Actions

Work Header

Letters to The Editor

Chapter Text

Dear Miranda

I know by now you will know I am not coming back to Runway. In a moment of pure madness I launched my mobile into the fountain at the Place de la Concorde. There was no saving it after that split-second decision.

I am still in Paris, the City of Light. I have walked many miles today to try to come to terms with my choices. Not such a great move when wearing Jimmy Choo's.

I know I have done irreparable damage, you may choose to black-list me across the Tri-State area but that is, at this time, the least of my worries.

My biggest concern is that I didn't recognise what caused my anger and disappointment. And then there was a tidal wave of loss I felt when I finally realised I will no longer see you every day, when I realised, by leaving you at the steps of the hotel, that I will never feel your magnetic blue eyes upon me, which in the last nine months have conveyed your distaste, apathy and more recently your approbation.

xxxxxxxxxx

Earlier Today:

Miranda relaxed feeling victorious after having pulled one over her nemesis Irv Ravitz and Jacqueline Follet in regards to her position as Editor and Chief of Runway Magazine. She may have decimated someone else's dream, the one person who she could call a friend, but she will not allow herself feel bad about it. She knows Nigel will remain loyal to her and to Runway.

As the car moved away from the James Holt luncheon she turned to speak to her assistant. 'You thought I didn't know?" Miranda asked.

Andy nodded.

"I've known what was happening for quite some time. It just took me a little while to find a suitable alternative for Jacqueline, and that James Holt job..." Miranda sighed. "...it was so absurdly overpaid; of course she jumped at it." Miranda laughed. "And so I just had to tell Irv that Jacqueline was unavailable. Truth is there is no-one who can do what I do, including her. Any of the other choices would have found the job impossible and the magazine would have suffered."

Miranda looked towards the brunette sat beside her. "I was very, very impressed though, with how intently you tried to warn me." Miranda studied Andy. "I never thought I would say this, but I really do see a great deal of myself in you. You can see beyond what people want and what they need and you can choose for yourself"

Andy looked at Miranda in disbelief. "I don't think I'm like that. I...I couldn't do what you did to Nigel Miranda, I couldn't do something like that.'

"Mm you already did..." Miranda stated "...to Emily."

"That's not what I..." Andy stuttered. "No no...That was...that was different. I didn't have a choice." Andy declared.

"Oh no, you chose, you chose to get ahead. You want this life, those choices are necessary." Miranda told her softly.

"But what if this isn't what I want? I mean, what if I don't want to live the way you live?" Andy asked.

Miranda snorted with derision. "Don't be ridiculous Andréa, everybody wants this, everyone wants to be us"

With that Miranda placed her Sunglasses on and as the car stopped she exited the car and entered the milling press. Andréa stepped out the car, looked towards Miranda and turned away walking into the opposite direction.

Looking back Miranda scanned the crowd for her assistant, a frown marring her forehead. A wave of panic engulfed her until she was able to spot Andréa across the street near the fountain at the Place de la Concorde. Pulling her cell out she pressed the speed dial, turned her back on the press once again and entered the Hotel.

Upon reading the caller ID and seeing Miranda's name Andy did the unthinkable. She declined the call, sending it to Voicemail, and launched the cell into the nearby fountain. She felt a momentary sense of freedom and then the tears started.

xxxxxxxxxx

Earlier today I was walking along Rue Lamarck towards the Sacré-Cœur when I spotted a vacant table at a cafe and sat down to coffee. For a change I decided against my usual Hazelnut Macchiato for something totally different. To feel closer to you I chose a hot, skim, no foam latte. The request was made to the waiter for coffee. "Chaud comme le centre du soleil."

Upon the first sip of the Centre of the Sun hot coffee I stopped myself from crying out at the blistering heat against my lips and tongue and I wondered to myself how can the Ice Queen herself drink something so hot? Surely coffee at this heat should melt some of the iciness?

I hope you know that that was a joke right? You are distinctly nothing like the names provided by Page Six and the other gutter press. People would see that if they looked close enough. Your barriers are high but they aren't impenetrable.

xxxxxxxxxx

Earlier Today:

Allowing the coffee to cool slightly she reflected on her initial thought about the coffee and laughed at her errant thoughts about Miranda. The laughter was short as tears started to form again.

Andy remembered the last conversation she had with her now ex-boyfriend Nate.

xxxxxxxxxx

New York - 1 Week Earlier:

"You hate Runway Miranda and you think fashion is stupid. You've made that clear..." Andy stated angrily.

"Andy...I make port wine reductions all day, I'm not exactly in the Peace Corps. You know I wouldn't care if you were out there pole dancing all night as long as you did it with a little integrity. You use to say this was just a job; you used to make fun of the Runway girls. What happened? Now you've become one of them"

"That's absurd..." Andy declared.

"That's OK, that's fine, just own up to it. Then we can stop pretending like we have anything in common anymore."

"Wait...you don't mean that..." Andy stammered.

"No, I do." Nate stated.

After a brief pause Andy said; "Look maybe this trip is coming at a good time, maybe we should take a break?"

Nate attempted to walk away as Andy called to him, "Nate..." The Phone rang with Miranda's distinctive tone "I'm sorry...just one second..."

Nate turned back and stated "You know, in case you were wondering, the person whose calls you always take, that's the relationship you are in. I hope you two are very happy together."

Andy took Miranda's call.

xxxxxxxxxx

To get to the reason I am leaving Runway. The last nine months have been the hardest I have encountered, I have tried to meet each challenge head on, and while my professional life has been so vastly rewarding my personal life has gone to Hell.

Those closest to me think I have changed beyond all recognition, into someone they do not like or will ever understand.

I moved to New York with my closest childhood friends and my boyfriend of five years. Nate left me before we came to Paris and my friends no longer want anything to do with me.

My parents have washed their hands of me until I see sense and move back to Ohio, in the hopes they can push me back into Stanford and the family law business.

Nate's final words to me before he left me were; "The person whose calls you always take, that's the relationship you are in." I have only ever missed one call from you. The one today when I threw a tantrum worthy of the most spoilt toddler and ensured I lost my way back to you.

You claimed today that I can see beyond what people want and what they need and that I can choose for myself.

But surely by my actions today you've also seen what happens when I have feel I have no choice, when what I feel is so far beyond my control that I cannot see a future, when I realise my dreams and reality have no way of matching?

What happens if in my evolution from Andy into your Andréa I have lost some of my unique identity? The good that people used to see in me is no longer good enough.

Did it disappear when I chose to give up that Cerulean sweater and become a Runway Clacker? When I chose to take Paris from Emily? When I chose to walk away?

Have the choices I have made in the last nine months done irrevocable damage? I hope not!

xxxxxxxxxx

Mentioning her hope she reflected on the conversation with Nigel as the announcement about James Holt International was made.

"She's given me everything I have Andy. When the time is right she will pay me back." Nigel told her. Upon asking if he was sure he responded. "No, but I hope for the best, I have to."

What was it about the fashion industry and hope?

Thinking of Nigel's words brought up a memory of Miranda.

xxxxxxxxxx

Office - A Few Months Earlier:

"Do you know why I hired you? I always hire the same girl- stylish, slender, of course... worships the magazine. But so often, they turn out to be- I don't know- disappointing and, um... stupid. So you, with that impressive résumé and the big speech about your so-called work ethic- I, um- I thought you would be different. I said to myself, go ahead. Take a chance. Hire the smart, fat girl. I had hope. My God. I live on it. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more than, um- more than any of the other silly girls."

xxxxxxxxxx

You once told me that you lived on hope. Do you remember that Miranda? I had disappointed you then too. The smart, fat girl couldn't do the impossible by flying you out of a hurricane (the one that was really just a drizzle) in Miami to attend a recital for the twins. Your demands were ridiculous really.

At the time I didn't realise you were showing me your human side. You showed me that your girls came first, always. You are a mother before you are Editor in Chief.

I thought you hated me, but I have come to see that you were pushing me to become the best I can be. I ended up asking Nigel to do that makeover on me. That was a defining moment for me.

You looked me up and down as you entered the office the next day and I saw a brief look of approval. I wanted more of them.

I watched you closely after that. I was able to read you, meet your unspoken requirements. I actually began to care, not just about the job, but about you. I wanted to make your life easier. I wanted to catch more glimpses of the woman behind the editor.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy looked up from her letter and remembered every glance that Miranda had provided the small smirks of approval, the occasional licking of lips. Those lips, which when pursed, could cause even the most highly sought after fashion designer to break down and change a season's worth of designs in an instant.

Miranda's approval in the Fashion world was everything and what Andy now knew that Miranda's approval was everything in her life too. Those looks, the smirks of approval, the occasional licking of those lips, when combined with the burning fire held within those steel blue eyes had become Andy's whole world.

xxxxxxxxxx

I started to live on hope.

I hoped I wouldn't disappoint you again, but alas after today's debacle I believe I have failed in that.

I live with the hope that when the time is right you will show Nigel that you see his worth. He knows he has you to thank for his career, and that one day you may provide him with the opportunity to shine in his own uniquely brilliant way.

While you may have his loyalty to Runway I do not believe his loyalty to you personally is untarnished. He has been in your inner circle for over 20 years. He believed, although your walls are high, that he was your friend, someone you trusted. And today he was hurt beyond measure.

Nigel was the one who showed me that in my initial arrogance and continued ignorance I wasn't trying. He helped me to see that I was screwing up by not seeing just how phenomenal you are at what you do.

I am not going to berate you for the distinct lack of trust in him, although I do feel that you could have told him about Irv's plan to oust you from Runway and replace you with Jacqueline. I know he would have stood by you with the unfailing loyalty he has shown you since day one. As would I, Emily and anyone else who has worked in close proximity to you.

You are Runway. You make it what it is. Because of you Runway is in fact greater than art.

I am sorrier than you will ever realise about how I walked away. It was unprofessional of me to walk away the way I did. And it is possibly the most reprehensible way to behave. I may have left Runway but I will never leave you.

I hold the hope that I can find my way back to you. I live in the hope that I can meet you one day in the future as you're equal, not as a lowly ex-assistant. But that also depends on your next steps towards me.

Know this Miranda; you hold the key to my future. Will it be a recommendation or the black-listing? Whatever you decide I will continue to respect you for the person you are...the Woman, the Mother and the Editor in Chief.

Yours
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

As Andy popped the letter in an envelope and looked around the hotel room ready to start packing she heard a quiet knock on the door. Walking up to the door she held her breath and opened it hesitantly.

Nigel bounded into the room and asked, "So Six, you are alive. When do you plan on leaving?"

Andy shrugged and replied, "My flight's tomorrow at 6:45am"

"And were you by any chance going to say goodbye?" He asked.

"I didn't see the point Nige. I know I really fucked up today." Andy told him softly.

Nigel looked at her sadly and asked, "So what now?"

Andy shook her head. "I have no fucking idea. I have this letter for Miranda, trying to explain...I dunno..."

"Don't you think you'd be best doing that in person?" He asked.

"Oh God, no! Why the fuck would I submit myself to that?" She asked.

Nigel shook his head in disbelief. "Are you going to let me take a look at that missive?" Nigel asked holding his hand out. Shocked Andy passed it along and held her breath as Nigel read. "You're brave I'll give you that, but why not just come out and tell her you love her?" He asked.

"I told you it's not like that. I care about her but I'm not in love with her..." Andy fired back.

"The lady doth protest too much." Nigel stated. "Why won't you just tell her?"

"Cause she'll say it back and we'll start to date, after a time we'll move in together, eventually get married and live happily ever after with the Spawn of the Devil right?" Andy says derisively.

"There's no need to be so sarcastic Six. You do realise she cares too? You have been so wrapped up in yourself that you have failed to realise you get away with far more than any of her other assistants. The twins actually like you, they haven't pranked you since you did the impossible with that Harry Potter manuscript. And I know you certainly missed the look of panic that crossed her face as she saw you walk away."

"She panicked?" Andy queried.

"Oh yes, and she's been a royal nightmare all afternoon. Even Valentino noticed how out of sorts she is and she mentioned to me how calm Miranda had been since Miranda's Andréa came along."

"She's calm 'cause I get shit done rather than run around like a hyper headless chicken called Emily. It isn't a calm brought on by my presence alone..." Andy trailed off as Nigel interrupted her.

"Do you really know that? You missed it this afternoon when Christian made a scathing comment to her about you and she had to be restrained from hitting a certain part of his anatomy with a very well placed Prada heel, this was before he was not so politely escorted from the premises by Valentino's security." Nigel grinned at the woman.

Once again hope flared in the young woman.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda was furious. Pacing across her suite her thoughts were of one person.

How dare Andréa walk away like that? Didn't she know just how important this week was to Runway, to her? Didn't she realise that with the news of the divorce from Stephen about to hit the press that her presence was needed more than ever?

Her behaviour was deplorable. It was unforgivable. How could Andréa be so selfish?

Hearing a quick knock at the suite door she stopped pacing and held her breath, making the quick decision to ignore whoever it was daring to disturb her. As quickly as that thought entered her head another quickly followed. What if it was that silly girl at the door?

Miranda stalked across to the door, flinging it open she found Nigel leaning against the door frame, an envelope in hand. "What do you want Nigel?" Miranda demanded.

"Well hello to you too Miranda" Nigel responded flippantly. "Are you going to keep me standing here all night or can I come in?"

"If this is about the announcement at lunch I have to tell you that now is not the time to discuss it." Miranda stated vehemently.

"I know, I know." Nigel sighed. "When you're ready to explain I'm sure you will deign to advise me of the reasons behind your decision, after all you excel at explaining yourself, I am aware just how much it thrills you to do so."

Miranda blew out a frustrated breath and rubbed the bridge of her nose, fighting against the oncoming headache. "What can I do for you Nigel?"

"I come bearing a missive from the elusive Six." he quipped.

"And why do you think I want to read whatever babbling nonsense that ungrateful little girl has to say?" Miranda asked.

Nigel threw the envelope onto a nearby table. Looking at the editor he said. "Miranda you will do what you want, as always. I have done what I was asked. Six is still in Paris, actually she's down the hallway packing as we speak, and she leaves Charles de Gaulle tomorrow morning at 6:45am heading God knows where. Read her letter; see what she has to say. Take another chance on the smart, not-so-fat girl."

"Why do you insist on using that ridiculous nickname?" Miranda queried.

Nigel smiled warmly. "The nickname fits her just as well as the beautiful couture I've been dressing her in for the last few months. I'll never tell her but those clothes look better on those delicious curves of hers better than they ever will on our size zero models"

A sigh escaped Miranda as she was launched back to the first time she saw Andréa, not as the smart yet frumpy, fat girl but as the beautiful woman she actually is.

xxxxxxxxxx

Office - A Few Months Earlier:

Andréa was in Miranda's office going through the usual morning ritual, placing the morning newspapers, magazine subscriptions, an icy cold glass of Pellegrino and the usual morning Starbucks on her desk in preparation of the day.

As Miranda walked from the elevator into the reception area of Runway she launched her coat and purse on Andrea's desk while continuing her phone conversation with Donatella.

As she entered her office she stopped dead in her tracks. Her heart jumped in her chest as she caught sight of the beautiful woman in her inner sanctum. Her breath caught and she momentarily lost the thread of her conversation.

She couldn't take her eyes off Andréa, her eyes raked up from the tips of those beautiful knee-high Chanel boots, over the DKNY mini-dress that hugged each delectable curve, taking in those full smiling lips, the expressive hazel eyes and the beautiful chocolate hair that framed that beautiful face perfectly.

Miranda felt her mouth go dry and found herself becoming flustered. Attempting to bring moisture back and to regain some semblance of normality she licked her lips and attempted to continue her conversation as she walked to her desk. As Andréa sauntered out of her office Miranda couldn't help but turn and watch the sway of Andréa's hips and that pert backside as she walked away.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda was pulled from her thoughts by Nigel leaving the room. Her anger had somewhat dissipated with her recollections and she found herself becoming increasingly curious as to what Andréa has to say.

Picking up the envelope, addressed to her in Andréa's beautiful handwriting, she tapped it against her lips. Tossing it onto the sofa she stalked to the mini-bar and poured herself a scotch. Moving back towards the sofa she took a small sip of the amber liquid held within the glass. Sitting down she picked up the letter.

Opening the envelope she hesitated briefly before pulling out the contents, she was apprehensive. Sitting back she sighed and started to read.

As she read the opening of the letter, which explained the reason her calls to Andréa were sent to Voicemail she shook her head in disbelief, the disbelief turned to a frown upon reading about Andréa's sense of loss and the reasons behind it.

Could the silly girl really mean what she had implied?

Will she actually miss me? Miranda thought.

She continued to read, sniggering to herself about the Centre of the Sun hot coffee comment knowing that although she likes her coffee hot it is usually needed that way due to it cooling considerably before she's even managed to drink half of it. She pursed her lips as she continued to focus on the letter.

Trust Andréa to be brave enough to write about one of the many monikers handed down by the press. The Ice Queen, really? She found herself relieved as she read that her Andréa was able see beyond that particular epithet.

Miranda began to feel guilty about Andréa's life outside of Runway. She was aware that she could be demanding; it was one of the many reasons she had so many nicknames pertaining to the fact she's cold-hearted. She knew she could be seen to be indifferent and somewhat obdurate but she had always felt she had to be as a woman in power within a male dominated world.

Looking back on the Andréa before the makeover and the Andréa who walked away Miranda was able to see the changes. Andréa was clearly more confident now than she had been in her initial interview, although the spark of bravery, even then, had generated Miranda's admiration.

xxxxxxxxxx

Nine Months Earlier:

Miranda stalked into the office, she was perfectly put together, 4" Crocodile Louboutin's, a Chanel jacket draped elegantly across her shoulders, hair perfect, white Hermes scarf around her neck. In all her glory she was magnificent.

Miranda stopped firing instructions at Emily as she took off her coat and dumped it on Emily's chair. She walked past Andy without a second glance but asked. "Who's that?"

Emily's annoyance that Miranda had noticed Andy was evident as she responded. "Nobody. I...I...well Human Resources sent her up about the new assistant job and I was sort of pre-interviewing her for you and she's hopeless and totally wrong…" Emily stammered.

Miranda continued into her office throwing her reply over her shoulder to Emily. "Well clearly I'm going to have to do that myself. Because the last two you sent me were completely inadequate...so send her in...That's all."

Andy walked into Miranda's office hesitantly. Behind her she could feel Emily radiating nervousness.

Taking a better look at Miranda's office she noticed the photographs from Testino, Demarchelier and Bourdin. There was an iced Pellegrino on the desk alongside every current issue of relevant magazines, fanned out precisely.

Who are you?" Miranda asked.

"My name is Andy Sachs, I recently graduated from…" Andy tried to hand her resume to Miranda which was ignored. Miranda finally looked up and gave Andy her usual once-over, top to bottom. Dissecting every molecule. "...Northwestern University." Andy continued.

"What are you doing here?" Miranda queried.

"Well I think I could do a good job as your assistant and…um…" Andy hesitated before continuing. "I came to New York to be a journalist and sent letters out everywhere and finally got a call from Elias Clark and met with Sherri up at Human Resources and basically it's this or Auto Universe"

Miranda was pleased with the honesty. "So you don't read Runway?" Miranda asked.

"No" Andy said.

"And before today you had never heard of me?" Miranda queried.

"No" Andy's nervousness was now evident.

"And you have no style or sense of fashion." Miranda declared.

"I think that depends on…" Andy stammered.

Miranda raised her eyebrow, "No, no...That wasn't a question."

Finally picking up Andy's resume she glanced at the information.

Andy attempted to explain some points on her resume. "I was Editor in Chief for the Daily Northwestern. I also won a nationwide competition for college journalists with my series on the janitor's union…"

Miranda held up her hand. "That's all!"

Startled with the abruptness Andy kept talking. "...that uncovered the exploitation of the…"

Miranda stared at Andy who took the hint and began to walk away. As she reached for the door she spun around.

"OK, OK you're right. I don't fit in here. I am not skinny or glamorous and I don't know that much about fashion. But I am smart I learn fast and I will work very hard and..."

Miranda said nothing as Nigel entered the room at full speed discussing the latest photo shoot.

"...Thank you for your time..." Andy left quickly.

"Who is that sad little person?" Nigel asked curiously. "Are we doing a before and after piece I don't know about?"

Miranda called to Emily and sent her after the girl.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda continued to reflect on the changes she has been able to see within Andréa. She had always firmly believed that life taught necessary lessons, which you grow from.

Andréa had evolved, as she should, from the experiences she had been through, and not just at Runway.

She felt an overwhelming sadness that she too had not knowingly appreciated the changes until now.

Miranda knew that the continued growth of Andréa would take her far. She would be a force of nature wherever she went. She was already Miranda's equal, if not yet professionally then as a fellow woman.

Miranda decided to respond in kind to the letter.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andréa,

I know that this letter is probably the last thing in the world you expected from me but for some strange reason I feel the need to explain myself to you. Why do you think that is?

It is probably best to do this in writing rather than in person. As you are well aware, having been on the receiving end often enough, I am somewhat acerbic and this can come across as me being vicious and intentionally cruel.

I do not want to be cruel to you Andréa. As funny as this may sound to you I don't want to hurt you any more than you already have been.

When you walked away from me this afternoon I realised immediately I had pushed you too far. My decisions and behaviour to you gave you no option but to leave. Part of me wanted you to leave.

I cannot make excuses but with the stress of Fashion week, Stephen's decision to divorce me and Irv's attempts to undermine and oust me I felt more vulnerable than I ever have. And in that time you were there, while I fell to pieces, seeing me in the middle of all that mess. It was like you just wanted to make it better and I just didn't know how to react. I don't know how to be vulnerable around you without you breaking down all of my usual defences.

I am after all the Devil in Prada, the Ice Queen, and the Dragon. Those are the names bestowed on me by people who do not know me, and the names fit in with what I want people to see. But you have stated you see past that, to the woman behind the names.

How do you see that when those who have known me 20 or more years still cower in my presence? How can you see past the barriers I erected when my Husbands have failed to do so?

Since reading your letter I have been wondering how those closest to you cannot see the beautiful soul that has graced my presence daily for the last nine months. The innate kindness, generosity and stubbornness has always been present within you Andréa but obviously the strong, graceful, confident woman you are becoming isn't appreciated by those that should be celebrating your growth.

The only option you have now is to continue to grow, I learned a necessary lesson many years ago when I found you cannot go back to who you used to be.

When you feel you have no choice know deep down that you always have choices.

When you feel that everything is beyond your control remember that you are the master of your own destiny.

When you feel your dreams and reality have no way of matching that is when you look inside yourself and you create a new dream.

After-all to dream is to hope.

In regards to my behaviour towards Nigel, I know I should have confided in him. I do have plans for his future that I will be discussing with him once the debacle of Fashion week is over and we have a handle on the next issue.

Regardless of his future career plans I need to build bridges and resurrect our friendship. I have not been a good friend to him over the years and I plan on changing that, Nigel has been the one constant in my life since joining Runway, he's been more consistent than either of my Husbands.

I am extraordinarily disappointed you have chosen to leave Runway, and without proper notice. But that disappointment is not due to you, or the fact that there's now a company phone at the bottom of the Fontaines de la Concorde. My disappointment is in having to attempt to find a replacement for you. Do you realise how impossible that feels right now?

I don't want you to leave, but I also don't want you to stay if that means putting your dreams on hold. I care too, and see your future is shining brightly ahead of you. When the time comes you will receive the recommendation you deserve.

As one Editor in Chief to another, and you will be in that position again one day with the drive and dedication you show, I want you to know that you have always been my equal.

M.P

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda called down to reception to request the bellhop deliver the letter to Andréa.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Dear Miranda,

Thank you for responding to my letter. I was very happy to receive it but also very confused. I never expected anything back from you.

Somehow it is easier to put my thoughts down on paper, maybe it's the writer in me but then again maybe it's because your presence throws my equilibrium totally off balance. Sometimes just one look from you with your eyebrow arched stops any coherent thoughts and speech patterns. I either end up babbling, stuttering or shocked into silence. I realise how annoying that must be for you.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda received the letter at around midnight as she was settling in for some much needed sleep. Forgoing sleep she found herself quite excited and yet nervous to see what the young woman had to say.

She snorted elegantly at the thought of her presence being the cause of Andréa's inability to form logical speech or thought patterns. She had always assumed the inability was derived from something deep within Andréa's psyche.

Andréa had started off life as her assistant with an innate clumsiness that was endearing, adorable really. She had found Andréa quite eloquent in her initial interview, upon thought it was possible that this was due to frustration at being dismissed so abruptly from the interview.

Over time though, with her transformation, she had found that Andréa seemed to lose the clumsiness yet become ineffective at communicating clearly, a standard response to her being 'Yes Miranda'. As she got better walking in designer heels she became more graceful, but she also felt that her approval over Andréa had caused some shift in their relationship, whatever it was had caused Andréa to blush furiously over nothing, stutter more frequently and she lost the ability to make direct eye contact.

xxxxxxxxxx

There's so much I feel that I am unable to communicate. I just felt the need to escape. It wasn't a decision based on what you said to me. It was purely instinctive. You say that it's possible for me to break down of your defences but I don't have an arsenal of defensive manoeuvres available to me. My fight or flight response is purely dependent on the day. I admit to having a tendency to flee when I am overwhelmed.

With everything that has happened over the last week, Christian, Irv, Nigel, You, I just felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.

I couldn't protect you from Irv, I found out too late what was being planned. I couldn't make you feel better about Stephen's actions, you let me in briefly and then your walls came up higher than ever.

You told me to do my job but part of my job was to ensure that your life runs smoothly and I failed. I allowed that feeling of inadequacy to push me into Christian's arms. A drunken mistake that I cannot undo, though from what I have been told he certainly got more than he bargained for this afternoon.

Thank you for defending me. I don't know what he said to you but I know it must have been pretty bad for you to react so forcefully, especially after I'd just disappeared on you.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda was happy Andréa realised her night with Christian was a mistake. Christian had a reputation in the New York publishing world, which was far smaller than people thought, his chasing and bedding young, beautiful women was legendary. His usual modus operandi was to lavish the young women with praise and plenty of alcohol. The praise caused them to think he actually cared and the alcohol loosened their inhibitions enough for him to get what he wanted.

If Miranda had known of Christian's attentions towards Andréa she could have provided a gentle warning about his reputation. As far as Miranda was concerned Christian Thompson was pond scum. She hoped Andréa was not eaten away with self-loathing for because of the actions of that cretin.

Looking back on the afternoon she was embarrassed by her loss of control but also slightly proud.

xxxxxxxxxx

Earlier Today:

She had been asked to make a speech for Valentino, which she had prepared for, but after Andréa had walked away her thoughts were scattered, she felt nervous and panicked.

She somehow managed to fluff her way through it sufficiently, making people smile where expected and being applauded at the end.

As she descended the steps from the stage she halted as she looked up to find Christian in her personal space, smirking at her.

"Where's Andy?" He demanded.

Miranda arched her eyebrow and threw him a look of contempt. Attempting to brush past him she found her way blocked. How dare he? "Move!" she seethed at him.

Pushing further into Miranda's personal space Christian lowered his face towards her ear and whispered, "She wanted me last night and I gave her what she wanted. She was exquisite, as sensual and sexy as Hell. And I will have her again and again in every possible way."

In that instance, with Christian gloating about his time with Andréa, Miranda became furious.

She snarled at him. "Is that why she ran to me this morning? She ran to me to warn me of your folly in siding with Irv and Jacqueline, told me about that silly little mock-up of an inferior Runway. You honestly believed you could work for Runway? As an editor of all things? You're writing is substandard at best. It isn't fit enough to grace even page six…" Christian lost his smirk. "...As for Andréa, she will be always be mine before all else. She is loyal to me, and if you go anywhere near her again I. Will. End. You!" she spat.

Christian grinned widely at that. "So the Ice Queen has melted, over her assistant of all things. How inappropriate. I never realised Miranda Girl was actually Miranda's girl, though that does explain quite a lot."

"Move!" Miranda snarled at him

Refusing to back down Christian snaps. "I'll move when I'm done saying what I have to say. She may be loyal to you but she will never be yours. I have had her in ways that you never will. You will have to live with the knowledge that I was there first…she wouldn't want someone old, frumpy and bitter like you when she's had me."

At his sneer Miranda stepped back and swung her open palm against his cheek with as much force as she could muster. Hard enough for his head to snap back on his neck. As he took a step backing away from her she could see that she had caused his lip to bleed where her ring had caught it. She lunged forward again ready to strike out with her foot but found she was being held back by arms wrapped around her waist.

"Let. Me. Go!" she demanded.

Nigel held onto her as she struggled against him. "No Miranda. Let me deal with this."

Christian smirked again as Miranda seethed. Nigel nodded to Valentino, who caught the attention of his security and waved them in the direction of the altercation.

"Andy will leave you, like everyone does…" Christian spat as the Security team swept in. "...And when she does I'll be waiting for her."

Miranda's heart dropped as Security dragged Christian out of the room and launched him into the busy Paris Street.

xxxxxxxxxx

I will attempt to answer the questions in your letter.

I have no definitive answers as to why you feel the need to explain anything to me. However I think that maybe you trust me enough to know that I will never judge you, even at your most vulnerable.

I am able to see the woman behind the nicknames because you allowed it. I feel blessed to have seen behind the facade. There's more to you than those nicknames imply. I have seen it in the softening of your face and voice when you speak to Cassidy and Caroline and when someone says something witty you try to hide your amusement, your eyes sparkle and your lips quirk a little before your mask falls back into place. And it is a mask. I know when you have a headache you rub the bridge of your nose, when you are frustrated you run your fingers through your beautiful hair and when you are contemplative your finger or the item in your hand brushes across your lips. I saw all that and more. Those unconscious gestures have held me captivated on more than one occasion.

Your husband's must have been blind not to see the caring, generous woman behind the editor. I am not so blind. I learned to see you when I learned to read you so I could meet your needs and try to make your life easier.

In regards to my growth; My parents know I came to New York to be a journalist and right now they're pushing me to go against my dreams. They were against me moving away initially, due to moving in with Nate, and the last year has provided them with enough ammunition to believe that I made a mistake. They think I would not have lost Nate, Lily and Doug if I had gone into law or if I hadn't worked for Runway. Their reasoning is that my dedication to you and to Runway took up too much of my life that could have been spent with them in Ohio and with my friends and Nate in New York.

My friends just want the old Andy back, the Andy who would not have shut them out when faced with their lack of understanding about my work. The lack of comprehension that doing my job effectively and building a career, that I found highly rewarding, was justifiable. That my job was more important than partying hard.

I know I can't go back to the old me, plus I believe Nigel would find me and kill me if I promptly forgot everything I have learned over the last few months. I have a new appreciation for fashion and its place in the world.

I am certainly not the naive young woman who walked into your office with no knowledge of you or Runway. The contacts I made and the chance working for Runway could open doors within publishing was a bonus I didn't expect when I interviewed for the position as your assistant. But even without those doors opening I will always give it my best shot to succeed.

I honestly don't know if journalism is the career for me, but I do know I want to follow my dream of writing.

I don't know where I am headed next, and that's kind of scary but also exhilarating. I have been thinking tonight of spending some time traveling across Asia or Europe and writing about that, I'm unsure yet where I'll end up.

I know given time I'll grow and progress into the person I am meant to be. There's not much reason to go back to New York except to pack up the things in the tiny apartment I can no longer afford now Nate has gone, and I can't face going back to Ohio. I have enjoyed my freedom away from the constraints of my family who, although I love dearly, can be quite suffocating.

Knowing you see me as an equal has me quite dumbstruck, knowing you see the potential in me is baffling. All I have done for you is what my job entailed, to the best of my abilities...and as I stated I feel like I failed at this entirely. I am replaceable Miranda. That's part of the reason behind me leaving. Life at Runway will continue on without me. I am not nor will I ever be something special.

Wherever I end up I will miss the people I have met at Runway, I will miss the hustle and bustle and the beauty that surrounds each issue. I hope that people will stay in touch. I would especially like to be able to remain in touch with you, if that is what you also wish. You have my personal email should you decide to contact me.

I will always be there should you need me.

Yours
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

As Miranda read she felt the sting of tears which she couldn't stop from flowing. She would miss the young woman's presence more than she had thought. Knowing she may not be in New York when she returned from Paris was heartbreaking. She knew world was just opening up for Andréa and that she needed to find her place in it.

As much as Miranda wanted to fly down the hall to Andréa and beg her to stay she would never dream of holding her back. She knew her feelings for Andréa ran far deeper than she could comprehend,

Without realising she had fallen in love with the beautiful brunette. She there were too many factors that couldn't allow for a relationship to grow. She was still married and she had the twins. She was also double Andréa's age.

In her head she thought her feelings weren't likely to be reciprocated. In her heart she knew endless possibilities. Miranda had spent the last 30 years allowing her head rule her heart. She knew it was time to follow her heart, even if it led to heartbreak.

Her one hope now was that Andréa would find herself in her travels and would come back when she was ready. Miranda would wait forever if that's what it took.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Andy had left New York. She had packed up her belongings and shipped them to her parents in Ohio keeping the basics of travel in one hold-all she started her travels within two weeks of leaving Paris.

Miranda and Andy had formulated a plan, deciding to keep in touch. Miranda exacted a promise from Andréa to send occasional emails, postcards or letters to the Townhouse.

Three weeks into her travels she finally managed to access her email, finding her inbox full. Deleting the junk she found one from an unknown email address.

Date: October 21, 2007
Sender: devilspawn
Recipient: andys82
Subject: Where are you?

Hi Andy

Mom has been really sad since coming home from Paris and we don't think it's because of Stephen, he is a massive douche. He's plastered the divorce over Page Six so we're stuck with a Security detail until the paparazzi disappear back under the rocks they crawled out of.

We've never seen her so angry, not even when we pranked you to come upstairs to give her the book. And boy she had steam coming out of her ears that night.

When we asked about you she told us you had decided to travel. She said you needed time to grow into the person you're meant to be and that Runway wasn't the place for you to do that. We're calling B.S on that though. You're perfect the way you are, and we know mom agrees.

You scored major cool points with us when you got us the Harry Potter book before release and it even impressed mom. She was sure she was going to fire you.

You're way cooler than Emily, who's probably running around Manhattan like her butt's on fire as we type this.

Mom overheard Emily attempting to bad mouth you about leaving her in Paris. From what we have been told from Roy she royally chewed Emily out and then had to deal with her snivelling for 7 hours straight. No-one dares say your name at Runway now in case they get the same treatment.

Mom continues to despair over the "incompetence she is surrounded by". She still hasn't found a suitable 2nd assistant yet. At the last count she was on Emily number 5. She still hasn't called any of them Andréa.

Why did you leave her? We thought you loved her!

Where did you go? When are you coming home? We miss your face.

Love
Caro 'n' Cass xox

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy shook her head as she noticed the twins email address. They knew many of Miranda's staff called them the Devil's Spawn but she saw past that in the same way she saw past the nicknames given to their mom. The twins were certainly a handful and obviously full of mischief but they were beautiful children and they had gotten to know each other well over the months she delivered the book. She began wondering how they managed to secure her email, smiling as she acknowledged the twins had somehow snuck into Miranda's personal email to find her.

Continuing to remove unnecessary emails, marking much of it as spam, she found the email she had been waiting for.

Date: November 3, 2007
Sender: m.p
Recipient: andys82
Subject: Are you safe?

Andréa

Why have you not been in touch?

Of all the ungrateful...silly…Let me know you are safe!

That's all.
M.P

She shook her head again thinking of the old proverb; the more things change, the more they stay the same. She thinks back to that night in Paris. The letters swapped and the decisions made.

xxxxxxxxxx

Five Weeks earlier:

Having sent the second letter to Miranda she continued to pack everything up. The clothes she had received on the trip were being sent to Nigel's room to stock the closet and to give to Emily. She had no need for them where she was going.

Her decision was made, she was going to travel and find herself. She was going to chase her dream and was going to get over her feelings of failure and find happiness.

