples with one hand now as though she were the one with the headache and Miranda understood.

“Come here,” she commanded, pulling Andrea down with a hand at her collar until they were lying nearly side by side on the cramped hospital bed. “I promise you, Andrea, I’ll tell you to stop if I feel ill, and you can hear the monitors.”

Miranda then placed Andy’s free hand on her belly so she could feel the gentle movements of the babies and nestled her head underneath the brunette’s chin so that she could hear the comforting rhythm of her heartbeat.

“When you said cases,” Andy started, “I, earlier I spoke with Dr. Jansen and she told me that when she stepped out, she stopped at the nurses’ desk to pick up any mail or messages.” She paused, biting her lip nervously until she could feel Miranda growing impatient with the silence before continuing reluctantly.

“Stephen is calling Dr. Jansen to the stand. He wants her to testify that you are a danger to yourself and the babies and that your actions throughout the pregnancy indicate an inability to take care of a child or make the proper decisions regarding its welfare.

At this point, Andy stopped and looked down at Miranda. The editor had pressed her face even more firmly into Andrea’s neck, a muscle jumping spasmodically in her neck and her grip tightening to an almost painful embrace as she stiffened in the younger woman’s arms.

But Andrea also noticed that despite the reddened pallor of her face, Miranda was also taking deep breaths, breathing in through her nose and exhaling slowly through her mouth and Andy watched as the monitor printout showed a spike in blood pressure but was decreasing bit by bit. Andy began to move her hand where Miranda placed it on her belly and felt her sigh and some of the tension leave her body.

“I’m sorry…”

“No,” Miranda interrupted her before she could finish her apology. “You needed to tell me, and I would have been angrier if you hadn’t.”

At that moment, Dr. Jansen burst back into the room, having been alerted when Miranda’s heart rate monitor had registered a major spike. “What the hell?” The redhead looked between the two women for answers.

Miranda had startled when the doctor had burst in again, but she soon settled back against Andrea, all but hiding her face in the younger woman’s neck as she silently pleaded for her to deal with the situation. Exhausted, emotional and ill as she was, the very last thing she wanted right now was to have a discussion about her shortcomings as a parent.

“What happened?”

Andy read Miranda’s mind and tightened her embrace as she turned her face to the doctor. “Thursday’s trial.”

Dr. Jansen nodded grimly, not needing any further explanation. “I’m sorry you have to go through this, Miranda, especially under circumstances like these.”

“So how do we proceed?” Andy wondered aloud. “We lose a large part of the sympathy vote if Miranda is absent from the trial and unable to defend herself, and yet if she shows up while supposedly on bed rest it will all but prove the point Stephen is trying to make.” She felt a long sigh into her shoulder and her heart seized at the hopelessness she heard in it.

“I promise we’ll make that sonofabitch pay, Miranda.”

“Is it even worth it anymore?” Came the low, dull reply as she pushed herself weakly off Andrea’s chest to look at the young woman. “What am I fighting for anyway? What did this start as? A divorce settlement, money; but look at the cost.” She swung her hand towards the monitors and winced as the IV line tugged at her skin. “I give him the money he wants, this goes away. HE goes away. He wants nothing to do with the babies and if I drop the charges of assault, this all goes away and this madness ends. You heard Dr. Jansen, my actions, my feelings, the events in my life decide whether my children live or die,” she grasped Andrea’s hand. “And as much as I know you love them as your own…”, her voice hitched slightly and wavered as she squeezed Andy’s hand for emphasis, “as much as they are your children too…ultimately because it is my body, and my seeming inability to control its responses means it is my responsibility and my say that will determine their future.”

“Mir - ”

“Please, please Andrea. No more of this, not tonight, I, I just want to protect them. Whatever answer or plan it is that provides that, I will follow. But I can’t, I don’t know what that plan is and I have wracked my brains trying to think of what I can do but -”

“Miranda…Miranda, Miranda,” Andy tried to break the older woman out of her self-abusing reverie. “Baby, you have to start thinking in terms of ‘we’. I know you are Superwoman Priestly and I respect that you are always going to need your space and your independence, but you are never going to be alone again. You are never going to have to carry the entire weight of this family only on your shoulders. You have people who love you, whom you can lean on and not fear the repercussions. Apart from me, obviously, you know Nigel loves you deeply and Doug adores you and I know he’s going to adore the girls, and Emily has remained with you and stayed faithful all these years despite the abuse you put her through on a daily basis. You have a support system whether you want one or not. And then you have me, who would give anything, do anything to keep you from every hurting again and who desperately wishes that you would trust that you can lean on her.

“I do,” Miranda’s fingertips traced the young woman’s cheek. “My God, Andrea, I do, more than any other. So many times in court and throughout the trial and the media craze you have held me up with your eyes and given me the strength to rally and continue. You have literally held me up when I’ve been sick and exhausted and rendered a shameful sodden mess and you have kept me standing when it seems the world would have me on my knees.”

Andy swooped in for a passionate, desperate kiss that left both women breathless.

“But…” Miranda continued regretfully, begging Andrea with her eyes to understand, “Caroline and Cassidy have been put through enough with this trial. In fact, they’ve suffered as a result of all of my marriages, during and after. I have to protect them. And these babies, who haven’t even had the chance to live. Can’t I have a chance to bring them into the world in peace and in good health? I’m tired of this fear, Andrea, and at this point there is no price I wouldn’t pay to have that peace of mind and that security.  That much I can do for them Andrea, I can pay for their relative safety.”

“But is that really what you’re doing, Miranda?”

“What? Of course that’s what I’m doing you foolish girl.” Tempers flared, but Miranda was quick to recover. “Andrea, Andrea I’m sorry, I – I slipped and,”

“Shh, it’s okay. I know everything’s up in the air right now and that scares you more than you’d like to admit. Just don’t shut me out okay?”

Miranda nodded her head up and down vigorously before she was quickly reminded of why she was lying in a hospital bed.

Andy saw Miranda go even more alarmingly pale after shaking her head and immediately felt guilty about starting such a heavy conversation when Miranda was in the hospital for high blood pressure.

Once Andy had convinced Miranda to let her adjust the bed, and Miranda was lying down comfortably, or at least in relative comfort given her condition, location and being Miranda, Andy smoothed a hand over her forehead, compelling Miranda to close her eyes. “I’ll be right back, okay? I just have some more questions for Dr. Jansen. Try and let yourself sleep.”

This time Miranda managed a tiny nod and Andy rearranged the blankets on the bed one more time before leaving the private suite.

Dr. Jansen was just turning the corner when Andy managed to catch up with her.

“How’s our patient?” the woman smiled.

Andy opened her mouth to speak but all that came out was a strangled combination between squeak and sob.

“Andy, Andy, it’s okay. We’re gonna take good care of her. She might be stubborn but you and I both know she’ll do anything for these babies. And if her blood pressure goes down and stays down then all we have to worry about is the TTS, and the babies are still inside sustainable limits for development. But you, you’ve got to take care of yourself as well. Those babies are going to need a lot of care once they’re born – they don’t need to start with two exhausted mamas.”

Andy nodded. “Yeah, okay, I’m actually heading home now. You said the second IV injection would knock her out for at least 8 hours, yeah?”

Dr. Jansen nodded, “She’ll be out cold for the next 6-8. Can you promise me you’ll try and fit in some shut-eye of your own in that time frame?”

Andy smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. They were focused on the room a few doors back.

“I’ll try, but you’ll call if -”

“I will call you myself if anything changes on those monitors, okay? Scouts honor.”

Andy couldn’t resist going back to Miranda’s room to see her before she left. Expecting her to be asleep from the potent combination of drugs, Andy was surprised to see the editors eyes blink sleepily open as she let the door close gently behind her.

“ ‘Drea,” Miranda slurred slightly, her eyes unable to open fully. Andy saw the faint movement of Miranda’s fingers and she came closer to the bed and took her hand.

“Hey beautiful, they’re just giving you some more medicine to help you get some rest, okay. And I’m going to be right here when you wake up.”

“Mmm,” Miranda eyelids drooped even further although Andy could tell she was trying to fight it and she reached for one of the failproof tricks she had in her repertoire and started to gently rub her belly, causing the editor to make the low involuntary hum Andy had missed hearing over the past few days she’d spent away from Miranda.  Now Miranda made another attempt at speech, but Andy cut her off with a kiss on the lips.

“Shh, sleep sweetheart, you need it so badly.”

Finally, Miranda succumbed to the drugs and her own exhaustion and the swollen, puffy eyelids fluttered shut and stayed closed. With a final look at the monitors and at her love sleeping peacefully, Andy left the maternity ward of New York Presbyterian.

She had already texted Nigel and Emily and Doug and her editor respectively about what had happened, and the two former each immediately sprung into crisis mode after being assured by Andy that Miranda was going to be fine, and it really was just a scare.

“Six, promise me you’re going to get some sleep tonight,” Nigel chided gently. “God knows Miranda on bed rest is going to be hell.”

“I will,” Andy lied blatantly. “There’s just one more call I have to make.”

“I’ll let you go then,” Nigel finished. “But take care of yourself Andy.”

“G’night, Nige – I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

She punched in a number from a dog-eared business card.

“Hey,” her voice cracked again and she struggled to stay on topic instead of breaking down completely. “I need you to do something for me…”

Chapter Text

Finally, after the barrage of phone calls she had had to make, Andrea managed a fitful 3 hours of sleep before the foreign blare of her phone’s alarm shocked her rudely awake. She had it set for the same time each morning, but she rarely needed it.

Normally, she would wake with Miranda’s exit from the bed and watch sleepily as the editor got ready for the day, exacting the transformation from Miranda to ‘Miranda Priestly, Editor in Chief’. Then, at 6:45, Miranda would lean over the bed and kiss the younger woman good morning before going to wake the twins if Andy didn’t manage to coerce her back under the covers or pull her down with her.

But this morning, even though they weren’t fighting anymore, Andy woke alone and in a cold bed with no warm Miranda imprint for her to snuggle into.

Visiting hours at NYP began at 7am for immediate family – or Andrea, as Miranda had made eminently clear before her departure last night. But when Andy called ahead and asked about Miranda’s night, Dr. Jansen had assured her that everything had gone smoothly and that as of the moment she was still out cold and likely would be for the next hour or so.

Perfect, that meant Andy could finish getting the townhouse ready for Miranda’s return and subsequent ‘imprisonment’. Their bed was remade with fresh sheets, extra blankets were piled on the arms of the couches downstairs along with extra pillows so Miranda could ‘nap’ wherever she was in the house. Even in her office Andy found a way for Miranda to elevate her feet underneath her desk.

Her last job before she left the house was to leave a shopping list for Cara, albeit a strange one. In addition to their normal groceries, Andy had tried to think of all the cravings Miranda had had recently or foods she seemed to favour – which meant items like maraschino cherries and Cheez Whiz made their way onto the list.

Calling Nigel on her way to the hospital, Andy made sure everything was running smoothly at the Runway offices so she could answer correctly when Miranda inevitably asked. Opening the door to the Starbucks a block away from the hospital, Andy winced as she thought about what Miranda’s reaction would be when the drugs were out of her system and she realized Andy had taken away her phone, even if just for the two days Dr. Jansen had ordered full rest and no work. Grabbing Miranda’s decaf latte, Andy hoped, but highly doubted, that her peace offering would be enough, especially given the other surprise she had scheduled for this morning that she knew would not be welcomed.

It was just coming up to 8 o’clock by the time Andy made it onto the maternity floor. Checking her phone one last time to see that her plans were in place, she slipped through the door to Miranda’s suite. Knowing the older woman had to wake soon if she wanted to prepare for the surprise visitor, Andy climbed carefully into the bed until she was practically nose to nose with the sleeping woman.

Kissing her lightly on her forehead, nose and cheeks, Andy couldn’t help the grin that spread across her face as she watched the editor slowly wake.

“Good morning, beautiful,” Andy murmured as Miranda became fully aware of her surroundings and tangled her feet with Andy’s as though they were at home.

“Good morning, darling,” Miranda replied, her voice throaty from the drugged sleep. “But I know what I must look like, and as an editor I can assure you beautiful is not the right word.”

“You’re right,” Andy replied nonchalantly, looking away from Miranda so she didn’t give herself away by smiling. “But ravishing, radiant, stunning and gorgeous in and of themselves sounded a little contrived even if they are patently true.”

“What ever am I going to do with you, Andrea Sachs? You have completely taken over my world.”

“Well,” Andy said sitting up, “I hope that you’ll hear me out when I tell you what I’ve arranged for this morning.”

Miranda’s brow furrowed but she let the younger woman continue. “I am always going to want to protect you, you know that. And I want you to know that I respect that you can make your own decisions. But I am asking you, as a favour to me, knowing we are going to spend the rest of our lives together and I don’t want you ever to have any regrets, to speak to the person standing outside the door, and listen to what they have to say. Because it’s going to affect how we go about the rest of our lives from this point.

Now Miranda was truly perplexed, but the young woman in front of her looked so earnest as she awaited Miranda’s reaction that she nodded her head once in acquiescence, reaching out her hand simultaneously for her coffee which she had spotted on the bedside table and whose aroma was torturing her.

“Alright. I’ll see whoever this person is. But darling, I’ll need to clean up first, I can’t see anyone looking like I do at the moment.”

“I knew you’d say that, I brought your makeup bag from home and one of the silk Oscar robes you were given for your birthday last year.”

Twenty minutes later, Miranda finally deemed her appearance ‘ghastly, but understandable under the circumstances’ and told Andy to let the mysterious visitor in.

Whatever Miranda had been expecting, it certainly wasn’t Detective Benson from the Special Victims Unit.

“Good morning, Miranda,”

“I, Detective, is there something wrong. Has something happened with the case that I haven’t been made aware of?”

“No,” Andy spoke up in her place. “But I want you to listen to what she has to say about continuing with the trial.”

“Andrea, this is ridiculous,” Miranda hissed quietly, burning the young woman with her gaze as she felt her own cheeks flush with equal parts anger and embarrassment.

“Detective, I thank you for your concern, but this is a private family matter and will be handled as such. Andrea shouldn’t have bothered you with this.”

Miranda turned away from Olivia with an air of finality and in an unmistakeable sign of dismissal, but the brunette detective made no move to leave.

Andy groaned, dropping her head into her hands and rubbing her face frustratedly. “If you’re going to talk about me as though I’m not here, I might as well go and get some more coffee. Good luck, Olivia.”

Miranda’s nostrils flared slightly in alarm as the younger brunette rose, but she felt her heart rate return to normal as Andy bent down over her shoulder to kiss her before she left.

“Can I get you anything while I’m gone, Detective? Coffee?”

“No, thanks, I’m good – trying to cut down,” she smiled, “and I’ve told you, call me Olivia.”

Andy nodded and smiled, shutting the door behind her as she went.

Now alone with the detective in the suddenly very large, very silent room, Miranda’s stomach flopped anxiously, and it wasn’t because of the babies.

There was another long silence before Olivia began to speak, it becoming more and more apparent that Miranda would not be the first one to break the tense silence. “Excuse me for saying so Miranda, but if you’re going to marry her, she has every right to be concerned, or try to help by calling me. In fact I’d say she has every reason to.”

“Detective Benson,” Miranda’s shoulders stiffened and then slumped slightly, and she finally met the other woman’s gaze. “What Andrea doesn’t realize, what I am coming to realize…is that I am old, too old, it has been cruelly shown to me, to be pregnant at 50; too old to carry these babies safely and if not too old, then God knows too tired to go through with a trial that only serves to bring up one of the worst experiences of my life and put my family through a hell I could have spared them in the first place by just giving Stephen the fucking money and signing the divorce papers the minute they came through.”

Olivia raised her eyebrows slightly at the foul language coming from the editor but said nothing, letting the other woman continue.

“So I ask you,” Miranda continued, although Olivia knew the question was a rhetorical one. “What is the ‘right’ thing to do in this situation. How do I ensure my family’s safety, their well-being?”

Olivia moved the chair she was sitting on closer to the bed. “Miranda, the night you were attacked by your ex-husband…Your girls were in that house, Miranda. They were only a floor away. Can you think of what would have happened if they had come down the stairs while Stephen was there? He would know the best way to hurt you would be through them. Could you see him doing something like that?”

All the air in the room seemed to disappear and Miranda felt a cold vise clamp around her heart.

“He hurt Caroline and Cassidy too, Miranda. They had to see their mother beaten and broken, knowing it had been done to her by the man they were supposed to have considered a father. They came downstairs to find you unconscious and call for help themselves as they sat next to your body on the floor.”

Olivia leaned even further in. “From the stories I’ve heard from Andy, you are the Earth, moon and stars to those girls. You are their hero. Now they’ve already seen their hero broken by this man, Miranda what kind of lesson are you teaching them if you don’t fight? If you let him get away with this? What if it were Caroline or Cassidy who had been abused? Would you be alright with allowing their attacker to go free?”

The thought of Stephen’s, or anyone’s hands on one of her babies made Miranda feel physically ill, and closing her eyes so that the detective didn’t see her panic, she began to take deep breaths, knowing she couldn’t let her blood pressure rise.

Olivia looked on sympathetically, “I’m sorry if this seems a harsh approach, you have enough going on in your life without being harassed by a stranger you barely know, but you need to know Andy didn’t do this to upset you. She asked me to speak with you because she knew you would think she was being over protective, and that I would tell you the truth as I’ve seen it over and over again in my time at SVU. And I swear to you, Miranda, the way to take your life back is to face your attacker and make him face what he’s done. Not a single person I have ever met or dealt with has ever regretted testifying against their abuser, but I have met so many who waited too long or never took the chance and now live with the daily fear of meeting their attacker on the street or being vulnerable to another attack. So if you still won’t do it for yourself, Miranda, do it for your girls and teach them that nobody has the right to hurt them, or make them feel like less of person.”

Looking at how stiffly the older woman was holding herself and the way her eyes were bright with unshed tears as she looked away from the detective, Olivia removed her hand from where it had rested on Miranda’s thigh over the blankets.

“Does this mean I can call ADA Cabot and tell her we still have a case?”

Miranda nodded once jerkily. “Could you call Andrea back please” she requested quietly, still not looking at the detective.

Olivia nodded before standing from the stool and leaving the room, only for Andy to burst in less than a minute later and seeing the devastated expression on Miranda’s face even through her stoicism, climb up on the bed without a word.

Oh God, Miranda thought, it shouldn’t feel this good to be back in Andrea’s arms when they had only been apart for twenty minutes or so. She needed Andrea, and there were so few things she had ‘trained’ Miranda Priestly to need in order to save her from heartbreak or open herself up to attack. The gaping maw in her protective wall created by the exuberant young woman currently climbing across her lap was so large as to be unfixable – and Miranda knew that left her vulnerable. But that same hole and that same young woman let in the sun - and everything in Miranda that she had thought dead and gone came back to life under Andrea’s care, and despite the crumbling battlements of her outer shell, she was whole.

Andy had climbed onto the bed as soon as she entered the room and saw Miranda’s expression after speaking with Olivia, and she had Miranda wrapped in her arms before either woman could say anything.

Andrea leaned back slightly so she could see Miranda’s face once more. “So there’s going to be a trial?” A small sniff and a nod against her shoulder as Miranda pressed herself closer answered her question and Andy gathered her into a tighter embrace, rocking back and forth gently as she pressed her lips to the white crown and whispered reassurances.

“Do you forgive me?” Andy whispered as she drew away from the kiss. Miranda’s reply was to pull the younger woman closer, wriggling into her embrace once more as though she were trying to fuse their bodies together and whispering “yes” before burying her head in Andy’s shoulder, already worn from the morning’s events.

Just then, Olivia re-appeared at the doorway. Not missing a beat as she continued to rock Miranda back and forth Andy raised her head and nodded before looking down once more at the woman in her arms. This…this was why she had called Olivia, having Miranda in her life was no longer a dream or some kind of bonus. It was real and it was vital and Andy was beginning to realize a side to her character that went immediately to the offensive if she thought one of ‘her girls’ was in any sort of trouble or in danger of being hurt.

Instead of leaving however, the detective stayed at the entrance to the room but with her back to the couple; only moving aside when a grim faced Dr. Jansen reappeared.

Miranda untangled herself from the younger woman’s embrace and made to stand, but Dr. Jansen held up a hand. “No, no, stay sitting Miranda. Something has come up that may prevent your discharge this morning until we figure out how to handle it.”

“That’s my wife! My name is on those papers! If you don’t let me in to see her I will own this hospital by end of day,” a familiar voice roared and Miranda froze where she sat, not even reacting or responding to Andrea’s attempts to comfort her. When she finally did speak, her voice was soft and deadly calm.

“How, may I ask, did my ex-husband gain entrance to this ward and by what means did he know I was here.”

Dr. Jansen sighed and stepped forward, “I’m sorry to say it was one of my staff, Miranda. She hadn’t been made aware of the unique circumstances surrounding your file and was foolish enough to think she could handle the situation herself without checking with a superior regarding the divulgement of confidential patient files.”

“I wish to speak with this girl,” Miranda’s voice was still eerily calm, and even standing in a silk floral robe after spending the night in the hospital for a blood pressure scare, Miranda radiated a dangerous level of power that you could taste in the air like smoke.

Dr. Jansen returned after a moment with a shaking young woman who looked as though she were barely out of her teens.

Miranda bared her teeth in a dangerously false smile, taking a step forwards and folding her hands neatly underneath her belly.

Reading the plastic name tag pinned to the abhorrent pink scrubs with dancing cupcakes, she let her gaze slowly return to the girl’s face.

“Janine, isn’t it? Would you care to explain why you felt it appropriate to release my private information over the phone, regardless of who the person claimed to be?

He said that it was M-Miranda Priestly’s husband calling. I’m so sorry Mrs. Priestly!”

At the word ‘Mrs.’ Miranda’s lips curled back and her gaze veered back to the trembling nurse.

“Foolish girl! Have you no brain in that pretty little head of yours?” she hissed. “Or perhaps you live under a rock and have somehow altogether avoided every major media and news outlet as all of them have covered the trial against my EX-husband.” Getting into her stride now, Andy knew there was no stopping her, and she only felt vaguely bad for the perky, fresh-faced nurse that reminded her somewhat of herself before her tenure at Runway.

“Perhaps I am being unreasonable in my expectation of privacy and discretion involving my personal information. Perhaps this is the norm and I am the ignorant one and this level of competency is what one should reasonably expect from a supposedly top-tier medical institution, in which I very much fear for the health of the general population if this is indeed the level of competency deemed acceptable to inflict upon the unsuspecting public.”

Andy could see the editor was working herself up to a full tantrum, and much as the air-headed nurse largely deserved some of the vitriol Miranda was spewing, Andy also knew that Miranda was directing some of her anger and frustration at Stephen and the trial at the girl – which in addition to raising Miranda’s blood pressure also wasn’t entirely fair to the nurse, although Andy was admittedly tempted to let Miranda continue and get it out of her system…But no.

Miranda’s hands were tightly clenched at her sides, and Andy stepped closer to the enraged editor, now nearly apoplectic with cold fury, and took one of the clenched fists between her own two hands, bringing it to her own chest to divert Miranda’s laser-focus.

Getting into her stride, Miranda’s glare fixed on Andy before softening and fluttering closed as she tried to control her breathing, focusing on the feel of Andrea’s heartbeat against her fisted hands.

Dr. Jansen watched the private interaction and turned to face her erstwhile employee to allow for Miranda to regain her composure.

“Janine, I am not your immediate supervisor and therefore I do not have the authority to fire you. However it is within my scope of power to make requests of the director of this hospital. And so, if you have any interest whatsoever in keeping your job you will keep your mouth shut as you exit this building and any time after that if someone asks you about Miranda Priestly. Unless you would like your 15 minutes of fame to come with a rescinding of your license to practice medicine as a certified RN and a dual lawsuit on behalf of this hospital and the Priestly family. Detective Benson is waiting at the nurses’ station with paperwork outlining the assurance of your silence regarding any detail of Miranda’s private files which I highly recommend you sign – and after which she will escort you to your car.”

The terrified girl nodded furiously before taking her purse from the doctor’s outstretched hand and bolting down the hallway.

Now Dr. Jansen turned to the source of all the drama. Admittedly, standing in front of her with hair and makeup perfectly applied, Miranda Priestly was a damn sight more intimidating than the fragile figure lying in the hospital bed. But a patient was a patient, even if that patient was listed in the Forbes 500 and controlled the entire publishing industry, magazine and otherwise.

“Miranda, I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of keeping your blood pressure down. The extra pressure affects the blood vessels around the babies and any slight change can cause their condition to become unstable and aggravate the TTTS by causing further disparity in blood flow and nutrient distribution.”

Blue eyes flashed dangerously before dulling, the gaze dropping from the OB/GYN towards the bulge mounding out beneath the neatly tied silk ribbon.

“When am I able to leave, doctor?”

“That might be more difficult than you think,” Olivia appeared in the doorway once more, her face grim.

“Someone,” she paused for a moment as each mind in the room came to the same conclusion. “Let it be known to the press Miranda had been admitted to the hospital, and the first swarm of vultures are already here. Security’s working to move them out of the way of the doors, but I’m afraid the walk from the front doors to your car is going to be pretty intense. We managed to prevent Stephen from seeing Miranda because she was conscious and made it clear she wanted no contact, but on his way out he out on quite a show for the press playing the concerned father and ex-husband dealing with an unstable celebrity workaholic.”

Miranda was still attached to several of the monitors, and the three other women watched as the lines surged upwards on the heart rate monitor – and upon closer inspection Andy could see the tell-tale muscle in Miranda’s cheek pulsing and she realized the older woman was holding her breath – one of her infamous ‘silent’ tantrums or ‘ice ages’ as certain Runway employees dared to deign them.

Andy and Dr. Jansen both moved towards Miranda, but to their surprise, Detective Benson stepped in deftly from the side and got there first. Her voice was low and soothing but uncompromisingly firm as she ducked her head, forcing the older woman to meet her eyes as she talked.

“Miranda, this is why we have to go through with the trial. Haven’t you said it is your job to mold public perception? Don’t let Stephen take that away from you as well by distorting perception of facts and molding you into something to fit his own needs.

Miranda turned and walked over to the small sofa across from the bed, sitting to one side. Olivia took this as an invitation of sorts and went to sit down next to the older woman, whose posture was still ramrod straight.

Deciding to leave Miranda alone with the detective, Andy followed Dr. Jansen to the nurse’s station to sign the discharge papers and pick up the blood pressure medication that had been deemed mild enough as to not harm the pregnancy.

“You know he can’t hurt you any more, what is it that you’re scared of Miranda?” Olivia sat near to the editor, but didn’t reach out like she had before.

Miranda made a soft scoffing sound as though she were insulted at the implication that SHE was scared of something before falling silent again.

“Detective, you see women every day, coming from abusive relationships or marriages with their children alongside them.” Miranda paused, her gaze slightly tortured as she looked up at the detective beseechingly.

“What if I can’t love them?” Miranda whispered, staring determinedly down at her lap and worrying her rings.

“What do you mean?” Olivia cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean? I’ve seen how much you want these babies Miranda. You would have stopped fighting a long time ago if you didn’t.”

“Huh,” Miranda snorted derisively. “I hardly call falling apart every 30 seconds and needing someone as much as, as I need Andrea could possibly be called fighting.”

“But you are,” Olivia pressed, “You are fighting for your babies’ health when you follow the doctors’ instructions to take it easy, even though ‘taking it easy’ is not, I would presume, an easy task for you. The definition of what it is to fight is different for everyone. Sometimes fighting can simply be getting out of bed in the morning, or in your case,” she smiled, “staying in it”.

“You’re fighting for your happiness and for your family when you lean on Andrea, and you show the girls what a healthy relationship between adults looks like. And you’re fighting Stephen by not giving in to his demands, because you don’t want your girls to grow up in a world where they believe money can make people and problems go away; because while they might for the short term, their ghosts linger far after to shape our decisions. If this had happened, God forbid, to Caroline or Cassidy, would you want them to feel that their own well-being and happiness isn’t worth the trouble of going through a trial?”

“Detective,” Miranda began to speak, only to pause for a long moment as she debated internally whether or not to reveal to yet another person one of the many cracks and flaws that were otherwise hid beneath the glossy, polished veneer of ‘Miranda Priestly’.

“You said you’ve dealt with countless victims,” she struggled with the word, knowing that by using it she applied it to herself as well, “Women, oftentimes with children fathered by their attacker, married, known or otherwise. And in that number, surely women that found themselves pregnant by their attacker and for whatever the reason or circumstance, kept the baby. What I’m asking is how…do they…are they ever,” she fumbled with the words until exhaustion and emotion made her blurt out what she was really thinking.

“What if I can’t love them?”

Olivia saw the desperation and agony of the question flash across the older woman’s features as she subconsciously wrapped her arms around her abdomen and her struggle to return her features to some semblance of neutrality so that the intense fear that filled her being didn’t show.

“I’m terrified that I’m going to look at these innocent babies and all I’ll be able to see is Stephen and have them be a constant reminder.”

“These babies aren’t a reminder of something that happened in the past, Miranda. They’re a reason to move forward and a promise that there is life and happiness in your future. Do you look at your daughters and think of their father’s infidelities or the dissolution of your first marriage and the pain it caused you?”

“Of course not,” Miranda replied huskily.

“Have you talked to Andy about this? Does she know you’ve been feeling this way?”

Miranda closed her eyes, her mouth set grimly. “I’m afraid neither of us has been very good lately at talking or listening to one another…and I’m equally fearful she’s finally realized what she’s gotten herself into, the life she’s trapped herself in by agreeing to marry me.”

“If you believe that to be true, Miranda, then perhaps your fears are correct and you shouldn’t be together in any way…But my God, Miranda. What I’ve seen, both in the precinct, the court, and now in the hospital…that girl loves you more than anything. There is nothing of herself she wouldn’t give to save you one moment of pain, even if she herself is sometimes the cause of it.”

Olivia reached out to Miranda. “This is all new to her, the press, kids, more kids on the way, a fiancée? While it’s stressful for you, in one sense it’s still familiar. For her, feeling as though she needs to protect you and not knowing how – all while dealing with these aspects of her ‘new’ life? That’s a lot of stress on her as well. And you can’t ask her not to feel responsible, or protective, because that’s not the way ‘real’ love works. And in many ways, I think this is the first relationship for both of you that doesn’t just have moments of, but is based in real love. She doesn’t want to put that stress on you so she falls back into ‘assistant’ mode just as you revert to the ‘ice queen’ when you feel unsure in a situation. So if she’s not talking, it’s because she’s taken on the role of your protector, and there is nothing you could do or say otherwise that can change that. She may go overboard, but there’s a halfway point that you two have to figure out where to meet. You have to let her show you what you mean to her because she knows the emptiness and falseness of words just as surely as you do, being in the journalism and publishing industries.”

Standing once more by the window, Miranda ducked her head in acknowledgement of the detective’s words but didn’t meet her eyes, instead leaning against the glass and looking out over the city.

Seeing that this was all the emotional outpouring the editor was planning for the day, Olivia stood to leave, and had just turned the door handle when a whispered ‘thank you’ met her ears that came from the other end of the darkened room.

The door opened immediately following Detective Benson’s departure and Miranda gave a huff of frustration at the revolving door her supposedly ‘private’ hospital suite had become for any and all manner of nurse or doctor or law enforcement official or PR representative. But it wasn’t any of those, although she could hear the deep boom of Leslie’s voice from the hallway where she waited, having arrived during Miranda’s conversation with Olivia. It was a familiar figure who came through the door, and Miranda found herself flying towards the younger woman and connecting their lips violently as Andrea’s back hit the door.

Andy had caught Miranda by the waist as she had thrown herself at her, and now her grip tightened and lengthened as she automatically opened her arms to hold Miranda close as the older woman pressed herself against Andy as though she could fuse their bodies into one

“Hey, hey, what’s the matter?” Andy managed to ask, pulling her close again and rubbing circles on her back as she calmed enough to lift her head from the younger woman’s chest. Brown eyes took her breath away even as she paused to regain it before taking the brunette’s lips again, less forcefully this time, but with the same desperation of purpose.

“I’m sorry,” she croaked out hoarsely. “I, I let you take the blame, Andrea because I was so scared of being the one responsible for hurting my family – again. I’m sorry.” She looked into the younger woman’s eyes once more. “I love you, Andrea. Only you and ever only you and you need to know that regardless of any future events or any foolish behaviour on my part. I love that you take such care with me, and the babies, and that you love the girls like they were your own…”

Overwrought, and still breathless from the kiss Miranda paused, and Andy took the opportunity to break in.

“Miranda, the girls – Cass, Caro…they ARE my own. From the minute you placed that ring on my finger if not the minute I answered the phone the night Stephen attacked you…You are my family, Miranda. You never have to worry that I will look elsewhere or choose otherwise. I shut the door on my own parents because I thought there was a chance they might do or say something to hurt you or the girls. I’m not leaving, Miranda. I’m not leaving because I’m already home.

Fuelled by hormones and sheer, dumb exhaustion that made her limbs feel as though they were made of lead, Miranda tried to stop the silent tears that streamed unchecked down her face. Meeting Andy’s lips once more, Miranda moved to hide her face in her favourite spot on Andy’s shoulder. “I’m sorry darling, I - ”

“No, no, no, listen to me. No more apologies, not for this. I was immature and insensitive and I acted like a spoiled brat, martyring myself when I didn’t get my way. And maybe if I had dealt with it like an adult, you could have avoided some of the stress and pressure I know has been building at work by finding refuge at home. But with the girls with their father, and me not being a partner to you you didn’t have anyone to lean on so you fell.”

Now Miranda glared at Andy, “That isn’t true, Andrea. Dr. Jansen warned us from the beginning that this was a possibility, it is NOT because of you and it certainly isn’t your fault.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Andy replied evenly. “And I have to live with not knowing if it was me or my actions that brought this about or made it worse…but Miranda,” Andy tightened her hold slightly and traced her fingertips over the flower patterns on the silk covering Miranda’s stomach. “I don’t ever want you to hurt, because of me or because of anything else. If I could draw a circle around you that no one else could get through I would.”

“Darling, that’s a beautiful thought, but I’m afraid it’s not a realistic one. A certain amount of pragmatism has to go into a relationship lest it turn a Gatsby-esque imitation of a life where none of us reaches that green light.”

“Whatever that green light is, Miranda, whatever you’re searching for…just please tell me, tell me what’s going on in your head so that I can share that load with you, even if I don’t fully understand it. Miranda Priestly, you are a beautiful enigma, and no matter how long I live I don’t dare to think that I’ll ever be able to ‘solve’ you completely. But I so desperately want to spend that time and that life trying if you would let me. You ask if I want this? I gave you my answer when you gave me this ring. And that circle I mentioned earlier? When I said I wished I could put one around you? Well this is the best I can do.”

And with that, Andy held up an engagement ring that would have left even ‘THE’ Miranda Priestly breathless, considering the real Miranda was having trouble breathing even thinking about the possibility that Andrea was proposing despite the fact they had talked about it previously. Tiny glittering diamonds were so intricately woven and twisted together that surrounding the larger 2 and a half carat, pear-cut center stone, the ring looked as though it were frosted until it tapered to smooth, gleaming platinum.

“Andrea…” Miranda paused, unsure how to phrase the question delicately. “What, how m -”

“Everything, Everything I own, because I know, and I trust that this is going to work. That we are going to be together and that neither of us will ever let the other fall again. I’m all in.”

“It’s not a matter of again, Andrea, because I’ve never felt like this. No one, no one has ever done for what you have. Not only today and with this ring, but all along. You knew, even before I did, what I wanted and what I needed and you chose for yourself as well as for me. And whether or not it was the right choice for you, it was always exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. I’ve always been looking for something, something better, something more. But I look at you and I’m at peace, I’m content – not merely satisfied, but hopelessly grateful. So yes, Andrea, I will marry you, because nothing could make me happier than being able to call you my wife.”

Andy registered briefly in the moments before that pouncing on a woman who was in the hospital was likely not the brightest of ideas, but that knowledge didn’t stop her in that moment. Nothing could have as she fitted the ring past her knuckle before she threw herself towards Miranda.

“Oh my God, it’s like something out of Looney Tunes!” Dr. Jansen exclaimed from the door, Miranda’s monitors all showing dramatic increases in heart rate and decreased oxygen levels and lung function.

“What is it with you two?”

Breaking apart from their embrace and the somewhat more than slightly suggestive positions they were in given that Andy was still crouched over Miranda, one knee between her legs to balance herself as the older woman pulled her head down so that their lips could meet.

“I leave the room for two seconds and you set her heart rate monitor off by kissing her?

“Umm,” Andy looked slightly sheepish whereas Miranda merely raised a gloating eyebrow as she rubbed her stomach in lazy satisfied circles while she listened to the young woman try to explain.

“Umm…We’re engaged?”