Finding one of Miranda's Hermes scarves and smelling her signature scent she felt the loss of Miranda as strongly as she had when she walked away that afternoon. "I have to get a grip!" she told herself as tears started to form again.

She knew she shouldn't be feeling like this about her boss...well ex-boss to be precise. It was hopeless. Somewhere along the way she knew she had fallen in love with the silver haired editor and in a way she knew she was running from the feelings that couldn't ever possibly be reciprocated. Miranda was a straight, twice divorced (as soon as the next one was finalised) mother of twins. Andy had nothing to offer such a woman.

Finishing her packing, she folded up the scarf and placed it in her pocket against her heart. Looking at the clock she realised it was close to 1am. She didn't see the point of attempting sleep now when she had to leave the airport in just a few short hours. She decided to leave the room in search of a much needed caffeine fix.

Having walked a block from the hotel Andy found a 24hr cafe that was almost empty. Slipping in the door she looked around, noticing there was only two other people inside. Walking to the counter she requested coffee and a muffin from the lone barista, after taking her order he shooed her away from the counter. Turning around she looked around for a seat. At the back of the room there was a lone figure of a woman that looked slightly familiar, the poor lighting couldn't provide discernible answers as to who it was.

Shrugging she started to walk across the room but half way across she stopped as the woman looked up sharply, blue steel meeting warm chocolate. "Shit!" Andy muttered as with a flick of her head Miranda invited her over.

Miranda stood up as Andy sauntered over, she pulled out a chair for Andy and promptly sat back down holding her coffee lightly between both hands. She looked at Andy closely as she moved around the table to sit. "I see you're dressed to blend with the masses." Miranda stated.

Andrea smirked. "Well I can't see myself backpacking across the world in couture. I doubt it would be suitable. I think my ripped Levi's and Vogue t-shirt is fitting for that at least."

"So you have made your decision to leave?" Miranda queried.

"Yeah. I just need to get away, you ever wanted to do that? Just disappear into the world?" Andy asked.

"This afternoon." Miranda sighed sadly.

Andy looked at Miranda, saw her eyes glazed over with unshed tears and held out her open palm to her. Miranda looked down before tentatively clasping the offered hand.

They started to speak simultaneously.

"Thank-you…" Andy stuttered

"Your letter…" Miranda started.

They both sighed and the waiter interrupted with Andy's order.

Miranda smirked. "You don't seem to be having difficulties with speech now Andréa, why is that?"

Andy sighed again. "I've had a bit of time today to come to terms with certain stuff."

Miranda's eyes twinkled. "Stuff? Really Andréa?"

Andy grinned at the editor but the smile faltered when she realised Miranda's thumb was caressing the palm of her hand. Her hand twitched and Miranda ceased their contact by grabbing her coffee cup. Andy felt the loss of contact and closed her eyes briefly.

"Thank-you for your letter. I cannot even explain how much it meant to me, for you to take the time to respond to me"

"Please…" Miranda replied grasping Andy's hand again, "...there's no thanks necessary. You don't realise just how much I needed to do that, to make you see that you aren't just another of my minions. That I see you as much as you see me."

"I doubt that somehow." Andy muttered under her breath before taking a drink of her coffee.

Miranda raised her eyebrow at Andy having heard the mutter but decided to leave the matter. "I would like to keep in touch Andréa." Miranda tells her.

"But…but why?" Andy stammered.

"I want to know the person you are and who you will become. I want you to know that I will be there for you as you claim you are for me. I am not good…" she waved her hand around "...at connecting with people but I feel connected to you. I don't understand it Andréa, I just feel..." Miranda stopped there not knowing what else to say.

Andy leaned in whispering, "I feel that connection too." She put down her cup and caressed Miranda's cheek lightly. Miranda leaned towards her sighing.

"Your letters just confirmed everything I thought about you. Your kindness and empathy. Your strength and your growing confidence. I will cherish every word you have shared with me. Write to me? Letters, postcards, emails...just don't disappear, please."

Andy's eyes glistened with tears and she pulled her hand back from Miranda's cheek. "Of course Miranda."

Taking a sip of her coffee Miranda grimaced at its coldness. Looking at her watch she sighed. It is almost 3:15am and she has realised her time with Andréa is about to run out. Ordering more coffee to go they walk towards the hotel.

"Let me call the car for you." Miranda said as they reach the hotel foyer.

"Thank you but my taxi's already booked. It'll be here for me at 4am." Andy confirmed.

Miranda stopped walking and pulled Andy's arm forcing her to look at her. Seeing once again the tears in her Andréa's eyes she stepped closer. Holding her arms out her pulled Andy closer, hugging her tight and inhaling the scent of the young woman in her arms. "I'll miss you." Miranda declared. Kissing Andréa firmly on the cheek she turned and began to walk away from her.

"I'll miss you too." Andy whispered to the retreating editor.

xxxxxxxxxx

She decided to fire off a quick response to ensure that Miranda knew she had received the email.

Date: November 6, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: m.p
Subject: RE: Are you safe?

M

I am safe. There will be a letter in the post for you shortly. Just breathe OK? ;)

I miss you.

A xox

xxxxxxxxxx

November 6, 2007

Dear Miranda

By now you will have received my email and know I arrived in India safely. It has been such a culture shock.

This place provides a sensory overload and personal space is non-existent.

I was in Delhi to start with. I visited the Red Fort, the India Gate (Which reminded of Paris L'Arc De Triomphe), Humayun's Tomb and the Akshardham Temple. I have been trying to get as close to the breathtaking beauty and grandeur India offers amidst the trash piles in the streets. It is so dirty here, it is something you just cannot comprehend until you have seen it. I spent the day at the National Zoological Park, they have recreated the natural habitat of the animals to give the inhabitants a resemblance of their native home, which is allowing the breeding of endangered animals in captivity.

The Indian people I have encountered are extremely friendly and hospitable, the only time I felt overwhelmed by traveling solo was when people were trying to sell me stuff or beg. People shouting in your face to get in their rickshaw, buy their wares or give them money initially left me feeling extremely harassed.

The culture is diverse here in North India. I have fallen in love with the clothing, the Shastriya Sangeet (classical music) is to die for and I have learned to dance the Giddha (Woman's dance).

The local people I have met on my travels have a lot of questions for me but they are respectful. I celebrated Diwali with a woman I studied with at Northwestern. As part of the festival of light the buildings around us were illuminated with oil-burning bowls called dipa lights, and with strings of artificial lights. Diwali celebrates a multitude of things. The Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped and I was lucky enough to watch a procession where her statue was carried throughout the streets. As the Goddess of wealth, happiness and prosperity and with the festivities symbolizing the victory of righteousness, the lifting of spiritual darkness and the awareness of the inner light. Being at the festival seemed right.

I moved from Delhi to Shimla, I spent a few days visiting Jakhoo Hill, Chadwick Waterfall and the Tara Devi Temple. Shimla offered an incandescent beauty that I've rarely seen in a place before.

As I write this letter to you I have just completed the Chadar trek and am resting overnight in Leh where I started this adventure. From Leh we drove to Tilad Do via Chilling. We hiked between 10-15kms a day across steep mountains for over a week. Staying in tents is not such a fun idea when it's so bitterly cold but I wanted to complete this before the trek becomes inaccessible due to the winter snowfall. The trek allowed me to walk over a frozen river, which is confined within a steep canyon between Chilling and the Zanskar valley. I have to confess that the idea of walking over frozen river of ice was too great an adventure to miss. We drove the 65km back to Leh this morning and I fly to Nepal the day after tomorrow.

My mom sent me an email yesterday, it made for compulsive reading when I arrived in Leh and finally accessed my email account. She explained what an ungrateful soul I had become. How I wasn't doing anything with my life and how much of a disappointment I was to the family. Once again my mom is trying to pull me home with a job offer at a minor league tabloid in Dayton. She was spectacularly furious after my last email when I refused to fly across the world to spend Thanksgiving with them.

I have written a feature about my travels in India. I'm going to send it across to the NY Times, Rolling Stone Vanity Fair. Keep everything crossed for me.

How is everything with you and the girls? Are you prepared for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Tell Cassidy Caroline that I will email them soon and send them some photos of my travels so far. I have one photo that I am especially pleased with. I captured a sea of vibrant colour and light against the backdrop of India Gate. It's stunning.

Writing of the incandescent beauty of Shimla I find myself missing you, you are the person that, for me, is intrinsically beautiful. I hope that doesn't make you feel too uncomfortable.

I would love to have you here experiencing the beauty and colour that is India. I think you'd like the clothes too. There's elegance to the Salwar Kameez that's hard to define.

Yours as always
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy sealed the envelope with a kiss and walked out of the lodge to post it. She had no regrets about leaving Runway but she missed the silver haired editor. The absence was unbearable at times but she saw no other way than distancing herself from the heartbreak of loving someone who couldn't love her the same way.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Date: November 22, 2007
Sender: m.p
Recipient: andys82
Subject: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Andréa.

Your letter arrived yesterday and I have been waiting for a rare moment of peace to be able to give it my undivided attention.

I was pleased to learn that you are writing about your travels and look forward to potentially reading your articles. Although they may not necessarily be suitable for Runway I would be happy if you let me assist in having them published elsewhere. As you know I have many contacts within the publishing world. Have you heard anything back yet? Please feel free to send any further features to me and I will ensure they are sent to suitable publications.

I am happy to hear that you are still enjoying your travels whilst experiencing the vibrant cultures offered. I can clearly picture you dancing the Giddha, you certainly have the energy, creativity, feminine grace and elegance required for the dance.

I do have to tell you that I am unimpressed with your adventure across the Chadar trek. You do realise people have died on that expedition? How do you think the people who care about you would feel if something happened to you? You really do need to stop taking unnecessary risks with your life Andréa.

I would love to visit India one day. I have been thinking that a 4 page spread on Eastern fashion would be an excellent idea, though getting the approval from Irv would be impossible at this time. Once again he's threatening to cut my budget. I do not know how he cannot see that the profits from Runway far outweigh the cost accrued. Once again we hit the highest level of sales from the last issue which covered the losses from Auto-Universe.

We are working towards the January issue at the moment but the incompetence within the book each night is astounding. I am working with Nigel to take on more responsibility as creative director. He seems pleased with the changes I am attempting to implement and I am hoping that by giving him more responsibility it will open up my own workload and allow me to spend more time with the twins. We have arranged a night for drinks and dinner next week in the hopes we can resurrect our friendship.

Are you still in Nepal or have you moved on. What adventures and delights will you describe to me next?

In regards to your mother's emails I would never suggest you ignore them but she needs to realise you are an adult now and are able to make your own life choices. Your parents should see the amazing woman they have so obviously nurtured. As for going back to Ohio, would that truly make you happy or would you be happier in L.A or New York, somewhere you can continue to grow? I personally hope to see you stomping around New York again very soon.

My girls have decided to stay home with me this year even though it was their year to spend Thanksgiving with Greg. We have had a quiet family day today celebrating our many blessings, the best being that the press are finally starting to leave us alone after the divorce. What are you thankful for?

We are having Christmas together, I received their Christmas lists and have found that some of their wishes just cannot be bought or given easily, it is the 1st year they have asked for the impossible.

Greg doesn't seem too disappointed about spending Thanksgiving or Christmas without the twins as he has himself a new girlfriend, Charity. I'm sure his girlfriend's get younger every year.

As you would expect the twins have been delightfully mischievous and started their usual pranks on her. I believe the last prank involved a gluey flour water based concoction, some water balloons and duck feathers. There was some issue with the mixture causing havoc with Charity's hair extensions. Greg was somewhat less than amused but I frankly found it hilarious.

Cassidy and Caroline have enjoyed receiving the occasional emails from you along with the photographs. They especially enjoyed the photo of you eating something obviously spicier than you intended, where you were captured with tears streaming down your face, looking like you were about to blow steam out of every orifice. When the twins forwarded the photo to me at work I didn't think about what the email would contain and opened it. I found myself snorting with laughter in front of Emily, Jocelyn, Serena and Nigel, not a sound you generally hear within the depths of Runway, and especially not from me. I thought Emily was going to faint at my unexpected explosion of mirth, after I managed to stop laughing I told her to eat some cheese and sent them all away. I look at the picture even now and it makes me smile greatly.

It has been a long time since someone told me I am beautiful. Thank you for the wonderful compliment, although it was unexpected and caused me to start questioning your sanity or if you had smacked your pretty little head on the frozen river of ice, it did not make me uncomfortable.

I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Take care
M.P

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy was taking the time to write a new travel piece about her travels in Nepal when the email came through from Miranda. Minimising the article she was writing she took the time to focus on Miranda.

She shook her head in disbelief at the offer held in Miranda's email. Although there was no need for Miranda's assistance in getting published but she appreciated the offer all the same.

She found herself bemused at Miranda's thoughts about her learning to dance. She certainly hadn't ever thought that the words elegant would be an adjective the editor would use to describe her, she somehow felt that Miranda still saw her as the clumsy assistant of the past and even though Miranda had used graceful to describe her in her letter in Paris she had assumed she editor was just being...well polite.

She laughed out loud at that thought. Miranda and polite didn't usually go together. Miranda was well known for her bluntness and honesty.

She grinned at the sternness and concern expressed in Miranda's admonishment about her adventures on the Chadar trek and knew that Miranda would be shocked about her most recent adventures through Nepal.

She was happy that Miranda's guard seemed to be slipping and that Miranda felt she could share her daily struggles and her wishes for her friendship and working relationship with Nigel. There was lightness in the email which was providing glimpses of the woman behind the editor. The woman was certainly an enigma.

Miranda's words about her parents offered very little comfort. Andy felt a continued sadness at her failing relationship with them.

She smiled at the knowledge that Miranda hoped for her return to New York. Laughed at the twin's pranks on their dad's new girlfriend. She imagined the snort of laughter ringing out down the silent halls of Runway and wished in that moment she had been there to hear Miranda's unexpected joy and her reaction to Emily.

She decided to write a response by email rather than Miranda having her wait up to two weeks for a return letter, after all she knew how moving at a glacial pace just delighted her silver haired editor.

xxxxxxxxxx

Date: November 22, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: m.p
Subject: RE: Thanksgiving

Namaste Miranda

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is just a quick update to tell you that I am still in Nepal, I will however be leaving for Thailand in the next day or two.

I wanted you to be the first to know that my feature on my travels in India will be included in the January issue of Rolling Stone. I'm thrilled. They have asked for first pick on any future features so between answering emails I am currently trying to write about the amazing experience I have had here. I am exceedingly grateful for your offer to assist in getting my work published.

I have loved every minute in Nepal, from the simple hand gesture of the palms together in greeting one another, Namaste literally means "the divine in me salutes the divine in you." The respect they have for their elders is phenomenal. Once again I've found the locals are eager to share their culture and traditions with visitors.

You'd be OK here, although the tap water is disgusting there's a wide range of bottled water and your usual Pellegrino is readily available. It's necessary to make ice from the bottled water though so you don't end up drinking the contaminated water supply.

I made the mistake of eating/drinking something that was not prepared well and was ill for a few days but I'm better now. Tell Nigel I am definitely no longer a six. Do you think he'll change my nickname as my weight changes?

The best part of being in Nepal has been the fact that the country offers action packed adventure. I went white-water rafting and completed the second-highest bungee jump on the Bhote Koshi River. From Kathmandu I took a scenic flight over Everest from gathering photos of snow-capped peaks, and views of the spectacular lakes, glaciers, rivers and gorges below.

I have spent much time visiting the three holy cities in the Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur Patan.

Patan, known locally as Lalitpur, held the beautiful Krishna Mandir Temple in Durbar Square. Each of the three floors enshrines a different Hindu god: Krishna in the first, Shiva in the second and Lokeshwor in the third. I spent the day at the Park Gallery which allowed me to view the Modern art of Nepal.

Bhaktapur has been a favourite from my time in Nepal as it is free of motor traffic allowing you to wander the cobbled streets and travel amidst the temples.

I checked out the Ason Tole Market in Kathmandu, visiting the temple of Annapurna Ajima, the goddess of prosperity and abundance who presides over the neighbourhood.

I spent a leisurely day walking among the Garden of Dreams allowed for the escape of a crowded Kathmandu. I found a spot to sit, read and to reflect on the changes of my life.

One day I caught the bus from Kathmandu to Budhanilkantha, I purchase my entrance ticket to Shivapuri National Park and completed a 3 hour hike to the Nagi Gompa monastery. I went for the day and ended up spending a week there. Like the nuns that come to meditate and study the Buddhist scripture in search for enlightenment, the reason for my extended stay was to work out where my life is going, to do some soul searching and to hopefully generate some inner peace and come to terms with certain aspects of my life now.

I never really explained honestly why my mom has been so adamant I go home. When I returned from Paris they were just going on about how Nate and I could get back together now I'd left Runway. There was not a single chance I could let that happen. Nate's lack of support was the final nail in the coffin of our relationship for me. I finally told my mom and dad that I was attracted to someone else, someone unexpected, that I had deeper feelings for someone that wasn't Nate, someone female.

I've never questioned my sexuality before. It has been a lot to come to terms with but I never really thought that my parents wouldn't support me in any way. They always claimed they wanted my happiness and now I feel they have turned their back on me, all because of something I have no control over. Dad has refused to speak with me since and mom...well the less I say about her the better.

I am pleased to know that you are trying to rebuild your friendship with Nigel. He cares about you and as I have found out you can never have too many people fighting your corner. When you go for dinner and drinks get Nigel something blue and toxic from me.

In regards to Cassidy Caroline I think Greg may be fighting a losing battle in trying to curb their puckish behaviour. He should be happy they choose to spend time with him, even if it means allowing them to act in their usual mischievous way. Their prank on Charity sounds epic.

I'm pleased they have spent Thanksgiving with you. They are a blessing in themselves and hopefully things will start to settle now.

In regards to Christmas presents for the girls, you once told me I could do anything. If I have that superpower then you certainly will. Nothing is impossible. Reach for those stars Miranda and give the girls what they want.

I am happy that the girls have enjoyed my emails so far. I didn't mean for you to see that photograph specifically, it was so embarrassing. As a joke the chef, someone I had become friends with, decided to lace my meal with green chilli knowing that after a day traveling I wouldn't consider what I was putting in my mouth. The wait staff grabbed my camera to capture the moment and I thought the twins would appreciate it. I certainly didn't mean for it to cause you to drop your usual mask, especially in front of your staff. I would have loved to have heard your laughter though.

You ask what I am thankful for. I am thankful Rolling Stone are happy with my writing and are actually going to pay me for my experiences. I am thankful you spent time this Thanksgiving reaching out and writing to me.

There's so much to feel blessed about. Your friendship, if I can call it that, is the biggest blessing in my life at the moment. Thank-you.

Trust me when I tell you that I am completely sane and I haven't fallen down and smacked my head recently.

Once again Happy Thanksgiving Miranda

Yours as always
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

Sitting alone in her study working on the book was one of Miranda's many ways to let her brain sink into exhaustion before she let her body follow.

She'd had a wonderful day with her girls and had found time to sit and read her letter from Andréa and believed she posed an acceptable response.

As she looked at the clock on her computer she noticed the email icon indicating unread messages, sighing she realised she had one more thing to do before bed. If she left the emails they would multiply overnight and she'd never get anything done in the morning.

Opening her email she smiled seeing Andréa's name lit up on her screen. She felt a sense of joy reading about Andréa's adventures. The joy itself was laced with a fear that the young woman could be hurt, she'd never have believed that her Andréa was such an adrenaline junkie.

She was shocked that Andréa had spent part of her stay in a monastery. Everything she had ever seen in the young woman had indicated an excess of energy, she was a constant whirl of movement, the young woman from before couldn't be still and even when sitting she fidgeted uncontrollably, tugging on her fingers or bouncing her leg. Miranda wasn't able to comprehend a moment where the Andréa she knew could just sit back and meditate.

Reading Andréa's words into the reason behind her parent's disapproval she was saddened that they could judge their daughter based purely on her questioning sexuality. Miranda herself knew that if Cassidy or Caroline followed that path she wanted them to be as open and honest about it with her, and she would be accepting. All that mattered is that her girls find that elusive love. Something she herself hadn't yet managed.

She felt a stab of jealousy that Andréa's admittance of feelings towards another woman. Attempting to push those feelings aside she realised that Andréa had the capability to break her heart, which left Miranda feeling frightened.

Thinking about the twins Christmas list she knew there was just one thing that that she couldn't give them, Andréa's presence. For once she felt powerless to give her Bobbsey's and herself their heart's desire.

Maybe it was time for her to step back from this relationship.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

For three weeks Miranda had thrown herself into her work in the hopes she could bury her feelings. She had backed off from contact with Andréa and although she received multiple emails she had made the conscious decision not to answer them.

She told herself that she was just too busy. It was coming up to Christmas, she had the twins who were about to break from Dalton for their school vacation and Greg had once again missed two of his weekends with them in favour of spending time alone with Charity.

As much as Miranda told herself that a break away from Andréa was needed to protect her heart, every day was spent with her mind looping over one question; how much longer could she stop herself from reaching out to the brunette?

Over the three weeks she had ceased contact she had fired half of the art department and two of 2nd assistants, and yet her inner dragon was not appeased.

It was now the Saturday before Christmas and she was alone at Runway. Everyone had been sent home early having laid the foundations of the next issue, all surprised and pleased that they all had a five day break over the Christmas holiday.

Hearing her mobile she checked the caller ID and answered the call from Cassidy. "Hello Bobbsey."

"Hey mom, you have a letter here from Thailand. Do you want us to bring it over when we meet you for lunch?"

"I suppose so." Miranda responded.

"Great, we'll see you in an hour." Cassidy declared and disconnected

Miranda shook her head, Andréa had not given up easily on their unlikely friendship. Her emails had continued to come through regular as clockwork on a weekly basis and she had started to query the lack of response, expressing more and more concern.

Miranda looked back on the previous three emails she had received.

xxxxxxxxxx

Date: November 30, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: m.p
Subject: Thailand

Hi Miranda

I arrived in Thailand a couple of days ago and it is nothing like I expected.

I landed in Chiang Mai just in time for the Yi Peng lantern festival. After chanting and meditation led by some monks, thousands of paper lanterns were lit to be released simultaneously into the night sky. I was told to make a wish and release the enormous paper lantern I had been given. It was amazing to stand among the lanterns as they were being lit. The temperature began to rise in the space between lanterns as we waited for enough hot air to build up to allow the lanterns to float. It was such an amazing experience, in that moment I felt like I could also float away. That night I dreamed I floated across the ocean right back to New York.

Chiang Mai is an old city ringed with over 300 temples and surrounded by jungles, there is a nearby elephant sanctuary which I plan on visiting before I leave for Bangkok.

I have visited two of the local temples in Chiang Mai. Doi Sutep has a cable car which grants access to a vista of the whole city and Wat Chedi Luang. I spent an evening at one of the lady boy cabarets. All I had to do is buy a drink to gain admission. Next time I know not to sit in the front row. I am grateful I wasn't one of the unlucky few to be pulled onto the stage although the lap dance I received was a bit of a shock.

Yesterday I hired a motorbike and drove 2.5hrs to Pai, the drive took me along winding mountain roads. Once I reached Pai I continued to drive around finding waterfalls, canyons, and curious little spots that surround the village. There's some gorgeous landscape that took my breath away. While spending the evening in Pai I gained the chance to learn how to spin fire poi at the circus school.

From Pai I travelled to see the White temple at Chiang Rai. It's a psychedelic wonderland mixed with the bowels of hell. It was absolutely worth seeing, even though I could only devote a day to it.

I've not heard from you since my last email and I've missed hearing about your life. I know the run up to Christmas can be busy but hopefully I'll see an email from you soon.

Are you all keeping well?

Yours as Always
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

Date: December 7, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: m.p
Subject: RE: Thailand

Hi Miranda

One of the things that excited me the most about visiting Thailand was the prospect of interacting with elephants. I wanted to get up and close with those beautiful, regal creatures. I spent my last few days in North Thailand at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. It is a wonderland sanctuary for rehabilitated elephants, those that have been injured in the logging industry in neighbouring Myanmar, badly treated in tourism, have been used for begging for money from tourists, or were left to fend for themselves after the logging industry ended. They get a chance to really be elephants again, socializing, forming groups, and sometimes giving birth to babies. Since ENP does not put their elephants through the domestication process, those babies eventually have the chance to return to the wild. I had an amazing experience volunteering for the few days.

I'm now in Bangkok having caught the day train from Chiang Mai, and while it has managed to absorb Western influences it has maintained its own rich heritage, it is quite an intense experience.

Like India Thailand is providing sensory overload, whether visiting a busy morning market or experiencing a night out.

From what I have seen so far gleaming temples and golden Buddha's frame both the rural and modern landscape around me. Ancient banyan trees are ceremoniously wrapped in sacred cloth to honour the resident spirits, fortune-bringing shrines decorate humble homes as well as monumental malls, while garland-festooned dashboards ward off traffic accidents.

I was horrified to learn just how bad Thai roads and traffic are. Phone-wielding monks and a dog weaving through traffic astride a 50cc scooter might seem like an amusing sight but the danger outweighs the laughter. It is reported there's 80 lives lost every day from R.T.A's.

The Thais are a proud people, with great respect for king and country. The National Anthem is played publicly every evening at 6pm, bringing any/all activity to a one-minute halt. On my first proper night you could tell I was the obvious tourist, wandering confused through stationary crowds, oblivious to that nightly protocol.

Thailand serves a decent cup of Coffee which nearly caused me to dance with joy. I was rejoicing having missed my daily Starbucks fix way too much. Home-grown beans are produced here under Royal decree.

I've spent the last 3 days wandering around Bangkok, it isn't my favourite destination on my travels so far but I don't hate it like many people seem to. You've got to love a country where rubber thongs are acceptable footwear at any time.

I spent that first day visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Po. Within the Grand Palace is the temple of Wat Pra Kaeo which house the 15th century Emerald Buddha. Wat Po to holds the famous golden reclining Buddha statue.

I spent my first Bangkok sunrise at Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). You'd think after 9 months of rising before the sun I would want to experience a lay-in but I can't bring myself to just lie there wasting my days away. Wat Arun is a gorgeous Buddhist temple on the edge of the Chao Phraya River opposite the Grand Palace. It has one main spire and four small ones which are depicted on Thai money. From the top of the main spire I saw stunning sweeping views of the city, allowing me to take some amazing photographs.

After watching my first Sunrise I walked along the Khao San Road to Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mount. I think this may be one of my new favourite places because of its exquisite golden temple, the stunning setting, and wonderful views of the city from the top. Walking back along the Khao San Road from the temple I ate great food, experienced great shopping, did tons of people watching and kept myself amused well into the night.

I am spending the tomorrow visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I've been told that this is the best place to get gifts, find knock-offs, barter, or have some good food. On Sunday I will experience the Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market.

I haven't made the decision on where I am going next. It is a choice between Koh Chang and the South Islands. I have a few more days planned in Bangkok before I move on. I want to visit Lumpini Park which is cited to be Bangkok's version of Central Park. I doubt anything could come close to Central Park, no park could ever be the same without a galloping Saint Bernard charging across the path to pounce on her favourite assistant.

Earlier this evening, while enjoying a glass of wine, I heard a song called Chasing Cars, it's by a band called Snow Patrol. While I was listening it brought you into my mind. Just one verse made me remember our conversation in that tiny cafe in Paris. I asked you at that time if you ever felt like you wanted to just disappear into the world, I was amazed you actually answered me.

"If I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world."

You're never really far away from my thoughts Miranda. I find myself looking on the world around me attempting to find the words to describe to you how I see it.

I hope you find the time to answer this email. At this time you are the only thing holding me to my old life in New York. Send my love to the twins.

Yours as Always
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

Date: December 14, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: m.p
Subject: RE: RE: Thailand

Miranda

Please just either let me know you are alive, safe and well or I'll be forced to ask the twins or Nigel, and you know how Nigel loves to gossip and prone to hyperbole. I can't imagine he knows we've been swapping emails and letters.

I think I honestly preferred it when you were making ridiculous demands of me as your assistant than surrounding me with this blanket of silence.

If my claim on Thanksgiving of friendship between us has been misconstrued on my part than just tell me. If I have made you uncomfortable or done something to offend you I send my sincerest apologies.

You were the one that requested I write. I didn't understand then why you felt the need for me to keep in contact, I honestly thought you hated me, and yet you said you wanted to know who I am and who I'll become. I certainly don't understand why all of a sudden the things we were sharing has disappeared.

You told me not to disappear from your life but you haven't offered me the same courtesy. You told me you care and that you'd miss me. Were you feeding me a blatant lie or have I mistakenly told you too much?

Are you judging me like my parents are?

Why do people do that? They pull someone in and then toss them away when they don't fit into a neat little box of their design. Nate did it. My friends did it. My parents are still doing it. Do I have to add you to that list too?

I am so fucking angry Miranda...I am so lonely.

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.
- Maya Angelou, Alone

Traveling solo has given me the time I needed to reflect on my life's changes and what I have learned from this is that I need to find the courage to follow my heart.

Yours as Always
Andréa

xxxxxxxxxx

Thinking of Andréa being lonely was the one thing Miranda couldn't stand. She wanted to fly to whichever country Andréa was currently backpacking through, scoop her up and bring her home. She wanted Andréa to know how loved she was. Miranda wanted the chance to let herself worship the beautiful young woman who had made her heart ache like never before.

She realised she couldn't go on ignoring Andréa. Her work had been affected by the lack of contact. Her office was running with a distinct lack of efficiency. Her focus had been shot.

From Andréa's words she knew she had a choice to make. Could she follow her heart and trust someone else enough to keep it safe? The answer was there blazing in front of her...always Andréa. That was her trigger to breach the distance she had caused.

Date: December 14, 2007
Sender: m.p
Recipient: andys82
Subject: Loneliness

Dearest Andréa

Please know that you have no need to feel lonely in this world, you do have people fighting in your corner.

I want you to know that whenever you are ready to return from your travels you have a home here in New York, if you want it, with me and the girls. There would be no ulterior motives other than knowing you are safe and are thriving in this harsh world, and to let you feel secure in the knowledge that

you are not, nor will you ever be alone.

"Those who pass by us, do not go alone, and do not leave us alone; they leave a bit of themselves, and take a little of us."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I need you to know that wherever you go I am there with you Andréa.

I don't know what to say to you about my lack of contact these past few weeks. My focus hasn't been what it usually is and I've struggled for inspiration and due to this we nearly missed the deadline for the first time since I took over as Editor in Chief. I fired another 2nd assistant last week and have yet to find a suitable replacement. I am thinking of taking a chance again on someone totally different to the usual poor excuses that enter my realm, the fashionista's who worship me as if I am some Deity with Runway as their bible of choice.

I took a chance on someone different once before, which worked beautifully, and I'm hopeful it could work again.

I find myself often looking out at the desks flanking my office and am saddened by not seeing your smile. It seems that I have found that you are irreplaceable after all, despite what you told me. Could I find someone like you again? Doubtful. There will only ever be one Andréa Sachs.

I know that the excuses I have given are poor but at this time they are all I can offer, along with my apologies for the lack of courtesy I have provided towards you.

I have told Nigel we have remained in touch. As our friendship has blossomed once again over dinner and drinks I realised I have missed his companionship and his dry wit. I trust him implicitly.

He sees more than I could ever imagine and has teased me often and quite mercilessly about you, the assistant I just can't forget. He knows how unusual it is for me to let someone in the way I have done with you. But he also sees just how special you are and understands my need to know you are OK, that you are alive in the world and making a difference.

When I first placed a blue, sticky, toxic concoction in front of him on that first night we attempted to reinstate our friendship his bright smile almost rivalled yours. He shared the story about how you earned his trust, his respect and his ultimately his friendship. We compare stories about you often.

Everyone you have ever come into contact with within Runway has asked after you, no-one asks me anything directly as everyone seems to think I don't want to speak of the assistant who had the nerve to leave, but I've heard the hushed questions. You are a legend in the fashion world as the one that got away. I had to chuckle to myself when I heard someone refer to you as the dragon slayer.

How can you not see just what a profound effect you have on people? Your presence is sorely missed.

I honestly think the only person you did not manage to nurture an easy camaraderie with is Emily. She worries me greatly. She is loyal to a fault and I have done nothing to deserve it. Is it hero worship or more? She gets so jealous when she feels her position is being threatened and she could easily see you were her biggest threat. She is so guarded that she is blind to what is right before her. I have high hopes that Serena can push past Emily's defences and offer the nurturing love she needs to blossom.

Please realise that you would never receive any judgement from me. If Caroline and Cassidy started questioning their sexuality I would like to think that I am accepting enough and approachable enough, even as their mother, to have an open and honest discussion with them. I just hope they manage to find the love I have so far found elusive. I know that sexuality is not black and white, there's a whole rainbow between.

As a society we are hardwired to attempt to fit people into neat, perfect little boxes with a label to identify who you are. Life however is complex and inherently messy, we should focus more on acceptance of individual traits rather than dividing people into specific categories. This is true of fashion choices too, and in this respect I am guilty. I believe people should be allowed to express their individuality through fashion without the fear of being judged. That cerulean jumper of yours though...there are just no words.

You have a beautiful heart Andréa and it pains me to know that you are hurting, and that my actions have caused you further pain. As I told you in our conversation at the cafe I am not good at connecting with people. As I've also mentioned I don't know how to be vulnerable with you, I lose my sense of self. And that frightens me more than I care to admit. I don't know how to be the Miranda you see and Miranda the Editor in Chief.

Please know that I do value you and the relationship we are building.

You are in my heart always
M

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda hoped she hadn't messed things up too drastically with Andréa. As it had been 8 days since she had given in and emailed back with no response. She'd been living in the hope that Andréa would email, and each night with no response had started to diminish the spark of hope she held onto tightly. Now there was a letter she was nervous. She needed to know that her actions had been forgiven by the person who held her heart in their hands.

The twins arrived 15 minutes before they were due for lunch and Miranda met them at the car. Roy opened the door promptly to allow Miranda to enter the backseat. "Hello Bobbsey's."

"Hey mom. Here's your letter from Andy." Cassidy passed her the letter which she put in her purse.

"Aren't you going to read it?" Caroline asked.

"Not right now Bobbsey, I'll read it later. This is my time with you."

"We wouldn't mind." Cassidy clarified.

Miranda wondered if the twins had heard from Andréa in the last week. As the car moved swiftly through traffic the twins babbled incessantly about their morning at the Park.

"Have you…" she started asking as the car pulled into a stop at Smith and Wollensky.

Roy opened the door and the twins scampered out before Miranda had time to finish her question. She rolled her eyes and exited the car gracefully. She nodded to Roy in thanks and followed the twins into the restaurant where the maître d' was waiting patiently to walk them to their usual table.

"Miranda, how lovely to see you again. Your usual table is ready and your guest is already seated." The maître d' stated.

Miranda shot him a look of confusion as the twins giggled. Giving them all a baleful glare, she started to stalk towards the back of the restaurant.

She stopped suddenly in her tracks when she came into sight of the table. As her eyes met pools of deep chocolate she felt like time stood still. Her breath hitched and she felt her heart start to pound. "Andréa…" she whispered as she experienced the blinding smile she had missed every day for the last 3 months. Miranda couldn't help but return the smile with once her own as she continued to walk to the table. "What are you doing here?" Miranda asked breathlessly.

Andy's smile widened. "Following my heart." she declared.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda found she just couldn't stop staring at the beautiful brunette sat opposite her, the genuine smile gracing her face hadn't disappeared since she first spotted her Andréa across the room. She was however confused. Why was she here? What had made her come back to New York? Where was she staying? What were her plans? What did she mean by following her heart? She had so many questions needing answers and didn't know where to start.

"I can see the wheels turning, just breathe and relax and let's eat. I'm starving!" Andréa told her.

Rolling her eyes at the brunette she caught the attention of the waiter, signalling him over. "Well I know what I'm having. How about you three?" Miranda queried.

"Wollensky's Burger for me." Cassidy said.

"Me too…" Caroline confirmed

Everyone looked at Andréa who bit her lip as she made her decision. "The Cajun Rib Steak for me, living off a mainly vegetarian diet for three months has me craving red meat."

Miranda nodded her approval. "Would you like wine?" she asked nervously.

"Wine sounds good. Whatever you recommend." Andréa responded casually as she looked down at the table in an attempt not to stare at the editor opposite her.

After finalising the food order and ordering two glasses of red wine the waiter disappeared.

The twins looked between the two women and smiled at them. "Isn't this…" Cassidy began."…brilliant?" Caroline ended the question.

"Yes, yes this is quite acceptable." Miranda stated.

Andy looked up at Miranda and snorted, she began giggling uncontrollably causing Miranda to quirk her eyebrow at her.

"And what's so funny Andréa?" Miranda asked, her lips twitching again with a smile.

"Nothing, I just...it must be the jet lag."

"When did you arrive?" Miranda asked softly.

"This morning, early." Andy confirmed

"Mm. I'm glad you are here." Miranda confirmed.

Andy noticed a blush forming on the editor's neck and leaned forward whispering, "I missed you." She winked at the silver haired woman opposite causing the blush to spread to her cheeks.

"We'll talk later." Miranda stated.

xxxxxxxxxx

The initial nervousness passed quickly as lunch arrived and they began to eat. Miranda sat with a second glass of wine, entranced as Andy regaled the twins with stories of her travels. The twins were more than amazed with Andy's experiences with the Elephants and had lots of questions for her. She answered each of them patiently and with a passion that Miranda had forgotten she possessed.

She was amazed at how easily Andréa interacted with her girls, and how fond the girls obviously were of her Andréa.

After lunch was finished and they were exiting the restaurant Miranda was amazed to find hours had passed. It was now mid-afternoon and she had no idea what was going to happen with the rest of her day.

Roy was waiting patiently for them but as she moved to the car the twins grabbed a hand on each side of her.

"Can we go to get ice cream?" Cassidy asked with a smile.

"Don't you think it's a bit cold for that Bobbsey?" Miranda queried as she noticed snow had started to fall. Cassidy looked crestfallen. Pulling her coat closer around her neck Miranda looked down at the twins and then to Andréa. Gently she continued her train of thought. "We could go home and drink hot chocolate, have popcorn and watch movies. And then later we can order dinner. Does that sound suitable?"

"Sounds great mom." Caroline said shooting her twin a look.

Cassidy readily agreed to the plan. "That sounds so much better."

"Would you like to join us Andréa?" Miranda asked her softly.

Looking at Miranda and the twins Andy replied. "Only if you're sure."

Raising her eyebrow again she asked, "When have you known me to make offers I don't mean?"

"Never." Andy responded quickly. "Of course I'd love to join you." She clarified.

She was stunned at the blinding smile she received from the editor.

"It will give us that chance to talk." Miranda told her.

"Yes Miranda." Andy replied.

xxxxxxxxxx

When they arrived at the Townhouse Andy exited the car quickly holding her hand out to assist Miranda. As Miranda stepped out of the car, she squeezed the hand in hers gently before letting go to open the door.

Upon entering the Townhouse Andy felt every memory of her previous visits while delivering the book hit her at once. She remembered clearly the night she walked up the stairs to interrupt Miranda and Stephen's argument and blushed furiously. From that night she learned just how inherently private Miranda was about her home life.

She found her hand grasped and squeezed again gently, it felt as if Miranda knew what was going through her mind.

The twins shrugged out of their coats and stormed upstairs bickering between themselves about movie choices.

'Let me take your coat Andréa." Miranda requested. Letting go of the hand she shook her coat off and passed it over. Miranda placed it onto a hanger in the closet and turned to her guest. "Would you like a drink? More wine perhaps?" Miranda asked.

"Water would be great or that hot chocolate you promised." Andy replied cheekily with a smile. Miranda nodded once and cocked her head indicating for Andy to follow her down the hallway and into the kitchen.

The kitchen was large and warm. Andy sat down on a high stool at the breakfast bar as Miranda opened the fridge to grab some Pellegrino, juice for the twins and milk. She moved gracefully to the pantry to grab the popcorn she'd promised her girls and the marshmallows, sugar, cocoa, and salt needed for the hot chocolate. Once she had everything needed laid out on the kitchen counters she moved back towards the breakfast bar.

Sitting opposite the young woman Miranda said quietly; "May I ask you something...well a few things actually?"

"Anything." Andy responded. "You can ask me anything and I will answer as honestly as I can." she clarified.

Miranda looked at her, Andréa looked tired and drawn, and her clothes were oversized and comfortable. "When I asked why you are here you mentioned following your heart but I need you to tell me why you came home?"

"I have been emailing the twins, as you know. Before you stopped emailing I asked them what it was that you felt was impossible for them to have from their Christmas lists, I thought I may be able to help. They didn't want to tell me but after your emails stopped I kept pushing for an answer. Cass eventually told me they asked you to bring me home and since I don't seem to be able to deny the three Priestley women anything, here I am."

"And the following your heart comment?" Miranda queried.

"Well my heart seems to belong with those two imps upstairs and…" Andy stopped speaking and closed her eyes. "...I told you in that last emails I needed to find the courage to follow my heart, I did that but somehow didn't realise I would need the even more courage to speak it. I thought I'd have more time"

"Please tell me." Miranda requested.

Closing her eyes Andy fought against the tears forming. "My heart belongs here with you Miranda. You are the first thing I think about in the morning and my last thought at night. My world starts and ends with you and it has for such a long time...and I didn't realise until I walked away in Paris and then there was just this huge sense of loss from leaving you…but..."

Miranda closed her eyes at the words the young woman was saying. Her heart beating furiously in her chest. She held onto the breakfast bar to stop herself from fleeing, she needed to hear the words Andréa was speaking even if they ended up breaking her heart.

"...I don't really know how you feel about me, I know you care and that we started this friendship but I can't help but want…more, which is stupid. I know you're straight...I mean you've been married twice...but that was the same for me...until you! I have never questioned who I am at such length, but I cannot hide anymore, I can't continue to run away…I'm sorry…"

Miranda marvelled at Andréa's bravery.

"And I know that however unlikely, even if you considered this, you're in the middle of a divorce from...and you have your girls to consider. Then there's the age difference, which by the way I don't care about, and there's the fact that because of what you do people know who you are the press would have a field-day. I know right now you're probably questioning my sanity and I don't blame you...I should just leave..." As Andy finished speaking and turned to walk away the tears began to flow.

"No...You said...Don't leave." Miranda trailed off. "Did you know that I panicked when you walked away from me in Paris Andréa?" Miranda queried softly.

Miranda's words stopped her in her tracks. Andy turned back around to face her and noticed the tears in the editor's eyes. "Nigel might have mentioned it that night in Paris when I asked him to give you that first letter, but you know how prone to exaggeration he is…I had hope but...you know with everything that went on I didn't are believe that you actually felt anything akin to what I was." Andy told her.

"Yes well...that man sees far too much into things, he has an uncanny ability to see beyond what others would." Miranda sighed. As they gazed into each other's eyes Miranda began to fidget, something she didn't normally do.

Andy wiped the tears from her eyes. "Do you want me to do the hot chocolate before the twin terrors arrive down demanding sustenance?" She asked.

"I'll do it." Miranda stated. "I'm just...overwhelmed. I can't believe you are here and I have so many questions and don't know where to start or how to…"

"We have all the time in the world Miranda, but I do have things to arrange. Somewhere to live is first and foremost. I booked into a hotel this morning so I could attempt to sleep but that didn't work too well. I ended up walking through Central Park, which is where the twins saw me and demanded I come to lunch." Andy smiled at the remembrance.

"So if the lunch offer wasn't forthcoming or if my terrors hadn't seen you when would you have told me you were here?" Miranda demanded.

"Probably Christmas Day...I was meant to be a surprise for those little imps after all." Andy replied.

"Mm well that would have been four days wasted. Will you stay? I don't think I could cope with having you leave again so soon, even knowing you are once again in the same city." Miranda felt another tear slide down her face. Looking down to hide her vulnerability she missed the movement and before she realised Andy had cupped her face in her hands and was wiping away the tears with the pads of her thumbs. Then she was being pulled close to the brunette in a tight hug. Wrapping her arms around the brunette's waist she realised they fit together perfectly

Relaxing into the embrace she felt a shiver down her spine at Andréa's whispered words. "Miranda I have told you I will never leave you. If you want me here then I will happily stay for as long as you want me."

Miranda sighed and Andy heard the faint whisper in return. "Forever."

They held onto each other until they heard a small cough coming from the doorway. Releasing themselves from the embrace Miranda smirked at the child stood in the doorway and raised her eyebrow in a silent question at Cassidy.

"Hey mom, hey Andy, the movies ready to go. Are you going to be much longer or are you going to hug it out all night?"

Andy flushed bright red and attempted to suppress her laughter as Miranda shooed her daughter out of the kitchen with a glare. She moved away from Andréa to put the popcorn in the microwave and placed the milk into a saucepan to heat. While waiting for the milk to warm Andy watched as Miranda pulled out a large bowl and whisked together the combination of sugar, cocoa, and salt. She mixed 10 tablespoons of her chocolate mix into the warm milk allowing it to dissolve before pouring the hot chocolate into mugs and adding the marshmallows. She offered the bowl of popcorn to Andy and placed the mugs, juice and water on a tray and looked towards Andy.

"Are you ready?" Miranda chuckled.

"You have no idea." Andy said as she followed Miranda up stairs into the living room.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

The girls had made themselves comfortable on beanbags in front of the T.V as they hit play on the DVD Player the Simpson Movie started to play. As the movie rolled they found themselves laughing at Homer's antics attempting to save Springfield from disaster.

Once the movie ended they discussed dinner options. It was decided that Miranda would order pizza and upon delivery they made their way back to the kitchen to eat. The atmosphere was relaxed and the twins chatted happily.

After dinner they returned back to the living room and to what had become their spots. Cassidy placed Hairspray in the DVD Player and hit play. The girls fell asleep as the movie rolled on in the background.

Miranda looked at her girls and smiled before glancing at Andy who she noticed was deep in thought. "What are you thinking about?" She asked the brunette.

"Nothing much, I'm just tired. You know how it is? I feel like this is the first time I've stopped and let myself relax and felt peaceful in such a long time."

"I'm glad you feel relaxed here Andréa. But I think there's a lot more going on in that head of yours that you may or may not want to discuss." Miranda said.

"So maybe we should continue that talk." Andy stated.

Miranda sighed. "Not yet, let's get the twins to bed first and then we can talk."

They woke the girls who sleepily made their way to their bedrooms and started to get into their pyjamas.

Upon entering Caroline's room Miranda found her asleep across the bed, lifting her up she positioned her against the pillows and tucked her in with a kiss to the forehead before leaving the room. Cassidy was awake and talking quietly to Andy when Miranda entered the room. Both of them looked towards the door and smiled happily as she walked towards them.

"Time for sleep now Bobbsey." Miranda told her.

"OK" Cassidy replied. "Will Andy be here tomorrow?"

"If she wants to be, yes." Miranda looked towards Andy for confirmation.

"I'll be here, but I'll have to leave to grab some clothes at some stage." Andy told the young girl.

"Yay! Hopefully mom will make pancakes for breakfast. She's the best at them."

"We'll see Bobbsey." Miranda tucked the girl in and kissed her forehead before whispering, "Goodnight my darling."

"Night Cass, Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite." Andy grinned at the young girl.

Miranda held her hand out for Andy and pulled her from the room. They made their way back to the living room and Miranda began to pick up the glasses and mugs. "Let me help." Andy requested.

Miranda smiled as she replied. "There's no need, I just need to put these in the dishwasher. Cara's off for the next few days and I wouldn't want to have her comeback to an excessive mess. Would you like another drink?"

"Only if you're having one." Andy replied.

"Well it's too late for coffee, does a glass of wine sound acceptable?

"Sounds heavenly." Andy responded with a smile.

As they made the way into the kitchen again Miranda pointed to the wine rack as she stacked the dishwasher. Grabbing two crystal glasses and an open bottle of Sauvignon Blanc Andy poured two glasses and placed one of them beside the editor.

Andy sat down at the breakfast bar again and watched Miranda intently. Taking a large drink of her wine she found the courage to speak to the editor's back. "Did you receive my last letter?" Andy asked.

"I received it today and the girls brought it to me when they met me for lunch...It's in my purse. I was going to read it this afternoon however you were there at the restaurant and…" Miranda tried to explain.

"I think you should read it before we continue this discussion Miranda. There's things I've said in there that you need to know." Andy told her

"Like what?" Miranda queried.

"Please just read it. Then we will talk, all night if that's what you need." Andy gave her a sad smile.

"If you insist. I'll be in the study" Miranda picked up her wine and stalked from the room. She grabbed the letter from her purse and walked to her study. She sat at her desk heavily staring at the letter in her hands as if it was a venomous snake about to strike. Biting her lip she slipped her letter opener through the top of the envelope, took the letter out and began to read.

xxxxxxxxxx

December 15, 2007

Dear Miranda

As I've sat alone, pondering on where I've gone wrong, the world has turned dark and I'm no longer able to see it in all its glory. I started to make plans to move on to Australia, even as far as applying for the visa I needed, but then your email arrived last night and now I just don't know…

My judgement isn't what it should be and I'm struggling to make decisions.

I miss New York, it is my home, and part of me wants to return but I don't know what I have to return to. I don't know if the three features I have written for Rolling Stone will actually give me enough experience to continue freelancing. You've offered up your home to me but for how long?

You offered me excuses for the silence but no real explanations. I thought by writing to each other and forming a non-professional relationship we could get past that. As your assistant and inferior I was never in a position to demand them, but you said I am your equal but if you actually believed that I think you would realise that I deserve better than the poor justifications you have offered.

Tell me why? Do I mean so little to you that you can just ignore me on a whim?

Your distance has made me look at things in a different light and I have been left wondering what kind of relationship you actually want from me. Are we to become friends? I can deal with just friendship but I know there will be times I won't be able to be near you because I'll want more. I wouldn't be able to stand by and watch you love someone else.

In that three weeks between your emails I spent much time trying not to lose the hope I held that I still had one person in the world, and in my life that actually cares about me. I have been trying to believe the lack of contact is not due to having something inherently wrong with me that disgusts everyone that comes into my life. But it's hard not to feel that way sometimes. It's difficult not to sit back and wonder if the reason everyone leaves is due to me lacking something necessary.

You say I am special, that I am irreplaceable, that I am unique (there's only one of me after all) but your actions of the last three weeks tells me otherwise, they tell me that whatever relationship we are building potentially means more to me than it obviously does to you.

You say you have found love is elusive. Just like Emily you are also blind to so much.

If you only opened your eyes Miranda you would see that you are in fact loved, and not for your position or your wealth but for the woman you are, the passion you have, the strength of your character, your protective nature and the vulnerability you try so hard to hide.

I know you are frightened of more than you show the world Miranda, but please know you have nothing to fear from me. I would never intentionally hurt you.

I know I am not perfect. I let your dismissal of me in that Parisian hotel room throw me into someone else's arms, but in that final moment with him I found myself thinking of you, wishing it was you there inside me. I called out for you! I have never felt so much self-loathing than in that moment.

I love you Miranda. I love you in the knowledge I have nothing to offer you except my heart. You are the one with the ability to make my heart smile and my soul sing but I also know you could just as easily crush both.

I apologise for dumping all this on you. Since Paris I feel like I spend half of the time with the whole world sat on my chest. I struggle to breathe, to focus and to feel anything but despair...and then I think of you and my heart soars and I feel so much.

I know I need more time to work out the things going on in my head because I'm so confused. I don't know what to think or feel. My heart and my head are at war and I don't know which one will be victorious.

A

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda felt the tears streaming down her face, once again she was overwhelmed with the feelings the young brunette caused in her, she had never been this emotional before and she was fearful.

She knew deep down she had an immense distance to cross to show Andréa just how much she loved her. She was hurt that the young woman hadn't yet realised the depth of her feelings towards her but also knew her faults, she hadn't actually explained how she felt. Her shoulders sagged as she gave into her knew she needed all her strength to speak for her heart but she felt so weak.

Andy watched Miranda from the doorway as she became overcome with emotion. She walked across the room silently and knelt before the editor, placing her hands on her thighs to get her attention. "Miranda?" She whispered. "Talk to me sweetheart, tell me what's on your mind?"

Miranda looked up into the eyes that haunted her dreams and cupped Andy's cheek in her palm. "I don't have the words…" Miranda stuttered. "...you'll want to leave again…" She shuddered at that thought.

"No Miranda!" Andy declared hotly. "I will never leave you. I came back for you...My heart won! I can't explain the connection between us. I gravitate towards you, Miranda. How can you not see that? I felt the distance over the last few months but it always felt as though there was a force pulling me toward you and the closer we are, the more powerfully I feel it."

Miranda looked up at her, resolved to share everything with Andréa. The love, care, tenderness, warmth, passion, desire and devotion. "I feel it too Andréa, the longing, desire, the determination to have you. It has pulled my soul in a direction that I couldn't help but move toward. You are the Moon to my Sun Andréa. Just like the Sun I have a tendency to burn. I'm aware my view might seem surprising, considering that the Moon revolves around the Earth but do you know that the Moon always has a positive acceleration toward the Sun? The Earth's moon is the only moon in the solar system that is always falling toward the Sun."

Andy was surprised at Miranda's words. Placing her hand under Miranda's chin, tilting her face upwards she searched the blue eyes. She saw the love and tenderness shining through the tears. "I didn't realise…"

'You make me feel so much...the last month has been a nightmare. I distanced myself because I was scared. I was trying to protect my heart." Miranda explained

"I want to kiss you," Andy told her.

Miranda answered with a smile. "Kiss me then, you know how much I love to be kept waiting."

The genuine smile made Andy's heart flutter, and she couldn't help but return it with a wide one of her own. Andy leaned towards Miranda and pulling her closer brushed her lips against the other woman's gently.

"Andréa…" Miranda whispered breathlessly. Andréa's lips were warm and soft beneath her own. She deepened the kiss, hands tangling into the chestnut hair as her waist was circled by Andréa's arms. A jolt of pleasure ran through her as she was pulled closer to Andréa who was returning her kiss with just as much passion.

Both hearts were pounding rapidly. Miranda ran her tongue over Andréa's bottom lip softly and slowly, and as her lips parted their tongues entwined.

The need to breathe had Andréa pulling away from Miranda panting hard. She couldn't catch her breath. She stared at Miranda for a moment.

"I… we...Miranda…What are you doing to me?" she asked quietly. 'My God...that was..." Andy struggled for words as Miranda smirked at her.

"Andréa..." The sound of her name sent a quiver of need throughout her body and she heard herself whimper slightly, "...That was divine." As Miranda laughed she found her lips captured again. Moaning into her mouth as their tongues grappled for dominance. Miranda's legs parted instinctively allowing Andréa to come closer and her legs wrapped themselves around the kneeling brunette.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Like Icarus Andy felt like she had flown too close to the sun and was about to crash and burn. Having Miranda wrapped around her was a test to her limits. "We need to stop…" Andy panted as they broke for air. Miranda continued to trail a blaze of kisses down Andy's jaw and neck. "...Miranda please…" Andy begged as she pulled away holding Miranda's face between her palms.

"Why?" Miranda looked at the brunette before trailing her hands back along Andy's waist

"Miranda I love you, you know that. This is just...fuck!" She hissed as Miranda trailed her nails across Andy's abdomen. "...It's too quick, it's overwhelming." Andy told her.

Miranda pulled herself away, ice filling her eyes. "My apologies. I thought this was mutual." She waved her hands between herself and Andy.

Andy sat back on her heels and stared. "It is...Jesus Miranda! How could you think anything else...I just...I want..." Andy stuttered in an attempt to placate the woman in front of her. Closing her eyes she whispered, "I just want this to be perfect. I don't want to rush this and have you regret it. I don't want our first time to be up against your desk. I want to lay you down and make love to you. I need the time to know this is real and not just another of my dreams."

Miranda stood and walked to the window, embarrassed with herself. Getting up slowly Andy moved to press herself tightly against Miranda's back, kissing the skin beneath her ear. Miranda sighed and turning ran her fingers through the brunette's hair, "I want you, Andréa." she whispered, "I can't remember ever wanting anything more. I want to be able to show you just how much I love you..."

"Trust me Miranda I want that to happen too. But tonight I would like to take you to bed, hold you in my arms and sleep." Andy explained gently.

"Come then Andréa." Miranda grabbed Andy's hand and they walk side by side out of the room.

xxxxxxxxxx

Bigger than the apartment she had shared with Nate Andy was awe-stricken at the gold and cerulean accents among the predominantly white setting of the master suite. It somehow highlighted Miranda's taste and personality beautifully. "Wow." Andy muttered as she took in the room.

"En-suite is through that door. Help yourself to anything in there. There's a spare toothbrush in the 2nd draw on the right." Miranda told her.

"Um thanks..." Andy stuttered as she walked through to the bathroom. Looking around Andy saw the bathroom was a place in which to linger and luxuriate. There was underfloor heating, a free standing claw-foot tub and a smoky glass shower enclosure towards the back. As she stepped out of her jeans and shirt the realisation hit her that she had nothing to wear for bed. Her attention was caught by knocking on the bathroom door. Rolling her eyes she crossed her arms over her chest and called out; "Come In."

Miranda entered the room holding out some sleep shorts and a vest. "I brought you something to wear, will these do?"

Smiling shyly at the woman stood in the doorway Andy said; "They're perfect, thank you."

Miranda's breathing hitched as she noticed the expanse of flesh as Andy uncrossed her arms and walked over to take the offered clothes. "Beautiful." Miranda whispered unable to take her eyes off the lace clad breasts on show.

Grinning even wider, as Andy reached the other woman, touching her chin, tilting it upwards she muttered, "I'm up here sweetheart." As they locked eyes Andy noticed a playful look in Miranda's eyes.

'Yes well...mm" Miranda started to speak but was cut off by Andy's lips in a delicate kiss.

"I'll be right out." Andy smiled as she took the clothes.

"I'll be waiting." Miranda confirmed as she left the room.

Andy smiled widely before turning to the vanity and finding what she needed to remove the small amount of makeup she was wearing. Making quick work on her face and after brushing her teeth she decided a quick shower was required. Walking to the back of the en-suite she was flabbergasted at the size of the shower with its eight adjustable massage jets. Shaking her head she showered quickly.

After drying off and getting dressed she wrapped her hair in a towel and walked back into the bedroom. She found Miranda sat on the edge of the bed in a mid-thigh silk nightgown, her face free of makeup and Andy noticed immediately that she looked softer and had an unguarded look in her eyes. Walking up to the older woman Andy brushed her thumb across her cheek. "You look exquisite Miranda." Andy told her breathlessly.

Looking up Miranda noticed the towel wrapped around Andy's hair. Grasping her hand she pulled Andy towards the bed forcing her to sit. As she sat down Miranda knelt behind her, unwrapping Andy's hair she started drying it gently with the towel. "I didn't realise you had such a profusion of curls." Miranda told her. "Your hair is glorious."

Andy showed her surprise. 'Well I usually straighten it, it makes it more manageable." They sat in silence as Miranda worked. Andy found herself welcoming the soft touch as Miranda's nails lightly scraped her scalp.

Feeling lips on her neck, sending shivers of delight down her spine she heard Miranda whisper, "All done." As Miranda scooted back on the bed patting the side next to her, Andy lay beside her.

Turning she looked at the older woman, scarcely believing she was in her bed. Extending her arm she pulled Miranda closer towards her and held her in a loose embrace. Miranda nuzzled her neck as Andy placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "Sleep now my love." Miranda whispered.

Feeling safe and secure in each other's arms they fell asleep quickly.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda woke with a start, unaccustomed to the heat of a warm body pressed against her. Shifting slightly she noticed the abundance of brunette curls and smiled to herself. She had never felt so safe or slept so well with another person.

Snuggling in more to the woman beside her, arms wrapped themselves around her tightly. She heard the whispered words of her bed mate. "Mm morning beautiful. What time is it?"

"Good Morning Andréa, it's still early you should try to sleep some more." Miranda told her warmly.

Opening one eye Andy looked at the older woman in wonderment. "I never thought I'd wake up like this, with you." She whispered reverently.

"I never hoped..." Miranda whispered back. "...Loving you is so different from anything I've ever experienced."

Andy softly brushed her lips against Miranda's and felt herself pulled in as their kiss deepened. Their passion ignited, the space between their bodies disappeared. Shifting slightly Miranda found her leg coming to rest between Andy's pulling a gasp from the younger woman.

"Don't stop." Andy moaned lightly as she found herself rolled onto her back with Miranda's weight against her. She arched into Miranda's touch as hands roamed freely over her body, each touch leaving a blazing trail of fire in their wake.

With a swift movement Andy found her hips straddled and Miranda tugging at her vest to remove the barrier of clothing between them. As the vest was flung onto the floor Miranda looked down amazed at the body she had exposed. "You're perfect, Andréa" Miranda whispered breathlessly.

Blushing profusely Andy tugged to the hem of Miranda nightgown. "I want this off...now!" Andy demanded as she pushed the nightgown up around Miranda's hips. Feeling Andy's hands start to roam to her thighs Miranda gasped as they moved to cup her ass pulling her even closer.

In once sensual movement Miranda grasped the hem of her nightgown and pulled it over head, dropping it to the floor, leaving her naked on top of Andy. Astonished Andy looked up to see Miranda looking down on her with a smile. "You are magnificent." She told the editor before her lips were captured again in a searing kiss that seemed to stop all time.

Breathlessly Miranda left Andy's lips to trail kisses down her neck and her collarbone, nipping the flesh gently with her teeth. The moans coming from Miranda indicating the older woman enjoyment, sending waves of pleasure right to Andy's core.

As Miranda reached Andy's breasts she gave them her focused attention, laving one nipple with her tongue she brought her hand to the other gently pinching it between her thumb and finger. With Andy arched into her once again at the pressure and sensitivity, Miranda began to bite the nipple between her teeth and twisting the other nipple, increasing the pressure slightly with each bite and twist.

Miranda unexpectedly released her attention from Andrea's breasts, moving down Andy's body she pulled off her sleep shorts causing Andy to gasp her surprise. "Tell me you still want this." Miranda insisted as she kissed the inside of Andy's thigh.

"Oh god...please!" Andy whimpered at the closeness of Miranda to her aching centre.

"Tell me." Miranda demanded again.

"I want this. Please Mir..." Words failed Andy as Miranda settled between her legs. With a sweeping motion Miranda licked her gently and gasped at the first taste of the young woman. She was Heavenly. She continued to lick and suck the dripping folds, delighting in the flavour and the mewls of pleasure from the woman below her.

Andy was writhing, babbling incoherently at Miranda's ministrations. Within minutes she was clutching at Miranda's silver hair as her hips bucked against her mouth. She cried out her orgasm sobbing Miranda's name at her release. Hearing the siren call as Andy came sent Miranda spiralling into her own orgasmic bliss.

"I love you." Miranda told her as they came down from their combined high.

Climbing back up Andy's body Miranda kissed her, allowing Andy to taste herself on Miranda's tongue. Finally at peace they snuggled in each other's arms, their bodies still thrumming delightfully as they sank back into a peaceful sleep.

xxxxxxxxxx

When Miranda woke again she was alone in her bed. Looking around she could see light streaming through the window, looking towards the en-suite she saw the door was open. Checking the time she realised it was after 9am. She never slept this late.

"Andréa?" She questioned starting to panic. "...Andy?" She took another quick look around, seeing Andy's clothes from the night before she realised the brunette couldn't have gone far. She spotted a note on her bedside table under her glasses. Picking up both she sat back and read.

M

I just wanted you to know how much I love you.

I half expected that I would return home, give you my heart and have it returned to me in pieces. Instead you gave me yours in return. I can promise you that I will cherish it eternally.

Falling asleep in your arms last night was like having a little piece of Heaven right here on Earth, I woke up today feeling safe and content.

I hope we share many more moments like this morning, it was the most breathtaking experience of my life so far. Regardless of what life may throw at us I think we can continue to find happiness together.

I see my future in your eyes.

Your Andréa

PS: Coffee's on - Come get it while it's hot!

At the post script Miranda found herself laughing uproariously, the laughter travelled down the stairs to where the twins and Andy were sat at the kitchen discussing breakfast options.

As the three young women looked at each other and then towards the ceiling at the unexpected noise coming from above them, each knew that this was a defining moment of their lives.

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible achieves the impossible.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda walked down the stairs of the Town house fully dressed and made up for the day. Hearing laughter coming from the Den she followed the noise. She found Andréa, Cassidy Caroline rolling around on the floor, both her girls jumping all over Andréa in an all-out tickle war in front of the TV. All three of them were still in their pyjamas. The sight of this horseplay made her heart ache.

Leaning against the door frame she found herself smiling at the sight. Attempting to school her features she mock-scolded. "This is not a zoo, you are not monkeys. Keep your natter to a minimum."

Looking up at the woman in the doorway Andy saw the twinkle in her eyes and grinned at her before being overcome again as the twins continued their advanced warfare on the brunette. "Stop...stop...Enough! I give in!" Andy chortled as Cassidy managed an extra poke in her ribs.

Caroline rose off the floor walking over to her mom. Putting her arms around her and hugging her tight. "Hey mom. Did you sleep well?" She asked.

"I slept exceptionally well Bobbsey." Miranda told the young girl as she ruffled the red hair.

"Can we go to Rockefeller today? We have some last minute shopping to do." Cassidy asked looking up from her position sprawled across Andy's legs.

"Two days before Christmas?" Miranda queried.

"Well we have an unexpected guest." Cassidy said poking Andy's ribs eliciting another loud burst of laughter. Miranda rolled her eyes at the antics of her youngest daughter and lover.

Looking up at the older woman at the door Andy smiled shyly. "I can take them if you don't want to brave the crowds. I need to stop and get clothes at some point and my hotels on the way." Andy told Miranda.

"I could do with braving the crowds too. Looks like it's a girl's day out." Miranda couldn't help smiling. "First thing's first though, breakfast and coffee." Both girls squealed and Cassidy jumped off Andy and ran to hug her mom.

Looking up at Miranda Cassidy smiled and flicked her head towards Andy and stage whispered. "I think we should keep this one."

At Andy's laugh Miranda bent down to cup her daughter's face whispered back. "Me too Bobbsey." Loosening her daughters grip on her waist she sauntered over to Andy, looking down at her she smirked and held her hand out to help her off the floor. "Someone promised me hot coffee." She quipped as Andy grasped her hand and she pulled the laughing brunette to her feet.

As they entered the kitchen Andy said. "Sit down Miranda, the girls and I have breakfast prepared."

Miranda looked up at the young woman who had her daughters hanging off either side, "You're spoiling me." She told them as she sat at the breakfast bar.

"Right kiddos. Caro will you please grab plates and cutlery? Cass will you please pour the juice and the grab the fruit from the fridge? I will start the waffles and get coffee." She smiled at the two redheads.

"Right chief." Cassidy grinned.

"Yes boss." Caroline smirked.

Miranda laughed with joy. "It looks like you may have charmed all three Priestley women." She told Andy.

Andy turned to smile at her. "That goes both ways." She told her. "The three Priestley women have bewitched me."

Miranda's took a deep breath at the words and shook her head against the tears forming. She felt so much happiness in the moment that she couldn't quite believe her luck.

Turning back to the waffle batter Andy placed it into the hot waffle iron. Pouring two cups of coffee she walked over to Miranda and set one down in front of her as she placed to kiss her cheek. The girls finished their small chores and sat grinning at each other.

Miranda was delighted as she took the first sip of her coffee. "How is it you're the only one who can get my coffee right?" She asked Andy. She watched as the young woman shrugged as dished up the waffles.

"That's classified information." She said grinning as she placed the waffles on the breakfast bar. "Tuck in."

As the four of them ate the twins held the conversation together between demolishing the waffles. The two older women locked eyes across the breakfast bar and they lost themselves in that gaze.

"Mom!" Cassidy shouted grabbing Miranda's attention.

"Yes Bobbsey?" Miranda queried becoming flustered when she realised she hadn't heard Cassidy the first time.

"I asked if we could be excused." Cassidy huffed.

"Oh yes, of course. I'll call Roy and ask him to pick us up in an hour." She told them.

As they left the room she heard Caroline snigger as Cassidy said. "Wow. They can't take their eyes off each other. It's kind of cute."

Looking towards Andy Miranda rolled her eyes. "I've left some clothes on the bed. I do believe we may be the same size these days. I noticed you've lost more weight."

Andy blushed. "I think it was the mainly vegetarian diet, all the travelling and I lost my appetite for a while there too."

Miranda pursed her lips at that final admission. "Are you still hungry darling?" she asked.

Leaning towards the editor Andy whispered, "Only for you." She felt lightheaded as she saw the woman blush.

"Andréa...I...I want you to stay with us. Check out of that hotel and bring your things here. You can have one of the guest rooms if you want it or if you need space, you can stay with me. Anything." Miranda looked down biting her lip.

"Miranda, look at me." Andy asked gently. "Please sweetheart." As Miranda looked up to meet those expressive brown eyes she saw Andy's smile. "I would love you stay with you and the girls. As I told you last night I will stay as long as you want me here. OK? Now I should go get dressed before those twin tornadoes hit."

"I'll call Roy." Miranda sighed as Andy trailed past her brushing a kiss against her cheek.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy found clothes placed neatly at the bottom of the bed. Miranda had laid out a few choices which included a pair of True Religion jeans and a black Ralph Lauren polo that she thought would be ideal for today's activities. They would also go with the converse sneakers she had been wearing the day previously.

Thinking of the day before she shook her head at the fact Miranda hadn't commented on her outfit. Baggy Levis, Converse and a white Northwestern t shirt were accompanied by a Saint Laurent leather jacket which she kept from her days as Miranda's assistant at Runway. When the lunch invitation was given the twins had told her not to worry about her clothes but she had half expected a look of disapproval from the fashion maven. Instead the editor seemed to have barely noticed what the young woman was wearing.

Going to the bathroom she scowled at her reflection, her mass of curls were seriously dishevelled and looked unmanageable. As she brushed her teeth she noticed the products laid out that would allow her to define her curls, and remove the frizz. She smiled and got to work on her hair, deciding to leave it, as much as possible, in its natural curly state. Deciding only a touch of lip gloss was required she turned back to the bedroom to get dressed.

As she looked around the room she saw a piece of paper folded in half with her name on it.

Darling

When I woke up this morning and found you missing from the bed we shared I thought it was just a dream. I found myself in a moment of panic, even calling out for you using that ridiculous nickname you insist on.

You said I am the one with the ability to make your heart smile and soul sing and I want you to know that every moment with you over the last 24 hours has been the happiest I have spent in a long time. I find myself looking at you and being unable to do anything but smile. I don't actually think I have ever smiled so much.

Having you and my girls in the one place leaves me feeling at peace with the world.

Part of me is scared that this will end, I feel I am constantly overwhelmed. I don't want this to end.

I want forever with you if you'll let me.

I love you.
M

Andy found herself overcome at Miranda's words. She was amazed at the way the older woman was comfortable enough with her to let her guard down and her emotions to show, especially her vulnerabilities. She knew she wanted forever with the woman too and would do anything to ensure the relationship would only grow stronger.

xxxxxxxxxx

In a matter of 15 minutes she was bounding back down the stairs where she found Miranda waiting for her in the den with a fresh coffee. Sitting by the woman's side she looked towards her.

"I got your note." Andy told her as she took her hand and entwined their fingers. "You know you can call me Andy anytime, I do however love the way you call me Andréa, no-one says my name the way you do." She beamed a huge grin at the woman next to her.

Rolling her eyes Miranda squeezed the hand in hers and looked at the young woman sadly. "We need to talk some more Andréa. I need to know that you're aware that once this relationship goes public your life will not ever be the same. You will be a person of interest to the press and to the fashion world as my chosen partner, more than likely known as the 'dragon tamer'. You've already described to me how your parents and friends have reacted to working for Runway, what will happen when they find out about us?"