“Weren’t you already engaged?”

“Ehh…”

“Partly…” Miranda offered with a regal tilt of her head before her features cracked into a smile, completely charmed as Andy brought Miranda’s left hand to her lips.

“I was,” Andy held up her left hand to show her ring. “And now I’ve returned the favour.”

Dr. Jansen whistled through her teeth as she examined the glittering pave band. “Your sense of romantic aesthetic needs a little work kid,” she leaned over to peer at the ring Miranda was happily flaunting. “But I’ll give you credit for the ring, it’s a beauty.”

“It reminded me of a compass point - ” Andy’s gaze returned to Miranda’s as she spoke. “And no matter where or what angle you or anyone looks at it, it’s always going to point to home and to my heart’s true desire.”

“Really Andrea, I hope you don’t write such dross in your columns,” Miranda sniffed, trying to cover her tears with the cutting comment.

But Andy only laughed and leaned in to kiss Miranda once again, causing the older woman to turn her head back to face the younger woman, unable to deny herself the pleasure of kissing Andrea.

“Nope, I save all that for you.”

“Hmph…as you should.”

“My God, would you two give it a rest? You’re going to give ME high blood pressure if you continue at this rate.” Dr. Jansen just shook her head and signed off on Miranda’s chart, slipping the clipboard back over the foot of the bed. “Take her home, Andy.”

“What about the press?”

 “Is Stephen still here?” Miranda questioned the doctor, glancing in the direction of the nurses’ station as though she could see through the wall to where her former husband had thrown a fit less than an hour ago and where her current, and only – ever to be fiancée was at the moment paying the hospital fees.

“Security escorted him from the building after he raised his voice. I instructed them to send him out through the back doors, but after so many years of chasing after ‘Brangelina’ and the like it would seem the press have finally caught on to that particular trick.

Miranda nodded, her gaze still distant as she worried the hem of her blouse, tugging it down over her stomach repeatedly.

“I’ll call you this evening to check in, and we can schedule an at-home visit for the day after tomorrow to make sure your body is responding to the treatment and the medications properly. But if you start cramping again, you need to come into the hospital immediately. The meds are designed to help lower your blood pressure, and if they work too well you may find you’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded so be extremely careful around the stairs while taking this and no 4 inch Pradas. Do I make myself clear?”

“Absolutely,” a voice came from the door and Miranda turned to find Andy leaning against the doorframe. She grinned at Miranda, “Ready to go home gorgeous?”

Miranda scoffed, but her hands moved away from the hem of her shirt and she was holding herself less stiffly than before, Dr. Jansen noted with approval. Maybe this could have a happy ending after all, she mused as she watched the silent interaction between the two women.

“Now, as to how we’re going to get you out of here…” A rather wicked grin formed on Dr. Jansen’s lips. “I think I have a solution to that.”

Chapter Text

Once Miranda had been coerced, cajoled and wheedled into the wheelchair that was mandatory practice for overnight emergency patients, Dr. Jansen used one of the service elevators to bypass the main hallways and took them to the ground floor.

“I thought there was no point to using the back door seeing as the press were already gathered there?” Both women turned to the doctor when the door opened to reveal a utilitarian service entrance and exit.

“Not the back door,” Dr. Jansen shook her head as they rounded the next corner and found themselves on the concrete precipice of the vehicle unloading dock, where there was an ambulance backing up towards them, the rear doors open to allow them to board without using the stepladder from the ground.

“One of the paramedics is a big fan”, Dr. Jansen offered with a wide grin. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay on the road.”

Now it was Andrea’s turn to purse her lips, “Don’t even joke about it,” she muttered underneath her breath “that’s the last thing we need.”

“I apologize for the strange seating arrangements,” the young paramedic muttered nervously as he assisted the two women into the back of the ambulance and to the bench seating against the sides of the vehicle flanking the area where the stretcher would typically be loaded.

“This is perfectly acceptable, Sean” Miranda assured the young man. “The last thing I want to do is keep a vehicle like this out of service longer than necessary.”

He grinned back widely, making him look about 19 years old. “My only regret is that we won’t be able to see the look on the reporters’ faces when they realize that they’ve missed us.”

Despite the fact they were only going a few blocks, the morning traffic stretched the ride into 15 minutes rather than five, and both women’s thoughts were influenced by their unusual surroundings.

“Darling, when you were at the nurses’ station, did you fill out the paperwork to have medical power of attorney transferred over to you?”

“It’s taken care of,” Andy assured the older woman. “Not that I ever want to have to use it.”

Miranda felt a tremor roll through the younger woman’s body as she spoke the words, and despite the awkward position they were forced to sit in, Miranda managed to lean into the younger woman, taking her clenched fist and prying it open gently – pressing her lips to the red marks her nails had left in her palm.

“Do you suppose we should call the girls?”

“Andrea, they haven’t wanted to talk to us any of the nights they’ve been gone.” Miranda’s face took on a pained expression. “God forgive me, I’m afraid they’ve been wanting something like this to happen.”

“Miranda, that’s ridiculous.” Andy’s voice was firm. “You can tell me that I don’t know OUR girls, but I’ll tell you you’re wrong – and that OUR girls would never want something like this to happen, regardless of their feelings about having a younger sibling or siblings. You should know you’ve raised them better than that.”

Miranda’s eyes filled with tears at Andy’s words. “Sometimes I already feel like you’re a better mother to them than I am.”

Andy groaned, “Mirandaaa,” she groaned, letting her head fall back against the wall with a thud. “You’re their world. That’s why they’re upset about the babies in the first place – they don’t want to lose any part of the time they have with you.”

“Because I work all the time?” Miranda’s voice lost its tearful edge and turned haughty and defensive before Andy had a chance to respond. “I’ll have you know…”

“Miranda, STOP.” An uncommon note of anger tinged Andy’s words and Miranda’s mouth closed in surprise as she waited for the brunette’s next words.

“I will not fight with you. Don’t you see? I’m trying to fight for you, woman! And I know you’re hurting, and that right now, whether admitted or not, you are scared, you’re sick and you’re exhausted physically and mentally. I’m not going to take the bait, and get angry and leave, so you can forget the self-sabotage I know comes so naturally to you.”

The anger seeped out of Miranda and the tears returned. God, she was a mess.

“I don’t think I’ll ever know why or how you put up with a ill-tempered cranky, hormonal old woman…” Miranda murmured as her head found Andrea’s shoulder once again and she entwined their fingers over and over in different patterns.

“Because I love you,” Andy reached over to brush the older woman’s engagement ring with her thumb. “Yesterday, tomorrow, always.”

Three blocks away from the hospital, the ambulance stopped, and Sean tapped lightly on the back doors before opening them to .

Andy knew there was a button on the floor that when stepped on, released the metal stepladder that unfolded automatically to save time and so the paramedics’ hands were free for other tasks. But as the back doors opened to reveal the young man gallantly offering his arm out to Miranda to help her down instead, she didn’t say anything, only raising her eyebrows slightly in amusement when it was her turn to dismount.

“Should I be jealous,” Andy murmured to Miranda as she leaped down from the back to join the other two on the street.

Miranda looked up in some concern at the younger woman’s words, but they were belied by a wide grin and the mischief sparkling in her Andrea’s eyes.

“Hardly,” she reached up to cup the brunette’s face and Andy was reminded once again just how damn much she loved this woman.

“Miranda,” a deep voice rumbled from behind them and the two women turned to see Roy emerge from the borrowed town car he had been waiting in several blocks over from the hospital.

He didn’t say anything else, but Miranda knew what unspoken question burned behind his gaze, and having been caught up by Andy about how he had made sure Andrea had gotten to her in time she walked forward and laid her hand on his.

“We’re fine, thank you Roy – much in part, I understand, because of you. Thank you.” Miranda laid a hand on his forearm as she leaned forward, keeping the older man’s gaze.

“Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph,” Roy exhaled, the usually somber, imperturbable features relaxing as he shook his head before straightening up again, the faint Irish brogue that had coloured his earlier words disappearing along with the rare display of emotion as he assisted the two women into the waiting car.

Miranda studied Andrea’s face on the journey back to the townhouse and the play of emotions behind her eyes as they sat in silence, their topics of conversation exhausted over the last two days.

Once they had arrived home, and Miranda had very reluctantly agreed to being carried up the stairs as Andy and Roy had discussed privately earlier, the two women found themselves alone. Blissfully so after the constant stream of doctors and detectives and depraved exes that had made up the last 48 hours.

“Andrea please tell me you aren’t going to chain me to the bed,” Miranda requested, only half joking as she tried to ease the tight lines around the younger woman’s mouth with her words as she helped Miranda undress from where she sat on the edge of the bed.

“As much fun as that sounds…” Andy grinned darkly at the images Miranda’s wording conjured in her mind. “Nope. But I am going to spoil and pamper you senseless.” Her lips found the soft skin behind Miranda’s ear and teased it with her teeth and tongue, her hand sliding possessively over Miranda’s belly and the other sliding sensually from her waist and down her calf.

“Acceptable.” Miranda managed to get out the single word with most, if not all, of her usual decorum and haughtiness.

‘Assisting’ Miranda in the shower was an exercise in self-control, especially given that this was one of the longest periods they’d ever gone without being intimate as a couple and that raging hormones had made Miranda almost unbearably sensitive to every touch.

“I can’t believe I don’t get to make love with you until your doctor’s appointment next week.” Andy pouted, pulling back so that Miranda could see the dark pools of lust the young woman’s eyes had become.

“That can’t be good for MY blood pressure,” she joked. “God, you are so beautiful Miranda…I know, I know you don’t feel that way,” she cut off the protests she knew were on the lips of the older woman.

“Mmm,” Miranda purred wickedly as she pulled away from the kiss. “Take me to bed, Andrea,” Miranda raised an eyebrow and smirked slightly as the brunette threw back her head and laughed.

“Yes, Miranda.”

A little while later, Miranda was finally ensconced in the king-sized bed, waiting for Andy to join her after she had cleared the debris from their ordered-in lunch. Andy came back in to find Miranda seemingly deep in thought, her forehead furrowed lightly as she laid her hands against the sides of her abdomen.

Andy crawled in beside Miranda with an exhausted groan and flopped down next to the older woman so that they were both contemplating her navel.

“Now you stay in there, guys, do you hear me? Mommy’s going to do her best to keep growing you big and strong and mama’s going to do her best at helping mommy do that. But you’ve gotta stay in there, okay?” She pressed her lips to the bare skin where the editor’s nightgown had rolled up and Miranda watched thoughtfully as the brunette head bobbed up and down from her line of sight as she peppered the bare swell with kisses as she tightened her hold on Miranda’s waist.

Miranda’s hand moved to stroke through the brown tresses, hoping to soothe the scared young woman even as she voiced her own uncertainties, her other hand entwined with Andrea’s at the side of her belly.

“Do you ever wonder what would be different, or what would have happened if on the night Stephen attacked I hadn’t opened the door, or the girls had been at their fathers? Or if the shock or the assault had caused me to miscarry? Would I have lain on the floor with no one to know I was hurt until my girls came home or I was found by the help? Would I have let you stay if I hadn’t been in so much shock from finding out about the babies? Would you have stayed if you thought I didn’t need you as much as I did when there were the babies to worry about? Would you have come back after our fight if you hadn’t been worried about my blood pressure and the babies? There are so many ways this could have gone, Andrea.”

“Would I be talking to your belly? No, probably not. Would I be kissing and cuddling you senseless? Absolutely – because you scared the crap out of me and its never, EVER going to happen again if I can do anything about it…I can’t lose you.” Andy went from joking to honest fear in the space of her mini-monologue. “I love you so much. God, I can’t ever say it enough to make you believe it or know how strongly I feel, but I do, I love you Miranda; tomorrow, yesterday and always. I don’t want to know, I don’t want to think what life would be like without you and the girls. If I only had my memories of leaving you in Paris as my touchstone for remembering you. I would have gone on, not knowing any better, not thinking that there was ‘more’ or that I could be this happy. Because despite spending the last 5 months in a constant state of worry and terror and fear and heartache and anger – I am so much happier than I ever thought I could be. I have two daughters, Miranda, I have another daughter and a son, growing inside the woman I love, who by some miracle has agreed to be my wife. And no one, not any doctors or any judges or ex-husbands can taint, with any permanence, that kind of joy. Our life might never be peaceful, but what matters to me is that no matter what, it’s going to be OUR life and that we’ll face what comes together, as a team.

“My Andrea,” Miranda whispered, blue eyes boring into brown in a way that reinforced every sentiment that had just been voiced without her saying anything at all. An elegant hand reached up to pull Andy’s head down for a searing kiss.

“Now despite the fact that we’re in bed, I don’t think this qualifies as part of what the doctor meant by ‘bedrest’.” Andy joked as she rolled off of the bed, leaving Miranda lying against the cushions, looking tired and pale but happy and untroubled as she shifted onto her left side, accepting Andrea’s help at positioning herself among the pillows that supported her body in lieu of Andy.

“Are you going to be good and follow Dr. Jansen’s orders and get some rest?”

“Really, Andrea, you don’t need to patronize me – and when have I ever not followed orders?”

Andy snorted as she left, “Oh man, I really am a masochist,” but the smile on her lips belied her true feelings on the subject and her feet were lighter on the stairs since they had been before their fight that now seemed insignificant and a million miles away as they contemplated the next part of the trial. 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“I really really hate that I can’t take any more time off to stay with you,” Andy murmured into Miranda’s bump the next morning as she prepared to leave for work, flopping down on the comforter dramatically and laying her head on top of the swell.

“Maybe I should have the paper shut down,” Miranda mused as her fingers stroked through the thick brown locks. “Actually, it isn’t a terrible idea…”

“Mirandaaaa,” Andy groaned dramatically as she rolled onto her back and looked into the blue eyes.

“Now do you promise me you’re going to take it easy? No work. No phone calls? You know Maria and Carmen will be around all day.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “Fine. Yes. I will sit here and be unproductive for the next two days until the trial.”

“Nonsense, you’re working on the production of the next set of Priestly babies. The first set turned out pretty perfect so you’ve got your work cut out for you.” With that, Andy succeeded in her mission of making Miranda laugh and she caught the editor’s open mouth in a kiss before she reluctantly slid off the bed.

“And you’ll tell me if she doesn’t, right guys?” A further rub to Miranda’s belly earned her several kicks in response and Miranda’s lips pursed, although whether in amusement or not Andy couldn’t quite tell.

“Turning my children against me?”

“Mmm, only for your own good. Now be good, I’ll see you tonight…NO WORK!”

The last directive echoed from the bottom of the staircase and Miranda bit her lip to keep back a laugh as she shook her head.

Andy soon found out that a bored Miranda was a neurotic one. The first few examples of this were charming, if not outright adorable as Andy fielded the texts from her fiancée regarding anything and everything under the sun. It was entirely unfamiliar to be the half of the relationship absorbed in her work and pre-occupied, and the vibrations coming in 10 minute intervals from her phone didn’t help her concentration or attempts to get her work done.

Finally, the random missives ceased and Andy was able to finish two articles and begin a rough outline on a third when a familiar buzz caused her head to fall forward dramatically, hanging down chin to chest as she reached blindly for the phone.

“Come home. Now.”

Instantly, Andy’s stomach leapt into her throat. The words were almost exactly what Roy had sent the night Miranda had had her first pre-eclamptic episode.

Multiple calls and texts as she flew out of the building and hailed a cab failed to provide any reassurance or clarification as no one was picking up at the house and Miranda wasn’t answering her cell.

Andy was tempted to go straight to New York Presbyterian, but without arriving at the side of her soon to be spouse, Andy was concerned that she might be barred entry again. Besides, there was still a chance Miranda was fine and she was misinterpreting the text.

“Miranda!” Andy yelled as soon as she entered the townhouse. “Miranda!” Her feet flew up the stairs and she burst into the master bedroom, her pounding heart tripling its rapid beating in her veins as she threw open the door to the master bedroom and saw a wincing Miranda press a hand into her belly.

“Miranda, what is it? Talk to me, what’s hurting, what’s wrong?”

Miranda shook her head and took Andy’s hands and placed them against the bump, exhaling deeply in relief as the hard kicks stopped and looking up at the young woman with an ever so slightly guilty expression as she took in her terrified, disheveled appearance.

“She kept kicking, and nothing I did would calm her down and then she got her brother excited and so I had no option but to deduce that she wanted to see you.” Big blue eyes blinked innocently up at Andy and her heartbeat slowed although she knew she should be more angry with the editor.

“Miranda, sweetheart, the baby is inside you. She cannot see me; in fact, she hasn’t even opened her eyes yet, according to the book she’s the size of a large grapefruit.”

Miranda glowered at the younger woman, crossing her arms overtop the sizeable bump. “Are you quite finished, Andrea?”

“I adore you,” Andy shook her head, grinning and climbing up onto the bed. Andy propped herself up on one arm, cupping Miranda’s cheek and looking deeply into her eyes before pushing up the hem of Miranda’s shirt and pressing kisses all over her now exposed belly.

“Did you miss mama, princess? And then you got your brother into trouble for kicking mommy too? Or do you think the Queen just got lonely up here in her tower playing Sleeping Beauty.”

“Mmph, a beached whale is more like it.”

“What’s that, baby?” Andy pressed her ear to Miranda’s belly, pretending to be listening intently. “Mommy’s the most beautiful woman in the entire universe?” Andy grinned back up at Miranda. “The baby has spoken, and I happen to agree…Wait, what’s that?” Andy put her ear back down before popping back up.

“So she hasn’t opened her eyes yet but she’s speaking?” Miranda raised an eyebrow, trying hard not to smile and ruin the act. “My, our offspring are talented aren’t they?”

Andy stared back at her blankly, stating in a completely deadpan voice. “And she also apparently wants a pony.”

“And our son?”

“Spaceship.”

The last comment did it, and despite herself Miranda burst out laughing. “You know it’s I who adore you.”

They shared a sweet moment before a grumble beneath Andy’s hand alerted her to another pressing matter. “I think our ‘talented offspring’ are also saying they need a snack. So what impossible concoction are they making you crave today?” Andy’s hand had been resting on Miranda’s belly, and she absentmindedly began rubbing her stomach as she spoke.

Sinking back into the cushions of the bed, lulled by the magic of Andrea’s hands, Miranda didn’t think twice now about the embarrassment of admitting “vanilla yogurt with jalapenos”. Andy saw the older woman’s struggle to keep her eyes open and she pulled the blankets higher, moving one of the pillows closer to Miranda’s reach whereupon the editor, eyes closed, grabbed at it sleepily and curled around it.

“I’ll be right back, sweetheart.”

Miranda’s response was to hum slightly and snuggle further into the pillow.

Honestly, Andy could have stood there for hours watching her. But it wouldn’t have been a pretty scene if Miranda woke and her snack was not sitting in front of her.

It was so strange to see the editor asleep in the middle of the day as was a common occurrence now. She knew, both from experience and from her time in a relationship with Miranda, that the older woman was generally a chronic insomniac – early to rise and late to sleep, even without the excuse of the book.

The fact that Miranda let her guard down enough to let anybody see her in bed and without makeup, and that she could fall asleep with someone else in the room was so indescribably precious to Andy, because it was her. She knew from her conversations with Miranda that it hadn’t been like this in her previous relationships, and that the older woman had assumed at the onset, that this pairing would be much the same, even given how deeply she felt for the brunette. But it hadn’t been like the others, never could she have imagined the kind of peace she felt when she brought the young woman’s face to mind or when she thought about coming home at the end of the day.

And she knew, in the same way that she knew this time was different, that this ‘difference’ wouldn’t end with the pregnancy or the birth of the babies. This was no hormonal fluke or symptom – what it was, if she permitted herself to think on it, was her miracle. Andrea was her miracle, and she felt no hesitancy in letting down her walls so that whatever quality it was in the younger woman could soothe the rawness in her soul.

Right now, Miranda admitted to herself, it was likely to be the hormones that brought her mind to dwell on the maudlin sentimentalities of their relationship – but even when her mind was occupied with work and day to day life, those same factors would remain even if they weren’t dwelt upon in such heavy concentration. Entirely unable to keep her eyes open a moment longer, Miranda let her mind slip into unconsciousness, knowing that Andrea would be there when she woke again.

Sure enough, before she even opened her eyes when she woke again, she sensed the younger woman’s presence in the bed beside her, and she was hard pressed to stifle the self-satisfied smirk that sprung to her lips at this realization.

“Don’t you look so pleased with yourself, Miranda Priestly.” Miranda’s eyes popped open in surprise as she was caught and she attempted a look of indifference as though she had no idea what the younger woman could be talking about. “I should be so angry with you. I thought something was seriously wrong. I was about to call the hospital and see if you’d been admitted! You know I’m going to come when you call. But – and don’t take this the wrong way, don’t exploit that Miranda. This is never going to work if you keep trying to test my love for you.”

Miranda rolled over onto her side to better face Andy, “I admit I may have given the wrong impression, but they’d been kicking like that for an hour and I knew you were the only one whose touch they’d respond to, and they did.” Miranda appealed to the younger woman.

 “And if you don’t want me to call you cute, then you’re going to have to stop doing things like this and then using those big blue eyes to get out of it when you’re caught.”

Miranda’s eyes lost their liquid gaze as they narrowed and her lips pursed and Andy laughed. “And it doesn’t help that you’re doubly adorable when you’re pouting.”

The power of that pout was tested the next day when Andy bumped into Nigel who was exiting the townhouse.

“Oh, geez Six, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Sorry Nige,” Andy grinned before her brow furrowed. “What are you doing here? I know you know that Miranda is supposed to be on COMPLETE bedrest for three days with no work at all.”

“Ah,” the older man looked nervous, running a hand across the balding head. “Just…visiting. Dropping in to say hello.”

“Really Nigel? I’m supposed to believe you had the time to ‘pop in’ during what is essentially your ‘trial run’ as editor in chief of Runway? And that Miranda was okay with this? What on earth could be so important she would – oh no.” Andy’s gaze narrowed. “What did she have you bring her – files? The Book?”

“No! Nothing work related Andy, I promise. We just talked and I brought in lunch.”

“What did you bring?” she asked suspiciously.

“Just some sushi. Why?”

“Ugh – she KNOWS better!” Andy was fuming as she stormed past the art director and into the house.

“Nigel, YOU should have known better! Sushi was on the list of things she is NOT allowed to have.”

“Six, what was I supposed to do? She called to ask how things were going at the magazine and when I told her you had forbidden all Runway employees from talking to her for the three days she invited me over for a late lunch.”

“Mmm, yes – convenient. Conveniently timed when the cook and housekeeper are both out. Ooh, I’m going to kill her!”

“Erm, I’ll just be leaving then,” Nigel edged out of the doorway, breathing a sigh of relief as he made it to the sidewalk without being called back by an irate Andy to give some sort of culinary confession as she confronted Miranda. In fact, given this last encounter, Nigel wasn’t sure which woman to be more wary of.

Bursting into the master bedroom, Andy didn’t say a word as she crossed the room, her movements quick and rough as she grabbed the wastebasket next to the bed and slid the entire contents of the tray, utensils and all, into it before adding the takeout bag and storming back out of the room without a word, running down to the laundry room and stuffing it down the garbage chute – letting the steel door shut with a bang before making her way back upstairs, still fuming.

Furious at her own body betraying her, Miranda blinked back the unwanted tears that had sprung to her eyes when she watched $200 worth of her latest craving disappear into the wastebasket before she had taken a single bite.

“What the hell were you thinking?”

“Do not yell at me,” Miranda spoke evenly and coolly, hoping that a re-appearance of Miranda Priestly would save her in this situation. But the brunette was obviously not impressed, and she continued at the same volume as before.

“Miranda, you KNOW you aren’t supposed to be eating raw fish. It’s as simple as that; and following general rules like that is one of the only things we can control in bringing these babies into the world safely…”

Guilt - that before Andrea was an emotion she rarely let affect her decisions, washed over Miranda; and the tears she thought she had held at bay threatened more strongly against the lump in her throat. “I th-thought if it was properly prepared and the b-best quality, it would be s-safe.”

“If you thought that, then why did you have Nigel sneak it in? Why not ask me?” Andy crossed her arms over her chest and forced herself to hold the other woman’s gaze even as it filled with tears and her lower lip began to tremble.

“Nope. Save it Priestly. I don’t wanna see it. No, it’s not going to work this time.” A shuddery little sigh escaped from Miranda’s lips and her shoulders hitched along with her breathing as the first tears glistened on her lashes and her lower lip trembled.

Andy winced internally, shoring herself up against the onslaught of guilt she knew was waiting for her for making her pregnant wife cry.

“I’m sorry,” blue eyes pleaded with brown for forgiveness before they moved back to the ground again.

And then, as Andy would have predicted, her own reserves were melted away by Miranda’s tears

“Tell me what it is you want and I’ll go get it for you. Anything, anything at all.

She had gone from cutting Miranda off from her insane food requests to doing a complete 180, and was now quite literally begging Miranda to send her off on another craving induced wild goose chase. Andy now understood how she had gotten to be the youngest editor-in-chief of Runway at only 30 years old. The woman was good.

Very good, she decided as she looked over at the woman happily crumbling dried seaweed flakes over her bowl of fudge ripple ice cream that night at 2 o’clock in the morning. The only small mercy was that she had polished off the bag of Cheez Doodles an hour ago, otherwise Andy wasn’t sure there wouldn’t have been a third ingredient to the messy and completely un-Miranda like concoction about to disappear down the gullet of one fashion and publishing icon.

Andy just grinned as Miranda reached for her hand and moved it to rest overtop her belly, wiggling slightly as she ate her snack to prompt the younger woman to resume her tender ministrations that she refused to acknowledge as a ‘tummy rub’ as Andy called it, preferring instead to refer to the ritual as a ‘digestive aid and relaxation technique’. Only when they were lying in bed at night or on very rare occasions when Miranda was feeling particularly clingy would she allow the younger woman to call her actions anything of the sort if she voiced her thoughts aloud.

“Are they gonna let you sleep now or do ‘La Babies Priestly’ require something else?” Andy inquired, watching the editor stifle a yawn.

“I blame this entirely on you,” Miranda insisted as Andy put the tray aside and she attempted to find a comfortable position lying down. “It’s certainly not from me that they’re getting these ridiculous gastronomic urges. Blame cook-boy.”

“What?” By now, Andy had been half asleep again only for her eyes to pop open at Miranda’s insinuation. “What does Nate have to do with any of this?”

“Well he obviously influenced your palate during your relationship.”

Andy snorted, “Miranda, we were together for 5 years – I think that qualifies as a real relationship.” She quickly moved in to kiss away the pout forming on pink lips, “But…you,” she moved her lips to the side of Miranda’s mouth, punctuating each following word with a kiss trailing down Miranda’s neck and shoulders. “You, are irrefutably the love of my life.” She repeated Miranda’s words back to her as she settled nose to nose with the other woman blinking sleepily at her from across the pillow.

“Now of the other four loves of my life, are these two ready to settle down?”

But Miranda was already asleep. Despite her own exhaustion, Andy watched her love sleep for a while, thanking with every rise and fall of the slim shoulders that God had seen fit to put Miranda in her life and to give her the family of her own she never thought she’d have.

 

Chapter Text

“You haven’t been this sick in a while.” Andrea remarked the morning of the next stage of the trial.

Today, arguments would begin regarding motive and the circumstances around Miranda’s assault. This meant the jury would be privy to every piece of dirty laundry Stephen decided to air in front of them. And she could only imagine what they would be. At least her girls were away from all this madness. She knew her ex-husband would keep them away from the papers, and to the best of his ability, off of the internet; although she held little hope for that request. They were her children after all, and as such were not to be denied something when they believed in their right to it.

The emergency doctor from the night of the attack would be in court to testify as well. Stephen had previously stated Miranda had wanted to get back together and told him she was pregnant prior to being attacked. But both Miranda and Andrea knew that Miranda had had no idea of her condition before being told in the hospital after receiving treatment that may have otherwise been withheld had she responded positively, or even semi-positively to the standard policy question of whether there was any possibility she could be pregnant. And at 49 and single, Miranda’s response had been a decidedly firm ‘no’.

“I think it’s nerves,” Miranda gasped hoarsely before she turned to the bowl again, and shuddering, pitched forward as the muscles in her stomach contracted violently. But there was nothing left to come up, so she spent the next thirty seconds dry-heaving until she could once again regain control, due in significant part to the circles Andrea was rubbing on her back and the cool cloth she had draped over the back of Miranda’s neck that stopped the sickly flush from spreading to her face again.

“Alright,” Andy said, helping Miranda to her feet, a steadying hand at her back as she washed her mouth out and reapplied her makeup where it had smeared or ran. “We have about twenty minutes before Roy arrives, let’s go downstairs and you put your feet up while I put some tea in a thermos so you can drink it in the car on the way to the courthouse. We’ll see if that settles your stomach…And you, my tiny, incorrigible darlings” she bent over to speak to Miranda’s Anna Sui silk sheathed belly, “be good for mommy today, okay? No somersaults or making her sick while she’s on the stand.” Miranda smirked and smoothed a hand over the swell before rising up on her toes slightly for a kiss. “Mmm, I’m sure they’ll listen,” she murmured wryly as Andy picked up Miranda’s heels from the floor and carried them for her as they went downstairs.

That particular edict had been made recently as Andy had been horrified to see Miranda come downstairs one morning in 3 and a half inch heels and very nearly pitch forward and down two flights if she hadn’t had been able to grab the railing when she went down and simply swung forward and landed on her knees. After that, shoes had been banned on the stairs by a hysterical Andrea.  She had tried to ban heels entirely but Miranda come back with a firm ‘No’, and the subject was dropped for the time being. Once Miranda hit her third trimester in two weeks though, Andy was putting her foot down. No more heels for the rest of the pregnancy and then until she was fully recovered from the birth.

 

As the cameras flashed outside of the courthouse, Andy realized that the images the paparazzi would have captured by the end of this trial and pregnancy would essentially constitute an entire baby album. And she had been so distracted by the various medical, legal and otherwise worrisome circumstances surrounding the pregnancy that aside from buying a few basic pieces in Paris during Fashion Week, nothing had been done really to prepare for the babies arrival. Nor had anything been done to document Miranda’s pregnancy – no photo sessions or memory books, they hadn’t even registered for the hypno-birth or Lamaze or whatever classes recommended by Dr. Jansen at the 16 week appointment.

Andy resolved then and there that the only documentation of Miranda’s second pregnancy was NOT going to come from her despicable colleagues in the press. She would make sure Miranda felt as though this was something to celebrate rather than dread – because although she knew Miranda wanted the babies, she could see the other woman being cheated out of the joy she should be feeling by the looming fear of the TTTS diagnosis and the stress of the trial and worrying about Caroline and Cassidy – not to mention Irv making good on his threats to go to the board.

However it looked as though things were going to get worse before they got better. Their morning had already begun early with Miranda being ill. She had managed some of the tea in the car and Andy was using a large Prada tote to carry snacks and a bottled smoothie she had blended that morning but Miranda had been too queasy to drink. She highly doubted the older woman would eat anything in the courtroom or in view of any people, but perhaps there was a space they could find some privacy during the recesses and breaks in the proceedings. If not, Andy was going to insist on going back to the car and just having Roy circle the courthouse while Miranda ate something.

Unless called unexpectedly, Andy’s role in the trial was over for the most part. Miranda, however would be subject to questioning by both Stephen’s lawyer and any expert witnesses they called to the stand. The afternoon would see Stephen take his turn being questioned by Alex Cabot and listen to the questioning of the prosecution’s witnesses, which included the intake doctor from the emergency room from the night of the attack, in addition to Dr. Jansen. The one snag they were expecting was the defense to point out that the allegations against Stephen through SVU had been made days after the attack, and that the initial outcry had been to a family member in the form of Sergeant Munch, even though Miranda and Andy weren’t engaged at the time.

The press had, of course, once again turned out in full force, and there was a palpable tension they seemed to revel in as opposing sides took their respective places. Olivia and Munch had tagged along with Alex, who interpreted their curious glances and she stood, addressing the judge. “If your honor would allow for a few minutes more, Ms. Priestly will be present, you can confirm with security that she is in the building.”

“Well then why isn’t she present now? My client has the right to a fair and speedy trial.”

“And my client has the right to use the ladies room.” Alex countered sharply.

“Powdering her nose, no doubt,” Stephen murmured under his breath, sitting to the side of his attorney.

“Mr. Tomlinson, I believe you’ll find that’s called morning sickness.”

“But it’s not morning anymore.”

“Nice to see you’ve done your research regarding the development of your children, Mr. Tomlinson, considering your supposed concern for their welfare under the care of your ex-wife.”

“Alright!” The judge broke in with a bang of her gavel, seeing the bailiff open the courtroom doors to let the two women through. “Since arguments have obviously already begun, court is now in session.”

Alex walked forward to the imposing wooden desk and slid a piece of paper smoothly across the waxed top which the judge glanced at briefly and nodded, waiting until the blonde had returned to her seat to look over the top of her glasses at the crowded courtroom before speaking.

“As a clarification before we begin, given the unique circumstances of this case, and its continued infamy in the press, I have been authorized to make a statement regarding today’s proceedings as it pertains to the subject matter being brought forward by the defense. By now, there has been significant coverage of Miranda Priestly’s recent hospitalization and subsequent absence from work. In addition to exacerbating any medical issues, the stress of the trial has put Ms. Priestly in a very difficult situation and she’s here today, as is undersigned in this doctor’s note, under the permission and direct supervision of her doctor, who has been called here today as well to testify by the defense. Dr. Jansen you may take the stand.”

The man sitting next to Stephen stood, and buttoning his suit jacket over a medium paunch that revealed a 50+ year physique that couldn’t be hidden by a three thousand dollar suit and carefully styled and coloured hair, strolled to the front of the desk, beginning confidently and pleasantly – evidently trying to charm the attractive, intelligent older woman.

“Dr. Jansen, thank you for being here today and taking time out of your busy schedule. Would you be so kind as to expand on the details of Miranda Priestly’s second pregnancy as you have observed over the last 5 months.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

“Recent traumatic events have caused a psychological and physiological state of advanced distress and as such, aggravated certain conditions that may otherwise not have been a factor in the maintenance of the pregnancy. At 50 years old, Miranda was in a good state of physical health and as such was able to conceive naturally her second set of twins. However early on in the pregnancy, during the first trimester, she sustained serious injuries from an assault committed by her ex-husband – my apologies, allegedly committed by her ex-husband…”

“You keep talking about Miranda’s health, and how well she takes care of herself as a testament to her current state of expectancy. But is it not true that pre-birth, the infants have been diagnosed with a serious congenital condition that more than 50% of the time results in birth defects and an even higher mortality rate in utero?

“Certainly, it takes two to tango, so to speak So if we’re calling to question the conception, as is the case with congenital defects, then Mr. Priestly is as much to blame as Miranda is or more, as it’s his DNA that decides the secondary chromosome.”

The older man seemed unconcerned, waving off the facts as he continued to spin his scenario of a work-obsessed ex-wife, reluctant to part with any measure of their shared wealth or possessions, and using the excuse of an unviable pregnancy to manipulate divorce proceedings and sway the jury to a sympathy vote in the accusation of assault.

“The odds are highly suggestive that the affected fetuses Ms. Priestly is carrying will be either stillborn or with significant congenital defects. In fact, the latter is almost a certainty. Why then would an intelligent or rational woman go through with a pregnancy A) from a man she claims to hate and who she claims viciously assaulted her and B) is likely to end in the death of the infants, and as is clearly evident, a great physical toll on her own body, consequently taking a combined toll on a career largely based on physical aesthetic and appearance. There can only be one answer, and it is in fact quite simple. Strategy, using this situation as a series of complex bargaining chips so as to come out of this with the upper hand. So tell me Ms. Priestly, Is this the price you’re willing to pay for the larger settlement in the divorce?” A picture of two TTTS affected fetuses flashed back onto the screen, their features distorted and grossly exaggerated in death as they lay on the green cloth backdrop of the surgeon’s tray.

“Mr. Carlson, that is quite enough!” The judge and Dr. Jansen looked livid as they stared down the cocky older gentleman holding the remote in his hand.

Andy tore her eyes away from the images on the screen to find Miranda, her own eyes shut tightly and a muscle jumping in her cheek as she tried to slow her racing pulse.

Miranda slowly lowered a trembling hand from her mouth, looking pointedly sideways and down so that neither Stephen or his lawyer could see the stubborn moisture in her eyes.

“Alright, clear the court. I’m calling for a 10 minute recess, we resume with Mr. Tomlinson’s testimony and cross examination at 9:50 people so don’t go far.” She turned to Miranda, “Ms. Priestly would you like to step down and get some fresh air?”

At first, Miranda made a motion as though she were going to stand, but then quickly pressed a hand to her belly and lowered herself carefully back down until she was sitting again. “I don’t think I can at the moment,” she murmured, addressing Andrea as she barely permitted herself to admit it.