Andy's face fell at Miranda's words. "I thought you wanted this." She said.

"I do." Miranda was adamant. "I want this more than I've ever wanted anything. But I don't want this relationship to hurt you, for it to become too much for you to handle, for it to adversely affect your life. Although I try to keep my home life private I am a public figure. I don't care what they say about me but I do care about what they may throw at you and my girls."

"Miranda, I just want you and those two mischievous little imps. If you decided, even after last night and early this morning, that this wouldn't work I would fight to keep you all in my life. Regardless of what I said in my letter I would try to stand by you all even if that meant watching you happy with someone else. I would try, I may fail spectacularly, but I could not voluntarily leave you again." Andy started to cry. "I'm willing to face anything head on knowing I'll have you by my side. I don't care what anyone says, even the press and especially my family and friends. The press don't know me and the others haven't been so supportive of my decisions, it will be their loss, not mine. This is my life and I want to spend it with you." Andy sobbed as she covered her face.

Miranda scooted closer to the young women beside her, putting her arms around Andy she pulled her close and ran her fingers through the chestnut curls. "Darling please...hush now. I just had to make sure, I'm sorry. Don't cry my love." Miranda whispered

"I'm sorry..." Andy hiccupped through her tears.

Miranda held her tighter. "There's no need for apologies my darling. Never apologise for your bravery."

Wiping her tears Andy scoffed. "I feel far from brave."

"You have so much courage Andréa and it amazes me. You gave me your heart knowing I could potentially break it. You show kindness and generosity in a world that focuses mainly on the material. You are one of a kind and it makes me grateful for that day you stomped into my office in that hideous skirt those Doc Martins." Miranda smiled at the young woman in her arms.

"Ha! I'll remember that comment next time Donatella or James Holt attempt to make you wear one of the hideous feather monstrosities they're so keen on." Andy sniggered back at her.

"Heaven forbid." Miranda said. "That's why I prefer Valentino darling. He keeps things classy."

Andy sniggered and said, "Roy should be here soon, I should go clean up" Extracting herself from Miranda's arms, she placed a chaste kiss on her lips before walking out of the room.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

"Oh My God that has to be the largest Christmas tree I've seen in my life." Andy whispered to Cassidy and Caroline as they hit Fifth Avenue and she spotted the annual Rockefeller tree.

'Instead of powering thousands of standard bulbs, 30,000 multi-coloured LED's were used to light it up this year." Caroline told her.

"It's more environmentally friendly." Cassidy said.

Miranda smiled at the three of them as they discussed the decorations and as Andy explained that although the use of LED's was much more energy efficient, it wasn't an affordable option for everyone.

Cassidy and Caroline hit the shops like a whirlwind dragging the women from store to store on a whim.

"My girls like you." Miranda told her as they followed the twins from shop to shop with their arms linked.

"I like them too, they're gorgeous. Cassidy told me I had to stay and Caroline has demanded I take her with me should I decide to travel again." Andy shook her head and smiled at the older woman as she smirked.

"I think you may struggle to get away from us." Miranda said as they entered Anthropologie.

"Who says I want to get away? I like this...Us." Andy whispered to Miranda as she took in her surroundings.

"Mm that's good." Miranda whispered back as she let Andy go to wander through the store.

Andy lost herself in Anthropologie's two-story branch, initially with the books and stationery. The art gallery blew her mind. This provided Cassidy, Caroline and Miranda time to find the items they wanted from some neighbouring shops.

When they met back up Andy had purchased a new journal. She knew it would be needed to write the new memories she was creating. She was loathe to forget a single moment.

They decided to dash over to Macy's where Andy bought herself an over-large NY Yankees t-shirt too much eye rolling from the three Priestley's. She just grinned at the three of them and shrugged.

As they made their way out of Macy's, Andy's attention taken up by Miranda asking what they wanted for lunch, she walked into someone, finding her shoulders grabbed to stop her from falling.

"I'm so sorry. Excuse me." She said flustered. As she looked up she saw the wide look of disbelief on Nigel's face.

"Six?" he questioned.

"Nige!" She squealed happily hugging him hard and placing a kiss on both his cheeks.

Pulling away from her he held her at arm's length, still holding her shoulders. "God I've missed you. You look radiant, and so thin. That tan does wonders for you and your hair is amazing. When did you get back?" He asked.

Laughing Andy told him quickly of her return the previous day. As she looked away from him to the three Priestley's behind her he followed her glance and finally noticed Miranda and the twins looking on amused.

Releasing Andy he walked over to Miranda grinning. Brushing a kiss upon her cheek. He said. "Hello Miranda, it's wonderful to see you." Leaning over to ruffle the twin's hair he asked. "And you two, are you being good to your mom and keeping out of mischief?"

"Yes Uncle Nigel." They said in unison.

He looked at the twins and raised his eyebrow in disbelief.

"We had a good morning. We helped Andy make mom breakfast and kicked her butt in a tickle war." Cassidy explained.

"And now we've just finished off our Christmas shopping." Caroline told him.

Laughing he looked towards Andy in amazement. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

Catching Miranda's eye he said. "I know you said you didn't want to come to the Runway Christmas party tonight but I do hope I'll see you there." He leaned in to whisper dramatically. "It's a plus one event as I recall."

Smirking Miranda shook her head slightly. "We'll see." She said quietly, noticing Andy looking at her with a twinkle in her eyes. Grinning she told him. "I may show my face for a short time. I will have to see if I can find myself a plus one. I do hate going to these things alone."

This caused Nigel to chortle. "I'm sure you'll find someone." He winked at Andy.

"Anyway I should be off. I have to try to find a Secret Santa gift at Irv's insistence." He rolled his eyes. "Irritating little man." This caused laughter all around.

Turning back to Andy, Nigel grabbed her into a bear hug and said. "If I don't see you before the festivities call me, OK? We need to do drinks."

Smiling Andy answered. "Sure thing Nige." She watched him leave, weaving his through the foot traffic on Fifth Ave. She looked back towards Miranda. "So lunch?" She asked smiling.

After much deliberation and even more pouting from the twins and Andy they made their way to the Tick Tock Diner where they all ordered Club Sandwiches and Frosty Shakes.

xxxxxxxxxx

Arriving back at the Townhouse by mid-afternoon all four of them were ready to relax. As they removed their coats Cassidy and Caroline grabbed Andy's bags, which they had picked up from the hotel on their way home, and started dragging them up the stairs.

"Hey! Careful with those." Andy called after them.

Smirking Miranda grabbed Andy's hand and dragged her down to the kitchen. Pushing the young woman up against the counter she captured her lips in a kiss as she curled her fingers around Andy's waist. "Oh God! I just can't get enough." Miranda husked as they came apart.

Pulling Miranda back to her she hugged the older woman close. Sighing in her contentment as Miranda returned the embrace fiercely. "We should go on up before we're caught hugging again." Andy told her.

"Too late." Caroline smirked as she entered the room. "Cass told me about the hug-fest last night. Now it's my turn." Walking up to the two older woman Caroline wrapped her arms around both of them and squeezed tightly.

"You OK Caro?" Andy asked gently as she brushed the young girl's hair back out of her eyes.

Caroline looked up into the chocolate eyes and smiled. "Of course. We are glad you're here. You make mom happy. She smiles more now. That's something both me and Cass love seeing. So thank you."

Andy blushed and held the young girl tighter as Cassidy ran into the kitchen. Seeing the three hugging she threw her arms around the three of them. "Group hug!" She squealed causing Andy to laugh.

Untangling herself from the embrace Miranda looked down on her daughter's smiling. "Was there a reason you both barged into the kitchen Bobbsey's?" She asked.

"Juice." They both replied in unison as their grip tightened on Andy.

Andy moved towards the fridge without letting go of the twins, causing them to wrap themselves around her legs and erupt into laughter. Miranda laughed with them. "Juice for the limpets." Andy grinned as she released her hold on them as she opened the fridge. Looking at the choices she asked, "Orange, Apple or Tropical?"

"Tropical." They both declared unanimously.

"Right then, if you could find it in your hearts to release me I will get you your drinks." Andy told them happily. Looking up at the young woman both twins grinned at her and let her go, moving to their mom they wrapped her hands around her instead. Andy looked towards Miranda. "Coffee?" She asked.

"Mm yes please." Miranda responded.

Andy setup the Jura coffee machine and poured juice into two glasses for the twins. Placing the drinks on the breakfast bar the twins finally let go of their mom and grabbing their drinks left the room and made their way to the den.

"About tonight, would you like to join me at the Runway Christmas party?" Miranda asked hesitantly.

"Are you sure?" Andy queried. Raising her eyebrow imperceptibly she looked towards the brunette. Andy smiled. "I know, I know you never make offers you don't mean."

Andy laughed.

"I'm glad you have taken notice." Miranda smirked.

"What about the twins?" Andy asked her.

"The twin's father will be here at 7pm to take them for the night. As they are having Christmas day with me and spent Thanksgiving here he wanted to have them for Christmas Eve." Miranda explained

"Oh dear. Poor Charity." Andy laughed out loud. "I wonder what mischief they will inflict."

Miranda snorted. "Whatever it will be will be legendary knowing my girls." Miranda looked at Andy eyes sparkling with amusement. "And now Nigel has put the idea in my head, I cannot wait to see everyone's face when I arrive with you on my arm, especially Emily's."

Andy giggled. "Oh my God you're so wicked, now I know where your daughters get it from."

"Oh yes." Miranda whispered as she caught the brunette in another blistering kiss.

xxxxxxxxxx

They spent the afternoon watching the twins play Wii, occasionally joining them for a game of bowling, Mario Kart or Dance Dance Revolution. Andy laughed at Miranda's blatant competitiveness but she held on to her mantle of reigning champion of Dance Dance Revolution. Andy became the title-holder of Mario Kart much to the twin's horror.

As the afternoon wore on Miranda took Andy back to the kitchen where they began preparing enchiladas for dinner. "It's been a good day." Miranda told her as they stood side by side chopping meat and vegetables.

"It's been a perfect day." Andy smiled. "The girls are beautiful Miranda. I see why you are so proud of them. They're amazing."

Miranda laughed. "Well they are their mother's daughters after all." Andy sniggered and they continued to prepare dinner in companionable silence, moving around each other as if they had been cooking together for years. "Are you worried about tonight?" Miranda asked quietly as she finished prepping the meat, covering it and placing it in the fridge.

"A little." Andy told her honestly. "People will say what they want to say but I don't want this relationship to affect your professional career."

"By people I assume you mean Irv?" Miranda stated.

"Well yeah. He's a major ass-monkey and I don't want him making your life any more difficult because of me." Andy told her.

"I may have to use that description. It is so very apt." Miranda chuckled. "To be honest darling my personal life has no effect on my professional one. I have worked hard to be where I am, and I could retire tomorrow and have enough money to be comfortable for the rest of my life, if not my children's and grandchildren's lives. There's also the fact you no longer work for me, however if we had started this relationship while you were employed at Runway then it would have been reported to HR and that would be that. There's nothing in my contract that states I cannot form a relationship with an employee, or ex-employee in this instance. And to be honest if I receive one hint of discrimination based on my relationship with you I will sue. It would also be the one and only time I hand-feed a story direct to the associated press."

"Are you worried?" Andy returned her question.

"Not at all." Miranda clarified as she moved to embrace Andy from behind resting her cheek against Andy's shoulder. "I am happy, I feel loved beyond measure. There's nothing more I can ask for."

"That's all that matters then." Andy replied gently as she finished chopping the vegetables. Turning in Miranda's arms she looked down at the editor and brushed her fingers gently through the older woman's forelock. "I love you Miranda." She whispered.

"It took me a while to realise what these feelings are but I love you too my darling, more than I can express." Miranda told her.

"So what should I wear tonight?" Andy grinned. "As you know most of my things are back in Ohio and although you haven't said a word against yesterday's outfit I doubt something similar would be ideal for tonight."

"What would you be most comfortable in my darling?" Miranda questioned.

"Well..." Andy's eyes twinkled mischievously. "...That NY Yankees top would be great with a pair of Levi's, and I have my converse."

"I don't care what you wear." Miranda told her honestly. "You'll look beautiful regardless. I would like you to keep your hair natural though."

Looking at the older woman she asked. "Do you really like it this way?"

"Of course I do, it's stunning. So wild and luxuriant. When the light hits and I see how sun-streaked it is and I can see the red undertone. It gives it that glossy chestnut colour that reminds me of beautiful autumn days." Miranda told her as she ran her fingers through it.

"Wow." Andy said breathlessly as she gave Miranda one of her mega-watt smiles. "I can see why you're an editor. You certainly have a way with world Priestley."

"So I've been told, however it's not usually a good thing." Miranda snickered as she let the brunette go and turned back to start cooking.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Dinner was a lively affair with lots of chatter and laughter between Andy and the twins as Miranda looked on happily, occasionally commenting with an observation or opinion on whatever was being discussed.

Miranda lost herself in thoughts of a brighter future surrounded with love, laughter and lots of noise. She was amazed at the difference the last two days had brought to her life.

As dinner was demolished and the twins started stacking the dishwasher with plates Miranda was roused from her thoughts by one of her daughters.

"Mom are you going to the party tonight with Andy?" Cassidy asked.

Responding with a smile Miranda said. "Yes Cassidy. I asked Andréa to escort me and luckily for me she agreed."

"So is this like your first date?" Cassidy asked Andy, mischief lighting up her blue eyes.

"Well...I...I...I have no idea. I suppose so." Andy stuttered. Miranda laughed hard at seeing the reaction on Andy's face that tears sprang in her eyes. All three of the women turned to her as she attempted to get her mirth under control.

"Well if this is your first date what are you going to wear?" Caroline asked curiously as she turned back towards Andy. "I read in Cosmo that you should always make a good impression on a first date."

"I have no idea Caro. Your mom's seen me at my best and my worst so I think she's may already have an opinion on my style. Anything's got to be better than a hideous skirt and Doc Martins right?" Andy laughingly replied. The three Priestley women laughed with her. "Why don't you both help me choose?" Andy asked the twins with a wide grin.

"Awesome." They both stated grinning at the brunette as they grabbed her hands and dragged her from the room.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda took herself up to the master suite shortly after to find Cassidy and Caroline lying on her bed. The door of the bathroom was closed. Looking over at the twins cuddled together she said. "Bobbsey's did you help Andréa find something to wear?"

"Yes mom." Cassidy answered.

"She's going to look awesome. She's going to rock the show." Caroline told her mom grinning widely.

Miranda lay down next to her daughters and pulled them close. "Are you ready to go to your fathers? He will be here shortly and I need to start getting ready."

"Yes we have a big night planned." Cassidy told her.

"Don't tell me." Miranda warned smiling at her daughters. "We will want to hear all about it tomorrow though."

Hearing the doorbell the twins clambered off the bed. Caroline rushed from the room, after hugging Miranda quickly, to answer the door as Cassidy ran to the bathroom door banged upon it a couple of times "See you tomorrow Andy." She shouted. Hearing a muffled response she launched herself at Miranda and hugged her tight. "Love you mom."

"I love you too Bobbsey." Miranda told her young daughter. "Tell your father hello."

"Will do. See you tomorrow." Cassidy replied as she charged from the room thundering down the stairs.

Shaking her head Miranda walked to the bathroom door and knocking lightly requested entry. Hearing the confirmation she opened the door to find Andy sat at the vanity wrapped in nothing but a towel attempting to tame her hair.

"I shouldn't be too much longer." Andy told her as they locked eyes through the mirror.

"Take all the time you need." Miranda told her breathlessly, eyes roaming the expanse of tanned skin in show. "I'm going to shower." Miranda stepped towards the woman and placed a soft kiss on her temple. "You are exquisite." She hummed.

Spinning around Andy took hold of Miranda's hips and pressed her forehead into her chest. "Thank you for today." Andy muttered.

"No darling, thank you." Miranda responded running her fingers through Andy's hair before letting go and walking towards the shower.

She showered quickly and as she walked out caught Andy's staring at her in open admiration. She caught the other woman's eye as she wrapped a large bath towel around herself and winked.

"Oh my God." Andy whispered to herself as she felt a surge of heat in the pit of her stomach.

Miranda quirked her eyebrow upon hearing the younger woman's words. "Is there a problem Andréa?" She purred.

Catching Miranda's eye she blushed. "Nope, no problem at all sweetheart." Andy told her.

Miranda smirked and sauntered over to the woman, pushing herself up against her back she wrapped her arms around her. "We could stay home." Miranda told her. "If you're not ready for this."

"Sweetheart I am so ready. I've waited three months and more." Andy said quietly. "And we have the house to ourselves tonight, we don't have to stay all night."

"OK then. I need to do my hair and makeup" Miranda replied squeezing the younger woman again.

"Time to get ready to rock this show." Andy told her. Miranda snorted in laughter as Andy untangled herself from Miranda and walked from the bathroom.

xxxxxxxxxx

When Miranda entered the bedroom, hair and makeup complete, still wrapped in a towel, she found Andy in a pair of black Sass Bide skinny legged jeans, paired with Junya Watanabe's 'Romantic in Black' fall collection boots, a red scoop-neck t-shirt and a black Dolce Gabbana waistcoat.

"Do I look OK?" Andy asked hesitantly.

Looking the young woman up and down Miranda exhaled a breathy "Acceptable" at her which caused Andy to give her one of her brightest smiles.

"I was worried I may be a bit too casual." Andy told her.

"Nonsense, you look lovely. It is a staff Christmas Party with, knowing Irv, cheap booze and unacceptable finger food. You will outshine everyone else with your smile alone. Now I see a hint of writing on that t-shirt, show me." Miranda requested.

Unbuttoning her waistcoat she offered a small smirk as she showed Miranda. The t-shirt held the Runway logo in bold white with the words "Does it best" written in italics underneath. Behind the logo was a silhouette of a woman.

Miranda let out a loud chuckle and pulled Andy in for a hug. "I love it! I have to say I prefer this to your Vogue t-shirt from Paris."

"Ah that Vogue t-shirt. I will remember it with fondness." Andy giggled. Looking down at Miranda she explained. "It was destroyed by a wayward goat in Nepal."

Miranda snorted and Andy heard her mutter "good riddance." under her breath as she let go of Andy and moved towards her closet. "I'm going to have to make some space in here for your clothes." Miranda noted.

"I can always put my things in the guestroom closet." Andy told her.

"Nonsense. That would be unacceptable. If we are sharing a bed then we share closet space." Miranda told her determinedly as she looked for something to wear. Finding what she was looking for she slipped on a new La Perla thong and strapless bra and pulled on a red strapless Nina Ricci dress. Choosing understated jewellery she walked out of the closet and asked. "How do I look?"

Andy was sat at the end of the bed, eyes closed. Upon hearing Miranda's voice her eyes opened and the look of astonishment on her face delighted Miranda. "Wow...you look...just wow!" Andy exhaled breathlessly.

"I'm glad you approve." Miranda smirked. "We have time for a drink before Roy gets here. Come." Miranda held her hand out for the young woman who grabbed it lightly and was guided from the room.

xxxxxxxxx

Andy and Miranda arrived at Elias Clarke around 45 minutes after the Runway party started. As Andy exited the Town Car she held her hand out to assist the editor. Miranda stalked through the foyer and was waved through Security by Eduardo. As Andy attempted to follow her she was stopped.

"Sorry Andy I can't let you in." Eduardo told her sadly.

Andy rolled her eyes. "Seriously? Did you see who I just followed in?" She asked incredulously. Andy looked behind Eduardo to see Miranda walking back to see what the hold-up was.

"Look I'm just doing what I was told off that frosty redhead upstairs." Eduardo explained. ""She said it was orders from above."

Overhearing the final part of the conversation Miranda hissed at him. "You will give Andréa a permanent pass unless you want to lose your position in the next five minutes. She has full access to Runway regardless of what any of my Personal Assistants may advise. In future I require all security requests concerning Runway brought to my attention."

"I...I...Yes Ms Priestley." Eduardo stuttered as he allowed Andy through the turnstiles. "I will have the permanent pass ready by the time you leave." He confirmed.

Andy thanked him quietly as she moved towards the elevator banks with Miranda. Looking at Miranda Andy could see her jaw tensed, she was obviously fighting her anger. "Miranda?" Andy questioned as they entered the elevator. "Em was probably just doing what she thought was right. I never really explained the whole Paris thing to anyone. Everyone assumes I just upped and left you and they would conclude you'd be angry with me."

"You shouldn't have to explain yourself to anyone. Don't think I haven't noticed you gave her 80% of the clothing you accrued in Paris, as my first Assistant they were by right yours. It was a gesture she should be extraordinarily grateful for. The closet gained the rest. What she did was based on spite. And to say it was ordered by me is unforgivable." Miranda seethed.

Andy cupped Miranda's face forcing her to meet her gaze. "Sweetheart please let's just forget it." She requested.

"If you insist darling." Miranda concurred, capturing Andy's hand against her face. "You're too forgiving sometimes." Miranda told her smiling before letting go.

"So where are they holding this shindig?" Andy queried.

"Well they've opened up the board rooms. As you know the walls fold back allowing for a larger open space." Miranda rolled her eyes. "I was hoping Irv would agree to let us have it externally but with his infinite penny pinching it wasn't to be." She sighed heavily. "Next year I will pay for the blasted thing out of my own pocket." As the doors of the elevator dinged they stepped out of the elevator and Miranda turned to Andy and told her. "I just need to go to the office. I'll meet you in there."

"Are you sure your guard dog won't throw me out." Andy giggled.

"Well I have no idea. I do know how tenacious you are though so I doubt she would be successful. I promise I'll be right there." Miranda said and smiled. Pressing Andy's hand softly Miranda turned and walked in the opposite direction.

Walking towards the board rooms Andy was hit with a nervousness. As she neared the door leading to the room she heard the quiet thrum of music and chatter. "Time to gird your loins Andy." She mumbled to herself as she entered the room. Eyes scanned the room looking for Nigel knowing he would ease any tension. He was nowhere to be seen.

As people recognised her a hush fell over the room and she threw out a tentative smile.

A disturbance came from the far side of the room followed by a screech in a strident British accent. "Oh no! You fucking didn't?" Emily hurled herself towards the brunette. "You need to fucking leave now." The voice demanded.

"Hiya Em." Andy smiled at the redhead. "So lovely to see you as always."

Attempting to pull Andy towards the door Andy stood firm. Emily looked back at Andy placing her back to the doorway as the temperature of the room changed.

Andy smiled happily as Emily continued her tirade. "Move your fat arse. You can't be here. Leave now before Miranda arrives." Emily demanded. "If I find out who let you in their job will be gone." She seethed, stomping her foot in frustration.

"Em, I..." Andy tried to explain.

A cold, calm voice hit Emily from behind. "Oh do shut up Emily, you do not have the power to release any personnel from their positions, and quite frankly I'm finding your behaviour towards MY guest quite tedious."

"Miranda..." Emily exclaimed as she looked towards the door where Nigel and Miranda stood. Nigel was nursing a scotch and grinning at Andy. Miranda held a bottle of Macallan and two glasses in her hands. "I was just trying..." Emily stumbled over her words in a rush to explain.

"I am aware of what you were trying Emily. Insulting and manhandling Andréa however is not, nor ever will be, part of your job description." At those words Nigel leaned in and whispered in Miranda's ear causing both of them to lean into each other chuckling.

"But...but..."

Miranda waited for an explanation and when it wasn't forthcoming she rolled her eyes. "Go enjoy yourself Emily." Miranda told the Brit exasperated, she moved past her and handed Andy the glasses. "I think it's time we got this party started." Miranda stated.

After watching Miranda lead Andy and Nigel to a table and pouring the whiskey things returned to normal by Runway standards. The alcohol flowed and the food wasn't touched and as things relaxed more and more people started to come over to say hello to Andy before disappearing.

Serena was the first to arrive and sit herself down. Smacking a quick kiss on Andy's cheek she said. "It is good to see you querida. You look glorious."

"Thanks Serena. You're looking pretty amazing yourself." Andy told the Brazilian blushing profusely.

"Hey Six if you've stopped with the mutual appreciation you should show me and Serena your t-shirt. Miranda told me about it and I know she thinks it's brilliant." Nigel piped in.

Looking towards the editor and receiving a slight smile and nod of approval Andy grinned and fumbled with the buttons. "OK then, here you go." Peeling her waistcoat apart Serena and Nigel took in the Runway logo with the silhouette and smiled.

"You know those would be great for advertising." Serena said quietly to Andy.

"Oh it was just done as a bit of fun in Thailand at a design your own shirt store at one of the markets. I had just lost that Vogue t-shirt to a goat and needed something to replace it. The colour just goes with the dark jeans and vest I'm wearing tonight." Andy told Serena shyly.

Nigel snorted. "You lost your t-shirt to a goat? You have to tell us that story."

As Andy launched into the story she had Nigel and Serena laughing uproariously, Miranda sat stifling her laughter but held a wide twinkle of amusement in her eyes. The Runway staff looked on the scene with disbelief. As Andy finished her tale she noticed ice filling Miranda's eyes as she looked beyond Andy.

"Irv..." Miranda said coldly.

"Ah Miranda. I heard the laughter from the corridor, I never expected it to be coming from a table where your presence was so abundant." Irv leered nastily at her. "And to my further shock the laughter was brought on by your disappearing assistant." He glanced at Andy before looking away, dismissing her entirely. "I'm surprised you allowed her back in your presence."

"Aha! You must have heard the insane rumours about Andy's disappearance? All that nonsense, Assistant slays dragon and takes flight." Nigel said before gulping down his Macallan and pouring himself more. "As always Paris was a crazy week, as you're well aware. It's funny how the rumour mill works, it's perfectly obvious there was nothing sinister in her disappearance in Paris. She is here at our request which indicates she left on good terms and that her relationship with most of the people here at Runway remains as good as it always was."

Miranda and Andy looked at Nigel in disbelief while Serena excused herself knowing things were about to get heated.

"Andy here got the opportunity to travel Asia and write about the experiences, she's to be published in Rolling Stone in the next three issues." Nigel told Irv happily. "Miranda recognising talent when she sees it gave her blessing and away the little bird flew. And I must say the experience has left her glowing. Doesn't she look fabulous?" Nigel asked him.

Irv huffed at Nigel and began muttering. Miranda caught the trail end of the sentence. "...she's nothing special."

"That's where you are wrong Irving." Miranda stated as fire replaced the ice in her eyes. "Andréa was always worth more than the position she held in my employ. As my assistant she was the best at what she did, doing the job with absolute determination and unfailing grace all while maintaining her integrity, her genuine generosity and unwavering kindness. She left Runway and she conquered the world on her own terms while gathering her own life experiences. She is extraordinary. Anyone who truly knows her should be proud of her."

Irv was flabbergasted, he had never heard Miranda speak so highly about someone. Unable to form a cohesive retort he spun on his heels and stalked away.

"Good bloody riddance." Andy muttered as she poured herself a drink. "That man is an insufferable ass-monkey." She smirked at Miranda as she placed a hand on Miranda's thigh under the table causing the older women to gasp slightly the hand moved. Leaning over to Miranda Andy whispered. "Is it home time yet?"

"Oh yes." Miranda responded breathlessly.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

After their run in with Irv the trio found the spark of enjoyment they had been experiencing had diminished.

Andy kept her hand on Miranda's thigh under the table as they finished their scotch, she could see that Miranda was still tense. She had agreed upon going home, Roy had been sent a text and was on his way.

Looking towards Nigel Andy asked him the question that had been running through her mind since Miranda's arrival at the party. "Nige? What did you whisper to Miranda before when Em was doing her guard dog act?"

"Six, everyone saw Emily's reaction when you walked in and they expected fireworks. When Miranda arrived and saw what was happening she started breathing fire. I thought Em was done for, so after Miranda told her it wasn't her job to insult or manhandle you I thought I'd try to take the heat out of the situation. I laughingly reminded my friend here that it was now her job as your girlfriend to manhandle you correctly. It worked." Nigel smiled at them both.

Miranda raised her eyes to Nigel and offered him one of her real smiles. "You're a good man Nigel. Thank you for tonight. I don't know why you said what you did to Irv but it was wonderful to realise you have my Andréa's back and are ready to fight her corner." Miranda sighed.

"I said what I know to be true. I saw how both of you were that night in Paris, how hurt you both were. And I never told you but I witnessed that final hug in the lobby of the hotel as you said goodbye. You two have always connected on a level that's inexplicable. Em knew it and if tonight's pouting is anything to go by she is jealous." He told them rolling his eyes. "I know for a fact that if Six had gone the right way about things, told you she wanted to leave to travel and write, and had given the correct notice you would have given your blessing but I don't believe you would be together now, your barriers would still be up in full force. I know I may have embellished a little with Irv, as I am prone to do on occasion, however it was to ensure you didn't eviscerate him entirely and I was hopeful that it would allow you both a bit more time together without outside interference."

"I don't know if that will have worked tonight Nige." Andy told him.

"Why ever not darling?" Miranda questioned the young woman.

"Sweetheart, your speech after he said I was nothing special was proof enough of stronger feelings than an ex-employer should have for an employee. The only time you ever get that defensive is towards your twins. Irv left this table confused and angry, he'll be thinking of your words of praise and he'll work things out, he was unable to get the last word in, which for a megalomaniac like him is unacceptable." Andy told her giving the older woman a smile that made her heart sing.

Miranda snorted. "Well if he going to work things out we should really give him something to work with."

Nigel smirked. "You really do make a beautiful couple. This one will keep you on your toes Miranda. You've certainly been missed Six." Nigel heard the text tone indicating Roy was here. "And on that note ladies I should also be off. The night is still young and I hope to spend it dancing in strong arms and God willing I'll manage to grab myself a cheeky Christmas kiss under the mistletoe."

Miranda and Andy laughed as they got up from the table with him. As they followed in his wake Miranda entwined Andy's fingers into hers and swept them from the room, as every single pair of eyes in the room observing their clasped hands.

xxxxxxxxxx

They made good time getting back to the Town house. Snow had started to fall slowly as they travelled and there was a sprinkling on the town house steps as Andy guided the editor to the door.

"Be careful my love." Andy said as she tripped over her own feet giggling.

"I'll take your warning to heart darling, but it's not myself I am concerned about. Please try not to fall and smack that pretty little head." Miranda told her laughing.

Managing to open the door Patricia came to greet them, tail wagging she made a bee-line for Andy offering kisses and covering her in drool.

'Hey beautiful girl, you miss us?" Andy asked the dog as she patted her before perching herself on the lower steps of the stairs and removing her boots. Looking towards Miranda, who was stood at the bottom of the stairs watching her, she gave the woman a smile. "Everything OK?" She asked.

"Everything's wonderful. Thank you for tonight." Miranda told her.

"I didn't do anything Miranda, it should be I thanking you. Your words to Irv were incredible." Andy looked at her in wonder.

She moved to sit next to the young woman. Taking her hand and entwining their fingers she placed her head on Andy's shoulder. She said. "I spoke the truth Andréa. Nothing more. You said in one of your Paris letters that you felt you weren't special nor would you ever be, and even back then I disagreed. I wasn't about to let that pathetic little man make you feel less than your worth. I had already done that when I stopped writing. I will not allow it to happen again."

Andy turned her head to place a gentle kiss on Miranda's head causing Miranda to snuggle in further and give a hum of contentment. "Are you hungry or thirsty darling?" Miranda asked.

"Nope I'm good. Do you want to move from these steps?" Andy responded gently.

"Yes. I'm just going to get some water." Miranda told her.

"I'll put Patricia out back for a moment and get it. OK?"

"Yes darling." Miranda placed a kiss on Andy's cheek as she got up off the steps and made her way up the stairs.

Andy walked to the back of the house. Calling Patricia to follow. Opening the back door she stepped onto the patio as Patricia ran off into the darkness of the garden. Leaning against the balustrade she looked up at the sky and spent time expressing her thanks to the universe for the blessings of the last few days.

Hearing a noise behind her she spun around to find Miranda leaning against the doorframe smiling softly. "Hey." Andy whispered.

"What are you doing out here barefoot and without a coat?" Miranda queried. "You'll catch your death."

"I'm giving my gratitude to the universe." Andy admitted. "I love nights like this. Snow falling, the city becomes so quiet. It's peaceful."

Miranda shivered and crept closer to Andy. "You're icy." She exclaimed as she wrapped Andy up in a tight embrace.

"Well I was waiting for Patricia." Andy muttered into Miranda's hair.

"Patricia came in five minutes ago, she's currently in her bed all toasty and warm, just like we should be." Miranda sniggered.

"Oops. OK then, let's go get warm..." Andy grabbed Miranda round the waist and picking her up gently walked her back into the house as Miranda held on tight and let out a peal of joyful laughter. "I love it when you laugh like that." Andy told her, lifting her on the kitchen counter.

"It's so easy to laugh and smile when you're here with me. You bring such delight and a lightness to my world Andréa." She explained as Andy made her way to the fridge and poured two glasses of Pellegrino. "There I was thinking it was my job to manhandle you and yet you pick me up with so much ease." Miranda laughed again.

Andy looked back at her. "Ah that would be my fat arse giving me the extra strength." Andy sniggered at her attempt to impersonate Emily.

"I could have throttled her for saying that to you..." Miranda seethed. At Andy's arched eyebrow Miranda looked away guiltily and whispered. "If I could take back every one of the hateful words I spewed at you I would. In a heartbeat."

Andy walked towards the woman, placing the glasses of water on the counter beside her she cupped the editor's face in her palms. Smoothing out the frown line on the older woman's forehead she noticed when Miranda shivered at the touch and removed her hands. "Sweetheart that's all in the past now. I've forgiven it all. How could I not?" Andy told her.

"You're too good for me." Miranda declared. At her words Andy shook her head and rubbed her hands together. Looking up at the young woman she saw her attempting to warm her hands. "You're freezing darling. Come on upstairs I'll run you a bath." Miranda jumped off the counter gracefully and grabbing both glasses of water she passed one to Andy and using her free hand pulled her from the kitchen and up to the bedroom.

Placing her glass of water onto her bedside table she pushed Andy gently onto the side of the bed. "Wait here." Miranda said smiling as she took the glass from Andy's hand and moved around the bed to put it down. The turned down the coverlet and stalked towards the closet coming out with a wrapped box. "I have a gift for you." Miranda told her shyly.

Andy looked up surprised. "Sweetheart you don't have to get me things." She said.

"Well this will be useful for us both. Open it." Miranda smiled as Andy gently shook the box before tearing the paper. Looking down she saw the new Apple iPhone. "My personal and work numbers have been programmed in it already, the shared number Cassidy and Caroline have is also in there at their insistence." Miranda smiled as Andy pulled her towards her and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

"Thank you." She breathed, tears glistening in her eyes.

"You're welcome my darling. I'll just go and prepare that bath." Miranda kissed her again before walking into the bathroom. Once there she started running hot water into the tub, moving around the room she found the oils she wanted to add. She mixed Ylang-ylang, Cinnamon, Sandalwood and Jasmine oils with Argan oil and added it to the water, swirling her hand through to test the temperature. "Perfect." She hummed as she switched the water off. Walking back to the bedroom she found Andy exactly where she left her. Walking towards the brunette she noticed her looking pale, biting her lip and pulling her fingers in agitation. "Darling, what's the matter?" Miranda asked in panic.

"This." Andy whispered showing Miranda the email open on her iPhone. Sitting beside Andy she reached for her glasses and looked at the iPhone screen.

"It's from your mother? I shouldn't read it." Miranda told her looking up.

Andy scoffed. "Then I'll read it out to you. 'Andy, it has been brought to our attention that you are back in New York. You were seen today arm in arm with that woman and her spawn. You will not embarrass us in this way. We expect you on the first flight home. No arguments.' They enclosed a fucking ticket. As if I am some wayward child in need of correction. They have the nerve to judge you and your beautiful girls." Andy was furious.

Miranda pulled her close and rubbed circled on Andy's back soothing the woman in her arms. "Darling, I promise we'll work this out."

Andy pulled back, looking at her with determination shining from her eyes. "I'm not leaving you now we've found each other Miranda. I am 25 years old. They cannot enforce this."

"Hush, I know my darling. Come on your bath is ready." Miranda pulled the young woman to her feet and guided her to the bathroom. Taking her time she started to undress the woman. She unbuttoned Andy's waistcoat and shrugged it off her shoulders, unbuttoning the top button of the jeans she pulled the t shirt from the waist and up over the brunettes head and tugged the jeans over Andy's hips until they pooled around her feet. "Step out." Miranda told her as she walked behind and unhooked her bra. Looking down she saw Andy was wearing boy leg briefs, she pulled them down Andy's long legs breathlessly. Once divested of all clothes Miranda guided her again to the bath. "Now relax." She demanded.

"Aren't you getting in?" Andy asked.

"Are you sure darling?" Miranda queried softly.

"Totally. Get in here." Andy insisted as she moved her legs to make room.

Andy watched as Miranda stripped quickly. Red dress coiling itself around the pile of clothes Miranda had removed from Andy. Shucking off her bra and thong she stepped in front of Andy and lowered herself into the warm water. Laying back against Andy's chest she closed her eyes and took a deep breath as arms encircled her.

"Mm this is heavenly." Miranda whispered as she felt Andy's hands move up to her shoulders where she massaged them, taking her time to iron out any knots and ease the older woman's tension. As Miranda reclined deeper into Andy's chest as she relaxed the hands moved over her shoulders, skimming her collarbone and down to her breasts, cupping them with her palms. Miranda arched into the touch letting out a moan as Andy caressed them. "Oh God." Miranda exhaled. Andy's hands continued circle her nipples slowly while placing kisses along her neck and jaw.

"You are so beautiful Miranda." Andy whispered as she placed a kiss on her temple. "There's no place I'd rather be than here."

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

As the bath cooled Miranda moved away from Andy's touch. Looking over her shoulder at the young woman she smiled. Standing up she stepped out of the tub and held her hand out to her love. "Bed?" She asked hesitantly.

Rushing to stand Andy gripped Miranda's hand, launched herself out of the bath and dragged her laughing from the bathroom. As they neared the bed Andy became nervous. "Sweetheart." She whispered. "I want to make love to you," Biting her lip she eyed the editor.

Miranda stepped closer and guided her to the bed. She laid herself down onto the cool sheets and pulled Andy down beside her. Turning to face each other Miranda pulled Andy into a searing kiss that ignited their passion for one another again.

Andy rolled herself on top of the older woman, legs straddling one of the older woman's thighs as her hip met Miranda's aching core. Breaking their kiss she rained kisses along Miranda's cheeks, behind her ear, then her jaw and neck. Kissing her way down the woman's chest she finally arrived at her breasts she lavished them with attention.

"Oh my God you're so soft." Andy whispered as she took an erect nipple into her mouth. Moaning at the intensity of Andy's hot mouth Miranda curled her fingers in Andy's long hair and pulled her closer. Arching her back Miranda felt more desire than she'd ever had in her life. "So gorgeous?" Andy said watching the older woman unravel beneath her. "Tell me what you need." She whispered as her tentative hands roamed over Miranda's hips and thighs.

"I need you...inside." Miranda hissed as Andy slowly trailed her hand over the older woman's stomach and then down, cupping her mound she gently parted her folds and made contact with her throbbing clit. "Jesus." Miranda cried out in a lusty moan.

Andy was amazed at the glorious sound of Miranda's pleasure, the heat and wetness radiating from her. Pressing firmer she heard Miranda moan again before moving her fingers lower. Circling softly without penetrating "Are you sure?" Andy asked breathlessly.

For the first time in her life, Miranda Priestley wanted to be taken, she needed to be owned by this young woman. "Oh, God! Yes..." Miranda confirmed in a deliciously husky tone. "Please." She whimpered. "Make me yours."

As Andy gently thrust two fingers into Miranda she groaned as she moved slowly inside the older woman. Moving her lips back up she captured the older woman's mouth in an urgent kiss and thrust harder, Miranda's hips rising to meet each thrust. "Mine." Andy growled as she rubbed herself against Miranda's thigh as she thrust deeper and harder.

"Oh, God! Yes...Andréa..."Miranda cried out as her orgasm hit. Sliding down the older woman's body Andy kept her fingers inside as she kissed across the scar on Miranda's stomach. "Don't." Miranda whispered embarrassment showing in her eyes.

Raising her eyes to the woman below Andy said. "It's beautiful, its proof you carried life within you, proof of those two beautiful little girls. Don't be ashamed sweetheart. I love you, I love all of you." Moving down further Andy nuzzled against her. "I really need to taste you." She muttered as she parted Miranda's thighs and blew carefully at the hot wetness, flattening her tongue against her clit she swiped attentively, savouring Miranda's flavour she let out a hum of pleasure. She started to move her fingers inside in sync with the movement of her tongue, driving Miranda to dig her heels into the mattress. Feeling Miranda getting closer as her walls clenched, she covered the clit with her mouth and sucked it into her mouth.

"Andréa...Oh my God...Oooh!" Miranda cried as her body convulsed and she pulled Andy closer second orgasm hit. Grinding herself against Andy's warm mouth and fingers she rode out the waves of pleasure. As Miranda relaxed Andy moved her fingers from Miranda smoothly and made her way up Miranda's body and held her close, faced pressed into Miranda's neck. As Miranda snuggled in, her contentment evident, she lifted Andy's chin and pulled her into a passionate kiss. "Mm I can taste myself on you." Miranda told the young woman.

Pulling away slightly Andy made to move away. "Sorry." She whispered embarrassed.

"What on Earth are you sorry about?" Miranda asked her lightly pulling her back towards her.

"I didn't think that kissing you...I wasn't sure if you'd want to, well after..." Andy trailed off.

"After cunnilingus?" Miranda giggled seeing the woman in her arms blush, she told her, "Darling I wouldn't have initiated the kiss if I was in any way concerned about how I would taste mixed with your usual intoxicating flavour. This morning as I kissed you after I made love to you, what did you feel?" She asked curiously.

"It was the most erotic experience of my life." Andy admitted. "Nate would never..." She tried to explain.

"I would prefer it if you didn't bring the fry-cook into our bedroom and most intimate moments." Miranda told her wryly. "However I must tell you that whatever it was he never did was his loss."

"He didn't go down on me, no matter how much I asked, I think he was scared." Andy told her.

Miranda looked up at the brunette in wonder. Placing a tender kiss on her lips she whispered. "Definitely his loss, you taste heavenly. I do feel sorry for his future partner's, poor girls. I don't know how he could he deny you anything you asked? He obviously wasn't deserving of your love."

"Do you think you are?" Andy asked.

"No, not at all. I think you are decidedly too good for me, I however will ensure I work hard to become worthy of you, of your love." Miranda told her as she rolled the young woman on her back. "And my first act of salvation is to worship every single delicious inch of you." Miranda smirked down on the woman below her.

Andy reached up and cupped the older woman's face. "I love you." She whispered reverently.

"I love you too my darling. Let me show you just how much." Miranda asked. Seeing the nod of acceptance she swooped down giving Andy a heart stopping kiss. Miranda angled her hip between Andy's thighs pushing against her wet centre as they continued to kiss, tongues entwining. As their kiss broke Miranda trailed her lips across Andy's smooth, strong jaw, to nibble and lick and kiss the sweet spot behind Andy's ear causing a shiver of pleasure to course down her spine.

"Miranda please..." Andy begged.

"Shhh." Miranda told the young woman as pushed both her hands above her head.

"Keep them there, hold on to the headboard" the editor requested. Spreading Andy's knees further she settled between them. Trailing kisses down the young woman's body she captured a nipple between her teeth and bit down before soothing it with her tongue. Andy moaned at the pleasure-pain sensations the attention caused. Moving down she pressed open-mouth kisses on Andy's stomach, the smell of the young woman's heavy arousal thick in her nostrils as she breathed in. Miranda blew gently on Andy's exposed sex, causing her to tremble. "So wet, darling."

"It's all for you!" The brunette told the editor, hips arching, trying to make contact with Miranda's mouth. She was certain that the first touch would make her climax.

"I want to watch you come undone." Miranda told her softly as she moved back up Andy's body. Settling herself once gain between the young woman's legs she let her hand trail over wet curls and slipped her fingers deep into the dripping wetness of Andy's arousal. The quick but gentle motion causing Andy to cry out loudly. Letting go of the headboard and pulling a pillow across her face Andy attempted to smother her cries as Miranda's fingers worked their way in and out as her thumb circled Andy's clit. Miranda removed the pillow from Andy's face as her mouth trailed kisses along Andy's jaw and neck. Miranda could feel just how close Andy was to coming. Seeing Andy's eyes closed Miranda demanded. "Look at me." Slowing her thrusts as Andy's eyes swirled open as she looked at the woman above her. Locking eyes Miranda told her. "I love you."

Losing herself in gentle blue eyes that conveyed all the love and tenderness the older woman felt Andy move furiously against Miranda's hand, Fighting against her impending orgasm Andy leaned forward to capture Miranda's lips in a searing kiss.

"Come, my darling." Miranda whispered against Andy's lips.

Letting go Andy let out a moan as her climax overcame her, lips caressing and still moving against Miranda's fingers it took a few minutes to ride out the waves of intense pleasure that had overtaken her and allowed her to fall into a warm haze of contentment. Still kissing Miranda's removed her hand from Andy's core. As Andy's hands released the headboard she pulled Miranda closer and roamed all over the older woman.

Breaking the kiss Andy looked into the blue of the editor's eyes and stroking her fingers along her face whispered. "I love you more."

Laughing joyfully Miranda rolled off Andy and pulling her closer said. "We must agree to disagree my darling. Now sleep my love."

Snuggling into the brunette's arms Miranda felt a sense of peace overtake her and allowed herself to luxuriate in the happiness of the moment.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda woke up early tangled in a pair of arms and legs, feeling the heat of Andy surrounding her she smiled happily and stretched, she had never felt so good. Feeling the arms tighten around her waist she snuggled in further.

"Mmmm good morning beautiful." Andy whispered in the older woman's ear.

"Good morning my darling." Miranda whispered back. "Did you sleep well?"

"Wonderfully well. You?" Andy questioned.

"One of the best night's sleep I've ever had." Miranda admitted as she turned towards the brunette offering her a genuine smile. "What would you like to do today?" Miranda asked.

"Anything. As long as I'm with you." Andy told her.

"I have a bit of work to do so I have the next few days free, but it would just be an hour or two, and I don't have to go to the office to do it. Would you mind terribly? We could go for a walk and to lunch afterwards." Miranda said hesitantly. "The girls aren't due back until around 5pm."

"Sweetheart you must do what you need to, I don't want my presence here to impact your work, I know how important it is to you. I'm happy to sit and write, I have a few days of my journal to catch up on, emails to respond to and I have an article idea I want to work on too." Andy told her gently looking down at her with a smile.

Reaching up Miranda tilted her head and captured Andy's lips in a kiss. "I adore you. You make me so happy." Miranda whispered against Andy's lips.

"Mm likewise. I should get up and make us some coffee." Andy said with a grin as she attempted to untangle herself from Miranda.

"Later." Miranda said pulling Andy closer and kissing her passionately.

As they broke the kiss Andy pulled Miranda against her fully and rolled them both so Andy was under Miranda as she confirmed. "Oh yes, later."

xxxxxxxxxx

They spent a blissful few hours entwined in each other's arms, making love and talking about everything and anything. They laughed together as Andy related some of her adventures overseas and Miranda described some of the more useless assistants to have entered Runway.

By the time they showered and made their way downstairs Miranda was in work mode. Moving towards her study she grabbed the newspapers before entering the room and sitting down at her desk. Andy entered behind her placing her new iPhone and laptop on the couch under the window and then made her way to the kitchen and put coffee on. Moving to the fridge and helping herself to some yogurt she ate quickly before pouring two steaming mugs of coffee and making her way to the study.

She saw Miranda frowning, jaw clenched tightly and with teeth grinding as she read the Post. "Miranda?" She questioned quietly. "Sweetheart?"

"This is just fucking ridiculous." Miranda seethed as she threw the paper on the floor. Moving quickly towards the editor she placed the coffees on the corner of the desk before bending over and seeing the headline on Page Six. Picking it up, she read;

Is sapphism the newest fashion statement?

Which fashionista Editor In Chief is about to come out as a lesbian, complete with a much younger girlfriend?

Runway's Miranda Priestley did nothing to stop the rumour mill when she left the Runway Christmas Party at Elias Clarke hand in hand with her 25 year old ex-assistant Andy (Andrea) Sachs last night.

It's understandable that a 50 year old may find comfort in a younger person's arms but what could this beautiful 25 year old woman see in the Ice Queen?

Sources close to the editor state that this is not a new development, believing the relationship started before the divorce proceedings between Miranda Priestley and Stephen Tomlinson.

When we approached Mr Tomlinson about the allegations he said.
"Nothing about that woman would surprise me, she always had an unnatural fascination with that girl. I just feel sorry for the young woman in question being entangled with that frigid bitch and for her two daughters who don't deserve the continued upheaval in their lives."

All attempts to get a quote from Miranda Priestley's office have been met with silence.

Andy snorted. "If they actually investigated properly they would know that I haven't been in the country for the last three month. It's poorly written, hack journalism at its best." Andy smirked.

"You don't seem particularly phased my darling." Miranda was seething.

Andy knelt before Miranda. "Why would it phase me? I adore you and your girls, plus I know that all this will blow over when they get their next bit of juicy gossip. Lindsay Lohan is bound to be found DUI again or maybe it'll be Paris Hilton that shaves her head." Andy smiled. "They are using an old photo of us from the benefit at the Met, they have nothing on us. If you want to deny it I would understand. I know how much you value your privacy."

"I am not going to deny it Andréa. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Stephen on the other hand will regret his comments about my girls." Miranda was furious.

"Sweetheart I hate to say this, because you married him after all, but Stephen is a moron. He just wants his 15 minutes of fame. Let him have it, it will come to bite him on the ass eventually." Andy gave her a small size.

"I need to speak with Leslie." Miranda said as she picked up her cell and dialled. As it was answered she put it on speaker. "Leslie. I take it you have seen today's Post?"

"The phone's been ringing off the hook at Runway but there's no one there to answer." Leslie laughed.

"Hmm yes. I don't know what else they'd expect on Christmas Eve." Miranda smirked.

"Anyway I'm sure the news today was a surprise..."

"Not so much, no. I should advise you that Irv is up in arms about the press." Leslie warned.

"Of course he is. However I do believe that it may have been Irv who fed the story to the press, I have ways and means to find out and if it was him I will make him pay." Miranda declared. "Irv and I had a slight disagreement in regards to Andréa's worth as a person."

"Ah I heard rumours along the lines of you flying to her defence, on more than one occasion. It is true then? Leslie asked.

"Well yes. As you know I am protective of the things I care about. That insufferable little ass-monkey deserved it and more." Sitting back on her heels in front of Miranda Andy snorted trying to suppress her laughter at Miranda's use of her insult.

"She's there with you now?" Leslie laughed in her surprise.

"Of course she is. She's been here for the last two days upon her return to the States, I am using one of her more delightful insults for that vile little man." Miranda told her as Leslie snorted in laughter. "I need a statement released."

"You're going to deny it?" Leslie questioned trying to calm her prior amusement.

"No, we will not deny it. I want the truth told. Andréa has been overseas since Paris, there was no relationship other than professional before her return from Asia, despite what anyone says. Due to having formed a wonderful professional relationship we stayed in touch and spent time writing and emailing. We found we have more in common that we ever anticipated and our feelings developed from there. This is a very new turn of events, and quite unexpected. The story printed today is filled with half-truths, I will be having defamation charges drawn up against the writer and Stephen will regret his comments about my girls."

"You're taking legal action?" Leslie groaned.

"Of course. Unless they retract the part where they state this relationship started before the divorce. I have Andréa's reputation to consider. This could adversely affect her future career prospects." Miranda stated.

"But Mira..." Andy started to speak.

"Darling, I will do what I have to ensure your reputation remains untarnished. I don't care what they say about me, but you and my girls mean the world to me and I will not have your names dragged through the mud." Miranda told her. "Leslie see that this is handled immediately. That's all." She disconnected the call as Andy lay her head in Miranda's lap. Miranda ran her hands through Andy's hair gently massaging her scalp. "I'm sorry about this. I thought we would have more time." She whispered.

Looking up at Miranda Andy gave her a bright smile. "I regret nothing my love. I am happy to be here with you and if that means dealing with the press for a while so be it. I'm going to go get us fresh coffee. OK?"

"Acceptable." Miranda smiled as Andy got herself up, bent down to place a soft kiss on Miranda's lips, took the mugs off the desk and moved out of the study and back down to the kitchen.

xxxxxxxxxx

After she poured the cold coffee away she rinsed the mugs and started a fresh pot. Running her hands through her hair Andy realised this was really happening, her and Miranda were now out to the public. Tears formed in her eyes, she felt guilty that the press would start hounding Miranda and the girls once again.

Entering the kitchen Miranda found Andy hunched over the counter, head in hands. From the door she could see the young woman's shuddering with her sobs. Walking towards her she started to panic. Wrapping her arms around Andy's waist from behind. Miranda soothed her. "Darling, it's OK, it's all going to be OK, I promise."

Turning in Miranda's arms Andy looked at her. "I've attracted the fucking press back into your life. How are Cass and Caro going to feel? They're going to hate me."

"My girls wanted you here with us. They adore you almost as much as I do my darling. They knew this would happen once our relationship became public knowledge, we didn't realise it would happen this quickly but that isn't your fault and to be honest I'm happy it has happened. I don't want to hide away, that would demean what we are building. I need you to know that this is it for me. You are my person Andréa. My soul resonates with yours." Miranda hid her face in Andy's chest embarrassed.

Andy pulled Miranda closer and placed a kiss on her head. "Don't hide from me Miranda. Look at me my love." Making eye contact Andy saw the love shining from Miranda's eyes and smiled. "I love you, I have never been more certain of anything. Now the coffee's done, it's time for us to do some work." After placing a brief kiss on Miranda's lips they broke apart and Andy poured their fresh coffee and followed Miranda back to the study. Placing one of the mugs on the desk she stalked over to the couch and sat down, opening her laptop she sat back sipping her coffee as she waited for it to boot up.

She heard Miranda sigh and looked up to find her staring at her. Offering her a wide smile Miranda blushed once she realised she had been caught staring. "You OK?" Andy asked.

"That laptop seems to have seen better days." Miranda told her.

"I know it's a bit battered but it still does what I need it to, it's been around the world with me. It hasn't failed me yet." Andy grinned as she pulled it onto her lap and opened her email client. "I'm about to respond to my mom. Shall I send your best wishes?"

Miranda snorted. "If you feel you must." Miranda put on her glasses and focused on her Desktop, tapping away furiously as she responded to emails.

Andy concentrated on her email to her mom.

Date: December 24, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: rgsachsofcinci
Subject: RE: Flight home

Hi Mom and Dad,

Unfortunately I have to decline your offer for the first available flight to Cincinnati. I have no interest in being anywhere near Ohio in the foreseeable future. Obviously you are aware you are unable to enforce my departure from New York as I am 25 and ceased to be under your rule when I reached 18 and legally became an adult. (Pre-law was good for something at last)

Before I left the States I told you why I walked away in Paris. Your incapacity for acceptance darkened my world to a point I couldn't see any way forward. You are my parents, you are supposed to offer unconditional love but you have proven you only offer your love when it suits you. As soon as you found that I didn't fit into the tiny little package of your design you tossed me away. Miranda at that time helped me to see that life is inherently messy, we are not meant to fit in but to stand out.

I am happy to be back in NYC although I enjoyed my travels. I booked into a hotel but upon encountering Miranda's twins and then Miranda herself shortly after my arrival I was invited into stay at their home, an offer which I accepted wholeheartedly. They have all made me feel very welcome. There's a lot of love in this house that brings a new lightness to my heart. I found the courage to tell Miranda how I much I care about her and I am happy to say that she feels the same for me.

I love you both very much but I need you to let me be who I am, to live my life how I see fit and to love with all my heart.

In regards to the items you are storing you can send them to me, give them to goodwill or burn them...whatever...I don't care. It may take me time but it's all replaceable.

Andy

PS: I should inform you that Miranda and I made Page Six this morning. If you feel the need to speak to the press about us I will ensure there is not a single chance of reconciliation and I will not stop Miranda from enacting whatever punishment she feels is warranted for any breach in our privacy and that of her Children.

Andy sat back as she read through her reply and hit send before she could talk herself out of it, closing her eyes she fought against her tears once again. Opening her eyes as she felt the sofa dip next to her, she turned her head as Miranda offered a shy smile.

"Come here." Miranda said as she held out her arms. Andy moved into the embrace and buried her face in the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply she was calmed by Miranda's signature scent. "Do you want to talk about it?" Miranda questioned gently.

"Nah, I was just responding to my mom's email from last night. Part of me just wanted to cuss her out but I found myself trying to explain everything again.

"May I see?" Miranda asked.

"Sure." Andy pulled up her sent items and brought up her reply to her mother, angling the laptop to a position where Miranda could easily read she sat biting her lip as the older woman scanned the email.

She smiled gently at the brunette. "It is concise and heartfelt. I hope they learn to be more accepting my darling." She pulled the young woman back into her arms as another email pinged in her mailbox. Looking down she saw it was from Rolling Stone. "You should answer that." She said to Andy.

"It can wait a few minutes, I'm happy here in your arms." Andy smiled up at Miranda.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Andy sat in silence, comforted by the warmth of Miranda as she held her close. Shifting away slightly she looked across at the older woman and smiled. "You should go finish your work." Andy told her.

"Are you feeling better now?"

"Yes, much better. Thank you Miranda." She whispered softly. "I'll should continue going through my emails."

Miranda stood and stretched. "I'm going to grab more coffee and a snack. Would you like anything?" She asked.

"No, I'm good for now, since we missed breakfast once we're done here I'll take you to lunch." She grinned up at the woman.

"Sounds perfect." Miranda told her. As she moved from the room Andy watched the sway of her hips and smiled happily.

Looking back at her laptop she opened the email from Rolling Stone and read the email, shaking her head in disbelief she re-read the email contents. She was astounded at the offer they were making. Getting up she moved out of the room and down to the kitchen, she needed to talk to Miranda. "Sweetheart, do you have a minute?" She questioned hesitantly.

Miranda spun around, yogurt in hand, spoon hanging from her mouth. Removing the spoon she looked at Andy in concern. "What's wrong my darling?"

"So that email from Rolling Stone was from their Editor in Chief, who I've never actually spoken to directly. After seeing Page Six he is requesting an exclusive story about us."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "So did Marc mention who would be writing this exclusive?"

"Well...Christian Thompson's name was mentioned." Andy told her nervously.

"No! That is not happening, not after Paris." Miranda declared adamantly. "I should have had him blacklisted when I had the chance."

"I don't know what happened in Paris, I know you had words and had to be restrained." Andy was hesitant.

"I slapped him Andréa, I nearly knocked his smug head off his shoulders, and if it wasn't for Nigel he would have had one of my pointy little Prada's knocking his bollocks into his throat."

Oh my God Miranda, you hit him?" Andy barked with laughter and enfolded Miranda in a bear hug. "You're truly amazing." Letting go she said. "I will tell them that we will have to politely decline their request." Andy said still laughing.

"I have an alternate solution. You write it, after all you have the best knowledge of both sides if our story, you are in the best position to get it across to the public. Tell them that you will give them first option on the article but unless they allow you to write it then it will be given to whichever alternate publication wants it, for the right price." Miranda grinned at her wickedly.

"Really?" Andy was dumbstruck.

"Well you have to earn a living my love, you want to write, you have already proven yourself to them, and they have accepted your writing into their publication." Miranda explained her logic. "If you want to freelance we should look into creating a website for you. Its good advertising and it can allow you to also blog and hold all your contact details.

"I actually have some web skills, I picked it up at Uni while editing the newspaper, and we created an online edition for a while. I will go and reply to Marc. Thanks sweetheart." Andy gave her one of her brightest smiles before bounding from the room.

Picking up her laptop she responded accordingly.

xxxxxxxxxx

Date: December 24, 2007
Sender: andys82
Recipient: eicrollingstone
Subject: RE: Exclusive

Hi Marc,

Thank you for expressing your interest in an exclusive article in regards to the relationship between myself and Miranda Priestley.

Within your email you advised that you wanted to arrange an interview with Christian Thompson. Miranda and I have discussed this in length and both of us are in agreement that we do not believe Christian would be a good fit to tell our story, we are unsure of his ability to remain impartial. Unfortunately we have both experienced unpleasantness in some of our previous encounters with him.

Miranda has expressed her immense distaste that you are using him as a potential interviewer as she believes his writing style is distinctly average. Obviously doing an interview with someone she dislikes and has no professional respect for is never going to happen.

As you may already be aware Miranda does not readily allow any sort of intrusion into her personal life and I have no prior experience with this amount of public interest. I must take Miranda's comfort into account, and that of her children.

At this time I am planning to write an article myself. This is my relationship and I am in the best position to write the truth and tell both sides of our story.

Due to my current relationship with Rolling Stone I am willing to give exclusive rights to you but I will require full control of the editing and content. If this is not something you are able to provide then Miranda and I will find an alternate publication to work with.

If I do not hear from you before, I leave this with the express wish that you have the very happiest of holidays.

Kind Regards
Andy Sachs

xxxxxxxxxx

She sent the response as Miranda walked back to the study coffee mug clasped between her hands. Looking across at the women she gave her a bright smile before reopening her sent folder and forwarding a copy of her response to Rolling Stone to Miranda's email.

Pulling herself from the sofa she walked towards the older woman as she sat at her desk. Looking down at her she grinned and brushed her finger against the tip of Miranda's nose causing it to twitch.

"You had yogurt on your nose love, I thought you were meant to eat it, not snort it." Andy laughed.

Her words made Miranda smirk. "You've obviously been doing it wrong for the last 25 years my darling."

Laughing loudly Andy made to walk from the room, seeing Miranda's raised eyebrow she explained. "I'm just going to grab my journal and my iPod. I write better to music. I'll be right back" Launching herself upstairs she entered the master suite and rummaged in her bag for her old journal and her favourite pen. Pulling her new journal from the Anthropologie bag she made her way back down to the study. Curling up in the armchair she pulled her iPod out and selected her playlist, opening her old journal she flipped a few pages and opening her new journal she started to write quickly glancing occasionally at her old entries.

xxxxxxxxxx

They had been sitting in companionable silence for over two hours. Miranda was working diligently on the electronic version of the book and answering occasional emails and Andy writing furiously, the scratch pen over paper soothing the editor. Working through her inbox Miranda smiled seeing Andy's response to Rolling Stone, amazed at her protectiveness about the intrusion into her private life, and moved the email into her private folder.

Looking over at the young woman she saw her frowning in concentration as she attempted to blow a strand of curly hair out of her face while writing quickly. As she continued to watch the young woman, who had turned her life upside down in such a short time, she saw her put her pen down and concentrate on her old journal, seeing her shake her head and mutter quietly. "Damn him!" She slammed her journal's shut and removed her ear buds. Looking up she caught Miranda's gaze and smiled. "Hey sweetheart, are you finished with work?" Andy asked.

"I finished about five minutes ago. I've finally cleared my inbox and the Book is as good as it can be for now." She smirked. "The Art Department will have their work cut out for them on Thursday."

Andy laughed. "Poor guys. It's good they've had a reasonable break, hopefully they'll hit the ground running and surprise you."

"Well I can only hope." Miranda smiled. "Now someone offered lunch, do you still want to go out?"

"I could do with some air, and we're kind of out there now, there's no reason to hide." Andy said gently.

"Does Sushi, Italian or a Burger sound good to you? We could walk to Sasabune, Via Quadronno or EJ's." Miranda listed her choices.

"Whichever you prefer. I'd honestly be happy with a grilled cheese or an omelette." Andy gave her a smile.

"EJ's it is then." Miranda smiled back. "They have a varied selection. It's somewhere I take the twins for brunch on occasion. The food is acceptable."

Andy laughed. Looking down at her faded Northwestern t shirt and ripped baggy boy-leg jeans she said. "I'll just get changed, give me fifteen minutes and I'll be ready to hit the road."

Miranda looked over at her and smiled. "You don't have to dress up for a casual lunch you know." She said.

"I will have the most beautiful women in New York on my arm, and I don't think ripped jeans that show my ass are appropriate. Although my small wardrobe no longer contains the same amount of beautiful clothes of my Runway past I can still make myself look semi presentable." Andy explained. "I don't want to embarrass you Sweetheart. You're the Queen of fashion and you always look amazing. The least I can do is look worthy enough to be seen with you."

Miranda walked over to the brunette, straddling her thighs she leaned in to kiss her softly and whispered. "It is I who is not worthy my Andréa. You could wear a burlap sack and still take my breath away."

"How about a lumpy cerulean sweater?" Andy whispered back teasingly as she deepened their kiss.

"Mm even then I would be the lucky one to have you on my arm." Miranda beamed.

"Well you don't have to worry about that. I know you thought it was a monstrosity, and lucky for us both that sweater's in Ohio and I don't think we'll be seeing it anytime soon." Andy leaned back in the chair and smiled up at her love. "I should go get changed unless you want to stay here, you have placed yourself in an extraordinary position." Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist and nuzzled into her neck before blazing a trail of kisses from her neck to her sternum causing Miranda to gasp. As Andy placed a fierce kiss on Miranda's lips she heard her stomach growl which caused Andy to laugh loudly. As Miranda flushed in embarrassment Andy cupped her face. "I think it's for the best that I feed you." Picking Miranda up she spun and sat her in chair. As she straightened she leaned in and gave her kiss before moving from the room.

xxxxxxxxxx

Within ten minutes she was ready to leave. Wearing her Converse, a pair of low rise dark wash jeans and an oversized navy blue Michael Kors men's shirt over a white t-shirt she looked relaxed. Giving Miranda one of her mega-watt smiles she held her hand out for the editor and as it was taken she pulled the older woman from the chair. Miranda smirked as she pulled Andy's shirt apart. Seeing the writing she rolled her eyes. 'The bags under my eyes are Designer'

"Really darling, don't you have any plain t-shirts?" Miranda questioned amused.

Shrugging Andy looked at her and grinned mischievously. "Yes of course, but where's the fun in that?" She snatched her iPhone off the coffee table as she was pulled from the room.

Standing at the closet Miranda handed her into her leather jacket. "Will you be warm enough my darling?" Miranda queried.

Pulling a navy blue beanie and scarf out of her back pockets Andy smirked as she put them on. "I'll think I'll be fine my love. Now let me help you into your coat." Miranda handed her coat and as she held it open Miranda slipped her arms in as Andy pulled it up over her shoulders and smoothed it around her neck. Fastening the coat tightly Miranda pulled a Hermes scarf out if her coat pocket and wrapped it around her neck. "You ready?" Andy asked her softly holding her hand out.

"Oh yes, come along darling I'm famished." Entwining their fingers she opened the door, caught in a blaze of flashes and questions Miranda schooled her features into one of polite indifference. Looking back at Andy and saw her look of shock quickly move to panic. "Darling?" She queried quietly. "If you aren't ready then I will understand."

"No Miranda, I am not running away from these vultures." Taking a deep breath she forced a smile onto her face and stepped up beside Miranda, assisting her down the townhouse steps the only thing belying her nervousness was the firm grip she had on Miranda's hand.

"Hey Andy." Someone shouted. "How did you manage to tame the dragon lady?"

Andy spun around towards where the voice came from letting go of Miranda's hand. Miranda placed a placating hand on her upper arm. As Andy looked towards her she advised "Ignore them."

"Sweetheart do you trust me." Andy asked quietly. Miranda nodded her assent. Turning back towards the journalist she pointed to one of them. "Was it you that just asked me a question?" She glared at a nervous young man.

"N...n…no." He stuttered as he pointed to one of his peers.

Turning a ferocious glower on another young man she spoke quietly and forcefully. "If you have a question that you expect to have answered please do me the courtesy of not showing blatant disrespect towards myself or Miranda. My first request, if I have to put up with you, is that you do not ever refer to Miranda as Ice Queen, Snow Queen, Devil in Prada or Dragon Lady in my presence." She looked around at the crowd of reporters and paparazzi. "My second request is that you move on. Unless you get the hell away from these premises I will call the police and ask for you all to be forcibly removed for disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood. I am sure the neighbours would be in favour of such a move as you are obstructing easy access to the front of quite a few private properties. If you think Miranda is the dragon lady you haven't seen my fire breathing capabilities. Now I would like to take Miranda to lunch without you bothering us excessively. Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus." Spinning around she smiled at Miranda and gently linked their arms. "Come on Miranda, I'm hungry."

"Really Andréa, did you honestly just quote the Hogwarts motto at them?" Miranda smirked.

"I just gave them a friendly warning." Andy gave her a large smile. "They should be aware that they should never tickle a sleeping dragon."

"I think I like this protective side." Miranda whispered as they made their way towards 3rd Avenue.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda and Andy had been enjoying a relaxed lunch, talking quietly and taking delight in each other's company. The paparazzi hadn't followed them to EJ's which surprised Miranda but she was grateful. Hearing her message tone Miranda pulled out her iPhone, giving Andy an apologetic look she looked down to find a text message from the twin's father.

Miranda
I saw Page Six. I don't know what the fuck you're playing at but I now have the press camped out front of my house.
The girls have thrown water bombs at them and Charity saw Cassidy flipping a few of them the bird.
Tell me it's not true! For Christ sake you are not gay, and this woman's half you're fucking age.
I am NOT having our girl's part of this madness.
They're staying with me until further notice.

"Oh for God's sake." Miranda seethed as she read the message. "If that stupid man thinks I'm going to give in that easy he has another thing coming." Seeing Andy's look of confusion mixed with concern she told her about Greg's message.

"Fuck that!" Andy hissed. "Come on sweetheart, we'll go pick them up right now." Throwing cash down on the table Andy stood up and shrugged on her jacket. Looking at Miranda she raised her eyebrow. "Do you want me to run on home and grab the car?" She asked.

Miranda smiled gently. "I think we can take the time to walk back together." Standing she pulled her coat on and moved towards the door. As they hit the street Miranda tugged Andy's hand in hers and entwined their fingers. "He can't keep them darling. I gained full custody after the divorce; he actually surrendered his parental rights. He was too busy chasing every pretty young woman silly enough to give him the time of day."

"I just always assumed you had joint custody. He's had visitation as long as I've been around."

Miranda smiled sadly. "About eighteen months before you started working for me the twins expressed an interest in getting to know their father properly. I had to push him into making the effort with them, I think that's why he feels he can skip his weekends with them as he sees fit..." She sighed. "They so very much wanted a father figure, a second parent. I think that's why I settled on Stephen, on paper he was everything we were looking for but when it came down to it he really had no interest either. Once we were married he told me that they would never be his children, he had no intentions of being a father figure to them, of assisting me with parenting."

Andy looked furious. "Jesus Miranda, that makes me so angry. Those two beautiful little ones are incredible. Anyone would be lucky to have them look up to them as a parent."

"You really mean that don't you?" Miranda was surprised at Andy's intense response.

"Of course. I was so happy to hear from them while I was in India. I missed them, those little moments we shared once in a while as I dropped off the book or when I was helping them with their homework or random school projects. Like with you I was able to see beyond their masks. They are very much like their beautiful mother." Andy smiled. "Did you know they tricked me in order to get me upstairs that first night with the book? They wanted me to disrupt your argument with Stephen. I had words with them about that when I met them to give them the Harry Potter manuscripts the next day. They were really sorry about it and we sort of bonded after that. They could see how much I genuinely liked you, how I wanted to do what I could to make your life easier."

Miranda looked at her in disbelief. "You bonded with my girls after they almost got you fired?"