“Your Honor,” Andy cut in. “Would it be possible for us instead to have the room to ourselves for a few minutes until the recess is over?”

The judge nodded, still looking concernedly at the off-colour of the older woman’s face. “Alright, I’ll let the door security know that no one is to be let back in until 9:47. A bailiff will have to remain with you though, Charles?” she nodded at an older black gentleman Andy hadn’t noticed before, standing in the far corner where the defendants would be brought in if they were in custody.

“Yes, that’s fine,” Miranda replied hoarsely, her hand flicking out weakly in an impotent shadow of her typical persona.

Andy was up on the platform and by Miranda’s side before the door had closed behind the judge. She ran her hand lightly along the older woman’s thigh as she crouched beside her, waiting for Miranda to gather herself enough to speak, noting how the pale fingers on the hand not clutching hers in a death grip were wrapped to the point of bloodlessness around the edge of the chair. Her chest rose and fell as she moderated her breath, willing her heartbeat to slow and the lightheadedness to fade.

“Andrea, I-I don’t feel well.”

Andy’s stomach dropped and she became acutely aware of her own pulse as she knelt there beside her almost-wife, barely noticing as Dr. Jansen re-entered the courtroom, crossing over to them and unscrewing the cap from a bottle of water as she approached, offering it to Miranda.

“Miranda, breathe. Deep breaths, nice and slow. You’re okay, you’re fine,” Dr. Jansen’s voice was low and soothing as she encouraged Miranda to take small sips.

“Wh-what if this is all for nothing? What if they’re nothing more than embryonic parasites that are simply growing and gaining in mass. What’s to say either of them will be born viable?”

Dr. Jansen shook her head, “From the results of the amniocentesis where we were able to test for hormone levels, it’s possible to extrapolate an average, expected rate of growth or development. Despite the difference in size and the expected accelerated or slowed development, both twins tested in the same range for hormone levels which tells us that the TTTS is not currently affecting the vital markers for standard development, which would also indicate a decrease or an anomaly in brain function or the proper development of the nervous system. If we were able to see the fetuses in the same way as Mr. Carlson’s crude exhibition, they would not look deformed or disfigured. They would only appear to be different gestational ages, the difference of a few weeks.”

Miranda drew in a shuddering breath and then another, focusing on the comforting pinch of Andrea’s engagement ring against her fingers even as she refused to let go of her hand and on the warmth of the young woman’s other hand as it rested protectively over her belly, feeling, Miranda knew, for any sign of cramping or contractions before moving to her lower back and rubbing gently, knowing how much tension the older woman was holding in her body.

ADA Cabot had returned as well at this point, and Detective Benson.

“Miranda, if you need to stop for today, I can ask for a recess until tomorrow,” the blonde offered, slightly alarmed at the change in her client’s pallor now that the room was empty and there were no judges or jury or reporters causing the need for a show befitting ‘La Priestly’.

“But you should know,” Olivia continued, “that the defense will be able to call you to the stand again if they make the appeal that they weren’t able to ask all of their questions.”

“No,” Miranda replied hoarsely but firmly, breathing in very deliberately through her nose and out of her mouth before speaking again. “I want this over with today. I won’t give him the chance to further perpetrate his assault on myself or my children by prolonging this farce.”

“That last trick he pulled lost him major points with the jury,” Alex offered bracingly. “He got his desired shock value, but it did more to vilify him than it did you.”

“I wish you didn’t have to do this. I forced you into this,” Andy’s eyes were filled with tears although she didn’t let them fall. “It’s hurting you, it’s hurting the babies and making you sick.”

“Shh, Andrea. Andrea, you were right. Darling, this is the right thing to do, no matter how hard. I want my girls, our girls, to believe in fighting for themselves. I want them to grow up with that self-worth.”

“I can’t stand sitting there. It feels like I’m watching you be attacked and I’m not doing anything to stop it.”

“But you are…You are the one I look to in all of this and when I have to answer those awful questions, it’s really you I’m speaking to Andrea. I could never, EVER divulge these sorts of things to strangers, to anybody really except for you. I can say these things without feeling like I’m being attacked all over again. Sweetheart, you protect me and take care of me in ways I never would have imagined possible. So don’t belittle what you are to me, Andrea, because you are everything – and I could.not.do this without you.” Miranda was squeezing the younger woman’s hand impossibly tight as the doors to the courtroom were opened once more and people started filing in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mr. Priestly, my apologies, Mr. Tomlinson – an honest mistake your honor, although perhaps understandable given that the defendant obviously continues to view himself as such.”

“Like hell!” Stephen snarled as his lawyer quickly stood, cutting off any further comment from his client with a loud “Objection!”

“And to what would your lawyer be objecting to on your behalf? The truth? That you are, for all intents and purposes despite being legally separated, still married to Miranda Priestly? Mr. Tomlinson this entire trial is proof positive that you believe you have still or have ever had some stake or claim to Miranda’s wealth, property, the children you haven’t filed custody for but claim to feel are in danger with Miranda – “

Miranda actually growled at this, although inaudible to anyone but Andrea who was sitting directly next to her and squeezing her hand tightly, making sure the older woman didn’t do something rash and fire Alex for even bringing up the idea that Stephen could potentially file for custody, although she knew the blonde woman was really only calling his bluff.

“Even a claim to her body it would seem should you be found guilty of the charges filed against you for aggravated assault and attempted rape. So which is it, Mr. Tomlinson? Do you desire to continue a relationship with a woman you have described as a, and I quote, “frigid bitch and a hysterical, lunatic dyke?”

Stephen spluttered, “What? How did?...”

“Did you forget, Mr. Tomlinson, that anything you say during an interrogation or interview with the police is recorded in the case logs? So which is it, Mr. Tomlinson? Do you desire to continue a relationship with a woman you have described as a, and I quote, “frigid bitch and a hysterical, lunatic dyke?”

Stephen spluttered, “What? How did?...”

“Did you forget, Mr. Tomlinson, that anything you say during an interrogation or interview with the police is recorded in the case logs? If so,  I certainly feel for your own legal clients – especially considering the fees your charge.”

Stephen’s face was very nearly purple as Alex calmly and cleanly eviscerated his arguments on the stand. The only options left available to him was to admit to criminal activities, or argue against himself that his activities were not criminal in nature, but a direct result of his own incompetence and lack of intelligence.

With the slightest and politest of smiles, Alex went on. “My original starting question, Mr. Tomlinson, was to have you confirm that this is in fact your signature on these papers regarding your prenuptial agreement with Ms. Priestly that she had drawn up at the time of your marriage that you willingly and knowingly signed, and which clearly state the retention of personal assets prior to the marriage and equal division of any property, goods or stocks for which both parties are listed as payees or owners.”

Stephen switched tactics yet again, flashing a boyish charming smile at the jury, “I was in love – or I thought I was. I was under her spell, I would have signed anything she asked me to in the right set of garters.”

But Alex was ready for him, “I didn’t ask how weak your will was, Mr. Tomlinson, my question was how free. And unless you can provide more evidence and definitive proof of coercion, other than expensive lingerie or witchcraft” – the audience tittered – “then the prenuptial agreement stands as does its release clause and addendum rendering any post-marital compensation or division of assets null and void in the case of adultery or criminal activities, both of which you appear to have broken.”

“Objection, your Honor,” Mr. Carlson called out once again. “My client has not been convicted of any criminal charges. The prosecution is poisoning the jury.”

“Your Honor, the assault speaks to the nullification of Mr. Tomlinson’s pre-marital agreement and therefore motive to commit the crime in question.”

“Overruled, but move on quickly Ms. Cabot, I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Carlson on the prejudicial nature of the questions.”

“Mr. Tomlinson, you claim to be acting in the best interests of your future children, but it would appear as though your lawyer is concurrently arguing the case for their termination or postulating on the futility of the decision to go through with the pregnancy despite the serious diagnosis –neither of which have anything to do with the assault charges levelled against you or the divorce proceedings between Miranda Priestly and yourself. So which is it Mr. Tomlinson? Are you legitimately concerned for the welfare of the fetuses or have your actions been part of a deliberate scheme to intimidate my client and coerce the jury to avoid prosecution?”

“Of course I’m concerned in the wellbeing of my children. Simply because I had no desire for more children at my age is hardly indicative of my feelings regarding a situation where they already exist.”

Andy ground her teeth together. Despite the fact that the man was a complete boor, his career had lent him an a sense of eloquence and a mimicry of well-bred manners that the jury couldn’t be faulted for believing upon first glance.

“In that case, why have the only occurrences where you have shown any direct interest in the health and wellbeing of your potential offspring been in the eye of the media or in this courtroom? Because there have been no documented requests for doctors or medical records, or any relevant information that a legitimately concerned father-to-be would be asking for.”

“I didn’t think she would be able to ignore me if my attempts were made in front of the media – they were my witness to the fact that I have grave misgivings in the ability of my soon to be ex-wife to safely carry my children and raise them thereafter. She hasn’t even been parenting her own children these last few weeks. They’ve been staying with their father, and I have reason to believe that is a direct result of their own marked personal preference.” He nodded at his own counsel, who stood with an evidence bag containing several papers that bore the Dalton School crest.

“Let it be noted that the defense would like to enter Exhibit C, proof of the Priestly twins’ continued absence from school in the week preceding the Winter break; their current state of residency being with their biological father, Jeremy Priestly.”

Now Miranda looked positively ill.

“The girls have been staying with their father while I’ve been indisposed. The media has also proved to be a major stressor and I wanted my girls away from that.”

“How very noble…But, they left before your trip to Paris didn’t they? – and your current medical issues didn’t come to light until several days after your return to New York. How do you account for that stretch of time when they were supposed to be with you?”

“Objection! We are not here to argue Miranda’s custody agreement regarding Caroline and Cassidy Priestly.”

“Perhaps we should be considering their obvious preference to live apart from their primary guardian at this point in time.”

“Objection!”

Andy ground her teeth together so firmly that Alex glanced sideways at the noise. But Andy was way past caring, it was all she could do not to strangle the smug little man preening in front of the jury and almost gleefully rubbing salt in a wound Andy knew firsthand to be gaping and raw.

 

“Watch yourself, Mr. Carlson! This is your last warning. Tread carefully here. I agree that the mental health and the happiness of the minors currently residing with Ms. Priestly speak to her capabilities as a parent, but as neither child is present or has indicated through their secondary guardian that they wish to challenge the custody agreement, no testimony can be given on their behalf that isn’t wholly based on guesswork and hearsay.”

“Should you consult with any child psychologist, as I have, you will find that jealousy over a new sibling is a very common reaction in children under the age of 12, especially when said siblings share the ‘uniqueness’ of being twins and were conceived by another man who is not their father.”

“So you would say a significant part of their distress is based on the number and frequency of sexual partners you have had during their formative years.”

“Objection! Relevance and, and complete speculation!”

“Granted. Mr Carlson, you have been warned repeatedly about your use of speculation regarding Caroline and Cassidy Priestly.”

“Then, your Honor, the defense would like to call Caroline and Cassidy Priestly to the stand as material witnesses as well as their ability to confirm certain facts and timelines that have otherwise been deemed speculative by the prosecution.”

“No!” Miranda’s voice rang out jarringly, not a single person other than Andy ever having heard it sound as such. “You will not bring my children into this.”

“For four years, they were our children, weren’t they Mir?”

Miranda was shaking now, apoplectic and terrified out of her mind that her daughters would be drawn into this madness, forced to listen as their mother was torn apart in the public eye for her sexual history.

“You never had any claim to them, nor did you want any. You never showed a shred of interest in them until now when you believe they could be of use in saving you a few dollars. Do not drag my children into this, Stephen.”

“Your honor, would you please instruct the prosecution to prevent their client from threatening mine?”

“Alright people, that’s enough.” The judge turned to Miranda with a muted but sympathetic set to her features.”

“Although, I am loathe to do so, the defense has the right to question their choice of witness.”

Although she was sitting, Andy could feel Miranda’s body crumple under the weight and implication of the judge’s words and she gripped Miranda’s hand even more tightly, rubbing her thumb soothingly across the pulse point at Miranda’s wrist subtly reminding her to breathe and regulate her heartbeat.

Both women also registered a disgusted scoff from behind them as Dr. Jansen and Detective Benson reacted to the judge’s ruling.

“Ms. Priestly, what is the earliest date you can present the minors in question?”

Lightheadedness slowly fading at Andrea’s touch, Miranda answered clearly, letting no quaver escape the cool set of her vocal timbre. “My girls are with their father at present, they’ll be returning to the city late on Sunday.”

“Can’t you call them back sooner?”

“Mr. Priestly, although you are entitled to a speedy trial, I think we can let the children enjoy their last few days of vacation with their father. Ms. Priestly, you are so ordered to produce the minors Caroline and Cassidy Priestly for questioning at 9 am Monday morning. Questioning will now resume with the next witness.

“The defense calls Dr. Aubrey Jansen to the stand. Dr. Jansen is an accredited OB-GYN who graduated with honors from Stanford and who has published several scientific articles regarding the causes and treatment of pregnancy-induced blood pressure disorders.” Stephen’s lawyer bowed his head respectfully in her direction as he gave her background.

“Dr. Jansen, according to the medical records attained from emergency and urgent care the last two times Miranda has been admitted, what was Ms. Priestly found to be suffering from?

“And it is true, is it not, that the Priestly twins in question have been diagnosed with a serious and often fatal disorder of the nervous system – exacerbated by high blood pressure and stress? Wouldn’t you say these are the actions of a woman who cares more about her financial values rather than family values?

“Absolutely not.”

“The court has just seen the tragic and unfortunately all too common end of these cases.”

“The images you just forced on the jury were clearly displaying symptoms that ranged from a late stage 3 to a 4 or even a 5 score on the Quintero scale. Had you bothered to fully read or were able to comprehend my notes you would have seen that Miranda’s condition is placeable in the early second stage of the disease.

 

 

“But it is possible for that diagnosis to change? I understand Ms. Priestly’s recent hospitalization and the reasons behind it may have exacerbated any underlying conditions.”

“So there is no guarantee of a healthy delivery.”

“There never is. Not in any scenario.”

“But we can agree, the risks are drastically heightened.”

“Move on, Mr. Carlson.”

“Of course, your Honor. Nothing further”

“Dr. Jansen, you may step down.”

Alex Cabot stepped out onto the floor, crossing deliberately to the middle of the room as Miranda was called once more.

“Miranda, I appreciate you taking the time to be here today when I know you have taken the limiting of your work schedule seriously, so I will be brief. Is this pregnancy part of an overall plan to force Stephen Tomlinson’s hand in signing the divorce papers?”

“No,” Miranda replied coldly, now completely recovered from her earlier shakiness and strengthened by her fury at the indignity of being made to explain her decisions and actions regarding her personal life to a group of strangers. After a long moment of silence though, Andy recognized a familiar glint in the blue eyes that caused her legs to clench together and the butterflies in her stomach to dissolve into coiling tendrils of smoke.

“I have no need for Stephen’s money. Only for his absence from my life and that of my children without incident or fuss. It is true that Stephen does well for himself financially, however if one were to be so tawdry as to compare, or point out who in the relationship could be considered ‘kept’, it would most certainly be him.”

A choked noise came from Stephen’s side of the courtroom but Andy didn’t take her eyes off the ‘Dragon Lady’ in full force.

“What I earn annually, excluding bonus structures outstrips his salary more than three times. I can only assume that’s why he came to the townhouse that night. His demeanour, while drunk and sloppy was docile enough until the subject of money came up. Whether or not he thought he could charm me into ignoring the clause in the prenuptial agreement that he freely and willingly signed.”

“And what clause is that?”

“It states that if either partner is found to be unfaithful then the splitting of assets and the payment of alimony was rendered null.”

Finally, Miranda faced Stephen, meeting him squarely in the eye as she raised her own eyebrow coolly.

“I do hope she was worth the millions you’ve given up, Stephen.”

Andy’s nails actually made indents in the wooden bench as her body shook with her response to the wicked grin Miranda let slip for a moment, so that only Stephen as the only looking directly at her could see it.

Stephen’s howl of fury was the only thing that stifled her own somewhat violent response as her body shuddered through an orgasm.

This was no weepy, clingy or uncertain battered wife. Not that Andy didn’t adore her through every mood, okay – almost every mood. This was Miranda Priestly, Dragon Lady of New York and Icy Queen of the fashion and publishing world, and dear Lord, was it hot.

The entire courtroom tittered, and even the judge was doing a poor job of hiding her smirk behind a copy of the prenuptial agreement she had been presented with as part of evidence. Stephen’s face grew redder and redder as Miranda spoke, furious that the tearful woman from before had disappeared. Finally, when Miranda had to pause for the final bursts of laughter or talk to subsist, Stephen exploded.

“You bitch,” he snarled under his breath, catching Miranda’s eye and avoiding the judge’s before turning to his lawyer. “Do something, George? Are you going to let her talk to me like that, on record? In front of the whole court? Object! Do you not have the balls to do it? Then I will. Objection!”

“Mr. Pr-Tomlinson!” the judge replied sharply and Stephen’s face turned an alarming shade of puce. “You cannot call your own objections. That being said, the plaintiff will refrain from addressing the defendant directly and vice versa from this point forward. I’ll not have my courtroom turned into more of a circus than the media have already done.”

Stephen turned pointedly back to his lawyer, making no effort to whisper as he instructed his counsel. “Ask her when she started fucking her ‘Girl Friday’. God, that’s all I heard around the house, ‘Andrea this, Andrea that – calling at all hours of the night. You can sure as hell bet that ‘relationship’ pre-dates any so called ‘assault’ – what is on me is not realizing she was a dyke long before that. Those ‘Ice Queen’ nicknames the press write might as well have been about our sex life.”

“Mr. Carlson, control your client! Mr. Tomlinson, I’ve had enough of this. Unless you can provide concrete proof of a relationship prior to the second attempt at filing for divorce, then as of yet, nothing you have brought to me suggests any reason to ignore the nullifying clause in the prenuptial agreement. Any concerns you might have of a custodial nature may be brought up in a separate trial should you choose to pursue that complaint. Final arguments regarding the charges of assault and attempted set against you will begin next Monday following the testimony of Caroline and Cassidy Priestly.”

“Your Honor,” the balding counselor interrupted, “I have one more question for the plaintiff.”

“Proceed then, Mr. Carlson, but make it quick.”

“Of course, your Honor. Ms. Priestly, one final question regarding your behaviour in the admittedly drawn out proceedings of your divorce settlement. If you were truthful, as I have no doubt, in stating that your earnings far outstrip my clients, why have you fought so viciously against amicable negotiations in the settlement. If you are so truly and genuinely concerned  about the safety and wellbeing of your children, two of whom were conceived during consensual sex with the man you are now accusing of rape, why then if you could afford to do otherwise, would you put yourself and your children through the stress and rigors of two concurrent legal battles if not for the purpose of leveraging one over the other in an act that is nothing more than a vendetta against my client. Why not settle the issue on a fair note for both sides and spare yourself and your children the embarrassment of having the intimate details of your lives splashed all over Page Six? By all accounts we’ve heard, you are a very private person, so why then does the money matter so much to you? And what do you think that speaks to in terms of the other allegations you’ve made against my client, which, conveniently for you, cannot be corroborated by any third party or outside witness.”

“It means,” Miranda spoke evenly although her eyes spit blue fire in Stephen’s direction before turning back with a cold and dangerous glare to the balding man. “That we do not negotiate with terrorists.”

 

Chapter Text

An hour later, Miranda and Andy were alone in one of the empty ‘waiting rooms’ outside the main court area, waiting for the jury to come back with their verdict for Stephen’s contest of the prenuptial agreement. Final arguments for the criminal charges had been pushed back due to the defendants request to question Caroline and Cassidy as key witnesses. And truly, it wasn’t the money Miranda cared about, it was the precedent it set. No one made a fool of Miranda Priestly, and she wasn’t going to overlook the infidelities of her soon to be ex-husband and let him off the hook in the public eye for his behaviour. If he thought he could shame her into halving her fortune, a fortune that was meant for her girls and now the new babies, he was sorely mistaken.

A few muffled thumps against the wall drew both women’s attention away from their own internal musings.

“What on earth?”

“Hold on,” Andy pressed her ear to the dusty grain of the wood but she needn’t have as voices soon followed the occupants’ entrance into the adjoining waiting space, and after a moment it was all too obvious who the voices belonged to.

“That’s not gonna be a problem. You saw her, she’s a whale. There’s no way those tits are going back to the way they were before, or that waist. Not to mention that tight cunt those brats are going to stretch out. Remember I told you that was the only thing I was going to miss when I left the bitch. Our marriage was a fucking mess, but God did we make a mess fucking, at least on my part. She might have been a hot lay, and tight as hell, but damn she was frigid, made me want to rip her apart when I fucked her. Tell you the truth though, I think it would have been less hot if she’d been more into it.”

“He’s talking about wanting to rape you, imagining he raped you. That sick bastard!” Andy’s harsh whisper died in her throat as Miranda held a finger to her lips and continued listening.

“Hell yeah, bitch couldn’t walk straight in her precious Prada whoring pussy heels the day after I’d had her. I’m still surprised no one in her office caught on, what kind of boss takes a whole day off for a ‘facial’ or a ‘massage’. Likely no one cared is more like it.”

“We did. I did,” Andy turned to Miranda. “I cared, Miranda, and so do Emily and Nigel and”

“Shh, I know darling. He’s saying these things out of fear and out of anger. Nothing he says can hurt me anymore because HE is nothing.”

“He hurt you. He LIKED hurting you during sex.”

Miranda inclined her head, “Yes, but I was a willing participant Andrea, as hard as that may be to hear. I thought that was what was needed to save my marriage and so I did what I had to do for my girls.”

“But you didn’t want it,” Andy had tears in her eyes.

“I don’t EVER want to hurt you,” Andy whispered. “Promise me. Promise me you will tell me if anything ever feels wrong or you don’t like something, I”

Miranda cut off Andy’s rambling again. “Andrea, I don’t believe there is anything I could do with you that I would feel unsafe doing. I trust you implicitly, and I know I have your trust as well when you give yourself to me so completely.” Her wistful smile turned slightly mischievous as the glint in her eye changed.

“And when I am recovered from the birth of these babies, I intend to do everything with you, and to you that you could possibly imagine or want.”

Before Andy had time to recover and respond from the intensely hot statement, the voices in the other room changed, and a female voice could be heard through the walls.

“It’s so long,” the breathy voice continued. “And so low… How fast can it go?”

Andy and Miranda shared a puzzled glance, the adjectives sounding strange if they were describing what both women thought they were describing.”

“250 mph when I run her full throttle.”

Andy’s face remained twisted in confusion but Miranda nodded, smirking in understanding. “His boat in the Maldives,” she mouthed to the brunette who rolled her eyes, imagining the older man bragging to some legal aide ingénue about the pictures on his Iphone.

Suddenly there was a gasp. “It’s so big!” A giggle followed suit and the Andy and Miranda realized the picture must have changed, and they were willing to bet the divorce settlement that the picture was NOT of a speedboat.

“Hell yes it is,” the two women could hear the jingle of a belt buckle and the sound of a zipper. “That’s power.”

“Oh Mr. Tomlinson!

“You wanna taste of that power, honey? See what it feels like to hold it in your hands? Cuz I can give it to you.” There was silence for a moment and then, “Yeah, yeah that’s it. Stroke it…juust like that. Oh baby, yeah put your mouth on it. Yeah, you can taste that power now can’t you? Don’t stop. Yeah, can you handle all that honey or do you need to use two hands?”

“He always wanted to fuck me at work,” Miranda whispered, looking disgusted as she took her ear away from the wall. “I never let him. That was my place of power. It’s where things of beauty came to life and I didn’t want his touch or his scent on anything to ruin it. He just wanted to control me, to take me in the place where I held the most power so that he could claim it over me.”

Andy had straightened up as well, and she walked forward so that she was standing directly in front of Miranda, the firm curve of the older woman’s stomach pressing against her own flat toned one – the pressure only increasing the sudden feeling of arousal at the thought of worshipping Miranda’s body at the very altar of Runway itself.

“One day, if you’re comfortable with it, it’s going to be me who’ll have you bent over the desk, your skirt pushed up around your waist and panting for it. But it will be because I’ll be worshipping you at your throne and paying homage to what you’ve achieved. Your stockings and your heels are still going to be on so that gorgeous ass is pointing up towards me, and my tongue is going to trace the insides of your thighs sooo lightly, meeting the moisture that’s collected there. Tiny trails of sweat are going to be beading between your breasts and your stomach is slick against the desk as you clutch the sides.

Miranda’s entire face was red now and she was breathing heavily, shaking in Andrea’s arms as the brunette had travelled her across the room and she was now backed against the far wall.. “Andrea,” Andy’s hand skimmed the back of Miranda’s knee, causing the older woman to jump before she continued upwards to the buckle of her stockings where she began to trace lightly around the lace tops.

“What is it, baby?” Andy purred seductively, an evil glint in her eye. Normally, Miranda only accepted Andy calling her baby on very few occasions, but the older woman appeared to be past words as she pushed her hips towards Andrea desperately. “What do you need?”

Miranda only gave a mewl of frustration as she tried to maneuver her swollen figure so that she could press herself against the younger woman’s thigh, now desperate for a release from the pressure that had built between her own at the brunette’s suggestive imagery.

“Don’t tease,” Miranda growled, lurching forward suddenly and kissing the self-satisfied smirk off the younger woman’s face, her movements fierce and feral and possessive as she bit the ripe red lip underneath her own.

Using her knee against the wall and her hand still securely around Miranda’s waist, Andy managed to find the right angle and Miranda’s body jerked and shuddered once, powerfully, with her weight resting almost completely against Andrea but trusting the woman not to let her fall.

Moving her knee, and in the process stimulating a rivulet of aftershocks in the older woman’s body, Andy grinned at the very damp patch on her stockings and despite her current state of thrumming euphoria, Miranda blushed at the intensity of her body’s response to the brunette whose grin only widened as she lowered the both of them to the floor as Miranda’s legs wouldn’t hold her.

Murmured voices and a muted thumping could be heard coming through the wall next to them and if it wasn’t before, it quickly became apparent just what Stephen was showing he meant by power.

“Oh my God, he’s getting off because she’s calling him Mr. Tomlinson,” Andy smothered a laugh, “instead of Mr. Priestly.” Miranda was in stitches now, cackling hysterically as she sat against the wall, one shoe having fallen off in her paroxysms of laughter.

A look of absolute horror crossed her face suddenly and Andy immediately fell silent.

“What? Miranda what is it?” But Miranda just shook her head, unwilling or unready to tell Andy what was wrong.”

“Baby, talk to me, was I too rough just now? Does something hurt?”

“I, I need a change of clothes; could you go and get a fresh pair of La Perla and whatever skirt you can find that would fit me please,” the older woman whispered, her face turning bright red now with embarrassment instead of laughter.

Andy still didn’t get it. “What? Are you bleeding?”

“No.” Miranda’s face was beet red now and she crossed her legs uncomfortably. “It was when I was laughing.”

“Ohhh,” Andy got it now – “Oh sweetheart, it’s okay.”

“Fine. Okay. Could you please just go before my due date arrives?” Miranda snapped, hauling herself up off the floor less than gracefully and disappearing into the bathroom before slamming the door shut.

Apparently, Miranda’s sense of humour did not include finding the humour in losing control of her bladder.

Luckily, Andy’s time as Miranda’s assistant had taught her well, and she kept a rotating supply of extra clothes in Roy’s trunk in an unmarked duffel, given that the clothes were typically worth about half the amount of the car itself on any given day.

“I do not wish to discuss this Andrea. I am aware that it is a perfectly normal side effect of pregnancy however it is not an event I wish to revisit verbally or otherwise.” Miranda’s icy mask had been set firmly back in place as she exited the ladies restroom.

Andy’s giggles still hadn’t completely died out and Miranda rolled her eyes wondering if this was the price one had to pay when taking a younger lover. “I’m marrying an infant.”

“I’m not the one who just peed myself.” Andy shot back, clapping a hand over her face and groaning at her own idiocy as Miranda disappeared into the bathroom, closing and locking the door with more than the necessary force.

“Oh God, Sachs, you’re an idiot.”

Unashamedly stealing all but one bite of the soft pretzel Andy had gotten outside the courthouse that Miranda had insisted she didn’t want seemed to take care of Miranda’s foul mood in the wake of Andy’s less than tactful handling of the earlier situation. The younger woman found herself grateful not for the first time that pregnancy had made the editor’s resistance to bribes in the form of food that much weaker.

Hours later, Andy dropped her bag at the door and headed upstairs to where her love was supposed to be resting.

“Hey beautiful girl, how are you feeling?” Miranda forgave the taboo question considering the drama of the trial that day.

“Slovenly,” she replied, stretching her arms above her head and maneuvering herself so she was sitting up against the headboard. "I slept all afternoon,” her voice was disgusted.

“Good. Do you feel a bit better now?”

When Andy had reluctantly left the older woman to go into the office for a staff meeting, Miranda had been feeling sick to her stomach and it had felt like she might be starting to run a fever. Andy had nearly called in to say she wasn’t coming, but sick or not, Miranda was still Miranda and insisted the brunette go.

“Darling, please. Nothing more today about me, or the trial or the babies, tell me how your meeting went at work.”

“Soon as I check your temperature – back in a jiff!”

Reading the results on the tiny LED screen it looked like the afternoon of rest had done the older woman a world of good, and her temperature had gone back down to nearly normal.

Andy exhaled and ruffled her bangs, which she had grown out now but still had a tendency to play with when she was nervous and looked around as if for a convenient distraction before gingerly folding herself into a cross legged position on the bed.

When she looked up at Miranda, the older woman’s brow was raised in expectation and all of Andy’s nerves that she thought she had managed to get rid of on the way home flooded back in an instant and the story spilled out of her at a mile a minute about the events that had ensued at work that day.

Impressively, Miranda was able to keep up and nodded, staying silent until the young woman was forced to take a pause for breath.

“So I’m to understand that this story Greg has assigned or awarded to you is the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience you were so eager for before today? The UN Summit on women’s rights in the occupied provinces in the Middle East.”

“Yes!” Andy wailed, “But everything’s going too fast. I can’t leave now! The trial and the press are getting even uglier, you’re about to hit your third trimester and you’ve already had some scares and close calls. The girls are still away with their father and who knows how they’re going to handle even more changes when they get back. You’re still planning on working 5 days a week. There’s just too much happening for me to leave and fly into a warzone halfway across the world!”

“Andrea,” Miranda reached forward for the younger woman’s hands, stopped her from wringing them together so that the skin was reddened. “Do you want to go?”

A rogue tear escaped as Andy looked up at the woman she loved more than anything else in the world. “I-I want to go, in theory at least I’ve love to go. This could be my chance to prove my vocation wasn’t a mistake and that the efforts of partisan journalism and reporting can still make a difference in a global understanding of international relations and the girls don’t think I’m just another reporter like the ones outside and...”

Miranda started to speak again but Andy continued, “But while that was my dream for so many years, and still is, there’s another dream that matters so much more to me. I’m not going to leave again, Miranda.”

“It’s only leaving if you don’t come back,” Miranda looked down at their joined hands, and when she looked up again her eyes were a shining blue and her voice fierce as she spoke. “And you had better come back to me, Andrea Sachs.”

“Always,” Andy moved closer and stroked her hand soothingly up and down Miranda’s side as Miranda pressed her lips to the brunette’s engagement ring and then to the brunette herself. “Have I ever been able to stay away?”

“Then there isn’t any more discussion to be had. You’ll go,” Miranda decreed.

Andy was still for another long moment before bouncing off the mattress and giving a very un-serious-journalist squeal. “I’m going to go call Greg!” Another squeal followed this pronouncement and Andy’s rapid exodus from the room until a dry voice called her back, the soft tones of Miranda’s voice having come to pierce Andy’s trained ears like sirens.

“If you wouldn’t mind?” Miranda’s voice was dry and that one familiar, fearsome eyebrow arched, but Andy could sense the wry amusement behind her lover’s complaint as she hurried back over to the bed to help Miranda sit up from the awkward position she had been ‘bounced’ into by the younger woman.

“Are you sure you don’t need me to stick around?” Andy teased as she kept her arms looped around the broadened waist. “You know you’re only going to get bigger in the two weeks I’m gone.”

“I think I’m perfectly capable of getting myself stuck, yes,” Miranda teased back.

Now they were standing face to face again, Miranda’s omnipresent worries took over once more and she began very deliberately picking imaginary bits of lint and fluff off Andy’s sweater before smoother, younger hands caught hers up, bringing them to her lips as had become their wont and waiting expectantly, knowing Miranda wouldn’t be rushed.

“You will be careful, Andrea.” The words that began as a question turned into a command as Miranda’s grip tightened. “Whatever notions of heroism or risking your safety for the sake of a story – you simply can’t do that; you can’t think that way or be so reckless.”

Unconsciously, Andy pulled back slightly as Miranda spoke, unsure as to why a woman who had sacrificed everything for her career was telling her not to do her best work or do her job to the best of her ability.

“It may be selfish,” Miranda continued, “or unfair, for me to ask this of you, but…You have a family now.” Dual gazes fell to the casual family portrait of themselves and the girls that sat in a silver frame on Miranda’s bedside table and at the same time Miranda brought Andy’s hands to rest on the sides of her stomach. “I do not say this often. In fact I don’t believe I have ever said it to anyone prior to today. We need you, Andrea. You are too important to treat yourself as anything but. And likewise, this, this is the reason why I was so conflicted if asking you to marry me was the right decision or simply selfishness on my part, trying to keep you for myself instead of releasing you to the freedoms of your youth. Being with me, much as it might open some doors in the publishing world, also limits your career. My darling girl, you’re just starting out and all these responsibilities have been placed on you so that you don’t have the freedom to up and leave on assignment at a moment’s notice – your only concern being whether or not to sublet your apartment for the month or two you’re gone. But with two newborns, possibly with special needs…When I placed that ring on your finger, I cut out so many experiences, so large a part of your life…I only hope you don’t come to resent me for it.”

Understanding now what Miranda meant, Andy spoke softly but seriously, her joking demeanor from before disappeared completely. “Miranda. Being with you has reminded me of why I wanted to go into journalism in the first place, and it has nothing to do with who you are in the publishing world, or with Runway or any of that…To be a voice of unwavering clarity and conviction, like you are, amongst the pandering throng of media outlets. The girls need to see the power of media as a medium for social change and not just social networking. And if I can be a part of bringing attention or giving a voice to the issues too large for me or one person alone to tackle? If I can make, even in the tiniest way, this world a better place to bring these babies into then I will. You’re not a limitation, Miranda. Our children, our family is not a limitation or something that is holding me back. It’s my inspiration for my work, and my motivation to stay safe, knowing that I’m coming home to you.” A smirk appeared on her lips. “And you know by the time I get home it will be time to start the second half of the prenatal classes Dr. Jansen recommended.”

“Yes, and I thought that was all she had done until I received the bill, recommended, not booked.”

It was a slightly unorthodox arrangement, but nothing else about Miranda Priestly was ever as expected, so why should Lamaze classes be any different. They were going to attend the first half of the course before Andrea’s work trip to Iran, and join a different class after her return so they could pick up where they left off before the 2 week hiatus.

“Don’t be mad, Mira. I just want to be prepared – I’ve never done this before and I don’t want you to hurt any more than necessary.”

Miranda simply pursed her lips and glared, although there was no real heat behind it. Although an admission would never pass her lips, Miranda was terrified of the birth itself. She could only remember the feelings of agony, physical and mental, as she damn near killed herself to save her daughters. No, Miranda would find no reprieve from this fear until the infants in her womb were safe and whole in her arms and in Andrea’s.

There is, however, one more thing I want you to be prepared for…I want photos taken, of you, professionally. And ones with me and Cass and Caro as well.”

“Andrea, I thought we had settled this. We’ll have a family photo shoot once the babies are born. Then we’ll have pictures of the whole family.”

Andy shook her head stubbornly. “We’ll have those too but I want professional pictures, heck any pictures of you as you are right now.”

Miranda’s lips were still stubbornly pursed and Andy could tell this wasn’t looking as if it were going to go her way and so she pulled out her own ‘big guns’. Widening her eyes so that they grew bright and shiny with moisture and pushing out her bottom lip before biting it anxiously, Andy slid her arms around Miranda’s waist until they clasped at the small of the older woman’s back and both women looked down at the swell between them

“I want these babies to be able to look back to when they were born and know they were loved and wanted the minute we knew they existed. We don’t have their first ultrasound picture or a positive pregnancy test or any weekly bump photos or measurements…I don’t want their existence to be marked in time only by news articles covering the trial against their father or by grainy paparazzi ‘bump watch’ shots. We got engaged while you were pregnant with them. I want them to know they were a source of joy in all of this and to see all the good memories and all the love that surrounded them.” Andy nuzzled Miranda’s neck as she spoke, marking random spots with kisses as she moved up her throat and murmuring into the soft skin. Andy turned then, and she drew back slightly so that Miranda was facing the adjacent mirror with Andy standing behind her.

“And I want them to know how incredibly strong their mother was to go through what she did and what she gave to carry two babies for a second time…I may not have been a part of their conception or that first instant of their life, but I can give them these memories. Miranda, please. Let me do this for our children”

Miranda turned once more, not leaving the protective circle of Andy’s arms and moved Andy’s hands from the small of her back to press into her swollen stomach.

“Never has any other person entered into my mind as the second parent to these babies but you, Andrea. And I don’t want you to ever think that I would try to take them away from you based on an argument of genetics. This is your baby, Andrea,” Miranda brought the young woman’s hand to the lower left quadrant of her belly before moving upwards and slightly to the right, “and this is your baby. Your son and daughter. Our children.”

Not able to speak, and not able to find the right words, Andy simply leaned in and kissed the other woman, rubbing small circles where her hands still held the editor’s body until the older woman was relaxed and pliant once more, feeling the gentle kicking where their second mother held them.

“We WILL get through this, Miranda. Both of us will know the weight and the warmth of our babies in our arms.”

Commanding herself not to shed a tear, and regaining her senses, Miranda stepped back and straightened her clothing, “Fine, alright then. But you understand I will have final say over which pictures go to print once we receive the proofs.” She paused, looking more uncertain and then in an expression only Andy could deduce, disgusted with herself for her own uncertainty in the same breath. “And it will have to be soon. Blood pressure notwithstanding, if this pregnancy is anything like my first, my face will start to puff up soon, and there is the increasing potential for troublesome marks or veins.”

“You know I don’t care about that, but if you’re more comfortable - call, or have Emily call, whoever it is you want to do the shoot. I didn’t know who you would be most comfortable with for a private session so I haven’t booked anything.” Miranda nodded absently, mentally rolodexing the list of photographers in her mind that she would consider or trust to do the shoot and would make sure the private family photos were kept that way.

And then there was the issue of what to wear. No longer was there a gentle, elegant swell at her waist as there had been at 20 weeks. But at 25, almost 26, the neat bump was rapidly expanding into what would appear to be a full term belly if one didn’t know she was expecting twins. And God willing, it would continue to grow for a minimum of at least 10 week if not the full 15. Still, Andrea was right, she wanted the babies inside of her, both in that first most literal sense and in the fact that she wanted these babies inside of her to feel that their birth was cause for celebration – not some shameful secret or consequence of a failed marriage.

Yes, she would give Andrea this, at least. But if her younger lover thought for one moment that any form of recording device would be allowed in the delivery room, she would be sorely disappointed when it was forcibly dashed to pieces.

Chapter Text

“Really, Andrea, I don’t see why I must be forced to sit on the floor and practice breathing, something might I remind you I have managed to do without aid for the better part of a century, while strange granola crunching women and their baseball cap wearing, bar smelling husbands assault me with inappropriate questions and stories, believing I might be the least bit interested that ‘little Johnny’ required 26 hours and a vacuum to make his appearance?”

Andy couldn’t hold back her snort of laughter at Miranda’s vicious diatribe, earning her another glare from the irate woman beside her. “Oh, Miranda it won’t be that bad. I promise…Dr. Avery said this was a private class with exclusive clientele – I highly doubt you’ll be ‘assaulted’ by the odoriferous, granola eating masses.”

“You remember, Andrea, I have been through this once before.”

“Despite your current marital status, I can’t believe Jeremy would have allowed you to be accosted either.”

“Perhaps if he’d been there, he might not have.” Miranda muttered under her breath, turning her head away from Andy in feigned interest at a nearby window display, attempting to end the conversation.

Andy stopped walking, and since she had linked arms with Miranda, the other woman stopped too – turning to look at Andy in surprise.

“What do you mean if he’d been there? I thought you had said you’d been to childbirth classes when you were pregnant with the girls?”

“Three classes. Two and a half to be precise. Jeremy accompanied me to the first class, spent half the time on his phone in the hallway, and conveniently came up with excuses every time after that. Halfway through the third class, having earned smug and pitying stares from the other couples there as I struggled in with my pillow alone for the second time, I got up and left and never went back.”

“Jeremy was angry; saying that by not going meant that I didn’t care about the girls. But I did care, Andrea, so much. That’s why I didn’t want to be anywhere NEAR people who would judge them for their family,” Miranda choked out a harsh laugh, “And you can see how well that plan has worked.”

“What I see that you have two beautiful healthy daughters at home, and two more beautiful, healthy babies in your belly. Besides, you’re not alone this time, Miranda. And if I have anything to say about it, you’ll never be alone again. In fact you will WISH for loneliness, you will dream of it, CRAVE it!” Andy flung her arms out exaggeratedly as she saved the conversation from getting too mushy for Miranda’s tastes, smiling when she succeeded and Miranda’s eyes softened back to a cornflower blue before rolling them at her exuberant younger partner.

Miranda’s posture had grown stiffer and stiffer as they got closer to the studio where the class was supposed to take place, and her answers to Andrea’s chatter shorter and increasingly terse. This didn’t escape the younger woman’s notice and she was hopeful that once Miranda saw there was nothing to worry about, she would be able to relax and take in the information that would help prepare them for the birth.

The room itself was light and airy, with light hardwood floors and an intimate semi-circle of chairs beside the window to the right of the fireplace that served as the central focal point of the room. Each chair was different, from an ornate Baroque specimen to a lavender velvet upholstered armchair – all coordinating effortlessly somehow with the aesthetic of the room and Andy breathed a small sigh of relief, at least the décor was acceptable, tastefully accented by the cream backdrop of the walls.

Gently urging Miranda forward with a hand at the small of her back, they took two of the last four remaining seats, Andy taking Miranda’s hand in hers as she answered the questions from the couple beside them. Miranda smiled tightly as the pleasantries were exchanged and managed a nod and a slight unpursing of her lips. The silence that ensued could have turned awkward, however the tension was broken by the entrance of the instructor and the final two ‘students’ – a well-known tv actress expecting her first child at forty two and her husband. Luckily, this provided a distraction from the uncomfortable interaction and soon the instructor, a blonde woman in her mid-thirties dressed in designer yoga clothes who introduced herself as Trish before beginning to speak about the class.

“Hello everyone and thank you for being here today. This is the first of four sessions of our Baby Prep classes, which include pre-birth physical and mental exercises, ways to cope with the sensations of labour and postpartum care. Now we’re a small group and several of our mommies in this particular sensation have lives and/or careers that put them in the spotlight and in the public eye. And so as a first rule, we have a strict no media policy, which means no videos or photos are to be taken without prior permission and adhering to strict guidelines of what and who can appear.”

This drew a few enraged whispers from some of the younger mothers, among which Andy recognized one or two reality television stars and an up and coming singer. All, she assumed, wanted the exclusivity of joining this section of the class,  but who hadn’t thought about the extra rules accompanying their participation.

“What if some of us want to document this experience. I mean, we have followers on Twitter and Instagram who expect to see daily content and updates. If we don’t deliver - ”

“No pun intended?” Andy murmured under her breath, hoping to draw a smile from the tightly tensed woman beside her whose fists were twitching as she yearned to ball them into fists and feel the grounding effect of her nails biting into her palm.

Although indiscernible to anyone else but Andy, Miranda was very quickly losing the battle against the nerve-induced bitter acid and bile climbing up her chest and into her throat so that she could taste her own fear. She couldn’t, she could.not. do this. She absolutely intended for Andrea to be present for the birth, she couldn’t imagine a scenario where she wouldn’t want, no, need the younger woman at her side. And when she did go into labour, she knew Andrea would do everything in her power to make sure she was as comfortable as possible. She knew she would be able to fall back on the young, strong hands that had held her up so many times thus far in their relationship. But here, in front of all these people she wouldn’t debase herself to panting and pantomiming when she knew what the real event would be like. It was a poor substitution if it was one at all and Miranda recoiled internally at the thought of so many people seeing Andrea touch her so intimately and to be put in all sorts of strange positions…

Seeing Miranda’s bloodless grip and ashen face, Andy slid a hand to rest on Miranda’s lower back and nudged her forward slightly as she herself stood.

“Oh!” Andy made a small noise of surprise as she grabbed her turned off phone from her back pocket as she stood, managing to look distraught as she looked between Miranda and the screen. “Mira, I’m so sorry. It’s Greg; we’re out 3 people this week and I’m still the newbie” Andrea explained to the group. A flash of understanding crossed Miranda’s face and she artfully arranged her features to appear disappointed but understanding as she gracefully accepted.

“Of course, I’ll have Roy drop you off on the way home.”

Keeping her hand at the small of Miranda’s back, Andy could feel the ripple of tension in her posture and noted the creases around her eyes and lips as she tightened her features.

Andy’s internal monologue plagued her all the way down the elevator until they reached the familiar black vehicle. What on earth were you thinking, Sachs? Just because Miranda had attended one of these classes before didn’t mean she would want to attend one now. That had been nearly a decade & two marriages ago, that Miranda didn’t exist anymore. This one did, and it was this one that she loved and wanted to do everything in her power to protect. She cringed as she looked over at a silent Miranda, her features impassive which was never a good sign, as the elevator descended and let out into the front entryway.

Miranda carefully schooled her features as they made their excuses and left the meeting, but out in the hallway where it was only she and Andrea, she could feel the façade threaten to crumble. Again, she thought miserably, again she had failed at being a wife and a mother. What was it in her that made her unable to do something as simple as a childbirth preparation course? Occupied as she mentally berated herself, Miranda took no notice of the younger woman’s growing distress as they made their way out of the building.

Once they were in the car, however, she inhaled shakily, attempting to keep her composure as she spoke unfamiliar words.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, looking down at her hands and not meeting Andy’s eyes, her expression kept carefully blank.

“No, I’m sorry I forced you into doing something that made you so uncomfortable. The fact that you agreed to go at all means everything to me Miranda, even if it didn’t work out. I could care less about that class; what I want is for you to be safe, and to bring these babies into the world safely. I don’t want you to be in pain any more than you have to be and I thought those classes might help, but not if they’re stressing you out. That’s not doing you or the babies any good.” Andy closed her eyes as slender fingers ghosted over her cheek and ran through her hair and she knew nothing more need be said.

Once they were home, Andrea actually did get a call from her editor and had to run in to the office, leaving Miranda in her office to catch up on some Runway work, although she did insist on having a small footrest beneath the desk so that Miranda could elevate her feet as well as making sure Miranda had water, the ginger tea she had been favouring during the pregnancy and a plate of assorted snacks.

“Promise me you’ll call if you start not feeling good again, alright? And please, try and rest. You’re working so hard and the trial’s been just as hard on you. I can see you’re a little swollen even from today…”

Already engrossed in the latest proofs and copies of the Book, Miranda nodded and hummed absentmindedly, not looking up from the pages.

However, after an hour or so, Miranda was forced to admit she was indeed feeling flushed and a dull pain had begun to throb behind her eyes.

Sighing, she conceded defeat and slowly raised her body from her seated position, making sure she didn’t rise too quickly and suffer a dizzy spell. Her first had happened only a month after finding out about the pregnancy and Andrea’s moving in to the townhouse. She had been in a meeting, going over the preliminary preparations for the next month’s issue. The suggestions put forward had been terrible and Miranda had had little patience for the incompetence of her staff. Already, that morning she had suffered a severe bout of morning sickness and hadn’t been able to keep down even the small sips of water Andrea had encouraged her to drink as they both sat on the bathroom floor for the better part of an hour. When Miranda had finally sat back, a hand pressed first to her aching ribcage and then her complaining abdominal muscles, Andrea had slipped her hand beneath hers, gently rubbing soft circles as Miranda caught her breath. But despite Andrea’s pleading, hadn’t been willing to put anything else past her lips.

She was paying for that decision now, she thought later that day, hoping her features didn’t show the inward grimace in response to the waves of nausea that flared up intermittently during the planning session. After the meeting, she decided, she would go back to her office and perhaps lie down on the sofa and close her eyes just for a little while

But as the meeting ended, she stood from her seated position, eager for the soothing darkness and privacy of her office, when her stomach gave a particularly nasty flip and the room began to spin disconcertingly before fading into black.

Nigel saw the first sway of the still lithe, slender frame and was able to catch her as her legs gave way beneath her, moving quickly into her office, herded by Emily while Serena warded off any curious or voyeuristic clackers.

Andy had burst in frantically twenty minutes later, eyes scanning the room until they fell on the woman she loved in a semi prone position on the pale robin’s egg couch looking pale but very much alive as she cradled a mug of tea in her hands and responded to something Nigel was saying about the upcoming issue.

Miranda’s jacket was unbuttoned and had fallen open, revealing the ever so slight bulge that her free hand kept returning to unconsciously and which was the cause of so much fuss..

“Miranda,” she had finally been able to croak out, feeling lightheaded herself as all the horrific scenarios she had been imagining flew out of her mind at the sight of the editor.

“Andrea! Darling, what are you doing - ” Miranda cut herself off to glare at Nigel and Emily.

“I was here for your first pregnancy, darling – and although I suspected the same, I would never have forgiven myself if there had been something wrong and I hadn’t notified Andrea immediately.”

“Then why didn’t you call for an ambulance?” And although the look she threw his way was menacing, Andy’s gaze was soft as she knelt by the couch, needing the physical contact with Miranda to slow her furiously beating heart.

“Though admittedly the lion’s share of it is dedicated in subservience to runway, I still derive some value from my life and would like to keep it if possible.” Now both women shot glares at him and he laughed out loud, not only at the looks the two primary women in his life apart from Emily and his mother were shooting at him, but at the fact that the faces belonging to the two glowering women meant that everything was fine. He could only pray that it would stay that way.

“Are you sure I can’t take you home?” Andy still knelt by the couch, her hand having replaced Miranda’s over the small bump and rubbing gentle, absentminded circles as she attempted to wheedle and cajole Miranda into working from home for the rest of the day.

“I promise I’ll stay in my office for the rest of the day, no meetings or run-throughs, but I simply can’t leave. In any case, the rest of the staff will believe there IS something truly wrong with me and let it out to the press that Miranda Priestly had collapsed and been rushed away.” Miranda’s eyes crinkled fondly at the young woman biting her lip anxiously. Oh God how she needed to keep this girl, this woman, in her life.”

“Besides, your two henchmen” at this Emily made a choked sort of spluttering noise of indignation at being called Andy’s anything, “will ensure I don’t attempt anything strenuous.” Miranda peered over her glasses at the pair, “while still being able to carry out their duties to Runway.”

The pair was out the door before you could say Dior and Andy rose to her feet to lock it behind them before sliding behind Miranda on the couch, feeling the soft white hair brush beneath her chin as Miranda let her body relax fully into the younger woman, wishing she had the time to fall asleep in her arms.

She could feel the heat of Andy’s palm burn through the thin silk of her blouse and the warmth spreading through her veins, stemming from her slightly rounded belly cradled so securely in her lover’s hands. As those hands began to move again in a gentle massage, Miranda covered them with her own to keep them there, letting her still aching head rest in the comfort of the graceful curve of the younger woman’s neck just for a moment.

Coming back to the present, Miranda found that amidst her reminiscences her feet had taken her to the door to the as yet unfinished nursery. A fresh wave of emotion hit her as she pictured the room as it would be in a few months’ time when she and Andrea, please God, would bring the babies home from the hospital. Her swollen feet reminding her of why she had stopping working on the Book, Miranda gently lowered herself into the wooden rocker, a sigh escaping her lips at the coolness of the wood against her flushed skin and the way it curved to support her compromised figure.

 

 

 

That was where Andy eventually found her. After coming home to no answer to her welcoming call, Andy had searched the rooms of the townhouse, her panic increasing as her imagination took over and she pictured multiple scenes and scenarios where Miranda was hurt or sick or in labour and hadn’t been able to reach her. Coming out of their bedroom, Andy’s ears registered a familiar noise from across the hall and she followed the noise until she came to the open door of what would be the nursery if she and Miranda could ever come to a mutual decision on it, one that Miranda was likely to win given Andy’s weakened resistance when it came to the pregnant editor. Miranda was soundly asleep, sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery, her cheek resting partially against her shoulder and the curved headrest of the wooden chair.

“Hey babies, look at how beautiful your mommy is.” Andy zoomed the camera in to focus on Miranda’s face, peacefully at rest before panning down to where the older woman’s hands rested on her belly. “And there you are, growing big and strong inside your mama. Baby A…” she panned down one side of the swell; “and Baby B…” she she focused on the topmost curve now. “We love you so much babies, and mommy and mama and your sisters are so excited to meet you.” The camera panned back out, “I love you. The camera shut off, but Andy didn’t move for another few minutes, content to watch the woman she loved at peace. “So much…”

 

Andy was sitting at the kitchen table a few days after the failed attempt at the Lamaze group when she heard the older woman on the stairs. At twenty-seven weeks pregnant, Miranda was still insisting she didn’t require any assistance with her own stairs thank you very much. But as Miranda grew bigger and less steady on her feet, Andy knew she would have to step in. If she waited for Miranda to ask for help, the second set of twins would be in university.

Placing The Book on the table in the hallway Andy had once struggled to find, Andy took a moment to admire her lover from her seat at the table, taking an indecent amount of pleasure watching the bend and flex of the legs that only last night had been wrapped around her. A classic black jersey draped elegantly across her shoulders, the soft fabric clinging just enough to accent her new curves; Andy smirked as she mentally removed each article of couture, knowing what lay beneath. A rich, rusty orange shantung silk pencil skirt from Donna Karan and peep-toe kitten heels completed the look.

Pouring a fresh cup of decaf and adding scalded milk, Andy walked over to Miranda as she came into the kitchen. “Morning, beautiful.” She leaned in further for a kiss, but Miranda barely noticed as she took the cup from Andy. Her face remained impassive, but Andy could discern a hint of confusion and uncertainty as her hold on Miranda turned from suggestive to supportive as she gently led Miranda to the table until she was sitting down.

“Miranda? What is it?” Andy refrained from asking if she had done something to upset the editor, knowing she had promised both herself and Miranda from constantly second guessing her actions or her worth when it came to their relationship.

“I feel strange.” Miranda murmured, her gaze almost glassy as she sat, unusually still and unnaturally docile.

“It’s not pain or even nausea specifically. I just…feel….strange, almost like my skin is buzzing. I’m exhausted but I’m restless as well.”

“You’re sure nothing’s hurting?” Andy ran her hands over Miranda’s arms as she looked her over worriedly, her hands coming back to rest one on Miranda’s cheek and the other lightly on the curve of her belly.

Miranda nodded slowly as she took stock of her body, noting nothing unusual besides a dull ache in her back, which really wasn’t all that unusual or surprising given the strain on it at the moment.

“I’ll take it very easy today, darling. Lots of desk work and only one meeting. I may even come home early if the levels of office idiocy stay below catastrophic.”

That was more like Miranda, Andy breathed easier and she agreed to the compromise, even if her own gut was uneasy about it. This floaty, almost dreamy, ‘out of it’ Miranda wasn’t normal. In fact this Miranda would piss the real Miranda off to where she wouldn’t put it past her to fire herself. Great, Andy thought, now SHE was the one sounding strange.

Allowing herself the indulgence of a half-caf latte in the hopes it would snap her out of whatever pregnancy brain-induced funk she was in, Miranda ignored the disapproving line of Emily’s lips although the redhead said nothing as she handed Miranda the folders for the meeting and the woman had plucked the caffeinated treat out of the new girl’s hand. Once Miranda had left the office, Emily swooped in on the junior assistant and the girl winced as Emily’s bony fingers pinched her wrist and dragged her offside to the kitchen.

“The next time she asks, you bring her decaf. No exceptions – if she notices, she’ll think it merely isn’t working, and if she sends you out for another you do the same. And you stick to that story and tell her that it is what she ordered.”

“But…but” the girl spluttered.

“Yes, butts. It’s yours on the line if that happens again, and I shan’t be saying don’t let the door hit it on the way out because you will have one hell of an angry journalist to do it for you.”

In the meeting room down the hall, Miranda nearly had to grip the table as she felt the warm liquid pulse through her veins, clearing her thoughts to where she could actually focus on the catastrophic suggestions being made for the beginning of the next quarter. She took another sip, her heart actually skipping a beat at the long withheld rush of caffeine. Finally, something the girl could seem to do better than Emily or the other junior assistant whatever-her-name-was.

She didn’t sip at it delicately either. Finishing her drink within the first 20 minutes, Miranda could hear her heartbeat in her ears and the buzzing in her veins seemed to cancel out the strange vibrations she had felt this morning. Evidently, the effects of the caffeine were affecting the babies as well and her hand stole beneath the table to try and calm the hard kicks from the babies. At the same time she glanced at her watch restlessly, uncharacteristically distracted from the goings on of the meeting. Luckily it would only last for another ten minutes, she thought to herself. Then she could return to the privacy of her office and perhaps lie down for a few minutes and give the nauseating headache she could feel beginning to pound at her temples a chance to fade, perhaps a full re-introduction caffeine to her system was a mistake.

Self-conscious of the way she knew she looked getting up, Miranda stayed in her seat, coolly marking B-roll proofs as the Runway staff flurried off in every direction, racing to get done whatever it was was needed or fix what had been torn apart and eviscerated by Miranda in the meeting. When it was only Nigel left in the room, Miranda twisted lightly from side to side – grimacing as she realized the dull, pinching ache from that morning was still there. That pinching pain got worse as she made to get up from her chair, but she only made it halfway before she froze, hunched over the table, her breaths coming faster even as her head was down.

Miranda looked up in Nigel’s direction, her face pale and her eyes going wide in horror as tiny gasps of air forced themselves from her lips. “I – I don’t…I didn’t”

This kind of dithering was not like Miranda at all, and concerned, Nigel moved closer – a horrified gasp of his own escaping as he saw Miranda. She was frozen in the process of standing up, a steady trickle of blood running down the inside of her thigh staining her shoes and the white carpet.

Chapter Text

“Oh my God, Miranda.”

“Andrea, get Andrea,” Miranda croaked, her voice breaking and call…call an ambulance.”

That last sentence seemed to shock Nigel into action and he yelled out the door for Emily in a decidedly un-Nigel like tone before taking off his jacket and wrapping it around the frozen editor, who seemed only able to look at the growing crimson stain on the previously spotless floor.

Nigel’s gesture coincided with a first awful cramp, but luckily the older man still had his arms around her shoulders from placing his jacket and he scooped her up into his arms as he felt her legs give way.

“What on…Oh my God.” Emily’s face blanched at Miranda’s pained expression and the blood pooled on the chair and dripping onto the floor sinisterly, her pale English skin now like chalk.

“Call Roy, see if he’s nearby. He might get here faster than an ambulance will at this hour, and call Andrea.”

“What are you going to call me, Nige?” A familiar teasing voice floated down the hall as the woman in question arrived to meet her fiancée for lunch.

“Miranda!” the rough yell held so much fear that it froze both Nigel and Emily as they watched their friend and former colleague drop the Styrofoam containers of food she was carrying and run the length of the meeting room as she came through the door to the nightmarish scene.

Emily lifted the phone from her ear. Roy’s downstairs and Dr. Jansen will meet you in emergency at Presbyterian.” Miranda gripped Andy’s hand tightly as another brutal pain ripped through her abdomen. Andy pressed her lips to the clammy skin before letting go reluctantly so Nigel could get to the elevator doors Emily was currently defending from a group of clackers who had gathered at the commotion.

“Andrea, the babies…It’s too soon. It’s too early, they’re not ready!” Miranda’s voice had escalated to a shrill cry of panic once they were in the elevator. “They’re too little! It’s not, ugh, it’s not time” she panted. “I, oh please, please I can’t lose them. Oh God, ah! Andrea, I swear to you, I thought it was just gas bubbles again, l-like the day of the amniocentesis. I didn’t notice the blood until I stood and I, I…”

“Shhh,” Andy willed the floors between them to disappear as she stroked the hair back from the beloved, terrified face, trying to calm the older woman down despite her own growing panic, not knowing what the matter was but knowing the babies, and indeed Miranda were in a fragile enough condition that neither would be able to take any great level of distress.

Seventeen floors had never felt longer, and if Andy hadn’t been so completely focused on Miranda she might have realized, with a cruel twist of irony, that this was likely the first time in 20 years Miranda had been in an elevator with more than one other person.

But focused she was, terrified but focused as she kept hold of Miranda’s hand even as the other clutched in agony at her belly.

No! Miranda’s mind roared inside her head, hoping against all hope that somehow she could manage to slow her heart rate or command her uterus to hold its contents, But her womb seemed determined to expel what was in it and she felt warm blood drip from between her thighs.

The hand not holding Andy’s in a death grip protectively cradled the underside of her belly. “It hurts,” she exclaimed breathlessly, her face noticeably paler than before as Nigel eased into the waiting car with his precious cargo and Andy removed the garment from over Miranda’s head where it had shielded her from sight and identification and wrapped it around her body as the editor began to shiver.

“She’s bleeding through the jacket,” Nigel murmured to Andy although he knew she could see the blood seeping through Miranda’s skirt from where she was practically swaddled in Andrea’s arms.

Andy nodded jerkily, not taking her eyes off Miranda and keeping her gaze steady and calm as best she could in the hopes it would soothe the near-hyperventilating woman who had now ceased any attempt at stifling her cries as each new contraction or pain assaulted her body and drew more blood from her.

By divine providence Andy was sure, Roy had found a police car a block away from Runway and convinced them to provide an escort to the hospital so that they were able to speed through the midday traffic with the blare of sirens clearing their path, although they didn’t drown out Roy’s curses, drawn from him whenever he thought the squad car wasn’t going fast enough or taking the fastest route.

“God bless Emily,” Andy breathed as she saw a group of doctors and a team with a stretcher come out of the emergency doors as they pulled up to NYP.

“Miranda, we’re here, it’s going to be okay.” Andy promised hopelessly, her voice cracking as she received no response.

Having transferred Miranda into Andy’s arms in the back of the car so Nigel could get in after them, Andy was aware of the copious bloodstains on her jeans and blouse and hands, but appearance was the last thing on her mind as she watched as Miranda was taken out of her arms, unconscious and with laboured breathing, and wheeled away on a stretcher for the second time since Andy realized she was in love with the woman.

Miranda had slipped into unconsciousness soon after they got in the car and hadn’t responded to Andy’s desperate pleas to wake up except for a faint moan and a weak flutter of her eyelids at the initial touch of Andy’s lips on her forehead as the younger woman tightened her hold on the limp frame of the editor.

“Sweetheart, please come back to me,” Andy pleaded, knowing she would willingly give everything she owned to see the familiar baby blues that she had come to learn turned stormy grey or even indigo depending on their owner’s tempestuous moods.

“We’ll take care of her, I promise.” One of the younger doctors tried to comfort Andy as he gently took Miranda out of her arms, leaving her with nothing but a blood-sodden jacket held limply in her hand.

Blindly following the team of doctors until they came to a restricted area, Andy turned to Nigel, wild eyed as Miranda was rolled out of sight. Her knees gave out completely as she saw his blood-soaked clothing as well and the faint bloody fingerprints visible on his tie and shoulders that she knew belonged to Miranda.

“My God, Nigel. What if something happens to her? What am I going to do? What am I going to tell the girls? How can I explain…I can’t, I can’t lose her Nige, and the babies…”

The man half-carried, half-dragged Andrea into the lobby of the hospital and into one of the waiting room chairs, leaving her for a minute as he disappeared momentarily, returning with a bottle of water he’d procured from the nurse’s station and urged her to take a sip before she passed out as well.

Andy hiccupped disconsolately and stared towards the doors where she had last seen Miranda, as though she could somehow see into the OR. “Oh God, oh God, oh God…”

“Andy,” Nigel stated quietly, knowing what was going through the younger woman’s mind. “This was not your fault. This was not Miranda’s fault. This was an accident, a fluke.”

“It would kill her if she lost these babies, Nigel. She already feels guilty for the TTS and not wanting them when she first found out she was pregnant.”

“Her abusive ex-husband had gotten her pregnant at almost fifty before assaulting her in their own home, what’s to want?”

“The babies…” Andy whispered, her gaze drawn back to the double doors. “She has spent this entire pregnancy literally sick with fear. Between the trial, and the babies’ diagnosis and the girls…I don’t know what else I can do to help her or make things better.”

“Andy, I can tell you that your presence alone has changed her. Never have I ever in my twenty-eight years of knowing her seen her allow herself to draw strength or lean on anyone around her. Not Jeremy, certainly not Steven. The closest she came was me and even then there were walls I couldn’t, that I can’t and never will breach, doors I couldn’t open that she wouldn’t talk about.”

Before Andy could reply, a man in scrubs approached, his nametag proclaiming him as head of general surgery.

“She’s asking for her wife. Would that be her?”

“Err, yes.” Nigel confirmed tentatively.

“What?” Andy turned her head, “Hi, yes, Miranda Priestly – do you have any news?”

“We’ve given her a sedative, but she’s fighting it. Says she needs to talk to you before we take her in for surgery.”

“Surgery?” Andy’s knees truly buckled this time and she was grateful for the bank of chairs behind her as she landed gracelessly, gripping the armrests as she fought the urge to put her head between her knees. “Ca-can’t you just give her medication to stop the contractions?”

Dr. Jansen came out of the ER doors next, red hair captured in a bun and tied up in her surgical cap. “Andy!”

“Dr. Jansen! What -” The attractive brunette doctor moved swiftly over to the small group and knelt by Andy’s chair, forcing the younger woman to meet her gaze as she gave voice to Andrea’s greatest fears.

“Andy, we have to take her into surgery, because of her high blood pressure, one of the blood vessels that feeds from the placenta to the babies was blown out. We need to take the pressure off Baby B and see if we can get her heart rate back up because that was one of the main means of support for her side of the amniotic sac.”

“And if you don’t? Take her in, that is?”

“If we don’t do something to equalize the rate of flow, Baby B’s heart rate will stay too low; her organs will shut down, and Baby A’s pressure will keep rising and put him at risk for an aneurysm and his enlarged heart to arrest. In either case, something has to be done because the part of the placenta where the vessel burst is starving and soon it will start to detach from the uterine wall causing an abruption.”

“A-abruption?” Andy vaguely recalled seeing that term in one of the pregnancy books, but couldn’t quite remember what it was. She knew it was bad, though.

“It’ll cause a haemorrhage. She’ll bleed out, Andy; her own blood pressure isn’t stable enough to handle that kind of stress. Her body’s already been pushed to the limits with this pregnancy at fifty.”

“And if, if it doesn’t work?”

Dr. Jansen shook her head sorrowfully, but didn’t mince her words. “If we were to deliver them now, the babies wouldn’t make it Andy, I’m sorry, they’re just too little. At most if they survived the birth, you might have several hours before the life support machines wouldn’t be enough. There would be internal bleeding, brain damage, they would need to be intubated…”

“Go,” Andy gasped, her own body feeling as though it was shutting down. “Please, do whatever you have to do. Just save them. I-I can’t…Oh God, I can’t breathe.”

Worried about the young woman in front of her, but more worried still about the woman behind the OR doors Dr. Jansen nodded at the older man beside Andrea and let him take the violently shivering brunette into his arms before she jogged back through the doors.

She felt something vibrate in her hand and she realized she was still clutching her phone, which showed Cassidy’s picture as a text came in that read. “Do u think we can convince mom the babies want Thai food 2nite?”

Oh God, the girls! They were supposed to be coming back tonight. Bile rushed up in the back of Andy’s throat and her stomach cramped violently, threatening total rebellion as she staggered to her feet, shoving the phone into Nigel’s chest and running for the women’s bathroom at the end of the hall. Once it felt like her body had ridded itself of everything she had ever eaten, she splashed her face with water and ran her wrists under cold water until the flop sweat had dried and she felt it was safe to move again. As empty as she felt now, she feared leaving porcelain cocoon of the bathroom where no one would enter and tell her that her life was over.

Three and then four hours passed before they were given any word. After the first two hours, Nigel had had to return to Runway in crisis mode to deal with keeping the rumours and noise about Miranda to a minimum and having Emily draft emails reminding Elias-Clarke employees about the non-disclosure agreement contained in each of their contracts that prohibited them from talking to the press. But before he had left he had fiercely embraced the younger woman and under his breath, muttered “She’s tough, Andy. The strongest woman I know, she will make it through this. Believe in that, believe in her. Call me the minute she’s out of surgery, alright?”

Andy nodded but didn’t raise her head to meet his eyes. Instead she continued counting the laminate tiles on the floor of the smaller surgical waiting room, over and over compulsively – as though counting the tiles were the only thing keeping Miranda alive and she just had to keep counting.

Three and a half hours came and went as Andy alternated between counting and pleading with God to keep Miranda with her and raging against Him as she contemplated the unthinkable. Memory after memory both good and bad raced through her mind. Although it was Miranda on the operating table, it was her own life that flashed before her eyes, only slowing down when it came to Miranda’s shocking, willing admission that she loved the younger woman back, and flashbacks from their relationship. Miranda’s proud smile as she showed off her tiny bump the day she had ‘popped’. The girls reading to that same small belly even though it was too early for the babies to hear. The countless times she had helped Miranda through her morning sickness and sat with her, sometimes for hours, until she felt well enough to move…and Miranda’s proposal in Paris…Tears she thought had run dry squeezed from her aching eyes and she fisted her hands together so tightly around the platinum band it was only when she saw the fresh blood, her own, join Miranda’s on her hand that she realized she had punctured her own hand with the precision-cut stones.

“Andy?”

Andy’s heart leapt, Miranda still in her mind’s eye. But that image faded, leaving in its place the exhausted features of Dr. Jansen as the doctor knelt in front of her, having failed to break the younger woman out of her seeming trance.

Andy tried to speak, tried to ask if Miranda was alright, if they had been forced to deliver the babies stillborn, if either were still alive. But a voice not her own simply rasped “Please.”

Dr. Jansen took hold of the woman’s forearms, hoping it would help ground her along with the news she had come to deliver.

“They’re alright.”

Andy’s vision actually blurred and dimmed before a firm hand brought her head down between her knees and instructed her to take deep breaths. When she was no longer in danger of passing out, Andrea tightened her own hold on the doctor’s forearms.

“Miranda, the babies”

“They’re okay, they’re alive,” Dr. Jansen reassured her. “We were able to successfully divert blood flow away from Baby A and re-establish a primary and secondary connection to the donor twin.”

“And the abruption? Is there still a chance that whatever it is separates and Miranda will bleed out?”

“There’s always a chance, but I don’t see that happening here,” Dr. Jansen was quick to follow her first statement with a reassurance. “She will need to stay in the critical care wing of the obstetrics unit for a minimum – a minimum of a week on strict bedrest. The first couple of days she’ll be on a catheter and then we’ll try for getting her up and walking. Then it will be a week of bed rest at home and then a less restrictive schedule until I’m comfortable delivering her. She’s still at risk for further preeclampsia symptoms but I promise we’re going to do everything it takes to ensure Miranda and the babies come through this safely.

Andy nodded, silent tears streaming down her face at the relief of knowing she hadn’t lost her family. The legal documents regarding chain of custody for Caroline and Cassidy had only arrived the night before and obviously, the twin’s father wasn’t able to sign them. If Miranda, God forbid, died, Andy would have no claim or say over guardianship of the twins, and with Miranda gone, her ex-husband might change his mind and refuse any sharing of rights or custody.

Andy’s mind kept tripping over itself as she struggled to single out one of the thousand questions racing through her mind to ask Dr. Jansen. Knowing there was little that could be done for Miranda until the babies were born, Andy finally settled on a question she knew Miranda would ask the moment she was conscious and sentient.

“The babies – you said they made it through the surgery, what” Andy took a deep breath, “what are their chances? Is there going to be any lasting damage and how do we know this isn’t going to happen again.”

Dr. Jansen nodded thoughtfully at the question before answering. “Like I said, the surgery overall was a success in that we were able to re-route and short certain blood vessels so the distribution of nutrients was equalized. We knew this surgery was a distinct possibility back from when Miranda was first diagnosed, it simply happened that we had to perform it under emergency circumstances. However…baby A and baby B are looking good so far. The work done on the blood vessels seems to be holding and we’re monitoring each twin carefully. Baby B’s heart rate has dropped a few times but seems to have stabilized in the last hour or so, and we were able to remove excess fluid around Baby A so that some of the pressure was relieved and we can see from the ultrasound that the swelling in the tissue of the heart has stopped.”

“Oh God,” Andy moaned, dropping her head into her hands again so that the room would stop spinning before she jerked upright again.