Andy looked at her. "I think they were very impressed." Andy laughed. "I have a sneaking suspicion their mom was too."

As they turned the corner towards the Townhouse Miranda stopped walking bringing Andy to a standstill. Turning towards the younger woman, hand still entangled she said. "Andréa, you astound me at every turn." Cupping the side of Andy's face with her free hand she pulled her in for a brief kiss. They broke apart as Andy's iPhone buzzed with an incoming message. Pulling the cell out of her pocket she saw Cassidy and Caroline's name flashing on the screen.

"It's the twins." Andy pulled up the message and scanned it quickly.

Dad went crazy when he saw Page Six.
He's told us we are staying here permanently.
He told us we aren't allowed to call Mom.
We don't want to stay here; we want to be home with you and Mommy.
He doesn't know we have the cell with us.
Please come and get us.
Cass xx

"Is Greg homophobic?" Andy asked Miranda as she took her hand and started to pull her towards the house.

"No, well not that I'm aware of. His parents were very conservative but he's lived in New York for over 25 years, his best friend in college was gay. What's going on Andréa?" Miranda asked breathlessly, she was almost running to keep up with Andy's stride.

"He's told them they aren't coming home; he's refusing to let them call you. They want to come home." Andy looked back and explained quickly. "I'm going there and getting your daughters back. Do you have a copy of your custody agreement?" Andy asked.

"Yes. But the twins don't know he surrendered his parental rights away. I never wanted to hurt them with the fact he didn't want them." Miranda said heart-brokenly.

Andy stopped as she reached the house. Shuffling from one foot to the other she let go of Miranda and looked at her as she opened the door. "Sweetheart." She whispered. "You know I would never voluntarily hurt them, I will not disclose that if I can help it. I can hopefully make him see sense if I go there armed with copies of the legal documents."

"I'm going with you. Let me get the documents and I'll call my lawyer." Miranda said quickly as she rushed to the study.

Grabbing her iPhone she fired a message back to the twins.

My little imps
Your mom and I will be there as soon as we can.
Get your things together, but don't make it obvious.
No matter what you will be coming home.
We love you both so very much. xox

xxxxxxxxxx

As Andy drove them out to Harrison in the Porsche Miranda told her of her talk with her Lawyer. "Maxwell reminded me of how difficult it was to Greg's Parental rights terminated, the courts didn't want to proceed with it as I didn't have another adult who was ready, willing and able to fill the void. The law prefers Children to have a right to a parental relationship and a right to receive financial support and care from two parents. I never received a penny from Greg. I didn't need it or want it. If he takes this back to court the girls would have to stand up in front of the judge." Miranda was saddened by the turn of events.

"I know how to fix this my love. Trust in me." Andy placed her hand on Miranda's thigh. "You know how Max asked to speak with me?" Miranda nodded once. "Well he knows my dad" Andy shook her head. "My dad deals in corporate law, my mom in probate, my sister Jill is joining the business, and she has chosen criminal law. They were hoping to expand into family law once I joined the business." Andy explained. "Well Max asked me if we were serious. I told him it was a forever thing." Miranda's eyes widened as Andy continued to explain. "He told me that as you have sole physical and legal custody you are the only one able to make important decisions about your children's care. You allow visitation with Greg, it is not his legal right, and it was never discussed as part of the custody agreement due to him surrendering his rights." Andy smiled softly. "I have the perfect fix for this but it'll take some bluffing on both our parts."

"What on Earth are you thinking darling?" Miranda asked curiously.

"Well as sole custodian for your girls and the fact Greg terminated his own rights willingly...well...oh fuck! This is so not how this was meant to be...well it means you can have your children adopted by a second parent without his approval. I suggest we tell him this process has already started."

"You want to adopt my children?" Miranda asked breathlessly.

"It could be Nigel, Emily, anyone that you deem would be a suitable second parent. I love the girls Miranda; I would do anything to keep them and you safe and happy." Andy was hesitant, unsure of Miranda's reaction. "It also means that, God forbid, should anything happen to you they would be taken care of."

Miranda was dumbstruck. "Andréa my darling, how are you able to just suggest this? I could be struck down by a Town Car tomorrow and you would be stuck parenting..."

"I wouldn't be stuck doing anything, I would be honoured to act as a parent to two very precocious, incredible little girls. They would be a continual reminder every day of the most beautiful woman I have ever met, the woman who has made me happier in three days than I have ever been." Andy was blushing. "I understand your concerns Miranda, this is all so very quick and so far out of left field, but what I told Max was true. I want forever with you if you'll allow it. I want to watch those two little imps grow into the wonderful women they are sure to become."

"Andréa..." Miranda started to speak.

"Just think about it Miranda. It is not something that has to happen right now, Hell, it doesn't even have to happen. I just hope putting the idea in your ex-husbands head will be enough for Greg to back off from whatever madness he's been hit with."

xxxxxxxxxx

They sat in silence until they arrived in Harrison. Looking briefly towards Miranda she saw the editor deep in thought. "Sweetheart we're almost there." Andy told her gently.

Miranda shook her head and looked at the brunette in wonder. "Darling." She said softly. "Are you sure this will work?"

Andy flitted her eyes to the older woman, seeing her concern she spoke softly. "I have no idea my love." She said honestly. "But right now it's the only thing I can think of without involving the authorities."

Miranda shuddered. "Oh God! Could you imagine the press?"

Andy sighed. "It won't come to that." Andy pulled up to the house and got out of the car, walking around to the passenger side she opened the door for Miranda and handed her out.

"This has to work Andréa. I can't lose them." Miranda whispered. Squeezing her hand gently Andy walked them past the press and up to the front door. Taking a deep breath she knocked.

The door was opened quickly by Caroline who squeaked when they saw her mom and Andy. Pulling them into the house she launched herself at Miranda starting to cry. "Mommy he found our cell and saw Cassie's texts to Andy. He threw me and Charity out of the room and started shouting at her. I hate him." Caroline sobbed.

Andy knelt on the floor in front of the little redhead. "Baby, listen to me. I will sort this out but I need you to stay with your mom, OK? Can you take her somewhere quiet, the kitchen perhaps?" Seeing Caroline nod she stroked her hair. "Where are they sweetie?" Caroline pointed to a door down the hall. "Give me a few minutes, I'll send Cass to you straight away." Andy smiled sadly as she got up and moved down the hall.

As she approached the door she could hear Greg raging within the room. Taking a deep breath she opened the door and walked into the room. Greg spun around and fell silent in shock as he saw Andy. Cassidy seeing the young brunette launched herself into her arms. Rubbing circled on the young girl's back she attempted to soothe her. "Shhh baby, it's OK." Andy whispered softly.

"Get the fuck out of my house." He demanded. "You're trespassing, I'll call the police."

"Do that Greg. And I will tell them how you are forcibly keeping Miranda's daughters from her. And watch your language."

"They aren't just Miranda's daughters." He seethed. "They're mine."

Andy raised her eyebrow. "Do you really want to go into technicalities now, with your daughter present?" Andy asked. Seeing him hesitate Andy looked down at the girl in her arms. "Cass baby, go on to the kitchen and send your mom to us. I need to speak with your dad. OK?" Cassidy nodded and ran from the room.

"Now you look here, you can't just barge in here and throw your weight around." Greg sputtered.

"I was invited into this house by your other daughter. Frankly this is the last place I want to be, it's cold in here. This place certainly lacks the warmth and happiness of Miranda's." Andy smirked. "As for the technicalities, and the reason I am here, you have no rights over those girls Greg."

"What the fuck would you know?" Greg declared indignantly.

"Everything." Andy pulled out the copy of the custody agreement and Greg's Statement of Consent for the surrender of his parental rights. Andy walked past him and placed them on his desk. "According to this custody agreement, and I've seen my fair share of them over the years, you rescinded all rights to make decisions concerning the twin's upbringing, and this includes their education, medical treatment or religious upbringing. Miranda has legal and physical custody; you voluntarily

surrendered your parental rights to their mother. You're actually extraordinarily lucky Miranda has allowed visitation."

"You...you...but..." Greg sputtered as Andy looked at him with burning anger blazing in her eyes. Hearing the door snick open she unleashed her fury.

"I have major concerns over your parenting skills Greg." Andy told him, her anger colouring her tone of voice. "I heard you screaming at Cassidy as I came into this room. She does not need to be frightened in that way. She deserves unconditional love and emotional support from both parents. I know when I adopt those beautiful girls they will get whatever they require from me a second parent. I will gladly give them the world."

She could see Greg turning puce, the vein in his temple was throbbing as he attempted to get himself in control. Turning slightly he saw his ex-wife. "Miranda." He bristled. "You're honestly not going to let her get away with this?"

"Actually Gregory I am. Andréa loves my girls, they love her. We all want her in our lives. To be honest you are a hypocrite. It's OK for you to have a much younger lover, Charity at the moment, Rebecca before her, Anna before that, numerous women that seem to get younger every year. But when I do the same it's wrong? Would it be the same if Andy was a younger man or is it the fact that I have found love with a woman?" Miranda asked gently.

Seeing him look embarrassed Andy knew the reason behind his anger. She sighed. "It's neither of those is it Greg?" Andy asked lightly. "You just hate the fact Miranda has found someone that she can love completely. You've finally realised what you lost, what you threw away all those years ago."

Shame filled Greg's eyes as Miranda looked at him curiously. "But Stephen?" She queried confused.

Andy caught her eye. "Stephen was never a threat, was he Greg?" She asked him blandly.

He looked down muttering quietly. "No, no threat at all. You didn't love him."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Gregory, I will always be grateful for the gift of our children but what we had...that love...well you destroyed that." She offered him a sad smile. "I'm taking my girls home. You should try to apologise to them but after today I don't expect they'll want to speak to you for a while." She turned and walked out of the room calling for the twins.

Greg caught Andy's gaze and tried to stare her down. Unwavering she offered him one of her brightest smiles. "That won't work on me Greg, I spent the majority of the last year dealing with your ex-wife and frankly she's a lot more frightening than you."

Greg snorted. "Andy, isn't it?" Seeing her nod he continued. "I think she's met her match in you. Good luck with that, I think you're both going to need it." He handed her the twin's iPhone.

Andy's smile widened even further. As she turned to walk from the room she called over her shoulder. "Merry Christmas Greg, no doubt we'll see each other again."

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

The twins were quiet as Miranda drove them back to the City. Caroline and Cassidy were holding hands and peeking glances at Andy.

"Andy?" Caroline said.

"Yes Caro?" Andy replied with a smile.

"Do you love us?" Cassidy asked nervously.

"Yes Cass, I love you both very much." Turning in the passenger seat she looked at the twins. Seeing their look of disbelief she whispered. "Why are you asking me this my little imps?" Cassidy started crying as Caroline looked on with tears pooling in her eyes. "Sweetheart, please stop the car." Andy asked Miranda breathlessly. Her heart started beating fast as she fought against her rising panic. She had never seen the twins so hurt or upset.

As Miranda found a safe place to stop Andy launched herself from the front of the car, pulling her seat forward she clambered between the twins and pulled the seat back in place.

It was a tight squeeze with her long legs so she picked Cassidy up and pulled her onto her lap. Gesturing Caroline over onto her lap as well she stretched out across the back seat and wrapped her arms around them both as they lay across her chest.

"Hush babies, it's OK. I'm here and your mom is too." Andy whispered hoarsely against her unshed tears. As they both settled in against her Cassidy continued to sob. She held them tightly placing a soft kiss on each of their heads.

"Dad said you don't really want us, that you're just putting up with us because of mom and that you're only with her because of who she is and what she can give to you." Cassidy admitted as she snuggled into Andy's neck.

At the young girl's words Andy's tears started to flow. "Your dad's right in a way. Your mom has a lot to offer someone." She told them.

As Cassidy attempted to move off Andy's lap, anger evident behind the tears Andy pulled her tighter to her chest.

"Cass, please let me finish what I was saying." She asked quietly. Seeing Cassidy's small nod she continued to speak to the twins softly. "As I was saying your dad's right when he says your mom has a lot to offer. Other people will form a similar opinion, they will see the age difference between your mom and I and they'll believe I am after her money or her position of power. Your mom has done amazing things with her life and they will think I am trying to gain some form of advantage from it. They however don't know me like you do, they do not know what's in my heart." Andy sighed sadly.

"I didn't know who your mom was before I started working for her, they sold the job to me as one a million girl's would kill for, I however didn't ever see it that way, it was a job to pay the bills. Along the way my view changed, I was working for an exceptional woman who just so happened to have two very precious children. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with all three of them. I love your mom, you know I have for the longest time. You two probably knew it before I even realised what it was I was feeling. Once I realised the depth of my feelings all I wanted was to be able to love you all and have my love returned. I couldn't see how that could ever happen though, your mom is beautiful and accomplished and I'm so very ordinary."

Caroline raised her head, seeing the tears flowing down Andy's face, stroked her face tenderly before settling back into her previous position. Cassidy followed suit. Placing another kiss on both head's Andy hugged the young girls to her as she caught Miranda's eyes. Miranda also had tears streaming down her face as she offered Andy a small smile.

She looked at Miranda as she continued to speak. "I ran away in Paris. I didn't know how to handle the feelings I had. Running away didn't help though, I missed you all so very much. Part of me wanted to cut off all contact, to try to lessen the ache I felt from our distance, but I couldn't do that to you. I remembered the promises I made to each of you that I would always be there for you. I meant it my loves. As soon as I heard you wanted me here I started planning and I came home."

Andy looked down at the twins and gave them a smile as she spoke. "I have nothing to offer you but my heart, it's yours. I've knowingly given it to the three of you, and each of you have the capacity to break it or keep it safe. And I trust in you, that you will guard and cherish it, as I do yours." Andy swiped her tears. "Now my imps, I need you to believe me when I tell you that I love you girls like you were my own children."

"I believe you, I can see it in your eyes." Caroline told her softly as she looked up at the brunette.

"If I am ever blessed with babies I can only hope that they are half as amazing as you two are." Andy told them both softly. "I want you all to know that I'm not going anywhere. OK? I won't always say or do the right thing and I'll no doubt drive your mom crazy at times, but I want this, the four of us muddling through life, a family. I will always love and protect you." Andy told them.

"I'm sorry." Cassidy sobbed as she wrapped her arms tighter around Andy.

"There's no need to be sorry." Andy soothed.

"We automatically believed what dad said, we didn't think about how you feel." Caroline confirmed.

"My loves, you will never hear me speak poorly about your father but he doesn't know me, he made an assumption about me based on a poorly written article in a tabloid newspaper, a lot of people are going to do it. But I don't care as long as the three of you know the truth."

"You love us." Cassidy whispered.

"Yes I do." Andy confirmed.

"And we love you." Caroline told her.

"I hope so." Andy said.

"And you'll never leave." Miranda said.

Looking across at the older woman she caught her eye and said. "I'll never leave you again. I promise."

"Acceptable." The three of them chimed simultaneously causing the young woman to burst into a fit to giggles.

xxxxxxxxxx

They pulled up at the Townhouse an hour later, the twins fast asleep against Andy's chest. Stroking their hair Andy whispered. "C'mon my loves, we're home. Miranda smiled at the sight of her beloved daughters snuggled in her love's arms as she got out of the car. Pulling the seats forward she hoisted Caroline into her arms with a small grunt as Cassidy snuggled in further. "Honey, we're home now, time to move." Andy whispered again to the sleeping redhead.

"Don't wanna, warm." Cassidy mumbled sleepily. Pulling the young girl closer Andy gingerly extracted herself from the car, holding her precious cargo securely.

Miranda fumbled with the key as she attempted to hold her daughter and unlock the door. Rolling her eyes she finally managed to get it open and entered the Townhouse and made her way upstairs to the den as Andy followed slowly behind.

Placing Caroline on the wide sofa Miranda stood and stretched as Andy walked into the room. Noticing the tight grip her daughter had on Andy she tried to untangle her hands from the front of Andy's t shirt. "Bobbsey, you need to let go of Andréa so she can put you down." Miranda attempted to coax

"No! Not lettin' go ever." Cassidy mumbled. With a sigh Andy sat herself down on the opposite side of the sofa to Caroline, the weight of the sleeping child against her chest.

"Cassidy do you want to bake cookies?" Andy asked gently. At that Cassidy sat up straight and let go of Andy's shirt. Rubbing her eyes she looked around.

"We're home?" She asked.

"Yes my love. You were doing a rather amazing impression of a comatose sloth as I brought you upstairs." Andy smiled at her as she stroked the wild red hair out of the young girl's face.

"Did you say cookies?" Cassidy asked eyes wide. Miranda snorted out a laugh.

"Yes. Would you like to help me bake some? It's not really Christmas without warm gingerbread cookies."

"Yes!" Cassidy jumped off Andy's knee and shook Caroline awake. "Wake up sleepyhead, we're making cookies with Andy."

Miranda and Andy grinned at the twin antics as Caroline woke up and happily launched herself at Andy. "Hey, I just got untangled from one baby monkey." Andy smiled at the redhead in her arms.

"I think you actually likened my other daughter to a comatose sloth." Miranda deadpanned, a twinkle of amusement shining in her blue eyes.

Andy smiled up at the older woman. "Are you going to help too?" At Miranda's answering smile and nod of agreement Andy said. "C'mon then kiddo's, go wash up and meet me in the kitchen." Caroline jumped off her knee and dragged Cassidy from the room as Andy looked on happily.

"You were truly wonderful with them in the car." Miranda told her as she sat by her side and entwined their fingers.

"I couldn't bear to see them hurting Sweetheart, it was like someone had punched me in the chest. My heart actually ached when I saw the disbelief in their eyes. I could throttle Greg for putting that doubt in their head but in a way I understand where he was coming from."

"You are much more understanding than I would be in your situation my darling. I'll admit that I was scared Greg would keep my girls away from me but I had faith that you wouldn't let that happen. You handled it marvellously, you continue to astound me" Miranda told her.

"You and the girls mean everything to me Miranda, I won't let anyone or anything hurt any of you, including their father. After you left the room he attempted to stare me down, he's not quite as frightening as you though and I told him so." Andy smirked. "His parting words were that he believed you had met your match."

Miranda laughed. "You really are a sleeping dragon."

"And don't you forget it." Andy gave the woman a bright smile as she heard the thundering of little feet down the stairs. "We should go down, God only knows what mischief they can get up to unattended in the kitchen."

xxxxxxxxxx

Walking into the kitchen hand in hand Andy and Miranda found the girls raiding the pantry and fridge. "What are you terrors looking for?"

"Ingredients, I have flour, baking powder and sugar, what else do I need?" Cassidy asked.

"Well we will also need baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, molasses and Vanilla." Andy told her. "What do you have Caro?"

"Eggs and butter." Caroline responded happily.

"Ah that's great, the only thing I need now is a lemon."

"Lemon?" Miranda questioned as she sat herself at the breakfast bar.

"Yes a lemon, I use the zest." Andy explained with a smile as Miranda grabbed mixing bowls and utensils.

"Right Cass, do you have everything? Andy asked.

"I think so." She replied hesitantly as she placed the final items on the bench.

Andy looked over the ingredients happily. "These cookies are going to be epic." She said happily. "Right who wants to measure and who wants to mix?" Andy asked the twins. They glanced at each other formulating a plan.

"I'll measure." Caroline said happily. "Cass will mix."

She winked at Miranda as she handed her a lemon and a small bowl. "If you could zest this it would be much appreciated." Looking at the twins she started to fire off instructions. "OK Caro, I need 3 cups of flour, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder, three quarters of a teaspoon of baking soda, a quarter teaspoon of salt, one tablespoon of ginger, 1 and three quarters of a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves put into that bowl." Andy explained.

"On it boss." Caroline said happily as she started measuring ingredients.

Andy grinned. "Cass when Caro has finished with that I will need you whisk the stuff together until it's well blended."

Pulling out the Kitchenaid Andy beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed. She added the molasses and vanilla as she waited for the lemon zest, which she added once Miranda had completed her chore.

Miranda got up from the breakfast bar and left the room leaving the zest on the counter

"Is this good?" Cassidy asked after a few minutes

Looking over the mixture Andy smiled. "It's perfect. Come over here and help me mix it. It needs to be done slowly. OK?" Andy asked.

"Yes chief." Cassidy grinned wickedly. They poured the dry ingredients into the Kitchenaid slowly as the blended it all into a smooth dough before switching the Kitchenaid off.

"I need two sheets of plastic wrap." Andy told Caroline. As she pulled the wrap from its roll and laid it out on the bench Andy divided the cookie dough into two. "We need to leave this for an hour or so now." Andy explained as Miranda re-entered the room with a smile on her face.

"Movie?" She asked them happily.

"Yes!" The three of them said unanimously.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Andy grabbed her journals and pen from the study as they moved towards the living room, smiling at the raised eyebrow on the editor's face.

"Do you have much more writing to do?" Miranda asked quietly as she followed the young woman.

"Just a few more pages and I'll be done." Andy told her. "You don't mind?" She asked hesitantly.

"No." Miranda smiled. "I'm grateful just to have your presence in the room." Miranda said.

"I love you." Andy whispered as she pulled Miranda into a hug.

"And I you my darling." Miranda said smiling brightly. "Now let's see what movie my terrors have chosen?"

Andy grabbed Miranda's hand and led her up the stairs to the living room. Making their way to the sofa each sat in the same spots as before. The twins rather than sitting on their beanbags snuggled between the women.

"What are you writing?" Cassidy asked as she wrapped herself around Andy.

"Just my journal." Andy explained. "I want to get everything down while I remember it." Andy smiled at the young redhead. "So what have you chosen to watch?" She asked.

"Miracle on 34th Street. The 1947 original, it's mom's favourite Christmas movie." Caroline grinned across at her from Miranda's side.

"It's one of mine too along with It's a Wonderful Life. I like the new one too." Andy sat back as Miranda started the movie, a gentle smile forming on her face.

Pulling her feet underneath her Andy rested her journals open on the arm of the sofa and started scribbling on a new page as she occasionally glanced at the writing within her old journal and occasionally across to the TV. Cassidy lay curled up with her head on Andy's thigh and occasionally Andy ran her fingers through the young girl's wild red curls.

About an hour into the movie Andy's attention was captured by a question. "Andy what did you want for Christmas when you were our age?" Caroline asked curiously.

"Mm that's easy. A Sega Game Gear or Nintendo Gameboy. They were quite expensive though. I think that was the year I got a new Super Soaker, my first leather bound journal and some Troll Dolls." Andy grinned happily at memories of her ten year old self. "It was different back then, the advances in technology over the last 15 years has been amazing."

Miranda snorted back a laugh. "I can picture you at ten with a big grin and unruly curls soaking everyone with freezing water."

Andy laughed. "I'm pretty sure that was the case, I'll have to ask..." Andy stalled as she realised she couldn't ask her parents to share their memories of Christmas past. Tears sprang into her eyes. "Anyway I bought myself my first handheld console aged twelve, I saved birthday and Christmas money from aunts, uncles and my grandparents and the cash made from doing odd jobs." She swiped her eyes and focused in her journal until she gained control of her whirling emotions.

"Why did you have to save?" Cassidy asked. "Didn't your parents give you what you wanted?" She looked up at the brunette curiously

"They gave me everything I needed Cass. I was brought up in a middle class family. My parents are lawyers but my mom only works part-time hours, she spent a lot of my childhood as a stay-at-home mom. We weren't poor but there wasn't always a vast amount of money floating around for luxuries." Andy explained gently. "You girls are extraordinarily lucky. Your mom works like a crazy lady to provide with you with this life. To be able to give you the best education, to give you whatever you want and need." Andy smiled at the young girl.

"Will we meet your parents?" Cassidy asked gently.

"I don't know Cass. They're not really supportive of some of the choices I've made over the last few years." Andy said hesitantly. "I hope you do get to meet them one day, they always wanted grandchildren."

"Well you have us. We'll always support you." Cassidy told Andy as she wrapped her arms around her.

Extracting herself with a quick apology Andy closed her journals and made her way from the room and to the bathroom. Leaning her back against the door she let her tears fall. She felt she couldn't let the twins see her fall apart. She took her time to get her emotions under control before splashing her face with cold water to remove the tell-tale tear marks.

Opening the door she walked straight into Miranda and found herself being pushed back into the room. "The girls are worried. Are you OK my darling?" Miranda queried softly as she brushed an errant curl out of Andy's eyes.

"I'm fine, or I will be. I just...you know...I just didn't want to break down in front of them. They've already had such an emotional day." Andy explained as she fought against a fresh onslaught of tears. "I just can't believe my parents are being so..."

"They want what is best for you Andréa, as do I. Right now their views may not be in alignment with yours but they will come around my love. They will be there to celebrate your successes in life, which I am positive will be many. Just give them time." Miranda told her gently as she swiped at the single tear that had made its escape at her words.

"I want to believe that, I want to hope. How do you do it sweetheart? How do you continue to find that ray of hope in the darkness?" Andy asked.

"It is only in the darkness that we can see the stars." Miranda sighed sadly. "I learned a long time ago that hope isn't pretending that our troubles don't exist my darling, it is knowing they won't last forever. You have me and our girls supporting you at every step and you will heal and overcome your difficulties, coming out of this pain stronger and more resilient." Miranda told her. "May I ask something?"

"Anything." Andy whispered.

"When you came home you said you were following your heart, but what pushed you? Was it the feeling that happiness could potentially come from the choice?" Miranda asked.

"Yes, with a healthy dose of fear that I may be rejected." Andy told her softly.

Miranda pulled her in and held her close as she whispered. "That feeling pushing you was hope my darling, and hope is the only thing stronger than fear." Miranda pulled back and gave her a bright smile. "You have hope within you Andréa, it may be very well hidden but you just have to search for it, find the courage to grasp it and not let your fears overwhelm you. You are one of the bravest people I have had the pleasure to meet, you are truly amazing." Placing a soft kiss on Andy's lips Miranda stepped back and made to leave her. "I will leave you to do what you need. We will be waiting for you my darling when you are ready to return to us."

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy returned to the living room fifteen minutes later armed with juice, diet soda, coffee and a family bag of Cheetos. Squealing the twins launched themselves towards her on order to grab the snacks. Cassidy ran back to the sofa Cheetos raised triumphantly over her head.

"Well I know how to get around you two, all that's needed is a well-timed Cheetos run." Andy smiled happily at the twins.

"Where did you go?" Cassidy asked.

"Have you been crying, your eyes are red?" Caroline asked softly.

"I went to get snacks, make coffee for your mom and check the cookie dough. Should be ready to roll and bake once the movie's over." Andy said thinking she had successfully dodged Caroline's question.

Caroline stood looking up at her, blue eyes, so much like her mothers, gazing up at her with affection before wrapping her arms around Andy. Holding her tight she mumbled into Andy's stomach incoherently.

"What was that Caro?" Andy asked softly.

Stepping back she looked back up at her and smiled. "I said we love you. We want you to be happy with us."

"I am gorgeous girl, I promise. There will be occasional things that make me sad and I may sometimes need a few minutes to get myself together but it's not because of being here with you." Andy explained. "Come on let's finish watching this movie, we have about 30 minutes until the dough has settled enough." Leading the young girl to the sofa she placed the cold drinks on the table, handing Miranda her coffee with a brief smile, she picked Caroline up and sat her on her lap as Cassidy snuggled back in. Placing a soft kiss on both heads she whispered. "I love you all."

xxxxxxxxxx

The movie ended and Andy led the twins back to the kitchen. Miranda followed behind and attached her iPod to the Bose speakers and started playing Christmas songs as she perched herself at the breakfast bar.

"Right my little imps, as you can see the oven's preheating I organised the baking trays. I need cookie cutters, more flour and rolling pins." Cassidy ran to one of the drawers and pulled out a range of cookie cutters as Caroline grabbed the flour and two rolling pins. Grinning they both made their way back to Andy.

"I want to do Gingerbread people." Cassidy said.

"Well I want Santa and Christmas trees." Caroline said sticking her tongue out at her sister.

"OK, no arguments. Caroline give your sister a rolling pin and we'll get started." She sprinkled flour in two spots on the worktop at either side of her and placed the dough's in each spot. "Right sprinkle a light coating of flour on top of your dough and on your rolling pins and start rolling your dough until it's an even 1/4-inch. If it starts sticking use more flour. OK? When that's done cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the baking trays."

"Yes Andy." They replied together.

Andy made her way over to the older woman. Stroking the side of Miranda's face she looked at her and offered a sweet smile. "What would you like for dinner?"

"We could order out. I'm sure the girl's wouldn't mind. How about Thai?" Miranda asked.

"I can cook if you like, I have a couple of recipes for a Thai dishes. There's a really good Thai beef and broccoli stir-fry dish I learned, it pairs really well with coconut rice." Andy smiled happily.

"That sounds delicious." Miranda whispered as she placed a kiss on her cheek. "Do not feel you have to do this for us all Andréa."

"Maybe I want to my love." Andy told her.

"Well who am I to refuse you anything." Miranda questioned softly causing Andy to grin.

"I best go back to the terrors before they take it upon themselves to start a flour fight." Hearing a snort coming from behind her she turned and rolled her eyes as the twin's gave her a faux innocent look before pelting her with flour. Andy playfully growled as she stalked towards them causing them to squeal as she picked up a handful of flour and blew it over them before they all began to laugh.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Hours had passed since Andy and the twins had baked their cookies and she had helped them to decorate them. They'd all settled back in the living room to watch movies and play board games.

Andy was relaxed, she'd spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening laughing with the twins and teasing Miranda. She had found the editor was a poor loser after a game of Scrabble ended with Miranda tipping the board over and declaring the game quite ridiculous. She had cooked an early dinner of Thai Beef with Broccoli with coconut rice for the Priestley's who had raved over it, and they'd extracted promises that she'd cook for them again soon. After dinner they had made their way back to the living room.

Getting up from her seat she made her way to the bedroom she had been sharing with Miranda and searching through her luggage found the packages she had set aside for them all. Smiling she made her way back to the living room.

Entering the room she found three pairs of blue eyes on her sparkling with curiosity at the gift wrapped packages in her hands. "We had a tradition when I was growing up that I wanted to share with you." Andy explained. She handed the gifts over. "Every Christmas Eve we got to open one gift, it was always the same thing. Please open them." She smiled at the look of excitement on the twins face as they tore at the wrappings.

Opening the gifts they looked down to find brightly coloured silks.

"What is it?" Miranda asked softly.

Cassidy shook out the purple silk in her hands and gasped at the intricate design of the kurta and churidar custom pyjamas in her hands, she traced the silver embroidery around the neck of the kurta. "Wow! They're beautiful." She whispered reverently. "What colour did you get Caro?"

"Mine are green with silver embroidery." Caroline said happily. "What about you mom?" She asked.

Miranda gently opened her package and looked down. She saw the matching silver embroidery emblazoned on blue silk. "Cerulean." She whispered her eyes blazing with happiness. "I see you have a similar package, what colour did you choose for yourself?"

Andy smiled and started opening her package. "To be exact it was violet for Cass, emerald green for Caro, cerulean for you my love, and I requested a fire engine red for myself." Andy smiled happily as she shook her pyjamas out of their packaging. Miranda snorted her laughter causing Andy's shoulders to shake with her own silent laughter. Getting herself under control she told them. "I had them custom made at a shop I found in Delhi. When I knew I was coming home I asked them to ship them to the U.S. I picked them up the morning of my arrival, even before I had booked into that hotel." Andy grinned happily as the twins launched themselves at her and wrapped their arms around their waist.

"Thanks Andy." Caroline whispered.

"You're very welcome honey." Andy told her gently.

"I can't believe you remembered our favourite colours." Cassidy said.

"I remember everything you have ever shared with me my little imps." Andy said as she gave them a tighter squeeze.

Releasing themselves from Andy they scooped up their new pyjamas and stormed out of the room and upstairs declaring a pyjama night was needed.

Andy walked over to Miranda who was smiling gently at her. "Thank you Andréa, they are beautiful."

Andy blushed. "It was just a little something."

"Handmade to exact specifications, hand embroidered. A lot of work went into the choices and into the items themselves. And you have the audacity to say it's just a little something'." Miranda shook her head. "You are special my Andréa, a truly beautiful soul." Miranda shook her head and cupped her face. "Now the twins have declared this to be a pyjama night so I think we should go up and do as our daughter's wish."

"That's the second time you have referred to them as ours Miranda." Andy said as tears sprang into her eyes.

"You offered yourself up as a second parent. I assume you have not changed your mind." Miranda said with a smirk.

"Never." Andy whispered. "You're all mine and I'm never letting go." Pulling Miranda close she gave her a soft kiss. "Let's go on up, I can't wait to see how your eyes sparkle when you are wearing my favourite blue."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Come on then, you know how our daughters love to be kept waiting."

"Just like their mother." Andy giggled as she was pulled out of the room by an impatient Miranda.

xxxxxxxxxx

Fifteen minutes later Miranda walked back into the living room to find Andy and the twins curled up together on the sofa in a similar position they held in the car that afternoon. Pulling her iPhone out she snapped a few photos as they laughed, talked and cuddled and sent them to Nigel. Her cell buzzed quickly causing Andy to look up with a smile.

nkips: OMG how cute are those three. Donatella wants to know why you're not in the photo. I'm sure that woman's brain is in her ass xox

m.p: Donatella's with you? Don't tell her I'm home, last time it took me hours to get rid of her and her usual entourage x

nkips: Too late, she's just called her driver. Pull out your shittiest wine, that'll prompt her to leave quickly. xox

Miranda frowned. "Goddamnit."

"What's wrong sweetheart." Andy asked softly as Miranda sat beside her.

"It looks like Nigel, Donatella and whatever entourage she has in place is about to descend." Miranda told her.

"Oh, well how bad can it be?" Andy asked. "She is one if your closest acquaintances." Andy smirked.

"You used the correct term there. She is an acquaintance. I struggle with the whole friendship thing. I have Nigel and now you. And I'm happy with that. Donatella's just a bit full on." Miranda told her. "And we are settled for the evening, I'm in my pyjamas for Christ's sake."

"And you look beautiful my love." Andy told her with a smile. "Should we go get changed back?"

"Not a chance, this is a new tradition for our family, if they don't like it they can leave." Miranda stated firmly.

"I like Donatella mom, she's so outrageous." Cassidy grinned happily.

"And she calls us the devil's children 'because of the red hair." Caroline giggled.

"No?" Andy exclaimed in horror. "She better not do so in front of me."

"Watch out for any Italian words including Diavolo or Demonio then." Cassidy told Andy mischief lighting up her eyes as she looked up at the brunette.

"It's not funny Cass. I know a few people in school who were bullied because they had red hair. One of my friend's was told that she had no soul because it, it made her feel awful. I have to admit that on many occasions when dealing with Emily I came to the same conclusion, I think that may just be her though."

Miranda laughed heartily at that and shook her head. "Tell Andréa what I told you all those years ago." She asked.

"Mom told us that having red hair is like having a natural superpower, because the ginger gene is a natural mutation. And as our hair retains its natural pigment a lot longer than other hair colours, it will fade like moms did to that gorgeous silvery-white." Caroline grinned happily.

"Well your mom's hair is a beautiful colour." Andy grinned. "I love your unruly red hair, I think your both beautiful."

"I like your hair, its wild." Cassidy told her. "And Caro loves your eyes, they were the first thing she noticed. She said they were kind."

"Shut up..." Caroline hissed at her sister blushing with embarrassment.

"Hey no arguing." Andy told them gently offering them a grin and another hug.

"If we are having guests I suppose we should move." Cassidy offered

"You can sit with me or on me as long as you like. My lap's available for all three of you anytime." Andy told them.

"Nah it's OK. If Donatella's coming she'll expect us to perform something on the Piano, she always says something about mom raving about our piano skills. We'll go arrange some snacks." Caroline smiled at Andy as she and Cassidy moved off her lap and out of the room.

"So your lap's always available?" Miranda asked with a smirk. Seeing Andy nod she moved across and perched herself on it happily, snuggling into Andy with a sigh. "I'm sorry we're about to get bombarded with unexpected guests."