“Miranda. Please, I need to see her. She’s out of surgery right? Tell them she needs to be in a private room, I don’t care what the cost is I’ll pay it. And all the staff present during intake and the surgery, they need to sign non-disclosure forms apart from the standard issue hospital policy - ”

“Andy, breathe.” A wry smile twisted Dr. Jansen’s lips for the first time since Andy had seen her that day. “It’s taken care of. Before the surgery, all staff present had to sign the disclosure agreement we had on file from when Miranda was last in hospital and I’ve instructed for her to be transferred to a private room in the high risk obstetrics wing once she’s out of critical care. Now, are you ready to see her?”

Andy nodded, standing up so fast that she nearly knocked Dr. Jansen over and stumbled slightly at the head rush from her sudden ascent.

Walking down the hall, Dr. Jansen warned Andy regarding what she could expect to find. “There’s going to be a lot of scary looking equipment in there, but for the most part their purpose is for monitoring Miranda and the babies. We have her on an IV of course and she’ll be receiving one or two blood transfusions to bump up her RBC count until it’s back to normal. The majority of the surgery was done laparoscopically so the incision we had to make is only about 3 inches, but we needed at least that much space to try and repair the detachment. We’ll know if that was a success if we can see by ultrasound that the placenta has started to repair itself against the wall of the uterus. If it hasn’t, Miranda will need to stay in the hospital for the remainder of her pregnancy, because if it tears or detaches again she could easily bleed out before we’re able to get her into surgery.”

A sickly rush of bile surged over Andy’s tongue but she swallowed resolutely, nodding to let Dr. Jansen know she heard her, but afraid to open her mouth.

“It may look bad, Andy, but she was lucky; incredibly lucky. And even after today I’m still placing the odds on that woman in there,” Dr. Jansen nodded towards a closed door. “She’ll be out for a few hours yet, but the nurses know you’re to be let in at any time. I’ll come back in a little while to check on you both.”

Opening the door to Miranda’s hospital room, Andy let out a weak whimper as she took in the sight before her. Machines of every size and kind surrounded the armoured looking bed and were beeping and whirring faintly.

Ow! Andy’s knee hit the rail of the bed. She hadn’t realized she’d been moving closer until she was quite literally face to face with the unconscious woman lying in front of her.

Andy reached out a trembling hand to stroke the peaceful features, but she knew it was a false comfort. Miranda wasn’t merely sleeping, she was unconscious in a drugged sleep rather than a natural one. The way her arms lay at her sides and her legs lain straight told her that. Miranda detested sleeping on her back, it made her feel open, vulnerable to attack and in a poor position for appropriate rejoinder. No matter how she fell asleep, morning would find her curled on her side or on her stomach, most often curled into Andrea, who regularly joked that Miranda only kept her around to be her body pillow.

As Miranda’s pregnancy advanced, her swelling abdomen would often cause great discomfort as she struggled to find a comfortable position, or at least one that would give her a chance at sleep.

“Huh!” The short sharp exhalation and the soft grunts that followed woke Andy from a sleep she had only managed minutes before. “Damn!” the frustrated whisper came again with more movement from the mattress beside her. Honestly exhausted and sleep muddled, Andy stayed silent and still, hoping Miranda would settle soon so that they could both get some rest. She also didn’t relish the thought of trying or saying something to help when Miranda was like this. She thought she was safe when after a minute or so the bouncing of the mattress ceased and she closed her eyes, already drifting away when she heard a single, stifled sob. All thoughts of sleep forgotten, Andy sat up and turned on the lamp on the bedside table. When her eyes adjusted to the light she saw Miranda, her arms crossed and with a hand over her mouth as she tried to muffle the overwrought sobs that kept escaping her lips.

“Miranda,” Andy’s voice was soft and melodic as she got on her knees beside the editor on top of the duvet. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

Unsure if Miranda would welcome or want full body contact, Andy simply reached out to rub her back, waiting until Miranda could speak again.

“I j-just w-want to sleep,” Miranda wept, so completely overtired that the sobs sounded hysterical.

“Okay, okay,” Andy crooned, her other hand reached out just to rest lightly on the side of Miranda’s belly. “What is it? Sweetheart, talk to me, what can I do?”

Miranda had stopped crying now but was still hiccupping and gasping.

“Okay, gimme a sec,” Andy slid off of the side of the bed and disappeared into the bathroom, reappearing with a glass of water and what appeared to be a damp facecloth. Climbing back overtop of the covers Andy reached out to run the back of her hand softly down Miranda’s cheeks. Moving even closer to the older woman, Andy handed the glass of water over to her and then dabbed at the flushed and tearstained cheeks with the cool cloth.

Oh god that was heavenly, Miranda thought inwardly as she closed her eyes and enjoyed cooling, calming effect of the washcloth as Andy patted her cheeks and let it rest lightly overtop her swollen eyelids, finally moving to her chest and the back of neck, both of which glistened with perspiration. Once all the coolness had left the cloth, Andy tossed it back towards the bathroom before focussing her attention once again on the woman in front of her. So close now they were almost touching, Andy reached out to rest her fingertips lightly against Miranda’s breastbone overtop her heart and rubbed gently, hoping her heart rate would slow.

“Hey, it’s alright, we’ll fix this,” Andy soothed while she moved Miranda’s hands, wrapped around the cool glass of water, to her lips so that she would drink. Thankfully, Miranda complied. Andy didn’t know what would be more detrimental – Miranda refusing to drink and getting dehydrated which could lead to lightheadedness and contractions, or Andy having to remind Miranda of that fact and having the older woman panic, raising her blood pressure as a result.

Once she had finished the glass and Andy had set it down on the bedside table, Miranda’s hands went to the bump, smoothing the bottom and sides and curving around her lower belly until it appeared as though she was hugging herself.

“I just want to sleep,” Miranda turned liquid blue eyes on Andy, and she recognized the look as one of someone who believed she could do anything.

“I know,” Andy moved once more to her side of the bed and lay down, propping her head up on one elbow. “Did you want to lie down and try to see if we can find a comfortable position? Tomorrow I’ll order one of those pregnancy pillows you can wrap yourself around.

Miranda just sniffed and nodded before easing herself down, first facing Andrea. But after a moment an ache started in her lower belly that elicited a cry of pain before Andy helped her roll her swollen body over without hurting or straining herself. Now Miranda was lying on her right side with Andrea behind her; a long shuddering sigh followed by an intake of breath that sounded very much like someone trying not to cry.

Then Miranda felt the warmth and weight of a lean, strong body press against her back as Andrea moved in to snuggle up behind her. Miranda felt her shoulders and spine relax at the feel of the heat pressed against them and Andrea pressed in even more tightly so that Miranda’s weight was supported against Andy’s chest rather than weighted by her own body so that it held all the tension between Miranda’s body and the mattress. Next, Miranda felt a knee gently nudge apart her thighs, sliding forward so that her legs were kept apart without any effort, thereby reducing the pulling in her spine.

Miranda was about to open her mouth to thank the younger woman when a hand smoothed over her hip and came to rest overtop of her swollen stomach and as a result holding the editor in a comforting embrace, rubbing the circles that never failed to make the babies and the editor herself, instantly drowsy.

“How’s that, sweetheart?”

“Ohh, better, much better,” Miranda all but purred, her moan one of relief rather than pain, although her voice still a little smoky from the earlier tears.

“Do you think you can get some rest now?”

“Mmm,” already Miranda was drifting off. The poor thing really was exhausted. Soft snores followed this statement and Andy, turning the alarms on BOTH their phones to OFF, sighed in relief before wriggling back down beneath the covers and pressing her lips to the sleeping woman’s shoulder. Soft nudges and kicks came from beneath the smooth skin and silk to meet Andy’s palm and the young woman fell asleep smiling as she held 2/3 of her family safe in her arms.

 

Needing to see for herself, the damage that had been done to save her fiancee’s life, Andy pulled back the thin sheet covering Miranda’s upper body. Whimpering slightly at the sight of the gauze bandage covering the incision, Andy let the sheet fall just under the bandages, noting that a thick sanitary pad had been secured to Miranda to absorb any residual bleeding. Her stomach surged into her throat as she stared at the bulky, awkward undergarment through which the catheter snaked. Oh God, this was real. This was real, she wasn’t dreaming, Miranda had been bleeding out in her arms. Her stomach cramped violently and instantly Andy knew she wasn’t going to make it to the bathroom and wretchedly, doubled over where she stood. But her earlier bout of illness had emptied her system, so Andy waited out the dry heaves and the awful noises coming from her throat, glad at this moment that Miranda wasn’t awake to see this.

Still bent over and breathing heavily, Andy’s mind settled on another thought. What if this happened again? Miranda couldn’t be left alone, even with a cell phone to call for help if she needed it, it was too risky. Oh God, and now she couldn’t even think about taking on that assignment for The Mirror, she wouldn’t, couldn’t be away from Miranda for so long. And if Miranda went into labour prematurely? Although Manhattan was small from a geographical perspective, the density of the population and rows upon rows of office buildings and skyscrapers could easily stall what should be a 14 minute drive to 45 minutes.

After multiple tests on her heart and blood pressure, it was determined that it was too dangerous for Miranda to go into labour on her own or deliver naturally as she and Andy had hoped. Dr. Jansen, along with Miranda and Andy’s consent, had set a date for a planned caesarean section a week or so before Dr. Jansen thought Miranda was likely to deliver. The babies would be premature at 36 weeks, but that risk would be mitigated by the steroid injections Miranda would receive to hasten lung maturity as well as strict monitoring of the babies’ vitals throughout the surgery and the immediate neonatal care they would be given after the birth. Although she hadn’t said anything, Andy knew the older woman was hesitant to agree to the surgery, especially given her experience with Caroline and Cassidy’s births. The risks and recovery time, as well as the potential side effects were menacing when placed against two tiny babies and the petite woman carrying them.

Now, given the delicate state and fragile condition of the placenta, the surgery became an even more daunting prospect as additional technology and technique would be required to subjugate the obstacle of cutting into the uterus and avoiding ‘weak spots’.

Now, stomach muscles protesting and chest burning, Andy pulled a chair over to the side of the bed, resting her elbows on the mattress and reaching out for Miranda’s belly, letting her hand rest ever so lightly against the firm warmth and taut skin. Never breaking contact, Andy then rested her eyes on the bank of monitors surrounding the opposite side of the bed and staring at the different statistics that might as well have shown Andy’s chances of survival so crucial were they to the young woman.

Chapter Text

Miranda woke to a faint antiseptic smell that burned slightly in her nostrils, her eyes felt dry and scratchy behind swollen lids and her limbs felt as though they were made of lead even as they rested on the mattress. In sum, she felt awful. She wondered if she was coming down with a cold or the flu before she turned her head on the pillow to reach for Andrea, feeling the familiar comfort of the younger woman’s hand on her belly and thinking she might actually let herself be coerced and coddled and convinced to stay home when a fierce ache near that same spot on her belly caused a flood of memories to assail her. Lunch plans with Andrea, the disastrous meeting, and then blood, far too much blood, staining the pristine white carpet. And pain, Miranda’s breathing grew rapid as she remembered the searing pain that had twisted her insides. She could feel that pain was gone now, replaced by a dull ache that centred around one spot beside her navel. Realizing she was, in fact, in the hospital, Miranda couldn’t stifle a gasp as she recalled the hazy chain of events that had brought her here.

Andy woke at the older woman’s gasp, having fallen into a fitful doze as she sat beside Miranda’s bed, watching the monitors for any change in the three heartbeats and tightly clutching Miranda’s hand, resting them just above the swell of her belly in the hollow beneath her chest and the top rise of the bump, not wanting Miranda to feel she was alone, even in drugged sleep. The scene was all too familiar to both women, and each could taste the bittersweet memory of the first time Miranda had woken to find Andrea at her bedside.

Andy felt Miranda’s hand wrenched from hers and her heart throbbed painfully at Miranda’s hiss of pain as she frantically pushed away the blankets and encountering the incision. “No! No, no, oh please no,” Miranda’s voice, raspy from disuse and the ventilator they had had to use during the surgery, cracked and squeaked. “NO! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, God I’m so sorry.” Her eyes met Andrea’s wildly, still glassed over slightly with sedatives and anaesthesia. “Andrea,” her fingers scrabbled at the younger woman’s forearms drawing her closer with a feral kind of desperation.

“Please…please, I’m so sorry. Andrea, I lost, I lost our… Oh God, oh God they’re gone. I tried, I couldn’t, my fault and I…, didn’t, didn’t care about the pain, I tried to hold onto them, I swear I did. My God, I lost them, my, my children, our babies they’re gone…”

Never before had Andy seen the kind of agony that disfigured the woman in front of her. And to beg, for Miranda Priestly to beg for Andy’s forgiveness as though she was the one who would retreat from Miranda, blaming her for this. Andy found her voice again after a minute or so and shook her head slightly to clear it as she immediately moved even closer to the hyperventilating woman.

“No.” Andy stated firmly, forcing Miranda to meet her eyes before she softened her gaze and cupped both sides of Miranda’s belly so that both of their gazes were affixed there.

Andy rubbed the sides of her belly gently, prying the editor’s hands away from the weeping wounds and furrows her nails had made. “No, no, no, no, sweetheart, they’re still here. They’re right here, you didn’t lose them”

She moved Miranda’s trembling hands to where she could feel a foot or an elbow when she pressed in lightly. “There…can you feel them? The hoarsely whispered pleas that had continued almost under the older woman’s breath turned into a single choked sob, Andy hoped, of relief as the Miranda felt the firmness of her still-swollen womb and realized her babies were still inside of her. The frantic inhalations at last began to ease, quietening until Miranda was softly sobbing, unable even to hide her face in the pillow because of the incision and monitors inhibiting her movements.

With one hand Andy smoothed back the sweaty strands of mussed white hair that stuck to the beloved face, while the other gently soothed over the skin above her heart, willing the frantic beats to slow and reassuring the terrified woman in ways her words could not.

She saw swollen eyelids flutter briefly and she smiled as she continued to run her hand through the silky white strands. “It’s alright sweetheart, sleep. I’m not leaving…I’ll be here when you wake up I promise.” Andy watched as Miranda’s eyes flicked over to the monitor.

“And you best believe I’ll be watching them too,” Andy’s hand gently rubbed above where the surgical incision was, and even though Miranda was still in an incredible amount of pain, the familiar gesture had the same effect it always did and she felt her eyelids grow heavier and heavier, weighted down with the flow of sedatives through her veins and weakened by the blood loss.

While Miranda slept, Andy slunk away to a chair in the farthest corner of the large suite to call Nigel, unwilling if not unable to leave Miranda’s side or let the older woman out of her sight.

“Andy, my God, what’s happening? Is Miranda awake? Did she lose…” his voice trailed off, unable to voice the rest of his question.

Emotionally wrung out from the events of the day, Andy’s eyes filled once more and her throat closed so that it squeaked when she collected herself enough to answer.

“She…she lost a lot of blood…the placenta, it tore and, my God Nigel I almost lost all three of them. She was awake briefly a little while ago but not really coherent. It’ll take a little while for the drugs to get out of her system, I’m sitting with her now.” Andy paused for a moment, “she’s so fragile, and she looks so small in the hospital bed,” her voice cracked again.

“We both know she’s a fighter, Andy. And even if she won’t fight for herself, she’ll fight for the babies, and we’ll fight for her.” His voice turned more businesslike for the next part of the conversation. “So Leslie has been notified, and despite our best efforts, with the amount of people hanging around the office floor and lobby, the media has picked up on the story.”

“Oh God…”

“However, we were able to get an earworm in and it sounds like all major publications only have the knowledge that Miranda collapsed and was admitted to the hospital. No specifics or mention of bleeding or anything like that – only that she was taken to NYP’s emerg.”

Andy breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God, she couldn’t imagine anything worse than Miranda waking to find the press literally staring down her legs, privy to the intimate details of her pregnancy. She felt violated enough from the media attention garnered by the trial, which, as a further unpleasant consequence, would be drawn out even longer as Miranda would obviously be unable to appear in court.

Opening her eyes once more to the sterile brightness of the hospital room, Miranda’s gaze immediately sought out Andrea’s prone form. The nurses must have brought in a cot, and the young woman was partially curled up in it – at least her legs. It appeared as though in her sleep Andrea had shifted and turned so that her upper body rested on the mattress next to Miranda, her hand still entwined with the older woman’s while her lower body remained on the cot.

Miranda started to chuckle at this, but her throat was still dry and cracked and so the soft laugh turned into a cough which woke the young woman. Now that Miranda was more cogent and composed, it seemed that the dam finally had burst and Andy the one unable to catch her breath.

“You’re okay,” Andy tried to smile as she reassured the older woman, but her thoughts kept turning to the hours before when everything WASN’T okay and she had been so sure she was going to lose one or two or all three of the heartbeats showing on the monitor. “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay,” she sobbed, lowering her head to rest ever so gently against Miranda’s stomach, so goddamn fucking grateful they were all okay. Gentle, or weak, she didn’t know which, fingers brushed her cheek, drawing her forward until her head fell to rest in Miranda’s shoulder, helpless against the ugly wracking sobs that burned in her chest. “What happened?”

Andy expected the question but was loathe to answer, scared of how the information would affect Miranda. “Y-your blood pressure rose, which ruptured a blood vessel and when it burst it cut off more blood flow to the babies.”

“Andrea, I need to know. Darling, please…”

“One heartbeat was so weak and we kept losing it and then the other so fast and yours was just all over the place and Dr. Jansen said if they couldn’t fix the vessel then Baby A’s organs would fail and B was at risk for an aneurysm and brain damage and you could hemorrhage and bleed out from an abruption and, and…” Andy couldn’t breathe, choking out the words faster and faster as she relived those terrifying moments. She was scared for the babies. She was scared for Miranda. She was angry at Miranda for not taking better care of herself, guilty at feeling angry when she knew Miranda was doing the best she could, being who she was, and angry at herself both for being angry and for feeling guilty.

“Shhh, it’s alright. I’m alright…”

“But you weren’t!” Andy’s eyes blazed with anger now and she dropped Miranda’s hands only to clench hers at her sides. “You weren’t all right. You almost DIED, and the babies with you. You can’t fucking do that, Miranda. You can’t, you can’t leave me!” The young woman’s anger had given way to tears again and she crushed her lips to the older woman’s in a fierce, desperate kiss as her tears and nearly incomprehensible pleas to for Miranda not to leave her continued.

“I’m so sorry, Andrea,” Miranda whispered, wracked now with guilt as she took in the appearance of the younger woman, hair lank and stringy, eyes bloodshot with deep bruised circles underneath them, nose running and lips cracked and flecked with blood where she had nearly bitten through the skin. “I’m so sorry…”

Andrea swayed slightly now that she was standing, feeling as though she had hit a brick wall now that the adrenaline had left her body. She didn’t understand what Miranda was saying. Was she apologizing? For what?

Andy blinked slowly, woodenly, uncomprehendingly at Miranda as she spoke, her only response to the older woman’s apologies a fluttering of her eyelids as she fought to keep them open. “So tired, M’randa,” she slurred, almost drunkenly.

Miranda pulled lightly at the hand still tightly entwined in hers until Andrea’s knees bumped the side of the bed.

“Lie down, Andrea.”

Miranda’s words floated around disjointedly in Andy’s brain. Miranda was saying something, she wanted Andy to do something. It sounded like ‘lie down’? No, that couldn’t be it. Andy knew there was some reason she shouldn’t touch the older woman, but she couldn’t remember what it was. Miranda’s hand pulled at hers again and Andy followed dumbly, only feeling the lure of the white bed and the soft warmth of Miranda’s body against hers.

Docile now, and dumb with exhaustion, Miranda watched over the young woman as she crawled into the bed beside her, curling into Miranda’s side and falling asleep almost before she was horizontal, if her deep breathing was any indication.

It was selfish, Miranda thought; it had to be, to keep Andrea here by her side through all of this. She deserved so much more than playing nursemaid to an old woman. But she had promised the younger woman she wouldn’t send her away again out of what the journalist called ‘a misguided martyr complex’. And it was selfish, she supposed, that she would keep that promise, even knowing and wanting Andrea to have more from life. But the foolish girl in her arms seemed to want her above all others.

After that, the first three days were a fuzzy blur of drugged sleep, waking with her pulse racing as though she had just run a marathon and a constant rotary of nurses and doctors and specialists in and out of her hospital room. Andrea hadn’t left her side the entire time – Serena and Nigel had gone over to the townhouse to pack bags for both Miranda and Andy soon after the young woman had called to tell Nigel that Miranda was out of surgery and that ‘they’ would be in the hospital for the week and after which Miranda would be on house arrest and wouldn’t be returning to work until after she had started her third trimester.

Emily was the surprising calm in the centre of the storm and had arranged Miranda’s calendar so that she, Nigel and Serena shared any Runway responsibilities, with someone always available to run over to the hospital at any time. This was perhaps the only time she had ever truly understood what Miranda meant when she said that someone was wasting her time with questions. Honestly, the incompetence of some erstwhile Runway employees did baffle her, and dealing with the two ninnies who sat uselessly outside of Miranda’s vacant office she was sure was giving her grey hairs. God, she wasn’t even thirty!

She had even contacted Douglas to let him know of the situation and to recruit him to shake some sense into Andy after several manic episodes where she would begin to laugh hysterically until her laughter turned to tears and daylong crying jags. He had been the one who had convinced Andy to finally take the Valium the doctor had prescribed so that she could sleep.

Knowing it was vital that Miranda stay as still and quiet as possible to give her a chance to heal as her uterus knit itself back together, Andy had taken up residence on a third of the hospital bed, not leaving Miranda’s side and soothing her when the older woman woke with chills and nightmares that stemmed from the recent trauma and were made worse by the drugs she was being given that allowed her to sleep for most of the day.

Her mind, murky and dysfunctional from the drugs that put her in what was essentially a medically induced coma, Miranda was cogent enough to know that the comforting warmth she so craved was Andrea, but her eyes were so heavy she could barely force them open, never mind focus to see the presence beside her. And all too often, when she grew restless, that presence would hold her more closely and gentle but firm kisses she knew came from cherry red lips, sometimes damp with tears, would be pressed to her lips and face, working at keeping her eyes closed until and enveloped in the delicious weight of the younger woman’s arms, she would submit to sleep once more, exhausted by the physical toll of her brief periods of wakefulness.

Chapter Text

“The stitches are holding nicely,” Dr. Jansen observed on the third day as she studied the latest set of tests and ultrasound proofs, replacing Miranda’s bandaging at the same time. “I’m comfortable with discontinuing the sedative IV so we’re only using the drug when necessary as ‘spot treatment’ so to speak.”

“So…the placenta isn’t going to detach again?” Andy queried, reluctantly letting her gaze move from Miranda’s sleeping face and rubbing into her hand the remainder of the lip chap she had just finished applying to Miranda’s lips.

“It could, but I’m not seeing any dark spots between the placenta and the lining of the uterus which means there’s no more bleeding or fragmentation in the way it’s attached to the lining. That was primarily the reason for the prolonged sedation. It’s nearly impossible to stay as still as is needed in regenerative situations like this.”

“Okay, so what does that mean for Miranda? Can she still go home next week? Are you going to have to put her on bedrest for the rest of the pregnancy or will she be able to work at all?” Andy paused, “she’ll want answers when she wakes, it’s how she deals with stress or situations that scare her and she will demand information whether you have it or not.”

Dr. Jansen snorted, “I’d believe that. We can talk about it more when Miranda wakes and we have a better scope of knowledge of how she’s mentally and physically able to deal with the realities and circumstances of her condition. I want to wait until Miranda is awake and coherent before I talk more about the babies and how we’re going to go about the delivery and how long we want to risk waiting in order to give their lungs a chance to mature properly.”

Andy’s eyes flicked over the grossly exaggerated figure of the editor and worry lines crinkled the corners of her eyes. Now, two weeks from her final trimester, Miranda already looked as though she were full term with one if not two babies despite the fact she was still measuring inches under. If the situation hadn’t been so dire, it would have been laughable knowing that as much as it was beginning to envelop Miranda’s frame, she was still considered to be carrying small. Andy had been diligently rubbing stretch mark cream into the skin of Miranda’s stomach while she had been in hospital, careful of course, to avoid the healing incision. Nonetheless, pale red marks had broken out in faint, vertical stripes that started from the top and bottom of the bump although they hadn’t yet met at the centre.

“She’s only just at 27 weeks,” Andy whispered, more to herself than Dr. Jansen, her eyes not leaving the subject of her morose musings.

“And it’s my plan to have those babies stay in there as long as possible,” Dr. Jansen assured her. “We just need to find the best way to do that and keep Miranda healthy and sane,” she smiled reassuringly.

“My goal is to make it another ten, 36 weeks will mean that nearly every organ will have reached full maturity, especially with the steroid injections. The last 4 or 5 weeks are mainly when the babies begin to put on fat, but we’ll have the NICU team ready and waiting to assess heart and lung function as well as having them transferred to the incubators immediately.”

“You mean I won’t be able to hold them?”

Dr. Jansen’s eyes, previously sparkling with laughter, dimmed slightly as she answered. “Not right away,” she replied softly, reaching out to touch Andy’s shoulder as she broke the news.

Andy bit her lip as she looked down. She knew it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and nothing was more important than making sure they were healthy but…still…she had imagined that moment so many times in the last few months. Imagined standing at the foot of the bed in the final moments before the birth, cutting the thick cord that attached mother and child and the baby handed over to her straightaway as she reached forward with the receiving blanket and holding him or her skin to skin against her chest before she moved back to the head of the bed with the swaddle of blankets to show Miranda what all the pain had been for. She had imagined how it would feel to hand her baby over to the nurse for a more thorough examination and focusing back on Miranda, who would be red-faced and determined as she gathered herself for the final push, falling back against the pillows as the doctor worked between her legs until a piercing cry split the air as their daughter took her first breaths and Andy found herself once more at the foot of the bed cutting the cord before taking their daughter in her arms and moving back to the head of the bed as Miranda lay back to catch her breath, tears of relief streaming down the ever so slightly crooked bridge of her nose as she listened to the beautiful screams of their healthy baby girl.

Andy didn’t realize she had let some tears of her own escape as she silently mourned what might have been, and she brushed them away guiltily, thankful that Dr. Jansen hadn’t noticed, or if she had, hadn’t said anything.

Slowly, Miranda was brought back to consciousness and weaned off the drugs and the heavy-weight painkillers. With each fresh drop of the saline IV meant to flush out the sedative from her veins, Miranda’s memories began to knit themselves together, and along with what information Andrea could bring herself to give, she began to have a clearer picture of what had happened preceding her admission. She remembered with uncomfortable clarity however, what it had felt like…a slow, wet trickle; a warm dampness between her legs and the sinister feeling of a substance thicker than water running down her legs in a crimson stream. She hadn’t understood what it had meant, she had stared at the pooling red on the carpet and had only come to her senses as she heard Nigel’s gasp. Then it was as though everything had sped up. She remembered her belly seizing with a cramp, pulling everything within her unbearably tight until she could hardly breathe. The pain that took her breath away also weakened her knees and she remembered a feeling of weightlessness and dizziness before she regained her senses and found herself in Nigel’s arms.

She could still feel the damp, stickiness between her thighs as her stockings stuck together and she had choked back a sob before giving in to tears as she heard the one voice she desperately craved in the cacophony and madness that now filled the boardroom.

Gentle hands lightly traced her face and arms, calling her name brokenly before barking out orders to whoever else was in the room. In the midst of this came another pain, another small gush of terrible heat between her legs. The ride to the hospital was a blur, she only remembered snatches of the elevator ride and trying to keep her eyes open at the request of the terrified brunette. Then whiteness and the harsh tang of blood and iodine and antiseptic. Andy, she wanted Andy; she needed Andy, why didn’t they understand? What, what were they saying? What were the voices saying? Something about the babies and the placenta and surgery. Surgery? No, no, wait, they couldn’t perform surgery – the babies were too small, it was too early. She wouldn’t risk having knives and sharp instruments so close to her children. Oh God…their only chance? And something about her blood pressure? How on earth could she be expected to worry about her blood pressure when they were telling her there was a good chance her children could die? She remembered not being able to breathe and many pairs of immaculately gloved hands prying her own hands from being wrapped around her belly. No, they couldn’t take her babies – where was Andrea? She needed Andrea. Nothing was happening until she talked to Andrea!

And then there was blackness again until she woke, a woman unrecognizable as Andrea in appearance or spirit keeping vigil at her bedside. Soon after that the decision had been made to put her under sedation, the details of which moved hazily through her subconscious until minutes ago when she was able to look around clearly for the first time and take in the scope and circumstances of her situation.

The next morning, after testing that all traces of the sedative were gone from Miranda’s veins, Dr. Jansen was preparing for an in-room ultrasound to make sure Miranda’s body had been able to tolerate her being awake for much of yesterday. Initially she had been concerned about Miranda’s temperature when she had come in this morning and looked at the monitor readouts, however upon further inspection she had found the source and cause of the extra heat was due to the sleeping journalist pressed along Miranda’s side. Miranda had opened her eyes then, speaking in a soft voice so as not to wake the younger woman curled against her. “Shh, let her rest, yesterday was difficult for her.”

“And what about you?” Dr. Jansen asked, an eyebrow quirked, leaning forwards to feel under Miranda’s chin for any swollen lymph nodes that could signal an infection and finding none.

“My interpretation of what warrants the term ‘different’ has been vastly altered since I was given the news I was expecting again.” Miranda replied wryly, absently combing her fingers through the brunette locks.

Still sleeping, Andy purred her contentment and turned her head to kiss whatever bit of Miranda was currently underneath her lips before sliding her hand up from its place on Miranda’s belly. Her hand had nearly reached the underside of Miranda’s breast before the older woman quickly linked fingers with her and drew her away from her prize, prompting the rosy lips to pout, even in her sleep. Dr. Jansen bit back a laugh as Miranda now attempted to rouse her partner. “Andrea, Andrea darling, wake up.” Then suddenly it was as though someone had flipped a switch that sent a livewire into the young woman, who instantly sat bolt upright and looked around wildly. ‘Who –what? Miranda! Miranda, what is it, what’s wrong?”

“Shhh,” Miranda brought her back down from her kneeling position to one where the young woman was back in her place on the bed but tucked behind Miranda with the editor leaning back against her shoulder looking rather smug as Andy’s hand unconsciously drifted back down to her stomach tracing lazy figure eights with her fingers.

A bemused Dr. Jansen just shook her head before asking “Are we ready to have another look at the babies?”

“Yes!” Andy actually bounced excitedly in her seat, causing Miranda to pause her nodding and turn a pale shade of green. “Darling, please, I don’t believe I’m up for any additional gymnastics besides our children’s daily calisthenics.

“Oops,” Andy stopped bouncing and rubbed Miranda’s stomach in apology. Still propped up slightly by Andrea, Miranda unbuttoned the silk Ralph Lauren pajama top, so that the pinstriped, lavender fabric could be pulled aside to expose her abdomen. Andy cooed, “God, they’re so cuuute!”

“Andrea, the ultrasound hasn’t even begun, how can you say that?”

“Uh, because it’s obvious? They’re our children and they’re inside you. Of course they’re adorable.”

Miranda tilted her head in admission, “true.”

As the pair had been bantering back and forth, Dr. Jansen had applied the conductive gel and was now pressing the ultrasound probe against the topmost curve of Miranda’s exposed skin.

The now familiar grainy images filled the screen, but to Miranda and Andy, the sight never got old or predictable. Miranda at least could blame the film of tears in her eyes on hormones, but Andy couldn’t quite claim the same for herself and so she begged off as Miranda teased her. It was easier than you would think, all Andy had to do was point something out on the screen and Miranda’s mind instantly switched over to ‘baby’ mode and she was emotional putty in Andrea’s hands.

“So there you can see the placenta,” Dr. Jansen was saying as she pointed out a dark mass close to Baby A. “And as I was saying to Andy earlier, it looks like the bed rest is working – I’m not seeing any holes or gaps in the lining that would signal potential weak spots.”

“And the babies? What have the effects been on them?” Miranda asked sharply, her suppressed fear causing tones of the ‘Dragon Lady’ to seep through her voice.

To be honest, although she generally felt for the person on the receiving end of that voice, Andy was deliriously happy to hear that strength return to Miranda’s voice. The constant stress and fear over the trial and the babies’ condition had of late rendered Miranda almost timid in her interactions with the outside world, as though speaking with any sort of force would jar her womb.

Dr. Jansen however, had become accustomed to the little eccentricities of dealing with Miranda Priestly and didn’t seem phased as she moved the probe over a little to the right.

“So here is Baby A, and you can see he’s a good size and all organs appear to be developing properly. The primary concern with him is the increased rate of blood flow to his heart which has caused it to become enlarged, about 30% bigger than what it should be. The surgery re-directed some of the blood flow so that the volume of blood and the pressure with which it is moving through his heart has been reduced. After the birth, we’ll test for any weak spots in the muscle and determine if surgery will be necessary or if the swelling will go down by itself.”

“My beautiful boy,” Miranda whispered almost under her breath, transfixed by the beating organ on the screen and the blurry, precious features before the focus of the ultrasound switched to the second baby, lower down.

“Oh!” Miranda’s breath caught as the smaller twin came into view, and the film of tears became drops. “She’s so small,” Miranda’s breath began to come in quick little gasps as her anxiety grew.

“Oh princess…,” Andy exhaled on a long breath, “Oh baby girl”. Against her chest, Andy felt Miranda’s shoulders rising and falling as she tried to quell her panic and failed, prompting the younger woman to press her lips to the pulse point at Miranda’s neck and move her hands upwards, back and forth over Miranda’s forearms hoping to bring her back down to a level where the older woman was able to listen.

“Here is where we diverted the blood flow by connecting the secondary blood vessel to the second sac. Hopefully that will give Baby B a chance to ‘catch up’ on the most important aspects of development before she’s born. It’s a thousand times easier to bring organs to maturity while still in the womb than out”.

“And is she developing properly? How, I, what if I deliver early? What are her chances?” Miranda’s hands fluttered uselessly at the sides of her belly, needing the comfort of contact with the babies but impeded by the covering of gel.

“That’s why I want to get you to 36 weeks, so even if she’s measuring a month behind in growth, which is what we’re seeing at this point, she still has a good chance being born at 32 weeks development. It’s primarily her lungs and to a lesser degree her liver and kidneys that I’m potentially concerned about. She’ll be given oxygen right after the birth anyway as a precaution, and failing that, there’s the option of intubation and using a ventilator.”

Miranda moaned softly, sick at the thought of her babies hooked up to so many machines, so vulnerable under cold, bright lights. For someone who was known as the ‘Ice Queen’, she had never wanted so much to feel the warmth of another human being pressed to her skin, their heartbeats syncopate.

“Which brings me to another potential obstacle.”

“God, what else can there possibly be?” Miranda spat, buttoning up her nightgown now that Dr. Jansen had finished the ultrasound.

 Dr. Jansen pulled a chair closer to the bed, her expression uncharacteristically grim considering what had essentially been a successful surgery.

“During the operation, several factors became apparent that may change how we go about delivering these babies. Miranda, have you ever had any major surgery or surgery requiring spinal or general anaesthesia that you can recall?”

“No.”

“In your chart it says you’ve had your tonsils removed though, surely for that you had to have been administered some significant source of pain relief.”

“I believe they used chloroform,” Miranda’s voice grew quieter and her gaze flicked away as though something on the opposite bare wall was inordinately fascinating. When she looked back though, both the doctor’s and Andrea’s faces were still frozen with a mixture of horror, disbelief and sympathy – all of which set Miranda’s back up, and when she finally spoke again, she only spoke to Andrea.

“You were aware I wasn’t born American, that my parents were Polish and English. We had very little money when I was growing up and couldn’t afford to go to a hospital for the usual childhood ailments. My tonsils became inflamed when I was 7 and I developed a terrible fever, so much so that I was nearly unconscious anyway by the time my father had carried me to the ‘clinic’ the poorer occupants of London were relegated to. All I can remember after being held down to the chair is my mother brushing my hair off my face and singing to me, and holding cold washcloths to my throat and cheeks and face when I woke up back at home in bed.” Andy had linked fingers with Miranda as she spoke and she brought their joined hands to her lips to indicate she was listening and she understood.

“As you are aware, a great deal of my persona – the publically imagined one at least – has been centred around my voice. And it’s true that much of the inflection and intonation has been carefully constructed by me and used and manipulated to my advantage. However it wasn’t until after that surgery that the voice that would personify and give character to the woman who would become Miranda Priestly was ever heard.”

“Miranda, when we first administered the anaesthetic, it would appear as though you had a severe allergic reaction. We had to inject the pseudo-ephedrine directly into the muscular tissue of your heart – you stopped breathing.”

“The drug you mentioned, is it harmful to the babies?”

“The – the babies…Y-you stopped breathing?” Andy screeched, prompting a wince from Miranda, whose head had been comfortably nestled in the crook of the younger woman’s neck.

The journalist whipped her head around to face the doctor, and for the first time, the doctor thought to herself, the moniker of ‘Dragon Lady’ was much more suited to the irate brunette who, nostrils flared, looked as though she were about to breathe fire.

“That’s some pretty fucking important information I wasn’t given.” Andy was furious, livid beyond belief that she hadn’t been told that Miranda had stopped breathing during surgery. She didn’t care how fucking fragile Dr. Jansen thought she was, as Miranda’s fiancée she had the right to know the details of the surgical procedure that had been done on her would-be wife.

Andy only broke her cold glare as she tore the first button off of Miranda’s shirt and pushed the fabric aside to reveal the skin around her heart. Finally, she found what she was looking for, the tiny dot of red where the epinephrine needle had pierced Miranda’s skin, and the delicately purpled and bruised skin around it like a thumbprint. Her hand instantly flattened itself over the mark and she bit her lip, trying to ward off the panic that was currently pumping adrenaline through her veins, making her unsure if the heartbeat she felt against her palm was hers or Miranda’s. She rubbed over the spot once more as though checking to see if the organ was still whole and firmly entrenched in the older woman’s chest.

“My love, it’s alright… Andrea,” Miranda tried to bring Andrea’s mind back to the present. “Andrea, Andrea…I’m alright. Darling, I’m right here, you haven’t lost me. We’re all okay.” Dr. Jansen marvelled at the change in Miranda’s voice from its usual tones as she spoke to the younger woman who seemed frozen. Two tears dropped from Andy’s face onto Miranda’s shoulder and the pregnant woman eyed Dr. Jansen, who nodded her understanding as she left the room, mouthing “I’ll come back,” before nodding back at the still frozen brunette.

“Do you know how precious this is to me?” Andy’s voice cracked as she finally met Miranda’s eyes before letting them fall once more on Miranda’s chest where her hand still rested. “You said that you had entrusted your heart to me when we got engaged and I almost let it slip through my fingers and I didn’t even realize.”

“Andrea, there was a time, many times and many years actually that I considered my heart to be weak and fragile. But you, my darling, have turned it from a pale imitation to an indomitable well of strength that would seem impossible to run dry. Nigel told me, early on in this pregnancy, that my girls were what kept my heart from hardening in the years until I found you. And now I have my beautiful girls, someone I relish the thought of spending the rest of my life with, and with whom I’m going to raise my girls and these two right here,” Miranda brought Andy’s hands gently down to her stomach so that she could feel the babies kick, “as our children, our son and daughters. My point is,” she finished, “that my heart is stronger than it ever was, and my reason for being here, for being alive is that much stronger too. So trust in me, trust in the strength of my love for you, because you are responsible for all that keeps my heart beating.”

“You are my heart, Miranda. And everything I value in this life, you have given me. You are everything to me,” Andrea stressed vehemently before burying her head in Miranda’s shoulder, her arms wrapped tightly around Miranda, still cradling her so that the editor once more sank into the soft warm body behind her and was preparing to drift off again when the doctor re-entered and her attention was again diverted.

A shift behind her meant Andy had heard the doctor’s return as well and had lifted her head, waiting to see what other news the woman had to bring.

Luckily, being the shrewd businesswoman she was, and able to read the tension in the room between Andrea and the doctor, Miranda broke the ice and was the first to speak.

“The drug you mentioned, the ephedrine, is it harmful to the babies?”

“Not directly, but indirectly it causes your heart to beat faster thereby raising your overall blood pressure so that there was more blood loss than anticipated due to the continued separation of the placenta which, as you know, resulted from the uneven distribution of the blood vessels which we discussed.”

Miranda nodded slowly, her lips pursing slightly in concentration as she mulled over this latest bit of information.

“When will I be able to go home?” Miranda flicked her fingers dismissively at the myriad of machines surrounding her, not least – eyeing the despicable tubing that connected her to the catheter.

“Now that we’ve confirmed, with two separate test times and measurements from the ultrasound, that the abruption has been stabilized, we can move forward with detaching you from some of the machines and slowly try getting you back on your feet…However,” now Dr. Jansen eyed the editor seriously, “I mean that metaphorically. It is absolutely imperative for both your wellbeing and the babies that you comply with full and total bed rest for at least a week, period. If that proves to be an issue, I’m happy to keep Miranda under observation here for that week or as long as is deemed necessary.”

“Am I, at the very least, allowed to work from home? Reading and revising articles and proofs is hardly a strenuous task.”

“I’m sorry Miranda, but no.” Dr. Jansen shook her head, auburn curls bouncing across her shoulders. The bed rest is to keep your blood pressure levels even for long periods of time to break the cycle of highs and lows that brought you in here. Limiting physical activity or moving only makes up half of the purpose of bed rest. You can do as much harm to yourself and the babies in bed as you could running a marathon if you can’t manage your blood pressure and responses to stress.”

“Might I point out the obvious in saying that preventing me from running my magazine is a current source of stress?” Miranda’s voice bordered on a hiss as she crossed her arms awkwardly over her belly.

Inclining her head, the doctor nodded. “That may be, but it’s also a one-dimensional stressor. Cause A to Effect B, unlike potential issues with work that are constantly changing and requiring a constant eye on them.”

“So when can we go home?” Andy’s lips brushed the back of Miranda’s ear and the older woman settled back against the warm body, still slightly resentful at the doctor’s order. But fear for the babies quashed her fears for work, and she knew she would do anything to keep the former safe. Irv would still be gunning for her position, but she had to believe that Nigel, Emily and in all likelihood, Andrea, would take care of it the best they could, and then once she knew the babies were out of the woods she would plan her counter-attack on Irv. With all the files it appeared he and the board had subpoenaed, any decision to be made was still several months away, and then there would be the matter of an official hearing.

“We’ll take the catheter out tonight,” Dr. Jansen was saying as Miranda’s mind focused back on the conversation. “If there’s no spotting or contractions and minimal pain or discomfort then I’ll sign the release forms, so potentially in 72 hours, you could be going home.”

Dr. Jansen addressed Andy again. “Later, we can go over the requirements for bed rest so you can make any changes necessary at the house and we can determine what will be needed for in-home care. She’ll be housebound for a minimum of two weeks once she’s released from the hospital, and there will be things on a daily basis that she will need help with. There’s no getting around that.” And although the doctor didn’t move one iota, both Andy and Miranda knew instantly who the last sentence was meant for.

Chapter Text

Now that Miranda’s condition was considered stable, Caroline and Cassidy were permitted to visit and Jeremy was bringing them up himself, wanting his own assurance that the woman he had once thought he would spend the rest of his life would was alright. There was no doubt in his mind that they were over, nor did he harbor any hopes of reconciliation or reunion, but he needed to see for himself that the mother of his children and the indomitable entity that had always been Miranda was still alive and well.

The following afternoon saw the elevator doors open to reveal a handsome older man holding the hand of one stoic looking little girl while struggling to keep hold of the one he was carrying who was currently sobbing and hiccupping into his shoulder. The small redhead was seemingly inconsolable and her tears didn’t stop even as she slid from her father’s grasp, running nearly blindly for the doors behind the nurses’ station where she knew her mother was.

“What on earth?” Miranda started before her eyes widened in recognition. “Cassidy!”

The little girl burst into the room and ran to Miranda, the little body pressed as close to Miranda as possible as she buried her head under her mother’s arm. Andy moved around the bed and lifted the small, shaking figure so that she could sit on the bed next to Miranda instead of standing on her tiptoes with her face pressed into the mattress. The little body struggled for a moment as she thought she was being taken away from her mother but soon went limp when it was realized the hands that were lifting her belonged to Andy.

“Bobbsey, it’s alright. Mommy’s fine. The babies are okay. Dr. Jansen performed a very small surgery to make sure they’re getting what they need.”

“It’s my fault! I said I wished the babies would go away. But I didn’t mean I wanted them to die, I swear!”

“Cassidy. Cassidy, listen to me,” Miranda’s voice became firm enough that the little girl stopped crying and raised her eyes to her mother.

“Do you have your Harry Potter with you?” Miranda asked, knowing the girls never travelled without at least one of Ms. Rowling’s literary endeavours somewhere on their person. “Yes? Then will you read to the babies? I think they’ve missed your voices and it might make them settle down.”

Andy passed Cassidy’s bag over wordlessly and Cassidy snuggled in deeper next to her mother, shifting so that her head was closer to Miranda’s stomach as she began to read aloud.

Andy knew from Miranda’s expression that she wasn’t listening to the words being read, but the way her eyes closed as she pressed her lips to the top of the little girl’s head and buried her face in the curls told Andrea that the older woman was at peace – and at this moment had all the time in the world to hold her baby close and listen to whatever came from her lips, even if it was a vivid description of the effects of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes’ Puking Pastilles and Nosebleed Nougat.

“Caroline has barely said a word, not even to Cass, which I think only upset her more.” Jeremy murmured under his breath to Andy as they watched the pair on the bed before he nodded over to Caroline who still stood miserably off the side of her sister.

Andy nodded her agreement, deep in thought about how to reach the second twin who was so much a mirror version of Miranda. She knew Caroline wouldn’t forgive herself easily, nor would she accept any absolution, carrying the burden instead on tiny shoulders that even now seemed bowed under the weight.

After twenty more minutes or so of listening to the escapades of Harry, Ron and Hermione, Cassidy pulled away from Miranda’s side and looked up at the other two adults in the room.

“I’m thirsty, can we go get a drink from the vending machines?” the small voice asked.

Miranda pressed her lips to the tawny head one more time before patting her daughter lightly on the bottom as she slid off the high bed. “Juice or water only, Cassidy, no soda.”

A slight grimace on Cassidy’s part had Jeremy and Andy stifling a laugh as it was obvious what the little girl had been angling for.

“Come on, Cass,” Miranda’s ex swung the little girl up into the air and she burst into peals of laughter.

Andy joined the pair as they left the suite. “I’ll show you guys where the best machine is, sometimes it‘ll give you a second bottle for free!”

“Really?” Cassidy’s excitement could be heard as they turned down the hall, but Andy’s focus was back in the room behind her. She’d nodded towards Caroline as she followed the father and daughter duo out of the room, knowing they didn’t really need her assistance but knowing Miranda needed to be alone with her daughter and Miranda had caught her eye and nodded once in acknowledgement.

“I didn’t mean to hurt the babies.”

“Oh my darling, look at me. There is nothing, NOTHING you could ever do or say that would make me stop loving you. You and your sister were my miracle babies, and you’re becoming such strong and beautiful and intelligent young women. I could not be more proud of you. I also know that you are going to be a wonderful big sister and these babies are going to be so lucky to have you.” Miranda’s hand smoothed over her belly as she spoke to her eldest child. “Oh my sweet girl, you’ve been holding this in for all this time. Darling you should know that you can always come to me about anything. I am always going to have time for you and your sister as well as these two. And Andrea as well, she loves you so dearly, as much as she would any child that she carried herself or of her own.

The little girl had fallen asleep, the tiny body spent with emotion was curled into Miranda on the hospital bed. Miranda herself was still awake, her head bent over her baby as she pressed a kiss to Caroline’s forehead before burying her head in the flaming curls and continuing to hum softly.

After an hour however it was getting dark and coming close to the end of visiting hours. In addition, although she hadn’t moved from the bed, Andy could see the dark circles underneath Miranda’s eyes and knew the older woman was fading quickly, exhausted from the range of emotions the day had brought and having to be ‘on’ and alert for the girls’ sake.

“I don’t wanna leave!”

“Me neither!” Cassidy joined her sister.

“Girls, you can come back tomorrow and see your mom.”

“No!”

Now Miranda spoke up, and both girls immediately straightened up and turned to face the older woman, know the tone as one that meant their mother wasn’t joking and that they had better get in line quickly.

“Caroline, Cassidy,” Miranda managed to push the weakness from her voice as she addressed her daughters sharply, wanting them to know this kind of insolent behaviour would not be tolerated as young ladies. But before she could say anything more, Miranda felt a familiar feeling in her stomach and her face greyed as she swallowed with enormous difficulty and reached out blindly for the familiar green dish.

Andy saw what was happening and lightning fast, she lunged for the green basin on the bedside table, bringing it to Miranda’s chin as the older woman dry heaved twice before losing the small amount of food she had managed to eat earlier in the day.

Humiliated, sick and horrified by what her daughters had just witnessed, Miranda kept her head bowed, breathing through her mouth in heavy gasps as her stomach flip-flopped, determining if she was going to be ill again.

“Get them out,” she croaked, one hand pressed to her chest between her breasts and the top of the bump.

“Okay, okay,” Andy soothed, helping Miranda to hold the bowl in case she was ill again before moving from the mattress where she had been kneeling next to Miranda.

“Girls, it’s time to go. Your mom is going to be fine, but right now she is exhausted and needs to rest.” Andy’s voice was the one that was uncharacteristically sharp.

Riding down with the twins in the elevator to meet Miranda’s ex-husband in the lobby, Andy noticed the familiar postures of miserable defiance and the shaking of small shoulders. Once they reached the lobby, Andy drew them aside and away from the bank of elevators, crouching in front of the unhappy duo. Cassidy, predictably, was the first to break and threw herself into Andy’s arms, almost knocking her down as enormous sobs escaped the little chest once more.

“I’m sorry Andy, I swear I didn’t want to make mommy m-mad. I just wanted to stay with her.”

“Shh, honey I know. She rocked the little girl back and forth, stroking the soft red hair and pressing the little head against her cheek. She looked up at Caroline and saw those same Priestly blues well with tears as she stood there with her head down. “Caroline,” Andy held out an arm and the little girl joined her sister, flinging herself into Andy’s shoulder as forcefully as her sister

“Oh, my beautiful girls,” Andy continued to rock them and soothe. “This has been hard for everyone, huh?”

“It’s..m-my…f-f-fault,” Caroline managed to get out at last. “Please don’t hate me, Andy, I didn’t mean to.”

“Baby, why do you think this was your fault?”

“B-because I said I didn’t want to go home, a-and I yelled at you guys, b-but I just didn’t wanna leave m-mom. I d-don’t want her to die.”

Andy’s heart ached for the two little girls sniffling against her chest. God, they were so young, why did they have to go through all this? It was bad enough that Andy and Miranda were caught up in this mess, why did it seem like their children, all four of them it would seem, had to suffer for it?

Speaking over the lump in her throat, Andy squeezed the pair even tighter before she rocked back on her heels so that she could meet their eyes. “She is not going to die. Not a chance. Have you ever known your mother to give up in a fight? No? Well neither have I, and the fiercest I have ever seen her fight is when it concerns her babies, and you’re always going to be her babies and she’s not going to stop fighting for you until the day she does die, in the very, VERY far future. And I know she’s up there right now feeling awful, not because you got angry with her, but because she feels like she let you guys down.”

“She didn’t!” Both voices chorused in tandem, making Andy laugh and reach forward to tousle their hair.

“There are my girls…you yelling did not make your mom sick. You know when you’re so tired that you start not feeling good? That’s what happened, that’s all. Nothing’s going to happen to your mom or the babies because of that, but it is also important that she doesn’t get too stressed out because she needs all the energy she can get so the babies grow properly.”

“D’you still think we’re gonna be good big sisters?”

“Abso-posi-lutely,” Andy replied, earning a giggle from both sad faces. “Because I know what amazing daughters you guys are, and I know I could never ask for better because I’m so lucky to be one of your moms, and these babies are going to be so lucky to have you to teach them all your tricks and they are going to look up to you sooo much, okay? Are we good?”

Andy rose to her feet once more and took hold of a hand on each side, walking them over to the handsome older man who scooped one girl back up into his arms and spun the other around in a pirouette as she grabbed hold of his hand. He looked over at Andy, grey eyes serious now instead of smiling. “Take care of her,” he nodded towards the elevators and Andy nodded back solemnly before lightening her expression to say goodbye to the girls.

“I love you, girls.”

“Love you too, Andy!” Caroline called back as they began to move towards the emergency doors. Cassidy was already wilting against her father, but she lifted her head from his shoulder, eyes already heavy with sleep as she murmured ‘Love you, mama” before letting her eyes shut once more.

The trio disappeared into the murky evening light and Andy let out a single sob as she clapped a hand over her mouth, bending over slightly as though she had been punched in the gut. But this time it was due to a happier occasion. Cassidy had called her ‘mama’. She didn’t know if it was just because of the little girl’s tiredness or if it would stick, but for right now all that mattered was that simple four letter word that came from the mouth of the child she already saw as her own flesh and blood.

 

When she got back to the room she could see Miranda was clearly forcing herself to stay awake, bracing herself against the railing of the bed.

Andy moved quickly to dispose of the used basin & pour Miranda a paper cup of mouthwash, following with a large plastic cup of water and a straw.

“Andrea, do not keep me waiting, how are the girls?”

“They’re okay,” Andy reassured her as she settled Miranda back against the pillows and urged her to drink a few sips of water so she didn’t get dehydrated even in spite of the IV. Taking the cup back, Andy shifted slightly so she was at a better angle to look at Miranda when she spoke.

“We had a good talk…My God, Mira, I knew this would be hard for them, but it’s even harder to watch them go through this, with nothing I can do to stop them hurting or keep them sheltered from it.

“Welcome to motherhood, Andrea…that ache is never going to go away. Thank you for taking care of my babies.”

Our babies.”

“I’m sorry, darling, you’re correct – our babies.”

Now Andy grinned, a warmth expanding in her chest as she told Miranda what had just conspired in the lobby. “Cassidy called me ‘mama’,” she grinned widely even through her nerves that Miranda might not be alright with her using the term.

“That’s wonderful,” Miranda’s voice was weak but her eyes were warm as she replied. “I wondered if or when she might. The other night while I was going over The Book, Cassidy came downstairs to find me after having a nightmare and spoke of you as such, asking where you were as I assume she tried our bedroom first.”

“I can’t believe that I’m going to be a mom; that I get to be a mom even before these babies get here.” Andy smoothed her hands back and forth over the roundness of Miranda’s belly and predictably, the older woman’s eyelashes fluttered, prompting a low chuckle from the brunette as she held herself above Miranda to switch sides of the bed, settling in beside the editor as she either fell asleep or otherwise passed out.

Chapter Text

Andy worked out of Miranda’s hospital room for the remainder of the week, only going home to sleep. If the twins hadn’t been home from their father’s Andrea wasn’t sure she would have left at all, even with the combined efforts of Dr. Jansen and Miranda to get her to leave the hospital. The biggest fight of all had come when Andy had announced she had taken herself off of the assignment that would have had her leaving for the Middle East the week Miranda was tentatively scheduled to resume some of her duties at Runway.

“Absolutely not.” Miranda’s voice was as cold and imperious as anyone had heard it as she gave the decree from the hospital bed. “Andrea, you are going on this trip and you are writing this story.”

“How do you expect me to leave you? To fly thousands of miles away into a war-torn country while my wife who is pregnant with twins is in critical condition?” Andy had all but shrieked, causing Miranda to wince slightly at the screeching tones but who otherwise remained frustratingly unperturbed.

“High-risk, Andrea, not critical condition. I will follow Dr. Jansen’s order for bedrest and a restricted,” here Miranda grimaced slightly, “schedule that will ensure the continued development of the babies so that their condition is not exacerbated by any activities deemed unsuitable by the good doctor.” Miranda’s voice remained sarcastic, but the tenderness with which her hands moved over her stomach as she spoke reassured Andy in ways the older woman’s words could not.

“I won’t take this away from you, and I will not let you give it up. This opportunity is too important for your career, Andrea”.”

“But my career is worth nothing if I don’t have my family to share it with and come home to.”

“And you will…We’ll be right here waiting for you. All of us, as a family. Whether you like it or not, Andrea, this trip couldn’t be coming at a better time.”

“What. Could. You. Possibly. Mean. By. That?” Andy spoke through gritted teeth, willing herself not to tear out her hair in frustration at the absurdity of the other woman’s words.

“I love you,” Miranda responded, and although her heart leaped at the now familiar endearment, Andy caught something else in her tone. “Deeply. But,” she took a breath. “We both know that I will be less than tolerant or good natured about this forced incapacitation, and that you would feel the need to watch over me and hover 24 hours out of the day, which would drive both of us to insanity. This way I can be as much of a bitch as I like while you’re gone without worrying I’ll snap at you as the most available target for my inevitable frustration, and you will have something else to occupy your mind instead of counting my breaths and measuring the circumference of my ankles.”

“But if something were to happen.”

“Then it would have happened regardless of your presence or in spite of it…Do you trust me, Andrea, to do what is right for our children?”

“I, of course I do. Look at the amazing job you’ve done with Caroline and Cassidy, Miranda. How could I ever doubt you as a mother?”

“Unfortunately, it would be all too easy. But know, Andrea, that I will do everything in my power to give the babies their best chance at coming into this world healthy. You must trust me to do at least that much, otherwise why would you have agreed to marry someone you thought would act otherwise?”

“I hate it when you do that,” Andy grumbled, curling up beside Miranda on the bed and reaching out her hand to lay overtop of the babies.

Miranda smirked slightly, letting her own head fall forwards to rest on the brunette’s temple. “But you love me.”

“Lord knows why but I do,” Andy teased, laughing even as she stole a kiss from lips that were quickly forming an adorable pouty moue. “Now let’s figure out what we need to do so I can take the love of my life home.”

“Acceptable.”

Miranda was true to her word. Apart from having Nigel, Emily and Serena turn the care suite into a makeshift Runway for a day’s worth of preparatory meetings, Miranda handed over what was essentially the sum total of the magazine to the trio, guiding them through the next prospective two weeks and outlining the divisions of labour.

Consequently, Andy was able to re-instate herself as the lead for the Tel Aviv and Iran junkets with no small amount of apologizing to her boss for her ‘erratic’ behaviour as of late. She couldn’t tell if Greg really did believe her or whether her good fortune at not having lost the opportunity came more from Miranda’s influence – afar as it may be, or at least the threat of her influence in the publishing world.

At the moment, however, Miranda didn’t look a threat to anyone, except perhaps to herself. Dr. Jansen had finally deemed the level of risk for further pre-eclamptic symptoms low enough to allow Miranda to leave the hospital under the strict proviso and expectation that she would comply with total bedrest before resuming work but altering her schedule drastically to minimize stress or any situations that might put her in a hypertensive state.

But now, instead of her usual clipped gait her walk was slow, her movements cautious even as she eschewed help from the nurses getting into the wheelchair.

“Hey, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure the next time you’re in one of these things it’s because we’re taking two healthy babies home, okay?” Andy crouched down in front of the chair, hating the expertly concealed veil of humiliated tears she knew Miranda was hiding behind her haughty outwards expression.

Miranda simply nodded once, decisively, before looking away again, willing herself not to break, again, as the younger woman hit the nail on the head as to what she was thinking and feeling.

About ten steps from the front doors, Miranda put out a hand to stop the group’s progress. The popping and flashing lights that waited just outside the revolving doors were indication enough of what the problem was as Miranda turned to Dr. Jansen who had taken it upon herself to escort the pair out personally rather than have one of the nurse’s aides assist as would be the usual protocol.

Without missing a beat, Dr. Jansen nodded her approval to Miranda’s silent question and the editor took Andrea’s arm to help her stand, not wanting to give the press the satisfaction or the juicy shot of THE Miranda Priestly in a wheelchair. "I need no further reminder of the ramifications of my age,” Miranda spoke in a low tone as she manoeuvred her body out of the chair as elegantly as possible. She smoothed back her hair and straightened her shoulders – adopting the air and attitude of the regal stature that had afforded her the moniker of the Queen of Fashion even without the trademark 4 inch heels that lent her petite frame a significant increase in presence. The question of Miranda wearing any sort of heel to leave the hospital had been met with an unequivocal ‘No’ from Dr. Jansen, however, and Miranda had been forced to admit in the privacy of her own mind that it was almost a relief to have been ‘forbidden’ from wearing her signature pumps. Otherwise she might have yielded to the pressure of public opinion and the expectations of her ‘followers’ as Andrea called them as well as the press. Truthfully, she still felt disconcertingly weak and unsteady on her feet even wearing the plain Tory Burch flats she was currently sporting. It gnawed at her endlessly that her ‘call’ may have been closer than she thought if after a week of rest and care in-hospital, she still felt this awful.

Homecoming was not the seamless transition either woman had hoped it would be. Once they had arrived at the townhouse, more press were waiting for them, as jawing and bloodthirsty as had been at NYP. Upon seeing the throng, Miranda’s lips thinned and her she looked pointedly downwards and to the side as she spoke.

“Roy, you will provide a barrier between ourselves and the press as we enter the townhouse, then you may continue inside and assist as Andrea has requested,” she ordered in a low tone that brooked no argument from the older man, and not meeting Andrea’s gaze which burned white hot with rage at the sudden change in plans.

“As Andrea requested? I believe you’ll find Andrea requested his assistance wherever there might be stairs you’re unable to climb. You don’t mean to tell me you could possibly be so fool headed as to try and climb those steps, flats or no, one week after you nearly bled to death, miscarrying at 7 months pregnant?

Miranda winced nearly imperceptibly, and it wasn’t merely due to the shrill tones Andrea’s voice had taken on as she voiced her disbelief. She was well aware of the fragile state of her pregnancy and the tenuous hold of the two lives in her belly. Even now, the incision throbbed painfully from the movement and motion of getting from the wheelchair to the car. But short of developing the power of levitation, as was currently being narrated to her belly by Caroline and Cassidy as they introduced the babies to the world of Harry Potter, there was no way to access the townhouse other than by those seven steps. The thought of Page Six emblazoned with pictures of the Ice Queen being carried into her own home was unthinkable. Within the privacy of the townhouse and around the people she trusted, she could, with difficulty, swallow her pride and quash her vanity, but she could not, could not show that kind of weakness in front of the press – to an even greater extent than had taken place at the hospital with the wheelchair. They would eat her alive – the Dragon Lady brought down low, conquered by her own weak and aging body.

Although outwardly her expression remained cool and passive, Miranda’s stomach began to ache on the inside as well as the outside at the betrayed look on the brunette’s face as she sat across from her.

Exhausted, and sick, and terrified of watching another relationship fail as a result of her own foolish pride, Miranda’s cool broke.

Lurching forward to grab the younger woman’s wrist in case she decided to run, Miranda’s fingers wrapped around the slender wrist with an almost bruising pressure, which was enough to snap the journalist out of her funk of self-righteous indignation as she met stormy blue eyes that held hers inexorably, desperately trying to convey what her lips could not and the sincerity of her next words.

“Please,” the foreign word slipped from Miranda’s tongue and caught in her breath as she prepared to beg the other woman to stay. “Andrea, please I…I can’t, I’m sorry…I” she trailed off, closing her eyes and shaking her head lightly in frustration at her inability to express herself in the manner she wished, feeling the panic bubble up in her chest and trapping her between two impossible situations.

Brown eyes cleared and then muddied again as they glanced briefly out of the car window before moving back to their linked hands. Andy gently untangled her wrist from Miranda’s hold and brought her left hand to her lips so that her lips brushed the older woman’s ring finger and the glittering stone that she wanted Miranda to remember held so many promises for their future.

“I know.”

Andy exhaled harshly and shut her eyes, flopping back against the seat briefly before sitting up again, trying to get her anger under control. But it wasn’t anger at Miranda. “I hate them!” she spat contemptuously, glaring over Miranda’s shoulder but unwilling to let any angry tears escape her eyes as she shook with rage at the sight of the waiting horde. “I hate that they can make you do this, that they can hurt you like this.”

“Come,” Miranda gripped Andy’s hand firmly. “The girls will be waiting, perhaps if we’re fortunate, I’ll be able to make it up the stairs in time to avoid any missiles or homemade projectiles being lobbed in the press’s direction by my darling offspring.”

Miranda succeeded in drawing a chuckle from the younger woman who snorted, knowing the pair would have something lying in wait for the unlucky group outside.

Andy stepped out of the car first so that upon exiting the vehicle, Miranda was flanked on both sides by either her or Roy. The three then made their way across the sidewalk to the front gate and the townhouse stairs where Roy fell back behind them, ready to keep any interlopers at bay with a stone cold stare and solid stance.

Miranda’s legs felt as though they were made of lead, although she appeared outwardly to move with a slow but unaffected grace. Keeping one arm linked with Andrea’s and held across her belly protectively, Miranda’s right hand gripped the iron rail so tightly it was nearly bloodless as she tried to leverage the majority of her weight against the bannister. She was hopelessly grateful for the solid measure of comfort of Andrea’s arm around her waist, ready to stable her if her step faltered. She knew Andrea wouldn’t let her fall.

As one would expect, having not seen their mother in days, Caroline and Cassidy were waiting inside the door for the two women. But Andy and Miranda’s arms were met with thin air rather than warm bodies as two redheaded whirlwinds barreled past them, using Roy as a shield and lobbing what appeared to be strangely shaped, sopping paper mache shapes into the crowd of press which then burst with a series of wet splatters and expletive-laden yelps of surprise as the targets found their equally slippery marks.

“Girls! Inside this instant!” Miranda commanded.  Cassidy looked torn for a long moment as she looked at the remaining grey projectile before dropping it with a sullen thud at her feet and following her sister back into the townhouse.

“Roy, if you please?” Miranda added, seeing the older man was uncertain of where exactly he should be or who he was supposed to be protecting. As Miranda turned away from the door however, he caught Andy’s eye with a quickly hidden glint before casually turning on his heel, catching his toe in the process which sent the last ‘bomb’ flying into the closest group of paparazzi, scattering them as it exploded in a mass of what appeared to be green paint and oatmeal.

Straightening his tie slightly, Roy stepped through the front door into the foyer, leaving Andy to close the door behind the straight-faced man as she bit her own lip until she tasted blood to stop herself from grinning.

That smile was quickly wiped off her face though as she turned around to see Miranda next to the stairs as she’d expected, but gripping the bannister so tightly her knuckles had gone bloodless, a faint sweat broken out at her hairline and looking as though she were going to be ill at any moment.

“Damn,” Andy cursed silently as her gaze darted from Miranda to Roy and the girls trying to best figure out how to approach the situation.

“Girls, can you go find Cara and make sure she has a copy of the grocery list of the foods your mom is supposed to be eating as well as the phone number for the nurse and home care consultant?”

Both girls looked dubiously at Andy and then at their mother. “Mom are you okay?” Caroline pulled gently at Miranda’s hand until the older woman’s glazed expression broke.

“Yes Bobbsey, I’m fine. Mommy’s just very tired and looking forward to sleeping in her own bed. Now run along darling, I’ll be fine, I” Andy could tell the next words out of her mouth were meant to be ‘I promise’, but Andrea’s reaction as well as her own to that statement in the past stopped her short of making the same mistake with her daughter.

“Andrea and the nurse and Dr. Jansen are going to take very good care of me and do everything they can to make sure the babies are safe, I promise. Perhaps tomorrow after school you can continue with Harry Potter.”

Once the small footfalls had died away, Miranda dropped the pretence of normalcy and a haggard exhaustion could be seen written across her features as she leaned into Andrea, willing her head to stop spinning as she rested it against the younger woman’s chest.

“Roy,” Andy spoke quietly, not moving her eyes from the woman in her arms as the older man moved closer and lifted Miranda up with bearlike arms, ascending to the second floor and down the hallway into their bedroom.

Andy led him over to the chaise near the vanity, knowing Miranda wouldn’t want to have anything touch the bed or comforter that had been ‘tainted’ by the hospital.

Equal parts nausea and embarrassment had caused Miranda to shut her eyes tightly for the duration of the short trip, but she opened them upon being set down, glancing down at her belly and her hand pressed over the incision site before reaching for Roy’s hand, surprising the man past words.

“Thank you,” her eyes not meeting his as they looked determinedly anywhere but at him, the sentiment was still one of the most genuine Roy had ever heard from the woman he had worked for over the last ten years and he covered the smaller hand with his own, squeezing tightly before letting go and watching it return to the greatly diminished lap of the editor.

“Ladies, if you need me.”

“Thanks Roy, I’ll walk you out. You stay put!” Andy warned teasingly as she left the bedroom and Miranda sitting silently for the three minutes it took to walk the older man to the door and thank him for his efforts that day.

“Good luck, Andy. Take care of her,” Roy’s gaze flicked back up the stairs briefly before he nodded at the brunette and headed back out into the now thinning throng of reporters, his lips quirking up at the corners briefly as he stepped over the remnants of the homemade oatmeal bomb that covered part of the sidewalk and were apparent on some of the clothing and equipment of the photographers.

“Darling would you start the bath and make it extra hot?” Miranda grimaced as she placed a hand at the small of her back, trying to work out the ache that had settled there.

“Miranda, you’re not supposed to be using hot water and raising your temperature and your stitches can’t get wet for another few days until your incision is healed enough for them to dissolve, remember?”

Miranda’s nostrils flared although she held her tongue, the next words out of her mouth had an ascerbic tinge however that couldn’t be masked. “Fine, if you would so kindly assist me in getting out of these clothes and find the waterproof bandages I shall attempt to scrub the medical pong from my skin in a lukewarm shower. Does that sound reasonable?” she all but hissed as she straightened up and began to stand.

 “Miranda, it’s not a big deal, just let me help you.”

“I’m being treated like a child! I have been bathing myself since the age of four, I believe 46 years of experience is sufficient to prove I don’t need supervision.”

Although it was a minor thing, Andy could see in the editor’s face that for her, it was a very big deal and a source of humiliation, so she switched tactics, hoping to throw the older woman off enough for her to snap out of whatever funk she was in. And God help her if this didn’t work, because if it didn’t she was fucked – or rather, would not be getting fucked for the foreseeable future.

Slipping one shoulder out of the Chloe blouse she was wearing, Andy’s downcast eyes quickly flipped up to meet Miranda’s in a soulful puppy dog pout. Miranda’s gaze met her own quickly before it was drawn back down to the second shoulder of couture being peeled away from the body beneath it until it slipped away completely – the diaphanous fabric, still warm from Andrea’s body, fluttering to the floor. Now Miranda was faced, quite literally, with the white and pink confectionery of the La Perla plunge bra that eked out just past the brunette’s equally pink nipples in a tempting froth of lace. Then it too was gone, revealing a prize much greater than the layers of couture that had recently covered it. No fabric could compare to the softness and silkenness of Andrea’s skin and the full breasts she now cupped with her hands, akin an offering to the gods.

Miranda’s breath caught as the dual peaks stiffened and bloomed with colour as Andy’s thumbs brushed over them, teasing herself and both women as she gave a breathy little sigh of pleasure.

Mine! Miranda thought possessively, immediately wanting – no, needing, to replace Andrea’s hands with her own, or better yet, her mouth.

“I know you’re not a child, Miranda,” the voice that broke through her hearing was low and throaty and full of purpose as its owner stepped even closer before lightening as Andy took Miranda’s already partially outstretched hand and traced the woman’s fingers down the slope of her breast and down her abdomen. “But don’t you want to take a bath with me? The voice was gently pouting in tone, gasping when Miranda came to her senses and squeezed the pale mound until both swells rose up and down in time with Andrea’s gasps of pleasure. “I’ll even be your bath toy.”

“Damn you.” That did it, now the older woman quickly divested the younger of the rest of her clothing until the brunette stood in front of her, completely naked save for a wicked grin.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” Miranda warned as she bit the younger woman’s neck and causing her to shiver despite the steamy water.

“It’s what I plan on doing for the rest of my life…” Andy replied, “I’m loving you.”

They weren’t able, of course, to complete their lovemaking. It had only been 9 days since Miranda’s heart stopped beating and Andy had almost lost her reason for being. But it had accomplished what Andy had intended when she first set out to appease the older woman’s anger at the situation.

In comparison to the stiff and frozen version of Miranda Andy had been dealing with an hour before, this Miranda now was warm and flushed and drowsy, already fading as Andrea helped her dry her hair and changed the dressing over her incision and get into a fresh set of pajamas. She had actually sighed, seemingly in contentment, as Andy had helped her into a comfortable position on the bed and pulled the covers over her before stealing a kiss from lips that were already pursed in sleep.

“Goodnight, my love.”

Chapter Text

The combination of blood pressure medication Dr. Jansen had prescribed and the exhaustion and stress from coming home in the midst of a press mob had drained the editor of the little strength she had managed to regain in healing from the surgery and both women found that the first three days of mandated bedrest were exactly that, with no arguments from the editor who spent much of that time actually sleeping - much to the amazement of her fiancée who had been prepared for a series of lengthy battles over what did and did not count as an act of physical exertion. But both women had adjusted to their insular little world, with Caroline and Cassidy providing welcome distraction and comic relief as they basked in the undivided attention from both women. The only sore points came when their ‘bubble’ was intruded upon by the homecare nurse who was tasked with taking the required readings of Miranda’s blood pressure and heart rate along with the requisite vial of blood and the occasional urine sample to test for proteins that would indicate another pre-eclamptic episode. Unfortunately, this generally meant that Miranda’s blood pressure was slightly elevated over what it should have been for each of the tests as she iced out the poor soul who had been sent to enter the lair of the dragon.