"It's OK sweetheart. I can always unleash my pet dragon if things get too out of hand." Andy grinned happily as Miranda chuckled. "Seriously though I will not allow for anyone to disrespect you or the girls in your home."

"Our home." Miranda told her. "I want this to be your home too. I want us to continue to make memories here, like these ones." Miranda showed her the photo's she'd taken and sent to Nigel. "I love the one of you laughing as the girls kissed your cheeks. It's beautiful." Miranda smiled. "All that we need now is one of us."

"Well that's easy enough." Andy grinned widely. "Give me your cell." She asked. As the cell was handed over she extended her hand and looked at Miranda. "Smile my love." She smiled happily as Miranda poked her tongue out at her. Capturing it on camera she pulled her arm back and viewed it. "This here's a perfect one for Page Six." Andy laughed.

Miranda looked at the photo and smiled as she sent it to Andy's cell. "I think we can do better than that." Straddling Andy's lap she put the camera on. Extending her arm outwards she caught Andy's lips in a gentle kiss and took a photo. Dropping her cell in the sofa beside them she deepened the kiss and they got lost in the moment. They didn't hear the stampeding twin footfalls down the stairs or the opening of the front door as their guests arrived.

"Bella Miranda...Ah I'm so sorry to interrupt..." They broke apart at the softly accented voice coming from the doorway, as Miranda looked over her shoulder she met the shocked gaze of Donatella and Nigel who was grinning widely.

"Hi Donatella, hey Nige." Andy said with a bright smile over Miranda's shoulder.

"Miranda, you should greet your unexpected guests." Andy reminded her with a smirk.

Miranda turned back to the brunette and rolled her eyes. Giving her a brief kiss she slid off her knee and stalked across the room. "Good evening, what an unexpected pleasure." Miranda said, her tone indicating it was anything but.

"Sì, Nigel received a photo. I was under the impression you would be at the Hampton's house for the holiday." Donatella said, her disbelief evident in her tone.

"Well things surprisingly changed three days ago." Miranda said waving in Andy's direction. "My Andréa came back from Asia and well as you can see there's been a significant change in our relationship."

"You are in your pyjamas?" Donatella was shocked.

"Yes I am." Miranda said. "We were not expecting guests and were settling in for a night of movies with the twins." She offered a cold smile. "Would you care for a glass of wine, or something stronger perhaps?"

"Who designed these?" Donatella demanded as she stroked the silk and silver embroidery at Miranda's wrist.

Pulling her wrist back Miranda looked disgusted at the touch. "They were custom made in India..."

"But who designed them?" Donatella asked again.

Andy stood and stalked across the room and clasped Miranda's hand entwining their fingers. "I did." She said, blushing at the look of shock and amazement on the other women's faces and the confusion on Nigel's.

"You? I saw you when you first arrived in Runway, in your ugly skirts and blouses. True, you became better dressed to a certain extent, but what gave you the impression you could design something and have one of the greatest women in fashion wear it?" Donatella hissed at her in disbelief.

"My love for her did." Andy told her, unable to mask her anger at the Italian woman's words. "I provided something comfortable for my Miranda to wear after a long day filled with incompetence, something as beautiful as she is, something that can offer a multitude of magnificent colours to delight the senses and an intricacy in design that you know has been achieved with nothing but love and dedication by those blessed enough to have the creativity to do so." Andy looked over at Donatella's canary yellow dress, perfectly moulded to her skin, a thigh high split allowing movement, feathers aligning the shoulder strap and smirked. "A design so simple in execution it doesn't look like a Sylvester has vomited Tweety Pie's feathers all over it." Andy smiled with fake innocence as Nigel and Miranda fought against their laughter and Donatella sputtered, unable to find a comeback. "Now if you'll excuse me I must go find the twins."

"They're in the kitchen with Emily and Serena. I'll walk down with you." Nigel told her with a chuckle. "We'll go on a wine hunt while we're at it. Come on Six."

"Lead on Nige, I think wine may be a necessity tonight." She brushed a kiss against Miranda's cheek and gave her a wink. "I'll see you very soon my love."

xxxxxxxxxx

Nigel led Andy down the stairs holding back his laughter. As they reached the ground floor he sat on the bottom of the stairs and let his laughter run free. Wiping his eyes with his handkerchief he said. "God Six, I forgot how proficient you were at providing a barbed comment when necessary. You could seriously give Miranda a run for her money. The only difference is that you do it with a smile leaving the recipient in doubt as to the meaning."

"That damn woman is infuriating. How dare she have the audacity to say what she did to me?" Andy hissed. "And that dress is fucking hideous. I adored her yellow spring/summer ready to wear collection and then she ruins it with feathers and unnecessary embellishments."

Nigel guffawed. "She's jealous Six, she's been trying to dress Miranda for years, and it is a very rare occurrence when Miranda allows herself to be dressed by the House of Versace, having always preferred Valentino." Nigel looked at her. "Any other designs up your sleeves?"

"No not really, it was just something that came to mind in India. The vast array of silk in a multitude of colour was breathtaking." Andy said with a small smile.

"You've grown some taste at least." This came from across the hall. Upon looking up she saw Emily leaning against the door frame of the kitchen. "Those twin terrors look almost angelic dressed in their silk pyjamas."

Andy gave her a wide smile. "Where are they?"

Emily nodded her head in the direction of the kitchen. "They're busy regaling Serena with tales of the awesome Andy, it's quite nauseating. I should go say hello to Miranda."

Andy made her way towards her, as they came abreast at the door Andy whispered. "Be careful up there. Donatella is less than amused with the awesome Andy." She grinned at the redhead.

"Well I'll be in good company then. You do realise that you'll have made things at Runway quite difficult. The press had just died down after the divorce." Emily fumed.

"Ah put a sock in it Em, you're such a party pooper." Nigel told her. "Seeing Miranda happy will be worth it."

"And on that note now it's definitely time to find the wine." Andy said as she entered the kitchen.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy spent time in the kitchen gathering snacks with the twins and Serena as Nigel looked through Miranda's selection of wine.

Making some choices Nigel made his way back upstairs with the twins following, leaving Andy and Serena. Serena was laughing as Andy explained that the twins had declared it to be a pyjama night after being handed their Christmas Eve gifts.

"Well you look delightful querida, red suits you well. And the twin's look happy." She told the brunette. "The whole house seems lighter."

"It's been a crazy few days Serena, it's been an emotional rollercoaster. We're happy though." Andy explained.

"Well as long as you are happy and there is love then nothing else matters." Serena stated. "I am wooing Emily, slowly."

Andy grinned. "That's fantastic, how's it going so far?" She asked.

"It's requiring much patience. She is not always easy to love, I sometimes feel like I take one step forward and two steps back." Serena sighed. "I should go find her and stake my claim."

"I have no idea how she could she refuse you, you're glorious. Go get your woman sweetie." Andy gave her a megawatt smile.

"Are you coming too?" Serena asked as she began to walk away.

"Yeah, I should. I left Miranda with Donatella after I insulted her." Andy grinned as she stepped beside Serena.

"What did you say?" Serena queried.

"Just that her dress looked as if Sylvester had vomited Tweety's feathers all over it." Andy sniggered as they climbed the stairs.

"Ai meu Deus!" Serena exhaled before letting her laughter flow. "You've been missed Andy." Serena told her exuberantly as they walked into the living room.

Smiling Andy looked across the room to find Emily on her knees with her open journal and loose papers in hand. With two strides she was in front of the redhead, placing the snacks on the coffee table she extended her hand to Emily, anger and disappointment filling her dark eyes. "I'll take those thank you." She stated softly.

"It's not what it looks like..." Emily stuttered. "I knocked them off the armrest and..."

Seeing the look in Andy's eyes she hastily shut the journal and handed everything over. "Your drawings are beautiful Andy." Emily told her softly.

Andy spun on her heels, picking up her new journal from its resting place she stalked from the room.

"What on Earth Em? What was in those pictures?" Nigel whispered curiously as Miranda listened intently zoning Donatella out as she babbled incessantly.

"Miranda, you, the twins, Serena and even me...and some of the most beautiful designs I've ever seen." She whispered to him as she closed her eyes. "My God they were exceptional."

Miranda stood quickly with a tight lipped apology to Donatella. Walking over to the twins and whispered in their ears. "Mommy has to go check on Andy, I'm sure everyone would love it if you played them some Christmas songs."

"OK Mom, give Andy a hug and bring her here, she promised she'd sing Hallelujah for us, badly." Cassidy grinned and Miranda returned her smile.

As she made her way from the room she saw a loose piece of paper on the floor, bending she picked it up and found herself gasping at her likeness on the page, an exact sketch of her as she descended the stairs at the Met Gala.

Nigel saw the picture over her shoulder. "Wow! That's sensational." He whispered. Looking at him over her shoulder Miranda nodded once in agreement. Catching sight of the tears forming behind the look of amazement in her eyes he told her. "Go find her and show her just how incredible she is."

"I had no idea..." Miranda told him.

"I think Six may continue to baffle and surprise us all Mira." He told her with a smile. "Go on now!"

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda checked the study before walking upstairs to the bedroom, entering the room she exhaled a sigh of relief at the sight of Andy sat crossed legged on their bed entangled with Christmas gift wrap. Andy looked up and blushed. "Hey sweetheart." She whispered.

"Hey yourself." Miranda whispered. "I've been looking for you." She smiled softly.

"I just needed five minutes. I kind of overreacted with Em." She muttered.

"No, not an overreaction, you came in and saw what you thought was someone going through your journal, it's understandable that you'd be upset, however you remained calm." Miranda walked towards her. "What are you wrapping?" She asked curiously.

"Oh just a final present." Andy smiled softly. "I was just about to clear this away and come back down."

"This was on the floor." She sat beside Andy the drawing still in her hand. "I didn't know you could draw." Miranda told her.

Andy blushed furiously. "It's just a hobby, it's not like I'm any good."

"No, you're exceptional." Miranda moved the wrapping paper and laid the picture out between them. "This is mind blowing my love. Just when I think I know you, how amazing you are, it seems like you give me more to admire about you."

Andy smiled at Miranda's words. "I did that one while I was at the monastery in Nepal. I couldn't get the vision of you from that night out of my head."

"Will you show me the rest?" Miranda asked carefully.

"You really want to see them?" Andy queried stunned. "Like I said, it's just a hobby. It's not like I'm a serious artist or anything and it's obvious you know real art, you have a Picasso in your study."

"You have a natural talent my darling. Even Emily could see your drawings were extraordinary. Please show me the rest." Miranda asked again.

"OK." Andy got on her knees and reached over to the bedside table. Picking up her journal she pulled the loose sheaths of paper from the middle and handed them to Miranda, her nervousness obvious to the older woman.

Miranda viewed each drawing with a smile, seeing ones of Emily and Serena separately and together. Pointing to one of them both Miranda smiled. "Maybe you should give this one to Emily. You've captured the love in Serena's eyes beautifully. I've seen her give Emily that look in the office many times. Emily is often oblivious."

"Serena is trying to court Em as we speak." Andy grinned. "She says it is not always easy."

"What is with Emily?" Miranda's sigh turned into a wide smile as she flipped to the next drawing. "Oh I love this one." The drawing she was smiling at was of Nigel, head back laughing while a fashion shoot was going on in the background. "Where did this come from?"

Andy smiled. "That was the Urban Jungle shoot in Central Park. I'd had to run over to the park with an outfit, I was bitching about one thing or another and Nigel told me to adjust my attitude or he'd feed me to one of the models."

Miranda gave her a knowing look. "Whatever could you have been bitching about?" She smirked. The next picture had Miranda gasping. "Oh Andréa, may I have it?" She looked down into the twinkling eyes of her twins drawn on the page, laughter evident on their faces, a moment of pure joy captured with the gentle brush of a pencil. "I would cherish it greatly. I would love to have it sat in my office."

"Of course, I'll have it framed for you." Andy smiled at the woman sat beside her as she flipped through more of her drawings, smiling happily at the sketch of Patricia and laughing at her drawings of Irv as a toad and Jacqueline with a skunk tail.

Miranda reached the one's focused on her. She was stunned at Andy's ability to capture her in various moods, from the contemplative as she brushed her pen across her lips as she sat deep in thought behind her desk at Runway, to one where she was leaning against the window as it rained, her cell against her ear with a soft smile on her lips.

"That's one of my favourites, you were talking to the imps at the time." Andy smiled softly.

"How do you capture these moments my love?" Miranda asked breathlessly.

"From memory." Andy shrugged. "I watch people, certain things just seem to become ingrained into my mind."

The final drawing really captured Miranda's attention, a self-portrait, she saw the sadness captured in dark eyes even behind the brilliant smile. "This one...this is beautiful but that look in your eyes...that look makes my heart ache," Miranda whispered.

"I did that one in Thailand. After I left Bangkok I went to Koh Chang, I drew that as I sat on Hat Tha Nam, it's known as the Lonely Beach. It was after you stopped emailing. It wasn't a particularly happy time. I found myself in a very dark place." Andy explained.

Miranda clasped her hand. "I am sorry my love, I did what I thought best." Miranda looked at her tenderly.

"I know, and I do understand." Andy told her as she squeezed the hand in hers.

"One day I hope to see a new self-portrait with the happiness you feel expressed in those beautiful eyes." Miranda smiled softly at Andy. "You are incredible my love, you have so many hidden talents. Now will you show me your designs?"

Andy sputtered. "How...what...how...How do you know about them?"

Miranda smiled. "Well you admitted to Donatella you had designed these beautiful pyjamas. Emily saw your sketches as she picked up your journal. I understand if you do not wish to show me." Miranda was curious as to why her love was so hesitant. "Maybe another time though?" She shrugged. "We should go join our guests. Cassidy mentioned something about a promise to sing a song." Miranda stood up and stretched. Andy followed slowly, moving to pick up the gift wrap and other items she had been using prior to Miranda's arrival in the room.

"Miranda, I want..." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "...I will show you my other sketches. Let's get rid of everyone and get the twins to sleep first. Is that OK?"

Miranda gave her a wide smile. Walking three steps towards Andy she pulled her in for a kiss, whispering. "I love you my Andréa. Thank you for being willing to share this side of yourself with me."

"I want to share everything with you, I want you to know me Miranda. I love you." Andy told her. Turning away she swiped a tear away and scooped the picture of Emily and Serena up. Rolling it she found a piece of red ribbon leftover from her wrapping and tied it around in a bow. Taking the scissors off her bedside table she scored the ends to create curls. "I think that's Em's Christmas gift sorted." She said with an attempt at brightness. "Come on, the quicker we go down the quicker everyone will leave."

"God I hope so." Miranda whispered hopefully.

xxxxxxxxxx

The rest of the evening passed without incident. Donatella often gazing at Andy, curiosity in her eyes, but she refused to speak with her directly. Andy shrugged at Em's raised brow and spent her time talking with the twins and Nigel.

The twins had delighted everyone with renditions of different Christmas songs and carols before moving onto popular hits. Andy shocked everyone by singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah accompanied by Cassidy on the piano.

At around 9:30 the twins started yawning. Andy stood up and walked over to the twins, smiling she knelt in front of Cassidy and Caroline. "Right kiddo's bedtime." Hearing multiple protestations about not being tired she laughed. "Well you'll need a good night's rest to be awake enough to open your presents in the morning." She told them. "Right one on the back one on the front." Cassidy jumped on Andy's back, wrapping her arms around her neck and shoulders causing everyone to smile at the scene enfolding. Holding her arms out to Caroline she smiled. "Come on my love." Caroline moved towards her and she picked the young girl up and stood up quickly causing both girls to giggle and hold on tighter.

Miranda stood and walked over and gave her girls a kiss. "Goodnight my Bobbsey's, sleep well."

"G'night mom." They said simultaneously.

Andy made her way out of the room and up the stairs. Depositing the girls on Cassidy's bed she tucked them into the same bed and lay down next to them. She started telling them stories about Christmas in other countries until they fell asleep. Kissing their foreheads she left the room and made her way back to Miranda and their guests.

Their guests decided to leave shortly after Andy's return to the room. As they made their way out Andy pulled Emily to one side and gave her the drawing of her and Serena. In a moment of sentimentality Emily pulled Andy into a hug. Andy used it as a chance to whisper encouragement in her ear about Serena. "Just give this thing with Serena a chance Em. Love is precious, it's the greatest gift someone can bestow on you." Emily pushed her away gently blushing furiously.

"I'll take it into consideration." Emily muttered.

"Well that's certainly a better response than 'shan't'." Andy grinned at the redhead and was greeted with the rolling of eyes. "Be happy Em and Merry Christmas. I'm sorry about before." She shrugged.

"Be happy yourself Andy, you've been missed." Leaning back in for another hug Emily whispered. "By Miranda most of all, you better not hurt her."

"I promise." Andy told her breathlessly.

"We'll have to meet up for those drinks Six." Nigel interrupted them with a wide smile.

"I'll call you Nige or better yet give me your cell and I'll give you my new number." Andy grinned at him as he handed his cell over. She inputted her number quickly and handed his cell back. "Have a good day tomorrow." She told him.

Nigel shook his head. "I'll be heading out to New Jersey first thing in the morning. I can't not see the mother on Christmas Day. It's just a shame my brothers will be there with all their manly chest beating."

"Well try to enjoy yourself." Andy laughed at him and pulled him in for a hug and kissed his cheek before turning to Serena. "Feliz Natal Serena." Andy grinned.

"And to you Andy. I hope for many blessings to you and Miranda." Serena told her softly. "It's good to see you both happy." Serena pulled her into a hug and kissed both cheeks.

"I hope you can find the same happiness." Andy told her softly. "Don't give up on Em. She's guarded but I think she'll be worth the effort." Pulling back she smiled at her three ex-workmates. Catching Donatella's eye she smiled. "It was a pleasure seeing you again Donatella."

"Likewise." Donatella told her coldly. Kissing Miranda's cheeks enthusiastically she said. "Ciao bella." She swept from the Townhouse as the others followed calling out their Christmas wishes.

As Miranda closed the door she leaned against it with her eyes closed taking a deep breath. Opening them her eyes blazed as she looked at Andy. "I don't think Donatella is too impressed with you." Miranda told her amusement shining in the depth of her blue eyes.

Andy was unable to find the same amusement from the situation. "To be honest I wasn't too impressed with her either. Her comment to me at the start of the evening was unnecessary." Andy told her. "I am already very much aware that there is a vast difference in status between us. I also know I have nothing to offer. I didn't need her input to make me feel even more worthless and unequal to you than I already do."

Andy spun around and stalked to the kitchen as Miranda looked after her in shock. Following slowly Miranda saw Andy stacking the dishwasher. "I'm sorry if I have not made you feel as if you are my equal." Miranda said softly to Andy's back. "It was never my intention..." Miranda trailed off as Andy spun around.

"It's not you Miranda, never think that. I know to you I am your equal and you have treated me as such." She closed her eyes fighting against more tears. "To the rest of the world though I'm just some fresh faced kid who is playing the big leagues, punching well above her weight with a very beautiful, highly accomplished, professional woman." Andy took a deep breath as her tears trickled down her face. "She made me uncomfortable tonight. Did you see how she looked at me, all curious, like I'm some specimen under a fucking microscope? Fair enough I insulted that horrific dress of hers but she insulted me too. And before you say it I know it was childish of me to retaliate." Andy swiped at her tears and turned back to the dishes.

Walking towards Andy Miranda rested her hand against Andy's back. "While you were in the kitchen with the twins, Nigel and Serena I told her she was wrong in what she said to you. She has never heard me defend someone the way I did you. Her comments to you were inappropriate, she is aware of that. She also knows that should you wish it she will not be welcome in our home. She is aware I will not go out of my way to socialise outside Runway if she continues to treat you with a lack of courtesy because by disrespecting you she disrespects me." She wrapped her arms around Andy's waist. "I will not have anyone treat you anything but civility in my presence darling, and if you hadn't answered her so eloquently and insulted her so brilliantly, and with such a beautiful smile, then I would have asked her to leave."

Turning Andy pulled Miranda closer and kissed the crown of her head. "I'm sorry sweetheart. I can't seem to get a grip on my damn emotions."

"Things will settle for us Andréa. And we'll show the naysayers how wrong they are about us. Now if you've finished with those dishes I want you to take me to bed."

"But I thought you wanted to see..." Andy's words were cut off as Miranda captured her lips in a penetrating kiss.

"I want to see you...all of you...in our bed." Miranda whispered against her lips. "The rest...well there's always later..."

Andy smiled against the lips, picking Miranda up and feeling the older woman's legs wrap around her she walked out of kitchen, flicking lights off as she moved them through the house she made her way back to their bedroom as Miranda trailed kisses along her jaw and neck. Kicking the door closed behind her she fumbled on handed with the lock before moving them towards the bed. Putting Miranda down in the centre she smiled down at the editor as she stepped back.

"Now you mentioned wanting to see all of me..." She pulled the kurta up and over her head, dropping it on the floor, in one swift move she had also removed the churidar and was stood in only her panties.

Miranda's breath caught in her throat at the fire burning in Andy's eyes as she moved towards the bed and straddled Miranda's thighs. Cupping the older woman's face she placed a gentle kiss on her lips as Miranda's hands grabbed her ass and pulled her closer. Andy continued to press her lips softly against Miranda's as she felt hands stroke from her ass to her hips. She brushed Miranda's moist lips with hers and felt them soft and warm against her own. Miranda found herself intoxicated with the delicacy of the kiss.

The mutual pressure they applied grew steadily harder until she felt Andy bite her bottom lip with her teeth. The slight pain this caused only seemed to heighten her pleasure and she moaned. She wanted Andy to envelop her. She gently swept her tongue into the brunette's mouth, moaning again as Andy's tongue moved gently against hers as their kisses grew more passionate.

Miranda moved her hand from Andy's hip stroking upwards until she could cup her breast, she worked Andy's nipple, through gentle massage between her thumb and forefinger as Andy arched into her touch. Quickly she switched her attention to the other breast. Bending forward, Miranda placed her mouth over Andy's areola and licked causing the young women to shudder with pleasure.

"Oh God" Andy moaned. "I want you so much."

"And you will have me." Miranda whispered as she gazed at the young woman hovering above her. "I'm yours Andréa."

Moving slightly Andy took hold of Miranda's pyjama shirt and pulled it swiftly over her head. Pressing herself closer again she felt the older woman's satin soft hair against her chest as they embraced. "I hope I'm not squashing you." Andy told her gently.

"No my love, and don't you dare move. I love the sound of your heart beating against my ear." Miranda told her.

"You are overdressed sweetheart and although I love the feel of silk between my thighs I infinitely prefer the silkiness of your skin pressed against mine." Andy whispered as she moved back slightly causing Miranda to whimper at the loss of contact.

"Maybe you should finish divesting me of the rest of my clothes." Miranda husked her desire glowing in her eyes.

"Yes Miranda." Andy said cheekily as she slid off the editor's lap and stepped back. Placing her hands at Miranda's waist she let out a deep breath. "Now lift." Andy told her. As Miranda raised her hips Andy pulled off her pyjama bottoms and panties in one fluid movement, leaving her naked.

"Now it is you who is overdressed my love." Miranda stated breathlessly. Pushing herself forward Miranda captured Andy's hips in her hands. Placing her fingers under the elastic of her underwear she pulled them down her long legs until they pooled at the brunettes feet. Raising her eyes to Andy's she smiled. "Come here." She requested. As Andy stepped forward Miranda used her index and middle finger and caressed Andy's aching core causing her to shudder as waves of pleasure erupted in the pit of her stomach. Miranda gently slid her fingers across Andy's clit before moving her fingers down and thrusting them inside her gently.

Andy stumbled slightly towards Miranda who captured her waist in her free arm. Pulling her closer she held her tightly as she continued her gentle thrusts as Andy's breaths became more erratic and her desire grew.

Miranda fitted her face between Andy's open legs and removed her fingers. "I'm going to take my time with you tonight." Miranda told her before licking her slowly. Her taste buds were activated in an instant and she hummed her pleasure, the vibration sending intense waves coursing through Andy.

"Oh God." Andy moaned breathlessly.

At the swipe of her tongue against Andy's clit it became hard and full. she continued to tease her by working her tongue all around it without adding pressure onto the engorged nub. She kept her rhythm and pressure constant, pressing subtlety every when she felt Andy relax. She was bringing Andy towards her climax slowly. She could feel and smell the beginning of Andy's orgasm.

Andy could feel the energy of her rising orgasm moving as Miranda licked and nipped at the flesh around Andy's clit. Making her movement less constant and more careless she took Andy beyond the point of no return.

Moaning throatily Andy came with an explosion. Calling out as Miranda continued to press against her prolonging the orgasm. "Oh my God!" Andy husked. "I'm...I'm...God don't stop!" Her voice sounded gravelly as the orgasm continued to hold her in its grasp and she continued to moan her pleasure. Collapsing as her knees gave out she fell against Miranda who sat back and pulled her close holding her lightly on her lap.

"You are breathtaking my Andréa." Miranda whispered.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Andy and Miranda were wrapped around each other. Miranda had maneuvered them both towards the head of the bed as Andy recovered from the intensity of Miranda's ministrations.

Stirring Andy moved her hand around where Miranda lay on her side and cupped her ass. "I love this, you wouldn't believe the amount of times I watched this as I walked two steps behind you." She whispered as she trailed her hand upwards to her hip. "I love these too, the way they sway as you move, so absolutely delicious." She continued to trail her hand around to her stomach, trailing her fingernails lightly along the faint stretch marks and caesarean scar. "This stomach, which almost hides the fact that you carried the lives of two very exuberant girls, so beautiful." She continued her whispered words the reasons why she loved each of the areas she touched until she reached the editors breasts. Cupping one she ran her thumb over Miranda's nipple, smiling as her gentle touch caused it to react and harden. "Your breasts, a perfect handful." She said breathlessly. "Just waiting for my touch." Her hand moved across to provide the second one the same attention.

Miranda moaned at the soft touches against her breasts. Andy had started to lightly touch the outside, underside, and top of the breasts, bypassing the nipples. Gradually she worked her way towards them and paying attention to Miranda's responses she continued pressing and massaging gently.

Pinching the nipples she watched them becoming harder. Andy increased the pressure as Miranda arched and moaned into her touch. Bending her head she laved her tongue around one nipple, nipping it softly as Miranda squirmed and panted beneath her. Releasing the nipple she blew a warm breath over it creating waves of pleasure.

The build-up of pleasure was gradual, but quite powerful. "Oh God I...I'm going to come..." Miranda told her breathlessly. "...I've never..."

"Shhh and let it happen." Andy told her as Miranda became tense. "Relax my love!" Andy whispered encouragingly as she continued her gentle treatment. "Breathe in and out and just let yourself feel."

As Miranda relaxed her orgasm crashed over her in a strong burst leaving her breathless. Her skin was flushed with the signs of her arousal.

Andy allowed the fingers on one hand to trace back down to the neatly clipped silver triangle as the other moved around her back. As she cupped her and pulled her close their passion took over. They were all over each other, lips clashing as they intertwined and Andy rolled them so Miranda was underneath her.

When Andy found herself skin to skin with Miranda it was as if they became melded together. Andy's fingers stroked inside her folds as Miranda moved her hips to allow deeper access.

Miranda felt a sense of wonder, her entire self-focused on Andy's hand stroking her causing her body to burn with a need fiercer and more urgent than any other she had ever experienced. "Inside please darling." Miranda husked. "I need you inside."

Andy smiled widely at the woman writhing below her. "Your wish is my command my love." Andy entered her deftly with two fingers causing the editor to gasp. Moving gently she alternated between short thrusts of her fingers and deep strokes that caught against the older woman's sensitive spot.

"Oh God..." Miranda's hips started to move in time with Andy's thrusts. "Oh my love..." Miranda called out as her orgasm took over, the inner walls clenching tightly around Andy's fingers as she slowed the thrusts. As Miranda settled Andy removed her fingers gently and hovered over Miranda breathing deeply before moving to her side and pulling Miranda closer. As they lay in each other's arms Miranda ran her nose delicately against Andy's collarbone. "I've never had an orgasm like that." She admitted. "I never concerned myself with the fact that sex left me feeling uninspired, I've always had the feeling like I was missing something, but now I understand."

"What do you understand love?" Andy asked sleepily.

"That I was missing you." Miranda told her. "Wrapped up like this I feel loved, happy and secure. I trust you implicitly. I can't get enough of this, of you." Miranda said hoarsely.

Andy felt a tear hit her chest as Miranda cried quietly in her arms. "Hush, don't cry sweetheart. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere."

"Marry me?" Miranda asked quietly.

"What?" Andy was shocked. Leaning back she was wide awake again. She saw the determination in the blue eyes.

"Marry me Andréa and make me the happiest person in the world." Miranda asked again catching the brunette's eyes.

"But...but...It's not legal." Andy stuttered.

"Not yet it isn't, but it will be." Miranda told her. "We could go to Massachusetts."

"I...you...You're still married Miranda" Andy said.

Miranda bit her lip. "True, my divorce is not yet fully finalised but it will be soon. Maxwell advised it should be done by the end of January at the latest." Miranda told her smiling softly.

"Don't you think it's a bit soon?" Andy asked softly, nervous of Miranda's reaction to her hesitation. The last thing she wanted was for Miranda to feel she was being rejected.

"Maybe you're right about it being a little soon, I am not always so impulsive. I want this though. I want you to be mine always. I know this is forever." Miranda said as she placed a kiss on Andy's collarbone.

Andy moved closer to Miranda, tilting her chin up she caught her eye. "I will always be yours my love, a bit of paper won't change that." Miranda nuzzled her neck as Andy continued to whisper. "One day I will marry you, my answer is and always be a resounding yes. It would be the greatest honour in the world to be able to call myself your wife." Miranda kissed her sternum as she continued to speak. "I won't rush into this though sweetheart. I need to ensure this isn't something you'll come to regret. And when it does happen I'll happily sign whatever prenup you want."

Miranda bounded from the bed a large smile adorning her face. Hurrying to her closet she pulled out a gift wrapped box and held it lightly against her chest before returning to Andy's side. Catching Andy's eye shyly she held out the present. "Merry Christmas my darling. Open it." She whispered.

Andy gently shook the box with a smile before unwrapping it. Finding the ring box she was amazed. "Miranda?" She questioned hesitantly.

"Just open it and let me explain, please." Miranda said nervously.

Opening the box she found a Platinum French Cut Pavé Eternity band set with Black Diamonds and Morganite. "Oh wow, it's beautiful." Andy whispered enthralled.

"It's not an engagement ring my darling." Miranda explained hastily. "It's a promise ring. This eternity ring symbolize my never-ending love, a demonstration of my commitment to you and to the life we are building together. Turn it over."

Andy looked closely and saw the inscription in Miranda's familiar cursive handwriting and her tears started to flow freely.

Would you lie with me and just forget the world? M x

"You remembered?" Andy voice was husky as she became overcome with emotion.

"You told our girls you remembered everything they had shared with you. I remember each moment with you, every word spoken and every word written. This song, the beautiful love song you quoted to me gave me a glimmer of hope when I finally listened to it." Miranda told her smiling gently.

"How did you interpret the lyrics?" Andy asked curiously.

"To me it was about being scared to say I love you, you want to say it and for it to mean something but the fear comes because you've had it said to you and it came to mean nothing." Miranda took a deep breath. "It's about being frustrated because of your inexperience in articulating your feelings, the insecurity that your words can be misinterpreted, and the terror that perhaps you are spoiling everything. But regardless of all that you also just want them by your side, to forget the world and all the doubt and fear and just be."

Andy smiled. "I think it's about finding a better way to tell someone just how passionate you are about them. Not just that you love them, but that you want nothing more than to be with them, to hold them, for the world to shrink down just to you and them. It's more than just 'I love you'." Andy explained. "It feels like a reminder that life is too short. It shows how a person's entire existence and sense of purpose can be encompassed in their love of another, and this love surpasses death. It's forgetting about everything else in the world, all the negativity people have about your relationship and just being, just concentrating on the love and seeing all the beautiful and positive things the world has to offer."

"Will you wear my ring Andréa?" Miranda asked softly her nervousness evident in her eyes. Seeing the brunette's nod Miranda took the ring off her and placed it on her ring finger.

"I'll never take it off." Andy whispered as she pulled Miranda in for a kiss.

Miranda deepened the kiss again as she wrapped herself back around the young woman laying them both down. "We should sleep my love."

"Mm maybe we should get back in our pyjamas and unlock the door." Andy grinned.

"Later." Miranda told her softly. "I have to be up early to organise the presents."

"Wake me when it's time." Andy asked as she yawned and closing her eyes snuggled into Miranda.

"Of course my darling. I love you." Miranda told her.

"Love you more." Andy mumbled sleepily.

xxxxxxxxxx

Miranda's alarm woke them at 5am. Hearing the vibration Andy turned over and put her back to Miranda. Miranda heard the faint grumble under her breath as Andy pulled her pillow over her head, her behaviour causing Miranda to smirk. Switching off the alarm she turned towards Andy and pulled her back to her chest. "Darling, you asked me to wake you." She whispered in Andy's ear. "The twins will be awake in an hour or so. I need to organise their gifts."

"Mm'ok, am awake." Andy mumbled sleepily.

"So it seems." Miranda whispered cheekily as she moved away. Climbing out of bed she grabbed her pyjamas from where they were thrown on the floor the night before and shrugged them on. Making her way towards the door Andy's voice halted her progress.

"Hey, you forget something?" Andy asked her as she rolled onto her back. Miranda looked over her shoulder to see Andy pouting as she stared at the editor.

Smiling she walked over to the bed. Bending over the brunette she brushed a kiss against her lips. "Good morning my love. Merry Christmas" Miranda said.

Andy pulled her closer as she deepened their kiss. Breaking away she said. "Good morning to you too beautiful, I have a feeling this is going to be the best Christmas."

"I must say I love our morning greetings." Miranda told her softly as she untangled herself and stepped back. "I'm going to go down and get organised for the day. If you're not down in five minutes I know where to find you." Miranda grinned at Andy as she watched her scramble out of bed and put her pyjamas back on.

"If you promise to greet me like that every morning I shall be one very happy wife." Andy said lovingly as she looked at Miranda. Miranda's breath caught at Andy's words before she offered her a beautiful smile.

Making her way to her bags Andy pulled out the gifts she had wrapped and filled her arms. "I should really take the time to unpack." She shrugged. "Ah well, I'm ready when you are sweetheart." She told Miranda with a wide smile.

Miranda led the brunette silently down the hall towards the stairs. As they passed the twins bedrooms Andy giggled at Miranda's exaggerated tiptoeing. Miranda stopped and looking at Andy placed a finger over her lips and smirked. "Hush." She whispered. Feeling Andy nod she continued to move until a floorboard creaked. Rolling her eyes she continued to move steadily down the stairs and into the living room.

Andy smiled as Miranda took some of the gifts from her and placed them under the waiting Christmas tree. Once Andy's arms were empty she clasped the brunette's hand and pulled her down to her study. Walking them to the desk she pulled a key out of her drawer and moved to a closet at the far side of the room. Unlocking the door she opened it and Andy was amazed to see piles of gifts.

"Wow." She muttered. "How long did it take to wrap those?"

"I have no idea, the two Emily's did some, the others I had Emily organise a professional gift wrapping service" Miranda smirked.

"Ouch, I can only imagine the paper cuts." Andy smiled.

"Yes well, last time I wrapped something the gift fell out of the bottom as I handed it over." Miranda grinned. "It's not exactly my strong suit."

Andy laughed. "Mine's never pretty but at least it's generally secure."

Miranda smirked. "Now if we can move these quickly and quietly we can go back to bed." Miranda promised.

"I'm on it sweetheart." Andy claimed playfully as she stepped across to grab an armful of gifts.

After four trips between the living room and study the cupboard was empty. They stood side by side in the study looking at the empty closet.

"Do you want coffee?" Andy asked as she stifled a yawn. Looking down at her watch she saw it was nearly 6am.