The date of Andy’s departure to Tehran loomed ever closer on the horizon, and Miranda’s mood seemed to darken with it despite the fact that she had been the one to insist the young woman go in the first place.

Two days before the end of total bed rest and eight days before Andy was scheduled to leave, Miranda set aside her nearly untouched dinner and huffed despondently at the luggage Andy had hauled up from the basement that afternoon and was sitting at the door of the closet, waiting to be packed.

“Twelve days.”

Andy looked up from her laptop to see the older woman brooding silently as she stared down the weathered pieces of luggage Andy had insisted were entirely suitable for her trip, refusing to consider the 7 piece Louis Vuitton set she had seen Emily struggle in with the third day of Miranda’s bedrest and was currently residing in the hall closet.

“Twelve days and then I’m right back here with you. You’re going to be so busy making sure Nigel and Emily are running the magazine properly that after the first few days you’re hardly going to notice I’m gone, and then you’ll be starting back at the office and I KNOW you’ll be too busy to miss me.”

“Nonsense, I’ll still notice your absence Andrea…the pillows aren’t nearly as conducive to a good night’s rest.”

“Sweet talker…” Andy shook her head wryly and flopped down on her stomach on top of the comforter so that she was practically lying on Miranda’s lap.

“Okay guys, ground rules while I’m gone…First of all, you stay put. We’ve got eight more weeks until you’re eligible for parole so I don’t want to hear about any plans you may have otherwise. You are hereby grounded until 36 weeks and no giving mommy a hard time about it.”

Miranda smirked and let her fingers trail through silky brunette strands as the chestnut head bent and pressed kisses and whispers to the silken warmth of her skin, “laying down the law?”

“Mmm, we’ll see who’s the pushover once they’re born,” Andy parried back, knowing that as strict as Miranda liked to think she was, there was still very little to which she wouldn’t acquiesce if asked by Caroline and Cassidy, who although truly were sweet and affectionate girls, had undoubtedly been spoiled and given everything they wanted from the time they had been old enough to ask for it.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’ll soon find they have us wrapped around their fingers,” Miranda’s free hand absently cupped her abdomen as she spoke, wishing as ever, for the moment she could actually hold her babies in her arms and count those fingers.

“Miranda, they had us wrapped around their fingers before they even HAD fingers.”

The first true laugh Andy had heard since she had been in hospital rang out from Miranda’s lips and the knot in Andy’s stomach that tightened every time she thought about leaving eased somewhat.

A familiar glint was forming in Miranda’s eyes now and Andy recognized it as a dangerous one and she hung her head dramatically and rolled onto her back, flopping her head over to raise an eyebrow at Miranda as the older woman blinked innocently at her in direct contrast to the crocodile grin spreading across her lips.

“Alright, what is it?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Miranda sniffed, “I was simply thinking it might be nice to have a family movie night tonight before the work week begins.”

“Uh-huh,” Andy’s expression remained bemusedly skeptical. “And are we properly supplied for such an occasion, or am I to be sent out on a Sunday evening in rush hour traffic?”

Ten minutes later found Andy grabbing the keys to Miranda’s little silver Mercedes and heading out the door only to return an hour later from the corner convenience store laden with the ‘supplies’ Miranda had deemed requisite for such a family venture.

“Andy, is that you?” heavy footfalls clattered down the stairs, the sound preceding the two redheaded whirlwinds who immediately pounced on the bag.

“Now I see where I rate,” Andy teased, lightly checking Caroline with her hip as she and her sister examined the spoils. “I suppose it’s simply my lucky lot in life to cater to the whims of the Priestly women…”

The girls turned to Andy open-mouthed and wide-eyed and the brunette chuckled at the dramatics as they stared down at a bag of chips. “What? You guys know the babies have been making your mom crave some crazy things. Doritos are probably the least weird thing she’s asked for.” Andy’s nose wrinkled as a thought came to her, “unless there’s some sort of dip involved that I’m not aware of.”

“No. Andy you don’t get it. She HATES Doritos. We’re not even allowed to have them inside the house.”

“What? Why?”

“According to mom, “in addition to being hideously unhealthy, they are also abhorrently messy and she won’t have them near any fabric or clothes”.”

“Yeah,” Cassidy chimed in, “I think I remember something about a vintage Dior gown that got ruined during a photo shoot because someone hadn’t washed their hands after eating Doritos for lunch and they got oily fingerprints and orange powder all over the raw silk.”

Andy cringed at the description, yeah that would certainly do it for Miranda – although she didn’t know who at Runway would rather be caught dead than eating the processed, oily corn chips.

 

But the way Miranda’s eyes lit up when she saw the reflective glint of the aluminum foil left no doubt in Andy’s mind as to the legitimacy of the craving, and she watched with no small amount of amusement as the editor hummed and chewed contentedly through the entire bag, her expression coming somewhere close to devastated when she realized her admittedly orange stained fingers hit the bottom and no more crumbs could be enticed from the corners.

So adorable was the forlorn expression on her face that Andy swooped in to steal a kiss from the powdered lips. “Mmm, you taste like cheese,” Andy leaned in for a second kiss even as Miranda blushed and turned her head away. Miranda was even more discomfited when she had to accept the younger woman’s help in rolling out of the bed so that she didn’t touch the sheets before she had the chance to wash the gunk off of her fingers and brush her teeth.

Although she wasn’t about to admit it, the indulgent snack had left Miranda feeling sluggish and a little queasy as she settled in for the second half of the movie. She suppressed a belch and grimaced as she felt the burn of stomach acid coat the back of her throat, mixing awfully with the taste of the mouthwash she had just used. She hiccupped once and rubbed the middle of her chest with the heel of her hand, willing the uncomfortable sensation away as she moved deeper into the embrace of the other woman, knowing the brunette’s hands would quickly find their place and hoping the familiar comfort would settle her stomach.

Not wanting to move and disturb Miranda, Andy lifted her chin from where it had been resting against Miranda’s crown. “Cass, honey, could you go down to the kitchen and bring back a glass of milk? And calling out as an afterthought as the little girl ran out, “careful on the stairs!”

Cassidy soon returned, handing over the glass and turning her attentions back to the movie alongside her sister laid out along the foot of the bed, ignoring the argument behind them.

“Andrea, I really don’t want anything to drink. It will pass soon, I’m sure.”

“Land sakes, woman, is there anything you’re not going to argue with me about?”

Another soft belch and a wince from Miranda prompted the brunette to roll her eyes and huff in frustration as she tried again to hold out the beverage for Miranda to take.

“I detest milk.”

“And I detest sitting here, watching you go through discomfort you don’t have to.” Andy shot back, winning the argument as she tempered the loss with the tender treatment she lavished on Miranda as the older woman grudgingly emptied the glass.

Ten minutes later, Miranda was forced to admit to herself that the disgusting beverage seemed to have done the trick and the roiling pit of acid that had been her stomach had calmed considerably, the last uncomfortable twinges soothed away by Andy’s fingers. Watching her family as they all had their focus on the film, Miranda wondered again at her luck and the sheer improbability of ever having this kind of peace and contentment within a relationship. Resting her head once more against the younger woman’s chest, Miranda closed her eyes as she felt the brush of soft lips at her temple. How on earth could this woman manage to love the ‘Ice Queen’? It still amazed her how natural it felt to be held like this and not desperately want to escape what would normally feel like a cloying embrace. With Stephen and even with Jeremy, there had always been a wariness in the back of her mind and an acute awareness of how she looked or acted and ensuring it fit within the persona she had created for herself. Never would she have felt so comfortable submitting or participating in such open displays of affection. The only kissing and cuddling outside of sex was reserved entirely for her girls. Her gaze moved to the foot of the bed and the two tawny heads bent close together over the bowl of popcorn and quickly growing gangly legs tangled underneath a blanket pulled from Caroline’s bed.

Part of her couldn’t imagine doing it all over again. Two infants, two newborns, God she might really be too old for this. But stronger than any of her fears or reservations about becoming a ‘new’ mother again at 50 were her fears that she wouldn’t. That all the naysayers and skeptics were right and she would never get the chance to raise these two new little lives. That she would fail and Andrea would blame her and leave and her girls would decide to live with their father rather than face living with the empty bitter shell she would surely become if all that were come to pass. No, she exhaled slowly, focusing on slowing her pulse and calming her heartbeat as she concentrated on the gentle wiggles and squirms of the babies as they pressed against Andrea’s palms in a gentle game of tag or hide and seek.

“If you’re going to rile them up, you had better be the one who’s going to get them back to sleep,” Miranda murmured wryly, prompting a laugh from the younger woman. “Mmm, just like mommy I think they’ll tire out pretty quickly,” Andy teased.

“Hmph, can you promise that while I’m here alone for the next week when you’re back at work and I’m still barred from the office?”

“Weeell, you can start planning out the nursery.” Andy stifled a grin as she saw Miranda’s interest was piqued – not that the older woman would ever give any indication that she agreed with the proposed solution.

Miranda quirked up an eyebrow interestedly, musing inwardly to herself. That did sound as though it could occupy a good deal of her time, and she could always have Emily run over fabric swatches or paint samples and in doing so obtain information about the goings on at Runway, given that Andy had threatened them to silence within an inch of their lives, and loyal minions that they were, Miranda knew they would be true to their word for both her and Andrea’s sakes.

“Fine, at least that will be something,” Miranda huffed, already pulling together colour schemes in her head for a gender-neutral nursery.

Once the initial plans had been drawn up and the fabric samples chosen and ordered, it was to be a test of both women’s patience as they dealt with a bored, ill-tempered Miranda over the next week of bed rest. With Andy back at work, the girls at school and their extra-curricular activities, and now not even the home care nurse to break up the monotony of the day, the result was an irritable, peevish editor in chief who seemed to find more fault in the small amount of her employee’s work than when she was in full command of the Runway offices. With her focus so totally zeroed in given the miniscule amount of ‘editing’ she was allowed to do, nothing was good enough, so pedantic was her scrutiny of the pages and editorial content.

“Are you resting?” Andy’s voice echoed accusingly through the speaker of the phone one afternoon during one of Miranda’s daily requisite two calls, and she heard the telltale shuffle of papers being pushed to one side and she shook her head ruefully, raising her eyes to the ceiling in weary bemusement.

“I was attempting to,” La Priestly made a re-appearance over the phone line, “however the whims and fancies of our children prevented any kind of restorative nature ‘resting’ would have provided.

Privately, Andy thought to herself that was possibly the most evasive way possible of stating that you were craving something that wasn’t readily available. Only Miranda…

“Well whatever it is that you want, call Cara or Maria to get it for you, please.” She heard Miranda’s scoff through the phone and her voice became firmer. “Miranda, you are on BED-rest. Not foot-rest, or sitting on your butt-rest. Right now you aren’t going anywhere.” She still wasn’t sure Miranda was convinced and so she pulled another trick out of her arsenal. “Look down.”

Miranda scowled at the phone but her gaze softened as she lowered her gaze.

“Think of it as making sure they get their rest. You wouldn’t make Cass & Caro get out of bed and go to school and piano lessons if they were sick. So if you won’t do it for yourself, which makes me so sad to think that you don’t see yourself like I do, do it for our tiny, sweet terrors that already keep us up at night.”

There was a long silence and then a question that wavered slightly at the end, making Andy’s heart skip as she knew it meant Miranda was close to tears, even if they were brought on by hormones. “What time will you be home tonight?”

“Soon as I can,” Andy answered, partly wishing she could pack up now. “But that will probably be around 6 or 7.”

“The terrors and I will wait for you then, both sets.”

“Now do you promise to get Cara or Maria to get whatever it is you refuse to tell me you’re craving?”

Andy could all but hear the sigh and accompanying eye roll on the other end of the line and she smiled ruefully, seeing that her plan to distract a tearful, hormonal Miranda had worked.

“Yes. Now go work so you can come home.”

“I will. I love you.”

“And I you, darling,” the warmth returned to Miranda’s voice before the line cut off, leaving Andy shaking her head and smiling, thinking that some things would never change.

What Andy did have a hard time getting Miranda to consider was the promised photo shoot that would feature the pregnant editor and to which she was sorely regretting agreeing to as the date for the shoot grew closer and final decisions needed to be made.

“Come on, Mira,” Andy whined, “No one is going to see most of these except for family – and I for one want to remember how beautiful you looked while you were carrying our son and daughter.”

“There will be nothing ‘bared’, no vulgar swathes of fabric and large expanses of skin and so help you if you think alphabet letter blocks or a pair of infant’s shoes is going anywhere near my stomach.”

“Oh come on, not even mini Louboutins or Choos?” Andy teased, reaching out for the bump in question over which the pregnant woman had crossed her arms and was now glaring at her tartly.

“Have you ever considered what you would do if I were to cut off your access to my abdomen?” Miranda asked, a smirk playing across her lips at the brunette’s scandalised expression and successive tightening of her hold around Miranda’s waist, pressing her cheek flush against the swell.

“Die,” she exhaled dramatically, turning to bury her face into the body part in question as she stretched out on the couch.

“And when I no longer resemble a water retaining sausage?”

“Is that happening anytime soon?” Andy teased, eyes sparking mischievously as she laughed, playfully ducking as a hand reached out to swat at the dark head.

“Then there are going to be two tiny babies to hold, in addition to my gorgeous wife and beautiful daughters.”

“Tiny may be an all too apt descriptor.” Miranda looked down at her lap. What seemed so large and cumbersome a burden on her frame was really housing two very small, fragile infants that if delivered overly prematurely, stood very little chance of thriving once outside of the womb. Every day and every inch her body was able to grow gave the babies their best chance of survival and she pondered her expanded waistline and the all too precious contents that seemed so inconsequentially sheltered by the meagre protection her body was able to offer despite her best efforts.

“Stop it.” Andy’s voice was still muffled as she had her face pressed to Miranda’s stomach.

“Stop what?” Miranda was perplexed as she hadn’t said anything past her initial comment.

“Thinking,” Andy replied, flipping her hair back and tilting her head back to meet Miranda’s gaze. “I can hear you.”

Warmth suffused Miranda as she once again reveled in the depth of the brunette’s apparent love for her and she returned the emotion in her own way, replying somewhat acerbically “Some of us find that easier to do than others.”

“Ouch!

The pictures they were having done would be for both personal and professional use. With great reluctance, Miranda had agreed to Leslie’s publicity ploy and would appear in a Runway exclusive editorial containing an interview with her and Andrea about their engagement and the coming additions.

“Don’t forget, Eduardo is coming at 10 on Monday to prep for the office shots – I think they mostly want you at your desk at a profile. Also, it looks like the notes say they want you in a wrap dress, killer shoes because you won’t be standing or walking in them, no jacket because it will cover the bump and deep jewel tones for one set of B roll as a contrast to the black and white of your office.”

“Now they’re presuming to tell me what to wear? Do they know who they are dealing with?”

“Miranda, you know Nigel is behind all of it, and you also know he would never make you look bad. All I’ve been educated on is the thought process behind having you in the draped white jersey and me in that black, sculptural, angular Zac Posen bustier meets suit jacket meets origami piece that Emily was drooling over last week.”

“And that is?”

“Simple juxtaposition. Black, white, bride, groom, dark, light, soft, hard and the dichotomy of those facets of personalities coming together and ‘culminating’ in a new family and dynamic.

Miranda had thought as much herself, but she was pleased to see Andrea really had learned the power of communication through choices in fashion and style. She was also equally pleased that she would see the younger woman in the outfit that had been chosen for her. The cut would be another striking contrast against the brunette’s curves and the result, even in theory, made Miranda weak in the knees.

She wouldn’t have minded seeing Andrea in all white however, simply to entice her imagination as to what the young woman would look like on their wedding day. She already had a picture in her mind of Andrea as the perfect blushing bride - as she would be no matter what she wore, but she supposed her hormones and the romantic side Andrea seemed to bring out in her reared their head and she was swept away in a fantasy of fabrications of chiffons and charmeuses, satins and silks…

From a stylistic or creative standpoint though, it made greater editorial sense to show the perceived ‘dominant’ personality in a less harsh light, highlighting the bloom of femininity that was inherently apparent in her expectant state. It also evened the scales for those who would seek to decry Andrea’s role in the relationship as the weaker half. The power suit and the decidedly ‘adult’ edge to her outfit and makeup would, if executed correctly, serve as the perfect foil for the softened portrayal of the editor as well as underscoring the position Andrea had adopted, at least in the press’s viewpoint, as Miranda’s protector, both in the trial and in the public eye. Only those closest to the couple knew how deeply that sentiment ran and how fiercely guarded Andy was over anything having to do with Miranda. Certainly enough to give anyone pause in their consideration of who was top and who was bottom on the most regular basis.

Yep. Nigel was good. He was also the only one who could ever get away with it, Andy thought to herself. She knew what clothing she preferred Miranda in – apart from the obvious ‘none’ that wickedly came to mind – but she would never attempt to tell Miranda what to wear. Nope, nuh-uh, no way Jose…

With Miranda more than eager to return to Runway and resume her editorial duties, the tensions in the household switched and it was now the brunette’s turn to brood suddenly when she wasn’t running around with last minute preparations for her trip, or the twins or a still housebound Miranda.

The night before Andy was scheduled to fly out and Miranda had been medically cleared to go back to work by Dr. Jansen after a final home visit by the doctor earlier that day, Andy fixed the editor with a long, serious stare – making sure the older woman was giving her her complete attention as she looked over top of her reading glasses at the solemn expression on the younger woman’s face.

“Promise me, Miranda – and don’t say anything if you can’t, but I need to know that you’re not going to push yourself too hard when you go back to work.” Brown eyes bored almost painfully into blue as they turned liquid with tears the brunette was determined not to let fall as she tried to impart the seriousness of her message to Miranda.

“I came so close,” her voice was choked and harsh as she fixed her gaze on the woman in front of her. “I was so close to losing you – to losing everything. You keep saying I need to be careful while I’m over there? That couldn’t be farther from the truth, there is nothing that matters for me over there. There is nothing of me to worry about. All that I care about and all that I am is right here in New York, right here in this townhouse in the two bedrooms across the hall and in this bed right here.” Andy drew herself up onto her knees and leaned forward to press her lips to Miranda’s, wanting desperately to convey the depth of her emotion without making Miranda feel like she was giving ultimatums.

Sitting back on her heels, she traced the now swollen lips with her thumb and continued. “I’m leaving my heart here, please, please take care of it. The thought of leaving you is so much scarier than the thought of flying into a warzone.” Andy shook her head and snorted, “How messed up is that, or how’s that for an example of writer’s use of hyperbole? But it’s true.” Andy shrugged as Miranda gathered the younger woman’s hands in her own and brought them together to her chest as she ducked her own head to meet the younger woman’s distracted gaze.

“Andrea, no matter what happens. With me, or the babies, or the trial or anything else, you must know that I am deeply aware of the gift you have given me in loving me as I don’t believe anyone ever has besides my girls, and of course that’s a different kind of love. I don’t take that gift lightly, and I promise I will do everything in my power to see that I don’t ruin that trust. Your heart, as you say it is, will be right here waiting for you – and even though you say it is staying in New York, know that mine won’t be whole or satisfied and won’t rest easy until you return.”

Andy slid down alongside Miranda as the older woman abandoned the notes she was making on the last few pages of the Book, putting it to the side as she reached for the light on the bedside table. Her nightshirt rose up as she did so and Andy’s hand moved over to raise it a few inches further, pressing her fingers then her lips to where the healing incision was etched into the pale skin, the straight edged horizontal cut bisecting the softened reddish lines that had begun to stripe the gravid swell. At first Miranda had been horrified, and then incensed at nobody other than herself for being so foolish as to think she wouldn’t get stretch marks carrying twins for a second time at 50 years old. It had been so long, ten years she thought with a strange melancholy, since her last pregnancy with the girls that the marks she bore as a result of their birth had all but faded to silvery lines and shadows. Now the old silver and the new pink mixed together in a combination Miranda had called horrid and Andy had proclaimed beautiful when she had caught the older woman trying to change in the bathroom. She had soon put a stop to that, telling Miranda flat out that she was being ridiculous and then running a single hand down the length of Miranda’s body that managed to imbue all the tenderness her words lacked, leaving Miranda once more incredulous at the immense gift she had been given in the younger woman who looked at her with a desire and a hunger that rivalled the admiring and even lustful gazes typically reserved for the likes of those select few chosen to grace the pages of Runway.

“Andrea?”

“Yes?”

“Would you mind not thinking quite so loudly? I’m quite sure it’s affecting my ability to concentrate on my work.” The icy tones of ‘La Priestly’ were belied by the softened expression in the blues that came to rest on stormy brown. Andy snorted wryly and let her head fall forward with a groan. Suddenly, her head popped back up, the worried, murky brown replaced by a familiar wicked gleam that sparked the older woman’s stifled libido as a long, lithe body slid itself against her as its owner moved up the bed, fingertips trailing lazy paths over the valley, curves and bumps beneath them that belonged to the editor.

“Are you suure I can’t convince you to start your maternity leave early?” Andy purred, her voice at its most smoky and seductive. But in spite of the sudden flush & flood of heat distracting her, Miranda managed to fix the younger woman with a firm look.

“No.”

“Damn.” Andy flopped back, all traces of smoke gone from her voice Miranda noted with some disappointment. “Should’ve known not even pent-up pregnancy hormones in overdrive wouldn’t work.”

“Andrea, I think we can both agree that my mental health would be compromised if I were made to ‘rest’ and be idle for the next three months. Miranda felt a familiar lick of fear as the words passed her lips, the argument they were leading up to all too familiar and all too unwelcome when it came to Andrea.

Lost in the beginning throes of a panic attack, Miranda startled when she felt the cool press of lips against her overheated skin and she looked down at her arm where the journalist now rested her chin.

“I know, I know you have to work. It’s part of you and I don’t want to change any part of that.”

The tightness in Miranda’s chest eased and she waited patiently for the brunette to find her next words she was so clearly searching for.

“I’m not asking for me. It’s not for me or because I’m jealous or feel second-place. It’s for you, for your sake, to keep you here and whole with me. You can tell me your heart belongs to me Miranda, or that it beats for me, but even you can’t make it do so if nature decides otherwise…”

“If nature decides otherwise, then there’s nothing we can do,” Miranda murmured softly as she reached out to stroke the younger woman’s cheek.

“Hmph.” Andy blew out her bangs and burrowed in more forcefully into the older woman’s lap, jostling her arm slightly and causing the pen to mark the page she was editing. But Miranda found she couldn’t quite bring herself to care, and she paused as that led to further expostulation on just how different it was with this relationship, with her Andrea.

Chapter Text

Miranda’s return to work presented another set of complications the older woman hadn’t foreseen. In the time that had passed since Miranda had last been at work, her size had increased considerably – resulting in what was quickly becoming a humiliating situation as she tried to manoeuvre her unwieldy frame from her seated position in the car. Equal parts rage and embarrassment flared in her veins and she forced herself to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly through her nose, visualizing a certain brunette she had made certain promises to and focusing on the kicks she could feel to keep her blood pressure from rising before she even made it into the office.

Dreading now, rather than anticipating the car’s arrival at the Elias Clarke building, Miranda tried to scooch forwards in her seat, using her hands as leverage as she felt the car come to a stop, but it was no use. Miranda Priestly was irrefutably stuck, trapped as it were in a climate-controlled prison. Suddenly, the passenger door opened and a wide, weathered hand held itself out gallantly as Roy played the part of the ‘driver’ coming around to open the door and assist Miranda out. It was both common knowledge and an unspoken rule that apart from gala or black tie affairs, Miranda Priestly did not accept assistance from her drivers. She couldn’t be expected to wait on whatever unfortunate plodding soul to tromp around the vehicle, and Miranda usually had one stiletto on the pavement before the car was even in park. Now, although nothing in her expression would give it away, she was once again duly humbled by the kindness of those in her employ and grateful for the discretion of her longtime employee. Squeezing lightly as she accepted his hand, Miranda nodded almost imperceptibly to let the older man know this new arrangement was suitable.

Once both feet were planted firmly on the ground, Miranda stalked towards the elevators, the faint, acrid, lemony smell of the cleaning chemicals used on the marble floors filling her nostrils and giving her a rush of adrenaline as she felt the comforting blanket of old patterns and habits fall into place once more and the mantle of the 'dragon lady’ settle around her shoulders as she eyed two terrified clackers out of the nearest elevator and stepped in to the gilded box herself.

The rest of the morning passed in a similarly pleasing fashion and blur of productivity. Despite the abhorrent state the current issue was in, although privately she did note to Nigel, Emily and Serena that she was pleasantly surprised at the relatively minor nature of the errors, Miranda was over the moon to be back in her element. So engrossed was she in her work that she at first she didn’t see the dark figure walk smoothly into her office and approach her as she stood over her desk, sorting through suggestions for the layout. Rather, she felt his presence as a wave of nausea and unwelcome fear settled into her core, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up as she did.

No niceties were spared as she eyed the repugnant chairman standing in front of her, a vile leer spread across his features that increased the butterflies in Miranda’s stomach tenfold, although outwardly she was as icily composed as ever.

“Irving, to what do I owe the displeasure?”

His grin grew wider, and the cold sweat that had broken out on her forehead prickled uncomfortably.

“Do you recall, Miranda, that I subpoenaed the financial records of Runway for the last five to ten years?”

“Yes,” she bit out, unwilling to play into whatever little game he was playing here.

“Well my legal team happened upon some very interesting figures when paired against your own financial records as they pertain to your shares in Runway.”

“What. Do. You. Mean?” She spoke through gritted teeth, her voice dangerously low.

“I mean one of your clacker disciples”, he waved a hand flippantly towards the glass doors behind him, “was very helpful in assisting me in going through your files to find the information I needed that wasn’t covered by the judge’s order. Thoughts of her dislike of the pathetic little man in front of her forgotten, rage flared in Miranda’s chest at the betrayal. However much to Irv’s chagrin, her outward demeanour remained frustratingly calm as she stared him down and then shrugged her shoulders.

“I don’t know what you expect to find, Irv. I’ve gone through all the numbers in those files myself. And unlike you, Irving, I operate under a code of ethics. I assure you, there is nothing to find.”

Strangely, the same crooked smile remained on his lips. “Perhaps,” he inclined his head before rocking back on his heels. “But would you say the same about your personal financial records?”

Still, Miranda’s expression remained impassive even as she surreptitiously shifted her weight so that her knees that were now trembling precariously, were supported by the thick frame of the table on which her palms were slipping because of the sweat that now soaked through her blouse.

Cursing herself for the show of weakness, Miranda tried to hide her shaking by making an exaggerated show of sitting back in her chair and folding her hands overtop of her stomach.

 

“Oh?”

“Indeed, it seems around the time of the Sedona shoot, Runway’s sales did very poorly. Critics remarked the issue seemed fragmented, distracted almost.”

Miranda’s eyes narrowed. She knew exactly what those numbers had been, and she knew what the inconsistency was due to, Andrea. That was around the time she had started working for Miranda and thrown her so completely by her utter insouciance over the gravity of her, Miranda’s, life’s work. The next issue however, now known as the ‘Cerulean’ issue, had been one of their best-selling ever and Elias-Clarke’s stock had soared far past what it had been before it dropped with the publishing of the previous issue.

“Of course I bought when the shares were down. I had every confidence I would bring them up again, and I did. My financial advisor went through the proper channels and when shares were sold at deep discount, I instructed him to buy. Are you complaining about the fact that by not selling, you made money, Irving, or are you upset that I made money for you?”

“Just watch me prove that you and your little girlfriend tanked that issue together so that you could profit when the stock went back up.”

“Should you ever succeed in procuring Andrea’s bank records, I can assure you you won’t find any proof of fiduciary gain on her part. As I have testified under oath, any relationship on our part began long after Andrea’s exit from the company.”

“Or maybe you were just holding onto the money for her and biding your time until you could ‘suddenly’ come up with a plausible reason as to come out as a couple and combine finances. Mark my words, Miranda, I’ll have my lawyers go through your records with a fine-toothed comb and they won’t miss a damn thing no matter how well you think you’ve hidden your tracks.

It wasn’t that there was anything really to find in her records, but no doubt Irv would spin it so that the board would view the files as containing something untoward or even criminal. The other thing causing her concern was that the records would show just how early on in their relationship Miranda had transferred power of attorney and added Andrea’s name to her accounts. It would appear as though they had been carrying on a relationship far before the events of the assault took place. From there it would be all too easy to spin the story as one of conspiracy, setting up the man they saw as an obstacle in their plans for the future.

Miranda’s mind raced through all the possibilities. It was a testament to the lifetime she had spent hiding her emotions that she was able to school her features not to betray her. True, there was nothing criminal, but some of the charges and expenses in her private accounts would reveal secrets and make public information she would rather keep hidden, even from Andrea. For instance, not only would they show the amount she had spent on Andrea’s engagement ring, but when she had bought it. She would never be able to explain to a jury how a woman so infamously cold, with multiple failed marriages behind her, could purchase such an extravagant ring barely a month after reuniting with a past assistant. She couldn’t even explain it to herself after endless amounts of self-introspection.

Even to herself, the idea sounded deranged, un-stable, un-Miranda. But that was the effect the younger woman had on the editor, she simply chalked it up to the magic that was Andrea and it was part of the reason she did love the young woman so desperately. Andrea’s unconditional love and acceptance of ‘Miranda Priestly’ in all her forms allowed Miranda to shed that ‘hard’ outer skin and ‘unbecome’ herself.

She realized too late that as she stood, paused in thought, her thumb and index finger were worrying and chafing her wrist so that the skin had turned red, almost as though she were trying to shed her skin in this instance so that she could escape.

Irv smirked, even as Miranda spoke confidently. “And why on earth should I share my personal information with you? The board cannot claim that power & there is no chance of a judge ruling in your favour for a warrant.”

Still, the smile remained disturbingly pasted on the man’s face. “Oh but that’s the beauty of it, Miranda. I didn’t need to convince a judge or jury”, he slapped down a folder on Miranda’s desk, smirking at the subtle twitch in Miranda’s left eye as she slowly moved her head to scan the documents, and even daring to chuckle when he saw the purse of her lips. “I always said you saw yourself as God. Now you’ve been betrayed by your disciples.” He chuckled at his own cleverness before continuing, gloating at the cold fury he saw building in the woman in front of him.

“Temper, temper Miranda, or as I hear it, you’ll end up back in hospital and we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we? Apparently it was a costly mess to clean up, replacing chairs and carpeting and whatnot.”

Miranda whitened but didn’t move an inch.

“I can see the headlines now, ‘Dragon’s Temper Takes Deadly Toll’. Who or what will end up paying the price Miranda? The magazine or your family? Or is it even a hard decision after all these years”

“You had your chance, Miranda. You chose how to make your bed and who to lie in it with. This is merely the playing out of the consequences of your actions.”

“Fuck off, Irv.” Miranda spat, unable to look at the sickly look of glee on the chairman’s face and adopting one of Andrea’s more colourful curses before gathering herself and fixing him with as cold a glare as she had ever given.

“If you wish to speak of actions and consequences, Irving, this is my one and only warning to you, there will not be a second, nor will any second chances be given. Do.not.involve.my.family in your petty games and schemes Irving, or on my word you will live to regret it. Now get out, get out Irv or I will have you thrown out. This is still my office and this is still my magazine to run as I see fit. You are not the only member on the board who has influence and you would do well to remember that the next time you attempt to drag my name through the mud. I will not be unseated by an insecure, impotent little man and neither will I let my family be intimidated or threatened. Now get out. I have repeated myself once, and despite your limp, flaccid attempts at playing with the big dogs, you should know better than to let it happen again.”

Miranda’s voice was cold, steely as she stared the older man out of her office as he backed away slightly. The older man looked discomfited for a moment at the ferocity in the near silent tones of the editor’s voice. But then he remembered the ace he believed he was holding in his hand and mustered up a poor show of bravado. “Tell me Miranda, is sleeveless in this season? Because I can see you’ve got nothing up yours.” He taunted her, smacking the weighty folder against his other hand with a cocky grin before turning lightly on his heel and strolling casually out of the office, leaving Miranda frozen and unmoving as she stood behind her desk; her hands still braced against the cool glass although her palms were now slick with sweat and threatened to slip from the smooth surface. She hung her head for a moment, simply breathing, in and out, willing her lungs to follow direction and regulate her breath so that her heartrate would follow. The icy chips that had blazed so alarmingly only moments before dulled to a flat pewter once the man had left her office, still swaggering with an exaggerated air of puffed-up superiority and grinning like the cat who had eaten the canary.

“Miranda!”

Miranda’s hearing registered a familiar voice, coloured with shock and her head snapped up, blasting the intruder with an icy glare that stopped them cold.

“M-Miranda,” Emily stammered, looking ready to flee despite her now-established friendship with the editor. “You, you messaged me saying you wanted to see me,” she pointed to the phone clutched tightly in Miranda’s hand. “I just saw Irv leaving, he looked -”

Miranda held up a hand and the Brit’s mouth snapped shut and she fell silent. “Tell me Emily,” she said so quietly as to be nearly inaudible. “How that girl gained access to my personal, financial records?”

A long moment of silence followed as Emily ginned up the courage to speak, but she was too slow for Miranda for whom time was stuck like molasses although her heart was beating a furious tattoo against her chest, so much so that she had first attributed the ache in her ribs to a series of violent kicks from the babies, but not so.

“Today would be preferable,” Miranda growled, biting back the threat of dismissal that was ready and waiting on her lips, thinking of the brunette and her reminder that Miranda had more friends around her than she knew if only she would see them as such. Well, this was as good as she could do under the circumstances.

Finally the redhead found her voice, continuing in a tone far braver and more confident than she felt. “Miranda, the first assistant has always been responsible for your personal finances, just as the second assistant puts through the expense reports for the magazine once they’ve been signed off by you or Nigel. Finding and training a replacement for myself within the new arrangement means walking them through your bank statements to show them which columns to place which expense categories.”

Miranda was silent for a long moment, opening her mouth again to speak right before the redhead was about to pass out from nerves at the prolonged quiet coming from the editor.

“Is Stacey at her desk presently?”

“Y-yes Miranda, I believe so.”

“Good. Call her in, Emily.”

There was a familiar rush of adrenaline as she sat back down behind her desk, peering over her glasses as she had done so many times before when verbally eviscerating an employee or informing them of their incompetency or termination. But this time it was tempered with a sick guilt in the pit of her stomach that stole any joy or satisfaction from the moment because although the girl was to blame for the mishandling of her personal information, she too was at fault for becoming too complacent and as a result endangering her family and the magazine itself.

The designer-clad waif nearly tripped over her heels in her haste to answer Miranda’s quiet call, Emily closing the door quietly behind her and blocking the second assistant’s view from the scene that the old first assistant knew was about to play out.

“Stacey, this is the sixth month you have been working for us, is it not?”

The blonde nodded up and down violently, silently thrilled that the older woman actually knew her name and any sort of detail about her time at Runway. “And you claim to be reasonably competent at your job, having managed to keep it for this length of time?”

Another nod.

“Don’t just stand there like a mute with your tongue cut out, answer the question.”

“Y-yes Miranda,” the girl stammered, her eyes fixed half in horror and awe on the icon in front of her and the living embodiment of Runway.

“Then can you also provide a satisfactory answer as to why you thought it within the scope of your privilege to freely disperse to Irv Ravitz not only the records of the magazine, but my personal, private financial details without the slightest consideration or thought of consultation beforehand?”

“B-but he’s a member of the Board.”

“Indeed he is. But he is not the one who employs you, nor is he the one who signs your paycheck, and as of this moment, neither am I. You are to leave immediately and hand in your pass to security whereupon you will be escorted from the building and removed from administrative clearance.”

Miranda sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as she sat back, all traces of the regality of the Ice Queen gone from her stature. “That brought me no pleasure, Emily, and neither does this.”

“I’ll pack my things,” Emily said stiffly, pre-empting the editor’s actions, the muscle in her cheek and the gruffness of her voice evidence as to how close the stoic Brit was to actually crying. “I am so sorry, Miranda,” the redhead whispered, a tear finally falling from the heavily lined and mascaraed eye and down her cheek.

“Oh for Heaven’s sake,” Miranda rolled her eyes but her tone was soft now as she moved from around her desk to face the forlorn young woman.

“After everything you have done after all these years to protect me, do you really believe I could think you had any hand or culpability in this?”

“But I should have known! I should have seen…” she trailed off again, her expression anguished as she looked at the woman she idolized. “You would have.” She ended in a whisper, not meeting Miranda’s eyes for fear of what she would find there.

“But I didn’t…Emily, you might be under the impression that my knack of knowing what an employee is thinking is infallible, I assure you it is not. Andrea’s and my relationship is testament to that fact, otherwise we would have found ourselves together much sooner. That skill is especially unreliable when said employee is one I had little contact with as she was trained by the best, and for the most part, performed her duties adequately consequently making her pleasantly invisible. So if you would like to take any fault in this, it is in your own competency and accomplishment, which in turn only validates my belief that I made the right decision in promoting you, even if it meant the loss of a valuable asset to myself, both privately and professionally. Do you understand what I am saying Emily?”

“Yes, Miranda,” spoke quietly, obediently.

“And you do realize, Emily,” Miranda continued, a hint of a smile in her voice. “That now I need you more than ever?” Her lips twitched slightly. “You’ll need to find and start training my new first assistant immediately since you just lost me the first one. I’ll give you until Monday.”

Finally, this had the result the editor intended and the redhead’s lips curled in a slight grin – at least until she caught Miranda’s eye and realized although the editor had meant what she said, she also wasn’t joking. Emily gulped nervously and turned dizzily on one Jimmy Choo in her haste to get to the door and to the task at hand, the panicked flustered look on her face pleasing the older woman for more than one reason. One, because in this way, she really did enjoy wielding her powers of intimidation and two, because it meant the look of fear and despair was gone from the young woman’s eyes now that she had been given a job to do and no time to feel sorry for herself.

“Softie,” she could hear Andrea whisper in ear from within the folds of her conscience and her heart seized once more with the desperation to hear the younger woman’s voice following the distressing interaction with Irv.

Alone again, Miranda felt the walls begin to close around her. Andrea, she needed Andrea. No, no, she told herself. She couldn’t keep relying on the younger woman every time she found herself fearful or uncertain. Thirty years of controlling those feelings were what had carried her through countless trying times and machinations by the board and Irv and the press and her ex-husbands. It was also the woman formed by those experiences that Andrea had fallen in love with, not a needy, wanting, cloying, co-dependant lover. She put the phone down and the babies kicked as though in protest of the action. Miranda pressed her hand to the spot, gently rubbing at the impressions of the little feet. “Hush, little ones,” she murmured, “mummy’s not going to let anything happen to you, I promise”. And with that, she removed the comforting weight of her hand and sat back to begin ruthlessly marking through the editorial for the next issue, determined to give the board no reason to believe there was anyone who could run this magazine as she could – because despite the recent blows she had been dealt and the admitted toll they had taken, the truth remained. No one could do what she could do.

The effort it took to keep her mind off Andrea and Irv’s little speech and on the task at hand proved interminably more exhausting than she had imagined, and what work she had done had sapped her of any remaining strength or fortitude. It was only with great resolve and steely willpower that she was able to direct her focus to Runway-oriented matters until it was five o’clock, and an acceptable – if not early for her – time to leave for the day.

Her heart nearly broke however, when in the car on the way home, her phone pinged with a message from Andrea.

‘Going out 4 drinks after work b4 trip. Don’t wait up xoxo’

Miranda scoffed away unbidden tears of disappointment and frustration, although they were mostly directed at herself and this unattractive neediness.

Blinking furiously behind her sunglasses, she typed out a response.

‘That’s fine. Will see you later – may still be in study working’.

The truth was that she was exhausted and for once, working was the last thing she wanted to do. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep without the younger woman tonight so she might as well be productive rather than wasting time lying awake worrying. The girls would be there of course, so she wouldn’t really be alone, but they were too young to understand the adult behaviours in this and she wouldn’t burden them or keep them awake with her tossing and turning.

Another message from Cara confirmed that the twins would be out for the evening with a friend, and so she too had left for the day and Miranda resigned herself to an evening alone – not that she found the idea unpleasant in and of itself after the whirlwind of emotions that day, but rather it was the idea of being alone with her thoughts that was decidedly unappealing.

 

The hallway was dark when she entered the house, and no footsteps or loud voices to greet her and she found she strangely missed it. As she shrugged her coat off however, she heard the soft shuffle of movement from behind her at the end of the hall. For a terrifying moment she thought it was Stephen again, somehow slipping past the alarm system, but this was no heavy shuffling gait and she exhaled deeply as a familiar voice spoke from the shadows as its owner appeared from behind the darkened doorway.

Chapter Text

“Miranda?”

Miranda said nothing, her face stony; only increasing her pace as she moved towards Andy until the younger woman had to reach out her arms to stop her from crashing into her

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong? Are you sick? Something didn’t sound right in your text & Emily would only give me the vaguest answers when I tried to call you at work, but your phone was off.”

Miranda shook her head and turned it to the side so she didn’t have to face the younger woman and whispered “Irv” in a throaty voice. Turning back around to face the younger woman, Miranda flinched slightly at the anger in her partner’s eyes.

Andy’s eyes narrowed, and the lilting musicality Miranda so loved about the woman she was going to marry was gone from her voice that now shook with anger; and she squeezed Miranda’s hands so tightly she was sure they would bruise, although the older woman could care less at the moment.

“What did he do?” Andy’s words were even…cutting, and her eyes were cold in a way Miranda couldn’t ever remember seeing before as soft hands cupped her chin firmly, directing her to meet the young woman’s eyes. “What did he do that’s made you like this?”

Andy took in the way Miranda’s shirt clung damply to her skin, and the muscle jumping in her cheek, not to mention the tension she was holding in her body as she seemed to simultaneously press herself into the distraught brunette and turn away at the same time, as though afraid of some repercussion or reaction from the woman in whose arms she sought comfort.

Moving in closer on the couch to which she had led them to after she became concerned when the older woman violently sought out her embrace and now refused to meet her eyes, shaking her head from side to side as she clung to Andy, seemingly struggling to catch her breath. “What is it?”

It was so rare to see Miranda like this, Andy didn’t know if there had ever been a time in her life where Miranda had ever allowed someone to see her like this.

“I can’t…not yet.”

Andy nodded and proceeded to kneel on the rug in front of Miranda, who had no idea what the younger woman was doing until she felt a gentle pull on her foot. Looking down once more, Miranda understood and lifted her stockinged foot from the Louboutin mules she was wearing, and balancing herself and her one-legged stance by holding onto Andrea’s shoulder, allowed her to remove her shoes and gently guide her into the study and towards the couch. Seeing how flushed the older woman was, Andy continued in this vein, removing Miranda’s jacket next and blowing lightly on the back of her neck to ward off the sheen of perspiration that threatened to create beads at Miranda’s hairline. Every inch of her body was rigid, and Andy could see her cycling through emotions as though she couldn’t settle on just one. Anger, fear, embarrassment and guilt all flashed across her eyes, even as her features remained stoic for the most part.

Leading Miranda over to the couch, Andy turned away, leaving Miranda utterly bereft until the young woman returned with a glass of wine which she pressed into the editor’s hands gently once she was sitting. “One glass won’t hurt,” she reassured her, making sure she had a firm hold before taking a seat at the other end of the couch so that she could look directly at Miranda as she was talking to her. It also meant she was able to lift Miranda’s legs under the knees and drape them across her own, beginning to knead out some of the tension in her calves and digging her thumbs into the arches of feet swollen from the increase in her blood pressure and unaided by the couture footwear the editor continued to insist on wearing even if the heel height had decreased significantly as her pregnancy had progressed.

Setting the wineglass aside for a moment, Miranda put one hand to her chest with the other pressed to the side of her belly as she tried to control her breathing and stop hyperventilating. “T-tell me something…Just, just talk” she managed to get out between gasps.

“I was thinking, for the babies’ nurser-”

“No!” Miranda shouted suddenly, the volume of her outburst startling both women.

“Please, just, I can’t – think, about that right now. I just…nothing about the babies or the trial or the girls or work, just…tell me something I don’t know, like…like your childhood or your favourite flavour of ice cream, I just need…”

Andy nodded, squeezing the part of Miranda’s leg where she was working out the stiff muscles. She did know what Miranda meant and what she was asking for. What Miranda Priestly needed at that moment was to escape from her own mind.

So Andy began talking, making sure to keep her tone light and breezy as she chattered about her work and the petty squabbles in her office until centimetre by centimetre, she felt the tension leave the editor’s body and the volume of liquid in the glass lowered significantly.

After a few minutes of peaceful silence, Andy’s fingers, now numb with exhaustion, lightly swept over the older woman’s knee as she waited for her to talk.

“Are you telling there is some sort of deranged rodent that chases the pigeons on the curb outside of your office?”

Andy snorted, “It’s a squirrel, Miranda. His name is Eddie.”

“And are you quite sure ‘Eddie’ doesn’t have rabies?”

“Yes, and as good a distraction as Eddie is, both at work and for you and the topic at hand that you’re putting off discussing, I really want to know what’s upset you this much.”

Miranda sighed, recounting the events of the day & her encounter with Irv and the subsequent firing of her first assistant.

“He said what to you?”

“I won’t repeat it, Andrea, but you requested to know what it was he said.”

“He talked about the MESS it made? You, I almost…and he…” Andy’s eyes were almost black as she snarled out the rhetorical question before they returned almost disturbingly quickly to their normal brown and turned calmly on Miranda as their owner fell silent for a long moment before speaking once again in an eerily calm, almost conversational tone of voice.

"Miranda, do you have any particular attachment to the crystal vase on the side table?"

Miranda furrowed her brow at the non-sequitur but answered the strange question. "Not particularly, buy why-" But before she could complete the question the brunette had leapt up from the floor and hurled the object in question at the opposite wall, creating a significant dent between the two bookshelves. Apart from the initial exclamation of effort, no sound crossed her lips. Tears streamed down her face as she stood there however, looking at the newly made hole and still clenching and unclenching her hand.

"Andrea," Miranda spoke gently, not wanting to startle the younger woman. But she gave no answer, only continued to stare. "Andrea," now Miranda got to her feet and moved to stand in front of the frozen journalist, breaking her line of vision from the broken vase. "Darling, his words cannot hurt me. Only his effect on my family can do that. That is what upsets me."

Finally, Andy blinked and her face crumpled and she buried it in Miranda's neck. Now it was the older woman's turn to comfort her partner. “We won't let them hurt us. We shan't give them that power."

After a few more minutes, Andy lifted her head, her face red and blotchy as she croaked "That may work for us, but what about the girls? I know Irv can't touch them but Stephen still has his turn at the trial. God, if it’s not one then it’s the other when it’s not both at the same time. Jesus, I'll have only been back for two days before they have to go on the stand at trial. And in addition to us having to watch them, I'm going to have to watch you go through it too. And back to Irv, what if he tries to pull something while I'm gone? Who knows how long he's been planning this move. I'm leaving the day after tomorrow. How? How am I supposed to fly out to a warzone if the real battle is taking place right here? Where everything I hold dear is being held hostage? Look at what Irv has managed to do without even touching you!" Andy's fingers ran down the length of Miranda's body.

 

"Andrea, Andrea," Miranda tried to direct the hysterical woman's attention back to her. "It will be fine. You are going to go, and you are going to come back and we will face the next part of the trial as a family. ADA Cabot has already agreed to go over trial preparations with the girls so they'll know what to expect and what they'll be asked on the stand. We've gone over this, Andrea. Darling, listen to me, you aren't going to lose any of us if you leave. You're coming back. You only need to ensure your safety to ensure our wellbeing because this wouldn't be possible without you."

She stepped even closer and lay her hand over Andy's heart soothingly, feeling the frantic beats slow as the younger woman had done for her so many times before. "You said you wouldn’t leave me, and you’re not. Do you understand me, Andrea? You are not leaving me. You're coming back. Because the girls need their 'mama', as do these babies and as do I." As she spoke, Miranda brought Andy's left hand down to her abdomen while the other she raised to her lips before entwining both sets of fingers with her own and taking a deep breath, feeling the impotence and the helplessness of their current situation. “But this does lead to my next point…you need to stop taking care of me.”

Andy fixed soulful brown eyes on the older woman, but there was a vein of steel behind her next words. “I told you I can’t do that,” her voice was calm and even in comparison to the furious tones that suddenly erupted from the editor, who had suddenly swung from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

“You cannot continue taking care of me. It’s making me weak and I can’t, I cannot protect you as I once could. The powers of the Goddess, or the Ice Queen have been stripped,” she spat bitterly, her mood changing on a whim, her hands curled into fists at her sides so that Andy could see the reddening skin where her fingernails bit into her palms. “And I will not be soothed, or placated, or reassured. I need no foolish babbling about what the future holds or to be told to have hope or that things will get better. I refuse to allow myself to be led astray by these lies only to be disappointed over and over again. Today, I was useless, powerless as I had to listen to that awful man jibe and jeer and threaten my family and I could do nothing, nothing to stop him. I was weak!”

Miranda had pushed herself off of Andy’s chest at her initial outburst, but now the brunette moved forwards to reclaim the distressed woman.

“Hey. You were not weak, okay?”

Miranda scoffed and Andy used her finger to turn Miranda’s face back to meet hers.

“You were not weak,” she repeated. “You faced him. You stood your ground…You let him spew all those vile things because you knew there was nothing you could do to keep him from those records and that trying anything in that moment would only make it worse. You somehow managed to keep your blood pressure in check. I don’t know how, but you did because you’re standing here in front of me, healthy and whole, which I am so goddamn grateful for because if he had hurt you or the babies or made you sick and put you in the hospital I would have had to kill him. You are anything but weak, Miranda. That was true before you met me and it’s still true now. You are so strong, and we’re getting so close. We’re so close, Miranda.

“God, it is so wrong that I even have to tell you this!”

“This is my point exactly,” Miranda explained tiredly, feeling the events of the day weigh down even more heavily on her shoulders. “This relationship, Andrea, while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, has changed me. Now for worse or for better is a different argument and one I’m not prepared to have at the moment, it being dependant on your position in relation to myself, but it has changed me nevertheless.”

“So it’s my fault that you can’t protect yourself,” the young woman broke her silence after a long moment, the question spoken not in an angry or defensive manner, but in one of true uncertainty as she tried once again to figure out exactly the role she played in the life of the editor.

“No,” Miranda took her hand. “But as Nigel so aptly pointed out, my heart is unfrozen now, and that in and of itself presents a different fragility than it has had to deal with before.”

 

 

 

"Now, I have the uncanny suspicion, based on your previous actions, that you're going to try and put me to bed, so I believe I'll pre-empt you on that and suggest an early night once we've both eaten.”

"You're planning on working while you're in bed, aren't you?" Andy accused, shaking her head as she gave the older woman a knowing look.

"Of course, Andrea, don't ask ridiculous questions...Besides, I thought you were the one who was so keen on the idea of ‘compromising’”.

“Lady, you might be the editor, but I think you and I have different definitions about the word compromise.”

“Perhaps,” Miranda shrugged before placing a hand on the cheek that was still sticky with drying tears. “I’m going to go and shower while you order our meal.”

Shedding the couture she had been wearing for the last twelve hours, minus the shoes and stockings thanks to Andrea, Miranda stretched and rubbed the back of her neck absently as she made her way into the bathroom. What she truly needed to dissolve the tension of the day was a long, hot bath; but she had several hours work in front of her and she knew the hot water would only make her sleepy. Besides, she knew Andrea was exhausted and would likely fall asleep while working on her laptop, and the only way Miranda could really take a bath at this stage was if someone were there to help her out of it. Otherwise she had to resort to an awkward and entirely unelegant combination of rolling from her back onto her hands and knees and waiting for the water to drain completely before bracing her arms against the edges of the tub so she could balance well enough to get to her feet. Then there was the issue of stepping out of the bathtub itself. No, that could wait for another night. For now, a decently hot shower would have to do well enough. Besides, she would still reap the benefits of a massage from the brunette, regardless of either woman’s fatigue. Miranda knew Andrea would be unable to keep her hands off of her when she emerged from the bathroom. The younger woman had told her as much one evening as deft fingers dipped into the hideously expensive stretch mark cream and methodically worked it into every inch of skin she could reach, that damp and receptive from the moisture of the bath, soaked up the luxurious oil until it glistened and stayed sinfully supple under Andrea’s touch. It was torture, however, to know that that was as far as Andrea’s touch could go for the moment being, despite both women’s desperate want for it to go further. Never had Miranda craved sex or the act of lovemaking as much as she did since beginning her relationship with Andrea. Even with the recent experiences of the divorce and assault and the pregnancy-related health conditions and restrictions, she found she had never wanted someone so badly. Andrea, of course, was being a martyr and resisting Miranda’s offers of sexual gratification, but that was something the older woman planned on remedying before the younger left for her work trip. Tonight was off the cards of course, but she still had two days before the young woman left, and she was sure she could find some way to persuade the brunette to bend to her will, quite literally. She bared her teeth in a cunning grin as her mind produced the tantalizing image of her shoulders pushing back Andrea’s thighs as the young woman gasped beneath her. An answering jolt between her own thighs brought her back to the present however and she forced her mind away from such thoughts, knowing that the unhelpful smoky, tendrils of heat coiling through her belly were taboo when it came to the health of the babies. “Alright my darlings, I’ll behave so long as you do. Now let’s see if your other mother has managed to find what we wanted for dinner.”

“You realize I CAN hear you from out here?” Andy called through the bathroom door, having just come into the bedroom to tell Miranda when the food would be arriving.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Uh-huh, sure. I’ll be right back. I’m just running out to grab some of that Neapolitan gelato and waffle cookies.”

Confused at first, Miranda startled. She was right, the journalist had gotten it. That WAS what she was craving. She hadn’t even realized it but the young woman had hit the nail right on the head. She knew what it was Miranda wanted before Miranda knew what it was herself.

“Don’t we still have any?” Miranda asked, weighing her desire for the treat against her not liking the idea of the younger woman going out at this time of night if she didn’t have to.

“No, sweetheart, you finished the second package the night after.”

Miranda chose not to respond to this, instead tying her robe above her bump and exiting the bathroom before sitting on the bed and holding out her hand for The Book which Andy had tucked under her arm along with her reading glasses. The omnipresent glass of water on her bedstand brought a lump to her throat as she realized, not for the first time, how much the younger woman truly did care for her – even if it was through actions as simple as making sure Miranda always had some form of liquid around so that she didn’t get dehydrated.

“Drive carefully,” she muttered, trying to hide the gruffness in her voice caused by the hormonal tears the simple gesture had induced.

“Always do,” the brunette quipped before flashing a grin and turning to leave the bedroom. “I should be back before the food arrives, but the girls are due home at any time so if worse comes to worse I’ll leave some money at the door & the girls can answer it.”

As it happened, Andy and the delivery-man crossed paths as they came from either side on their way to the steps of the townhouse. Paying the man and adding the bags of food to her load, she struggled to get the key in the lock and fairly tripped inside with her armful of packages.

Given the noise that she made coming in the door, Andy thought for sure the editor would have heard her, and wondered why she hadn’t called down to see what the commotion was. Even asleep, the editor’s hearing was far beyond what anyone would ever call normal.

Gathering plates and cutlery on a wooden tray from the kitchen, Andy looped the plastic bag over her free arm and began the two storey climb back to their bedroom, noting that the twins weren’t home yet given the silence. She grinned to herself, she adored those girls…noise, pranks and all.

Coming up the last steps before the hardwood turned to carpeting Andy paused. She knew the girls hadn’t arrived yet, but she heard Miranda talking to someone. Assuming it was Nigel on the phone or something otherwise related to work, Andy continued to approach the door, nearly losing the contents of the tray as she realized what she was hearing.

“And that, my darlings, is what mummy did today and why mama was so upset. That terrible man is trying to take mummy’s job away and threatening to tell lies. But mummy isn’t going to let him get away with it. He’s not ever going to take Runway from me, just like no one is ever going to take you away from me, or your mama or your sisters, I promise.”

Andy narrowly missed a butter knife falling to the floor by catching it in the crook of her elbow as she continued to listen at the door.

“And if…if it happens that mummy can’t be there, if something happens and mummy isn’t there to watch you grow up, know my darlings that your mama will spend every second of every day loving you and making sure you grow into the best versions of yourselves, the ones I see so clearly when I picture you.”

It registered faintly in Andrea’s mind that Miranda wasn’t just talking about being busy with work when she spoke about being taken away, she was talking about dying in childbirth and leaving her and the girls and the new twins. She realized that despite her outward demeanour, Miranda was petrified of giving birth, to the point where she felt it necessary to make plans and contingencies in case the unthinkable happened. Because dear God, Andy thought to herself; it was the unthinkable. So much so, in fact, that before she could stop it, a sob escaped her throat and echoed out into the empty hallway.

“Andrea? Is that you?”

Unable to stop once she had started, Andy stormed into the room tears flowing, roughly setting the tray aside before she climbed up onto the bed beside Miranda on her knees and taking the other woman’s head in her hands, bringing their lips to meet in a violent clash before both women broke off, breathing heavily.

“You’re going to be fine,” Andy insisted stubbornly, sweeping back the covers so that both women could contemplate the bump that rose between Miranda’s hips. “You’re going to be fine, and they’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine, Miranda,” Andy muttered between sobs she was helpless to try and stop and Miranda’s breath caught in her own throat as she felt hot tears roll down the crest of her stomach that came from the young woman.

“I’m sorry Andrea,” the brunette felt gentle fingers rake through the brown tresses spread over her lap as their owner tried to comfort her and seek comfort all at the same time. “But I need,” another catch in her voice, “I need to know, to make sure, my family is taken care of in the case that something goes wrong and the act of delivery is one where I do not make it out of the delivery room alive. The only reason I can do this at all is because I know you’re here with them, for them…”

“Don’t think for one second that ever gives you the excuse not to fight for your life, Miranda. Because, damn you, I need you to fight. And your girls need you to fight, and these babies’ lives depend on you fighting with everything you have.  We’ll do every test and scan and breathing exercise and physiotherapy treatment that they can think of, and Dr. Jansen is still looking into ways they can administer a safe amount and enough sedation to put you under without using anaesthesia so they can do a c-section if she thinks that’s what’s best for you. And you have me!”

Andy sat back on her knees on the comforter and hugged Miranda’s hand to her chest tightly so that the older woman could feel the younger’s heaving breaths as she tried to speak through the sobs escaping every couple or words.

“You can’t, can’t keep doing this to me, Miranda, you can’t, I can’t…please you have to promise me you’ll keep fighting. It’s not time for goodbyes, only hellos” she laid her hands on Miranda’s belly. “Can we please, please, focus on the hellos?”

Miranda nodded, unwilling to speak past the lump in her throat as she watched the younger woman fall apart at the thought of Miranda’s absence from her life.

“Okay,” Andy croaked, giving a watery grin. “Good. Can we not talk about this anymore and just eat?” She rubbed her nose and gestured to the doorway and the fallen packages. “Your ice cream’s gonna melt and I’ll have to go out all over again.”

“Yes, Andrea.”

Now that the uncomfortable conversation had been tucked away for now, Miranda’s mind, ever able to compartmentalize, zeroed in on one thing that could just be seen poking out of the darkening paper bag, damp with condensation from its melting frozen contents. Andy saw Miranda’s lips purse ever so slightly and she knew the older woman was tamping down her cravings in the interest of behaving in an ‘acceptable’ manner and not eating the frozen treat before her dinner.

 

“You know,” Andy said casually, going over to pick up the item in question, tossing it once in her hand as she set the others down on the table and tray she’d brought up for that purpose.

“If we eat dessert first it means I don’t have to go all the way down to the kitchen to put the ice cream in the freezer until we’re ready for it. So we could just eat it now.”

“That seems to be a logical solution,” Miranda’s tone was casual, but the gleam in her eyes and the way she held out her hand for the carton, forgoing the bowls Andy had brought, said otherwise.

Leaving Miranda to the book after dinner, Andy was loading the dishwasher when she heard the front door open and two sets of sneakers squeaking on the marble tile of the foyer as their respective owners tripped in, talking and laughing as they paused in the doorway to wave goodbye to their friend in the car.

Chapter Text

"Hi Andy!"

"Andy! Rebecca got a new dog! His name's Russel cuz he's a Jack Russel Terrier and he's sooo cute!"

"Yeah, we think he and Patricia should be boyfriend and girlfriend. They can even have playdates!"

"Oh ho, I see we've been playing Mongrel Matchmaker or maybe Doggy Dating Service?" Andy teased, causing the girls to burst into giggles all over again at the journalist's use of alliteration, instantly easing the heaviness in her heart caused by the events of that evening, starting with cutting her plans short to come home only to find Miranda in as bad a state as she'd ever seen, and then hearing that same woman she'd sworn to love for the rest of her life voice aloud her doubts about surviving the actual birth of the children they were meant to share.

"If he's just a puppy guys, I think he might be a little much for poor, old Patricia don't you think?" Her heart twinged a little afresh as she spoke the words, although they were lighthearted in nature. The gentle giant had been slowing down for a while now, and more and more often could be found sleeping in her basket than laying at Miranda's feet as she worked in the study or flopped down with her head on her paws on the knitted circle rug in the girls' room.

 

She didn't want to think about the effect it would have on the household when the loveable St. Bernard finally did pass on. As was common with larger breeds, she was already on heart and kidney medication and the trips to Caroline & Cassidy's grandparents’ house and the occasional trips to their father's - who in truth, had been the one to buy her as a puppy in the first place during Miranda's first pregnancy, were getting to be too much for her and were tiring her out more and more. Those three loved that dog, and Andy knew how much she'd be missed, especially as the arrival of the babies would bring up all sorts of memories for Miranda. She'd been furious when Jeremy had brought home a dog of all things when she was four or five months pregnant and they had found out they were having twins. In fact, she'd made HIM sleep outside the bedroom as well, only to wake up to find one of them had managed to sneak into the bed overnight and it wasn't her husband. The floppy eared mutt had curled up beside her, laying its head protectively on her belly and from that moment on it was Miranda's dog - the only shift occurring when Miranda did give birth and Patricia took up permanent post on the knitted circle rug beside the crib. Andy only prayed that God would see fit to give them a few more months with her so the babies' arrival softened the blow of her loss.

"Andyyy, are you even listening?"

"Yes, I'm all ears...and a little bit of nose."

"Wait!" Cassidy's head snapped up suddenly and she flipped her head quickly from side to side, holding out her hands for silence. "I smell ice cream."

"You dope, you can't smell ice cream," Caroline shook her head disparagingly at her younger by minutes sister, and Andy laughed out loud at their antics, the soreness in her heart already easing with their laughter.

"Can too!" Cassidy retorted, crossing her arms and turning back to Andy. "So, is there ice cream?"

Andy shook her head. "You are your mother's daughter alright. Okay, you bloodhound." Andy stood to retrieve the remnants of the gelato from the freezer. "It's a good thing I bought two cartons, huh?" Both girls eagerly held out their hands for the bowls Andy offered them.

"Ever since mom got pregnant there's been ice cream and dessert in the house."

"Yeah, it's been awesome."

Andy snorted, vowing to keep that particular observation from Miranda for the editor's own sake.

"Guys, take it easy on your mom tonight okay?"

"Why? What happened?" Caroline put down her spoon and stared at the brunette in an eerily familiar manner, all sweetness gone from her voice as she crossed her arms, drawing the attention of her sister who followed suit. Andy sighed; so much for limiting the amount of drama...

“Do you remember a few weeks back when we had the scare with the babies and your mom was in the hospital?”

Two heads bobbed up and down in response.

“Well someone tried to make your mom feel bad about that and remind her of how it felt.”

“Why would someone do that?”

“Is mom okay? Did something happen to the babies?”

“Yes baby, she’s fine, and so are the babies. We’re just being careful so your mom is lying down upstairs while she works on the Book.”

Caroline giggled and Cassidy followed suit after a quick glance from her sister. “Andy you called us AND the babies, babies.”

Andy grinned ruefully and mussed the two heads in front of her. “That’s because I’ve got four babies to think about and love. You two just happen to be a little bit mouthier.” She squished their cheeks together in a pucker with one hand each and quickly pressed a kiss to the faintly protesting lips.

Following the two thundering elephants up the stairs, Andy shooed them into their rooms to shower and change for bed before she herself finally made it into the bathroom.

“There’s my beautiful girl,” Andy smiled at Miranda as she re-entered the room, although she noted privately to herself how the older woman’s face looked slightly puffier than normal, and she would bet a considerable amount that the only reason her feet and ankles hadn’t followed suit was because of the extensive massage Andy had given them earlier while she was waiting to Miranda to calm down enough to speak.

The older woman looked thoughtful as the brunette climbed into bed with a groan, rolling over until her face was pressed to Miranda’s stomach.

“Hi sweet babies, are you going to let mommy get some sleep now that mama got you ice cream? Is that a fair trade, huh?”

“It wasn’t necessary to go out, Andrea, I – I shouldn’t have asked.” Again Miranda uncharacteristically second guessed herself as she tried to navigate this new kind of relationship.

“Miranda, running out to get my pregnant girlfriend ice cream is probably the most normal thing I’ve had to do this entire relationship. It’s a relief to do something so cliché. And as stupid as it sounds it makes me feel better that I can at least do one thing to make you feel good or make you happy…”

“Andrea, darling you do so much more.”

“But it never feels like enough, or there’s never any real closure or satisfaction. This, this I can do. I can hold your hand during the trial, but I can’t win the case or put Stephen behind bars. I can come with you to the doctor’s appointments but I can’t do anything to guarantee the babies are going to be born with no health problems. Go-getter of things Miranda is craving is a job description I can do 100%.”

“You are ridiculous.”                                                 

“So I’ve been told.”

“You’re coming back to me.”

“Always.”

Chapter Text

To say Miranda was not in a good mood the day of Andy's departure was an understatement to the grossest degree. Between Irv's threats and the approaching trial where Stephen and Stephen's attorney would have full access to the twins, her nerves hinged on hairtrigger. Add in to that the knowledge that she was going to be apart from Andrea for the next 12 days and she knew she had reached new levels of intolerable. What made it worse was just how tolerant everyone was being of her abominable behaviour. Her employees, who already walked as though on glass around her, now accommodated her increasingly ridiculous demands with an almost sympathetic demeanour. This pregnancy really was ruining her image and undermining any authority she could still claim under her moniker as Miranda Priestly. Emily, Nigel and Serena however, knew the editor’s mercurial behavior was due to more than just pregnancy hormones and the attentions of the press, and so gritted their teeth and prepared for the worst.

Miranda would not be accompanying Andrea to the airport, their goodbyes would be said at home away from the prying eyes and ears of the press. Besides that, Miranda had a long overdue meeting with Massimo that she couldn’t justify putting off any longer – least of all so that she could see her lover off on a weeklong business trip, even if courting and charming the photographer was the last thing she wanted to do. But very rarely, she sulked to herself as she waited for the man to be shown in, did Miranda Priestly actually get to do what she wanted.

‘What she wanted’ was currently waiting in the executive lounge of JFK despite the fact she was flying coach, courtesy of the Turkish airlines check-in attendant. Miranda had insisted on upgrading Andy’s ticket but the younger woman had refused with a gentle reminder that Miranda had promised not to interfere with her job. Even a clever show of tears hadn’t been successful in changing the journalist’s mind and Miranda had relegated herself to an evening of sulking as she watched Andy pack the last of her things into the two ratty suitcases that had been staring her in the face, mocking her for the last week as they’d sat across from the bed, a reminder that she would be sleeping in that bed alone while the younger woman was gone.

Still, her ability to remain angry with the brunette failed her in the end, and she’d moved immediately into the arms that reached out for her as the young woman finally climbed into bed that evening, knowing it was likely the last good night’s sleep she would have until Andrea’s return. Yet another point of weakness she hadn’t counted on when their relationship began. She recalled her stiff words to Andrea when she had stated her desire for and intention of sleeping alone, displacing Andrea to claim the guest room as a secondary sleeping area. How wrong she’d been. There hadn’t been a single night where Miranda had found she preferred not to be in the brunette’s arms. For ages she would tell anyone that in most cases, she preferred to be alone, however her relationship with Andrea had changed all that – changed her in ways she never would have expected. Any discomforts, be it from the pregnancy or stemming from her own mind as was the wont of La Priestly, never outmatched her desire for Andrea’s presence or her touch. When they had slept apart, it had only ever been during a fight or due to hospital restrictions, and in both cases, both women found the experience to be torture.

Andy had been sleeping with a body pillow for the last week in preparation for the trip and Miranda had extremely reluctantly agreed to its use as a substitute although it was anything but. And it was with a high degree of reticence and an increasing feeling of ridiculousness that she stared down at her new ‘bed-mate’, scowling at it and inwardly blaming it for not being Andrea.

“I am not sleeping with that thing, Andrea. You aren’t leaving for several days.”

“I know,” the brunette flopped down on the bed. “But you have to get used to sleeping with it before I leave or you’ll never use it while I’m gone…and then I’ll be the one lying awake and miserable because I’ll be thinking of you here, alone and uncomfortable.”

“Oh, all right,” Miranda huffed, uncrossing her arms and letting Andrea lay the silly thing between them in bed, arranging it so that it supported Miranda’s body like Andy’s did when they were sleeping.

“How’s that?” Andy curled her own body around the pillow so that she was still able to reach the editor.

Miranda admitted the white monstrosity did something, at the very least, to take the pressure off of her spine, and in agreeing to its use while Andy was away, managed to get her way in not using it that night and having the younger woman’s delicious, warm weight pressed against her.

“You think you’ve won, haven’t you Priestly?” Andy whispered into a pale, pink ear as they both fell asleep. But although she hadn’t yet succumbed to the tempting call of unconsciousness, Miranda stayed silent, the silence telling as she simply laid her head against Andrea’s chest, sighing softly as she finally let herself claim sleep with the comforting weight of the younger woman’s arm settled protectively over her waist.

“Sweet talker,” was the final murmur heard in the room as Andy rested her own cheek against soft white hair that moved gently with her deepening breath as she too drifted off with the bone-deep sense of rightness and contentment that came with being next to the one you loved.

The next few nights before Andy’s trip passed in a similar fashion, which led to where they both were now…without each other and disliking it immensely.

Andy checked her ticket for the millionth time and wondered if it was time yet to leave the exclusive members-only lounge. The paparazzi had been waiting for her early this morning and she’d secretly been glad she had let Miranda have her way in insisting on Andy’s having Roy drive her to the airport. Not that Miranda normally didn’t get her way, Andy snorted as she thought back, but the older woman had been reasonable in allowing Andy to make her own decisions when it came to her career and her job and this trip, even if she was the one who had insisted on the younger woman taking it in the first place. Andy knew, however, that the older woman’s insistence was because she knew how much Andy secretly wanted this opportunity and she was willing to sacrifice her own comfort to make sure she took it.

Andy boarded the plane amidst a cacophony of voices speaking Arabic, among some serious or silent, most were chatty, laughing, all apparently happy or excited to be going home or visiting family and all Andy could think of how this plane was taking her away from her family rather than to them. Butterflies flooded her stomach, but she couldn’t tell if it was anxiety over leaving her own family or excitement or nervousness about the trip. In either case, what she wanted most of all was to have Miranda by her side. It seemed she was always bravest when she was around the editor and she could use that bravery and Miranda’s ever-steadying presence as the jet’s engines rumbled beneath her in preparation for takeoff. And although she was eager to prove herself as a journalist and a ‘newbie’ on the team with this trip, she also found herself counting down the days, if not minutes, until she had the love of her life back in her arms and all her babies under one roof.

Miles away, on the 17th floor of an office building, a figure stood alone, silhouetted against the floor to ceiling windows through which she stared in deep and silent contemplation. Her hand ran absently over the steep curve of her abdomen in a half-hearted attempt to soothe its fractious occupants seemingly reacting to one mother’s absence as well as their other mother’s turmoil over it – although who by all appearances appeared calm and collected.

A quick glance at the slim, gold Cartier watch on her wrist told Miranda that in moments, she and the one her heart already ached for would no longer share the same ground.

 

The second round of wardrobe fittings were not going as smoothly as the first, and that was saying something given that the last time resulted in Miranda barring two major design houses from entering the maternity market for 2 years.

“This is atrocious” Miranda seethed, fixing her glare on an unfortunately located Nigel. “Please tell me this isn’t all we have and this is my entire staff’s idea of some colossal joke?” Nigel sighed, running a hand over his head, God he wished Andy weren’t ten thousand feet in the air at the moment – both for Miranda’s sake as well as his own. In addition to the younger woman’s absence being the primary reason for the editor’s ire, she was also the only one who could talk Miranda down when she was this tightly wound. Sickeningly sweet, she would tell Miranda how beautiful she was as she moved the offending clothes rack aside, her hands going to the editor’s bump magnetically, and would go on to sweet talk and cajole the unhappy woman into at least a state of resigned sullenness rather than a state of apoplexy.

“Furthermore, is it too much to ask that design be taken into consideration in the planning of these garments? How ever am I supposed to reach the zipper in my current state?” She flicked a hand in disgust at the three full to bursting, discarded racks bearing clothing that had been deemed from uns