"Bed." Miranda whispered. "Coffee can wait."

Andy grinned widely. "OK. But no funny business once we're there Priestley." Andy's smile widened as Miranda rolled her eyes and laughed.

"I'm sure I can keep my hands to myself Sachs." Miranda quipped.

"Good. The last thing I want is to scar my imps with any age inappropriate images." Andy claimed as she stepped into Miranda's personal space and pulled a sprig of mistletoe out of her pocket. Holding it above their heads she brushed a soft kiss against Miranda's lips.

Miranda sighed into the kiss wrapping her arms around the taller woman. "I love you my darling." She whispered as she broke the kiss and hugged her fiercely. "You have made me happier these last few days then I remember ever being. Thank you for coming home."

"There's no place in this whole world I'd rather be sweetheart. Thank you for...well...for everything. You're really something special." Andy told her. "Come on upstairs. We can wait for the imps to wake up and I'll make us all some breakfast."

Clasping Miranda's hand she entwined their fingers and pulled her from the room and back up the stairs as Miranda muttered. 'While I may be able to keep my hands to myself I can't promise to keep my lips to myself."

Grinning widely at the woman by her side she whispered. "Wow, how did I get so lucky?"

"I am unbelievably blessed to have you in my life my darling. You're not like anyone else I've known, you are so much more..." Miranda whispered breathlessly as they reached the bedroom.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

They were back in bed, cuddled side by side in companionable silence. Looking at the older woman Andy shifted slightly and pulled a ream of papers from the back of her journal. "Here." She whispered nervously. "My other sketches."

Miranda scanned through many of the sketches a small smile gracing her face until she came to an evening gown that captured her attention. Her eyes widened. "Describe this to me?" Miranda asked softly.

"It's a floor length column gown. It would be highly suitable for a petite woman." Andy smiled softly. "It is sleeveless with an illusion bateau neckline bodice enforced by the pleated empire waist" Andy told her.

"And what material would you use and colour?" Miranda asked.

"I believe it would work with either chiffon or charmeuse in navy blue or black."

Miranda smiled. "I would wear this dress."

"I sketched it with you in mind." Andy admitted shyly. "All the evening gowns I have sketched have the women of Runway in mind. This one was done for Serena." She pulled out a sketch and pointed to a floor-length halter sheath dress. "It would be in red lace. And this for Emily in emerald green chiffon and lace. Both would have beading incorporated." She found and showed her a sketch of an empire scoop neck floor-length ruffled dress.

"These are exceptional. What prompted them?" Miranda asked her.

"I missed Runway, the general hustle and bustle, watching designs come to life from the initial sketches, to the preview and then to what you see on the catwalk. And I can draw, so I thought to myself why not? I didn't ever expect them to see the light of day." Andy explained.

"Which one would you wear?" Miranda asked.

Andy looked through her sketches and showed Miranda an A-Line Princess off-the-shoulder asymmetrical dress. "I love this one. it would be layered organza." She held out a different sketch of an A-Line Princess scoop neck Floor-Length dress with a split front. "Or this one which would be made from chiffon and lace. They would be in either purple or burgundy"

"You have thought about the colours, the materials and the shape of the women wearing them. All very acceptable and they would be extremely flattering. You have an eye for this." Miranda told her. "I want you to let me bring these to life my darling."

"No, please Miranda. I have no interest in designing clothes for a living." Andy told her hesitantly. "It's fun to draw them, but the rest...well I really have no idea."

"That's what a tailor or dressmaker is for." Miranda grinned. "Please let me have them made." She asked breathlessly.

Looking into the pleading blue eyes she couldn't resist. "OK. You can have those sketches, have the dresses made but I have a few conditions. I do not want to see them or hear about them until they're finished and I don't want anyone to know they're mine." Andy told her.

"Acceptable." Miranda exhaled happily as she moved the sketches onto her bedside table and snuggled into Andy further placing a soft kiss on the brunette's lips Andy deepened the kiss pulling Miranda closer before pulling away and giving Miranda a wide beautiful smile. As she settled back onto Andy's shoulder there was a tap on the door. "Come in Bobbsey's." Miranda called out.

The twins barrelled into the room looking sleep tousled, their hair in wild curls. Jumping onto the bed Cassidy settled herself against Andy, who pulled her in for a hug, as Caroline walked over hesitantly. She waited for Miranda to pull the covers up and pat the space by her side. Smiling Caroline pushed herself into the bed and snuggled up with Miranda. "Merry Christmas." They said simultaneously. The two women returned their greeting enthusiastically.

Cassidy settled in laying her head on Andy's stomach. "You make a good pillow Andy. You're all warm and soft." She muttered happily.

Snorting out a laugh Andy poked the young girl in her tummy. "Gee, thanks." She chuckled as Cassidy squealed and bounced away almost toppling off the bed,

Caroline looked over Miranda grinning. "Are you sure Cass and I are related mom. With her behaviour she could have been Andy's." Caroline smirked.

Miranda sniggered. "I was just thinking the same Bobbsey, they're both incorrigible."

Andy looked over at Caroline and Miranda and smiled widely. "She's my doppelganger. She doesn't look a thing like me, luckily for her she's like her beautiful mother, but behaviourally she's all me." Andy smiled across at Cassidy.

"Well there are worse things that could happen than her being exactly like you my darling. However a little restraint wouldn't go amiss." Miranda quipped.

Andy raised her brow. "Yes Miranda." She smirked and inched away.

"What on Earth are you doing?" Miranda queried confused.

"I'm giving myself the space required to have a little restraint." Andy quipped.

"Don't you move one more inch my darling." Miranda warned her with a smile.

Andy returned the smile before pulling Cassidy over her and between her and Miranda. "There we are." Andy said happily as Miranda scowled at her.

Cassidy giggled as Caroline crawled over her mom and settled in between them. "Will you show us your drawings Andy?" Cassidy asked quietly.

"Sure." Andy said happily. Pulling her portraits back out of her journal she handed them to Cassidy as Caroline watched her flip through them intently.

"Whoa that one of Nigel is epic." Cassidy mumbled causing both Andy and Miranda to smile.

"I'm surprised mom has let you keep the one of us." Caroline told her smiling.

"She hasn't. I'm having it framed..." Andy told them. "It'll go in her office. It just means I'll have to do another one." She grinned.

"I'll probably claim that one too." Miranda admitted with a bright smile as she cuddled into her daughter's side.

"When can we go down?" Cassidy asked.

"Well you did climb into bed with us, we would have been up and unwrapping gifts by now if you hadn't decided to use me as a pillow Cass." Andy told the young girl mischievously.

Seeing the twinkle in the brunette's eye Cassidy smiled. "I like seeing you here with mom. It just seems...I don't know...normal. It's obvious you love her, and you didn't tell me off for coming in here and jumping on you, you pulled me close and let me lie on you. It made me happy." She explained.

Andy teared up at the young girl's words. "Why would I tell you off? You knocked politely and your mom invited you in. This is where your mom is, don't be scared that because I'm here you cannot do whatever you would usually do."

Caroline spoke. "Well we don't usually knock if mom's on her own but we know adults need time together, Stephen told us that. It's nice having you here with us, you're not planning on leaving us again are you? You haven't unpacked."

"No, I'm not going anywhere Caro and as far as I'm concerned you are welcome in here with us anytime, your mom may have different rules." Andy told her.

"Well if we don't want company the door will be locked girls." Miranda told them with a gentle smile.

As Andy wiped her eyes Cassidy's eyes focused on Andy's hand. "What's that?" Cassidy asked pointing to her new ring.

"A Christmas present." Andy muttered nervously.

"But it's on your ring finger." Caroline stated. "Are you two getting married?"

"No" Andy sputtered as Miranda declared. "Yes."

"One day." They both said together and grinned.

The twins smiled at each other before Cassidy wrapped her arms around Andy. "Does that mean I can call you mom now?"

"Well that would get confusing quickly." Andy giggled.

"Yeah mom's either mom or mommy." Caroline smiled. "You could be Ma or Mama. Or we could just name you bonus-mom."

"Or Ohm, short for other mother." Cassidy grinned cheekily.

Andy laughed. "No, no. Andy's fine. Now up with you. I promised your mom breakfast and coffee."

"Yes!" Cassidy handed the pictures to Caroline as she jumped off the bed and grabbed Andy's hand in an attempt to drag her from the bed. "Pancakes or waffles?" She asked as she tugged.

"Whichever you all prefer. You've already had my waffles, I can do pancakes too." Andy told her. "And I made a decent omelette."

"Oooh decisions, decisions." Caroline uttered sarcastically as she lay wrapped around Miranda.

Andy grinned and got out of bed. "C'mon my loves, there's food to prepare and presents to unwrap."

Miranda smiled up at Andy. Taking the drawings she leaned over and placed them on her bedside table. Untangling Caroline's arms from around her waist she said. "Come on Bobbsey. It's time to go downstairs now."

Caroline looked at Miranda and pulled her into a fierce hug. "We love you mom. All we want is for you to be happy."

"I am very happy. I have you and your sister and now I have my Andréa. I love you all very much." Miranda told her young daughter with a smile.

Caroline got out of bed and held her hand out to Andy hesitantly while looking down. Squatting to be on eye level with the young girl she spoke softly. "Caro honey, look at me." At the raising of blue eyes, so much like her mother's, Andy entwined their hands. "Don't be worried about asking anything from me. If you need a hug or want to hold my hand I am here. If you are scared then I will chase away your fears. I am not just here for your mom but for you and Cass too. Trust me."

"Do you love Cass more than me?" Caroline asked.

"No honey. Why would you think that?"

"Well she's so much like you. She's lively and artistic whereas I'm..."

"You are perfect the way you are Caroline." Andy interrupted. "Never doubt that. You are beautiful and so crazy smart it blows my mind. You are so much like your mom." Andy smiled and pulled the young girl into a hug.

Caroline wrapped her arms around Andy's neck. Picking her up she held her free hand out to Cassidy. "Come on Cass. I'll need my imps to help make breakfast worthy of my Queen and two Princesses."

Smiling cheerfully Cassidy took her hand and led them out of the bedroom.

xxxxxxxxxx

Breakfast saw the four of them sat in their pyjamas around the breakfast bar. Miranda was picking at a chocolate chip pancake delicately, having already eaten an omelette filled with mushroom, spinach and cheese. Andy was telling them about the chocolate banana pancakes her Grandma used make for her and her sister on summer vacations.

"Can you make them for us?" Caroline asked.

"I can give it a try, the banana has to be well and truly ripe though, which means that you would have to leave me at least one my little monkey." Andy grinned at Caroline knowing that she was the fruit lover of the pair, banana's being a particular favourite. Getting up from her seat and started to clear the table as Caroline and Cassidy talked between themselves. Walking over to the coffee machine she poured another two cups and handed one to Miranda. "Are you OK?" She asked quietly. Seeing a small smile grace Miranda's face she waited for a response.

"I can't quite believe how fortunate I am, after everything." Miranda told her. "You came home to us, you somehow love us, you've agreed to a future with us. It's feels like all this is too good to be true, and I'm just waiting to wake up from this dream. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"It's no dream my love, this is real. This is part of your journey, a new adventure. You haven't lost time or wasted opportunities because what you have experienced, including all the pain, has been exactly what has brought you to today." Andy smiled softly. "Come on, the girls have been patient enough to wait for breakfast, let's see what Santa Mom has brought them." Andy grinned down at the editor as Miranda stood and pulled her into a brief hug.

Making their way up to the living room coffee in hand Andy marvelled at the twin's enthusiasm and energy. Sitting herself on the sofa she sat back with her coffee and watched the twin's unwrapping gifts with abandon. Exclaiming over the games and books received, they had received clothes, accessories and new beauty products. They both had a new Apple iPod Nano and Nintendo DS, Cassidy had received a digital SLR Camera and Caroline a Kindle.

They came across Andy's presents and grinned at each other. Opening these gifts gently they found they had multiple gifts from each country Andy had visited. They both had a Rajasthani puppet and a wire replica of a Rickshaw from India. Andy told them softly about how she found the Rickshaws outside Raj Ghat, the Gandhi Memorial, and how her transaction with the street vendor was overseen by a nearby group of street monkeys. From Nepal she had brought Cassidy a Handmade singing bowl and Caroline had an ornate Prayer Wheel. From Thailand they each had a sky lantern known as a khom loi and she had hand carved soaps made in their favourite colours. The last gifts found the twin's opening a jewellery box each. Cassidy's held a silver bracelet with a greenstone heart, Caroline's was a silver necklace with the same heart.

"The silver came from Nepal, the charm from New Zealand. The Māori's call this stone Ponamu, it's Mountain Jade. It's all hand crafted." Andy explained.

As the twins hugged Andy and expressed their delight Miranda looked at her in disbelief. "You were in New Zealand? You didn't mention it." She said.

Andy nodded. "I made my way there after Thailand. It's a beautiful country, I was there for almost two weeks before I came home."

"I want to hear more about your travels, I think you missed out far too much in the letters and emails." Miranda requested softly.

Andy smiled gently at her and whispered. "You'll come to know it all."

The twins looked between the two women. "There's still presents under the tree. They are for you mom."

Miranda looked at Andy who grinned sheepishly. "Open then my love. It's not much but..."

"I didn't expect anything." Miranda was subdued, having seen the care Andy had taken with the gifts for the twins she knew a lot of thought and attention would have gone into gifts for her.

Cassidy and Caroline picked up the four gift-wrapped presents and placed them gently in front of their mom. Leaning forward she pulled a large square package towards her. Opening gently she found an ornate hand carved Sandalwood box.

"The box was made in India. Open it." Andy told her.

Opening the box she lifted out a blue and white Thai silk scarf with a butterfly motif.

"It's a Jim Thompson." She was amazed.

Andy grinned. "I know your signature look is to always have a Hermes scarf incorporated into your outfit but I couldn't go all that way and not get you Thailand's best."

Looking down she saw another Sandalwood carving resting at the bottom of the box. Lifting it out she found an intricate Elephant in full regalia, amazed she turned it in her hands until she spotted a baby elephant at either side, trunks entwined with that of the larger animal. "This is beautiful, so detailed." Miranda said with a smile.

"It reminded me of you and the twins." Andy told her gently.

"How so?" Miranda was curious.

"Elephant families have a matriarchal head. Basically an older, experienced lady elephant leads the herd. The family usually consist of a mother, daughters and when the time comes their babies, sometimes there's sisters too. Occasionally a non-related elephant join to form a larger family and strengthen the herd." She points to herself causing the twins to giggle.

Miranda smiled and turned to the next, much smaller gift, and began to unwrap it. Seeing a small ring box she gasped.

"This is from Nepal." Andy explained nervously as Miranda opened the gift.

She stared down into the box disbelieving. Inside sat a silver eternity ring with two dragon heads protecting a heart faceted Kyanite gemstone. "It's beautiful." She put it on her ring fingers and looked at it as it sparkled in the sunlight. Opening another small gift Miranda looked down at another jewellery box. This one held silver necklace with a swirling shell pendant of intense blue, purple and green. "Gorgeous." Miranda whispered softly.

"It's a Paua shell, from New Zealand. The symbol is Māori." Andy smiled.

"What does it represent?" Cassidy asked curiously.

"Soul mates." Andy admitted apprehensively.

Miranda's breath caught at the admission and she gave the brunette a breathtaking smile. Pulling the final gift towards her she opened it to find a leather bound journal. "What's this?" She asked

"My journal." Andy told her. "I want you to know what I saw and where I went after I left you in Paris. This seemed the best way to show you. It has an account of everything and it was written just for you." Andy smiled shyly at the look of shock on the editor's face. "I have nothing to hide from you Miranda. This is my way of showing you how much trust I have in us." Standing quickly Miranda stalked from the room.

"What did I do? I didn't mean to make her angry." Andy asked, panic evident in her voice.

"Oh boy." Cassidy grinned. "She's not angry with you, she's overwhelmed by you."

"You should go after her, she'll be on the roof." Caroline advised sagely. "Go give her a hug. They always make me feel better"

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Andy had left the room and moved down to the kitchen. After preparing two coffee's she moved back up the circular staircase to the fifth floor. Having not been to this part of the Townhouse she took in her surroundings. She was amazed by the natural light from a skylight above the stairs and locating the stairs to the roof she stepped up them.

Upon reaching the top she found herself amazed. Glancing round she found herself in a bright room with large glass wall consisting of large floor to ceiling windows. Andy noticed one of the large windows open to a 90 degree angle and as she walked past the industrial style hand-wheel crank that opened the windows she found herself smiling.

Stepping onto the roof she spotted Miranda stretched out on an outdoor recliner. She was wrapped in a fleece blanket and staring out into the distance, the journal clasped tightly against her chest. Walking quickly towards the older woman Andy stepped loudly to ensure she didn't startle the woman. "Sweetheart?" Andy queried softly. "I have coffee" She sat down in the recliner next to Miranda and handed her a steaming cup of coffee.

"Thank you darling." Miranda said softly as she took a sip.

"Why did you come up here Miranda? Talk to me please." Andy requested.

"I forgot how difficult navigating a new relationship is." Miranda admitted. "This, being with you is so different. I've never been overwhelmed by good experiences before. It seems much harder to talk about it when all things are good, so I'm trying to tell myself there's nothing to be anxious about, there's nothing negative happening here and being with you, having you here, well it is bringing so much joy."

"I'm so sorry that this whole thing is overwhelming you. I know how much you need control." Andy said. "It's not surprising you feel affected by this. The last few days have been really intense."

"I'm scared I'm going to sabotage this Andréa." Miranda whispered. "But that doesn't mean I'm not happy."

"It's perfectly understandable that you feel this way Miranda. This is unfamiliar territory for us both. You are always so focused, you try to give everything your full attention." Andy let out a sigh as she sipped her coffee. "You are allowed to experience good things though my love, you are worthy of the good things happening in your life." Miranda turned and looked at the brunette, tears shining within the blue eyes. Andy placed her coffee down and stood up, taking two steps she knelt in front of the older woman and placed her head on Miranda's lap. "Maybe we've been moving too quickly, we should take a step back." Andy whispered.

"No!" Miranda was scared that her behaviour had caused Andy to change her mind. "Don't say that."

Andy turned her head and raised her eyes slowly to catch the shining blue of Miranda's, seeing the fear she explained. "I don't mean I want to step back from this relationship or leave you my love. I've told you I'm not going anywhere and I meant it." Andy closed her eyes briefly "What I am trying to say, very poorly, is maybe we should take a step back and just enjoy us, make meaningful memories and savour this experience together. Forget the past, forget that journal." She went to take it from Miranda only to find her grasp on it become tighter. "None of it is important. What is important is us now, today and all our future days." Andy explained. "And when you get overwhelmed I want you to know that it is OK not to be able to tackle every single thing in your life alone, because you are not alone now. I am here to help you, to support you and to celebrate every success with you. What we are building, this is for keeps. We need to focus on the long term, which will include that wedding you were so keen on last night."

Miranda smiled sadly. "What happens when I unleash the Ice Queen, which is invariably going to happen sooner than later?"

"I fell in love with her too Miranda. I have experienced your very worst and still see an amazingly complex but beautiful person." Andy lifted her head off Miranda's lap. "I know you can be highly-strung. I'm not that easy going all the time either, I admit to being overly sensitive, moody and often petulant. And I have my own fire breathing capabilities too." Andy grinned at Miranda rolling her eyes before turning serious. "I firmly believe that you can't kill good things, and this is a great thing Miranda."

"Get up off that floor." Miranda told her. "When will you learn to put warm clothes on?" Miranda smirked.

"Come back inside my love." Andy requested. "Or let me share that blanket of epic fluffiness, my word it's so soft."

Miranda smiled and scooted off the chair to allow Andy to sit. As Andy sat and reclined the seat Miranda placed the journal on the floor with her coffee and sat herself on Andy's lap. Wrapping the blanket around them both Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda and pulled her closer. "I feel secure and wanted with you." Miranda admitted.

"This is all so new and I can't help be scared of what might happen."

"Ghost worries." Andy breathed. "I get them too. If I feel awkward during a conversation I then worry that they'll never want to talk to me again. It's like when you miss an important meeting at work and the ghost worry tells you you're fired but the truth is your meeting was about a promotion. I've always been that way but I've learned to only worry about things I can control in the moment, the rest is left for later. The biggest thing these ghost worries do is to try and convince us we're not as lucky as we really are, and right now my love I feel like the luckiest person in the world."

Miranda settled into Andy further and shivered. "We should go in soon." She whispered.

"I left the twins playing their new games. They were in the process of setting up Rockband or Guitar Hero on their XBOX when I came up from the kitchen." Andy smiled softly. "When I asked if they were planning to get dressed they stated they're too comfortable in their pyjamas to bother with normal clothes. Caro told me to get up here and to give you a hug, hugs make everything all better apparently."

"Your embraces do." Miranda turned and smiled shyly up at the young woman. "I love you my Andréa."

"I love you too beautiful. I love the fact you call me yours. That will always be true." Andy whispered quietly.

"I have a question for you." Miranda stated quietly. "If someone gave you a box with everything you had ever lost what would be the first thing you would look for?"

Andy grinned. "That's easy. Those thigh high Chanel boots. It would be so worth the discomfort to get that look from you again, your eyes were incandescent, magnetic. That look has haunted my dreams." Miranda eyes widened at Andy's words. Turning around she straddled Andy's hips and leaning back let her blue eyes rake over Andy appraisingly, devouring her beauty. She bit her lip subconsciously as her eyes caressed over the curve of breast and up to full lips. Sweeping her eyes up she met Andy's hazel eyes and was mesmerised by the swirling emotions held within them. Searching the depths she found love and desire evident in the gaze.

"As soon as I had seen her, I was lost. For Beauty's wound is sharper than any weapon's, and it runs through the eyes down to the soul. It is through the eye that love's wound passes, and I now became a prey to a host of emotions..." Andy quoted breathlessly.

Miranda's breath hitched at the words. "Achilles Tatius?" She queried. Seeing Andy's small smile and nod she leaned in and brushed her nose against Andy's in a gentle Eskimo kiss. Seeing the smile widen she brushed the curls out of Andy's face and placed a delicate kiss on her forehead. Continuing her worship she let her lips move to the bridge of Andy's nose before sweeping them across her cheeks and trailing a light kiss against waiting lips. In a final act of devotion Miranda raised Andy's hands and placed a chaste kiss on each palm.

Leaning back again she was amazed at the fire burning within the young woman's eyes, pupils dilated and breathing heavy her desire was obvious. "My God you're beautiful." Miranda whispered. "You said before that you felt like the luckiest person in the world, it is I who am lucky my darling. You make me feel alive in a way I never have before, when we are together like this it feels like time stands still, and there is just you and I." Miranda raised her eyes as something caught her attention. Looking over Andy's shoulder intently she called out. "Bobbsey don't just lurk there, come here and tell us what you came up here for."

Cassidy walked hesitantly towards the two women. "Andy's parents are here." She whispered before turning around and haring back into the house.

"Oh fuck!" Andy muttered as Miranda scrambled off her knee.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy and Miranda made their way through the house. Stopping off at their bedroom Andy pulled her hair into a quick ponytail and changed into jeans and a t shirt quickly. Grabbing her cell she made her way downstairs leaving Miranda to shower and dress. Checking the den and living room she found them empty. Moving down to the ground level she saw the door to the formal living room open and voices coming from within.

As she stepped towards the door she heard Caroline sobbing and Cassidy's raised voice. "You can't take her, she belongs here with us now. She's ours."

Walking into the room she saw the face of her Mom looking at the twins with disapproval. "What the hell is going on here? What the fuck have you done to her?" She looked between her parents and Caroline, who was curled up in a ball in the chair, inconsolable. Stalking over she pulled the young girl into her arms and attempted to soothe her. "It's OK baby, I'm here now." She glared at her parents.

"You should watch your language in front of the children Andy." Her mom, Virginia, sniffed huffily. "I see that woman has already been a poor influence if that is how you're speaking to people, towards your parents especially."

"I'll have you know Miranda rarely, if ever, uses profanity. You can thank Nate for this delightfully colourful language." Andy hissed back. "And the twins are actually smart enough to know not to repeat anything that is less than appropriate for their age. Now what did you do or say to upset Caroline and to make Cassidy raise her voice?"

"We told them we are taking you home." Andy's dad, Richard, grumbled.

"He speaks!" Andy stated sarcastically. "It's only taken three months."

"Andy, moderate your tone." Virginia was getting angry.

"Not going to happen." Andy seethed. "And like Hell are you taking me anywhere. You have made it perfectly clear what a disappointment I am, how lacking I am. You have another daughter, go and rule her life if you want to control someone so badly, I'm sure she'll be overjoyed." Andy was still rubbing soothing circles on Caroline's back as she paced the room like a caged lion and Cassidy continued to glare at the older couple. Looking up at Andy she saw the shirt and smiled as she read the words on the front;

"My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, I became a disappointment instead.'

As Andy turned her back she saw the words,

'Close enough.'

"I like your t shirt Andy." Cassidy stated cheekily.

"Thanks my little love." Andy looked down and grinned back at the mischievous redhead as her parents scowled deeper. "It wasn't an intentional choice." Taking a deep breath she sat herself down in a comfortable chair. Cassidy walked over and clambered up onto her knee and wrapped her arms around Andy and Caroline. Placing a kiss on both the girls' heads she looked across at her parents with an eyebrow raised in query, waiting for them to speak. When nothing was forthcoming Andy started to talk. "So you are here to drag my butt back to Cinci? As I've said multiple times that is not happening. You're sat there glaring at me in silence, that's just showcasing your petulance."

"Well at least now I know where your admission of such behaviour come from." Miranda stalked into the room offering Andy a gentle smile. She looked beautiful in her black Bill Blass Pants and Red Donna Karan wraparound blouse, 5" black, snake heel, red bottom Louboutin's finished off her ensemble. "Have you offered our unexpected guests a drink darling?" Miranda queried with a smirk.

"Nope, I was hoping they'd take the hint and leave. Plus I have my baby monkey and comatose sloth attached to me." Andy smiled up at Miranda as she brushed Caroline's hair out of her face. "You look beautiful Miranda." Andy told her with a bright smile.

"Thank you my darling." Holding her hand out to Caroline she said. "Come here Bobbsey."

"No. If I let go they're going to take Andy away." Caroline stated through her sobs. "She promised me she wouldn't leave us."

Ice filled Miranda's eyes as she glared at the elder Sachs. "I see that your behaviour doesn't only disrupt your eldest daughter's life, now you come here and upset mine too. Does it make you happy that you made my ten year old daughter cry? It's Christmas day for crying out loud." Looking at Andy's face she saw the tears forming from Caroline's words. "Do you take pleasure in causing your own child to cry too? Does it leave you content knowing that Andréa wonders if she's good enough to be loved, that she questions if she's worthy? Does it concern you that she feels she's inadequate?" Miranda questioned in a deadly tone.

Seeing Mr Sachs evident nervousness she rolled her eyes. "When it comes to my girls I will do anything to protect them. Andréa is included in that, and if that means I have to let my inner dragon out to play so be it." Miranda gave them a glare, the look in her eyes was cold with determination. "What I really want to know is if you are satisfied that your daughter, who you nurtured and watched grow into this amazing woman in front of us, experienced nothing but darkness and despair as she travelled the world? The knowledge that her parents and friends found her so lacking eating away at the confidence she had built. You may have felt the need to invalidate her feelings over the last three months, I however will not undermine her feelings or my own by denying them now she has returned."

Virginia started to sputter angrily as her husband looked on in disbelief. "How...how dare you...to say..."

"Oh I do dare. And I will say whatever I please, I am not well known for holding back when everything I love is threatened, and you being here looking to strong arm your daughter into returning to a place she does not want to be, to a career she has no interest in, well that is endangering the peace of my home, the joy of being with my daughter's and having Andréa back in my life." Miranda was calm in the face of the Sachs disbelief and anger. "Now you seem to be under the impression you can coerce your daughter into going back to the Midwest with you. If you believe that then you are mistaken. She has made her choice in where she wants to be, New York is her home"

"And if she wanted to come?" Virginia hissed. "How do we know what she wants while your daughter's cling to her as if she is the most important person in their lives?"

"Have you thought of asking her? Haven't her emails been enough to indicate her preferences?" Miranda shook her head incredulous. "I'm sure you're aware that if she did not want to be here she would not have returned to New York. She is under no obligation to stay here, even if my daughters and I wish for her to remain indefinitely. She had a room in some Midtown hotel organised before the invitation was made for her to stay with us, and if she decided she wanted to leave tomorrow I would not stop her, in fact I would assist in helping her find a permanent home and provide the recommendation for the job of her choice. She would have received such after leaving in Paris if she had not decided to travel. As to the fact my daughter's hold on to Andréa so fiercely, she is important to them, they love her."

"Do you?" Richard asked. He was quietly impressed by Miranda's words regarding his daughter, her protectiveness.

"How I feel is between Andréa and me. However if you insist on knowing then yes, I love her very much. She is an impressive human being, she consistently amazes me." Miranda admitted. "You have raised an extraordinarily talented, beautiful, kind and generous woman."

"Then I will say good day to you. Ginny?" He called hesitantly as he held his hand out to his wife. "It's time to leave this family to try to enjoy the rest of their day."

"But...but..." Virginia sputtered. "I'm not leaving without her."

"Then you will be waiting a long time love, I think the term is until Hell freezes over." Richard let out a small grin at Miranda's raised eyebrow. "Our Andy is happy here, that's obvious. I know you believe that this is a sin, but look at them." He asked. "Look at this family, open your eyes and heart to the love that is so evident here and then tell me it is wrong?" Richard was pleading. "Love, the persevering truth that the Christian faith is based upon, is never wrong Ginny. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails."

"But..." Ginny trailed off.

"But what? I won't lose my daughter over this Ginny, and we will if we don't adjust. Personally I am content now I've seen Andy and Miranda together. My faith in God has never been as strong as yours is, and although I may not understand this thing between our daughter and Miranda I cannot in good conscience condemn."

"Richard please..." Virginia trailed off at the look of resolve in her husband's eyes. The stubbornness she had seen over the last 35 years evident, the same stubbornness that her eldest daughter held in abundance. Nodding her agreement he stepped towards him and clasped his hand.

Miranda looked towards the woman and her husband. "When do you leave?" She asked softly.

"Tomorrow evening." Richard told her.

"We should have lunch tomorrow, or come to dinner tonight." Miranda offered.

"Miranda?" Andy questioned. "You don't have to do that." She stated.

Smiling upon Andy her eyes twinkled with devilry. "Really Andréa? Anyone would think you don't want me getting to know my soon-to-be in-laws." Hearing Virginia gasp she smiled widely and winked at the young woman. "On that note I should check the bird is in the oven. The offer is there should you wish to take us up on it. Dinner will be at 6pm." Miranda stalked from the room calling over her shoulder. "Bobbsey's come with me, there are vegetables to prepare."

As the twins jumped to do Miranda's bidding Andy ran her fingers through her hair. Looking up she saw the eyes of her parents focused on the ring on her finger.

Blushing she stated. "It's not what it looks like."

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Virginia let go of Richard's hand and started pacing as Andy tried to explain. "It's a promise ring, it's not like we are planning on running off to Massachusetts tomorrow to have ourselves a wedding."

"Promise ring?" Richard asked gently.

"Yeah Dad. A promise for the future we hope to have with one another. A promise to continue to nurture a relationship full of love and mutual respect."

"Do you want to marry her? She doesn't exactly have a good track record going off what the press says." Richard asked his daughter.

"The gutter press don't know her, and her last husband was an ass who was bitter that his wife was more successful than he could ever be, that she wouldn't bow-cow to him and become the dutiful little housewife he wanted. So he hand fed half-truths to the media making Miranda and the twin's lives Hell. And just so you're aware I would be happy to call her my wife one day. It's still early days though. I'm not rushing this."

Virginia spun around and glared at her daughter. "You'd be happy calling that... that...woman your wife? Have you lost your senses? She's still married."

"She's legally separated and the divorce will be finalised in the New Year. It would be an honour to have Miranda as my wife. How dare you of all people sit in judgement?" Andy stood, her hands clenched as she seethed. "You need to leave. Now! I don't want you here infecting my life and that of my new family with your negativity and ignorance. You claim to be a good Christian, I call bullshit! I've had about as much as I can take from you. We are done."

Richard could see that his wife was about to lose her temper. "Ginny, before you say anything further stop and think." He warned. "Don't say something you will never be able to take back." Virginia spun on her heels and stalked from the room. Andy winced as she heard the front door slam. Richard looked at Andy and smiled softly. "She'll come round Andy. I'll talk to her."

"It doesn't matter if she doesn't. I can't change how I feel Dad, I tried. I fought so hard against this, I ran to the opposite side of the world to try to escape my feelings. Miranda told you the truth, I emailed and wrote to her in the depth of my pain and she offered me reassurance, she let me know I'd always have one person fighting my corner, that I wasn't alone in the world. She was the light in my very dark world Dad." Andy tried to explain. "I thought walking away from her in Paris was the hardest thing I had ever encountered, but it was staying away that broke me. Even before I left for India I missed her, and she was in New York then, in the very city I was in. I ached for her, and for the twins."

"They are your chosen family. Those little girls are beautiful, and it's obvious they adore you. The one doing the shouting at you mom, Cassidy? She called you her bonus-mom." Richard was gentle with his daughter having finally realised the damage caused by his and his wife's behaviour. Seeing his daughter smile he continued to speak from his heart. "For all it's worth I'm sorry...about how I reacted. It was wrong. I couldn't see how this could work, now I cannot see how it could not. You have a deep connection with Miranda, you gravitate towards her. When she is in the room you light up in a way that you never did with Nate. All I've ever wanted is for you happy Andy, it's the same with Jill."

"I am happy." Andy confirmed. "This, being here with Miranda and the twins...I am home."

Richard pulled his daughter into his arms and embraced her tightly. Andy closed her eyes as memories of childhood encompassed her as she was surrounded by her dad's familiar scent. "You smell like cigarettes, I thought you'd quit?" Andy said.

"Your mom's been a bit full on recently, it was just a couple of sneaky one's." Richard admitted with a smile. "Have you quit your occasional habit?"

"Yeah, I've not had one since Paris. Don't let mom catch you at it, it's not worth the added earache." Andy lifted her head from her dad's shoulder and grinned up at him.

"I best go." He sighed heavily as he stepped back.

"Wait, give me your cell, I have a new number." Andy told him. He handed her his cell and she edited her contact to reflect her new number. "I'd ask you not to give it to mom but..." Andy shrugged.

"I have a lock on it when it's not on me." Richard grinned. "It's annoyed her but what can she say?"

"It was her that cheated on you, Christ only knows why she now treats you like the guilty party. I honestly don't know why you stayed." Andy told him as Miranda walked back into the room.

Hearing the last part of the conversation Miranda stalled. "Sorry, I assumed you had left Mr Sachs." She told Richard.

"Please call me Richard. It was Ginny slamming her way out, she can be a bit hot headed at times, my apologies for the disruption." Richard smiled sadly. "I was just spending a few extra moments catching up with Andy."

"Would you like to stay to lunch? It will only be soup and a sandwich but you're very welcome." Miranda asked nervously.

"Thank-you for the offer Miranda, but no. I best catch up to the wife." Richard stated.

Andy grinned. "Happy wife, easy life."

"I wish." Richard mumbled. Looking down at his daughter and seeing the twinkle in her eyes he gave her a genuine smile. "Cheeky girl."

"I'll walk you out Dad." Andy said.

"I'll do it." Miranda offered.

"Thanks sweetheart." Andy offered her a bright smile. Stepping back up to her dad she wrapped her arms around him and muttered. ""I've missed you poppa bear."

"I have missed you too honey bear." Richard told her gruffly. "It is really good to see you happy." Pulling back he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "I'll call you, OK?"

Andy nodded mutely as she watched Miranda leading her dad out of the room. Sitting herself back in the chair she had vacated she closed her eyes. She heard quiet conversation before the door closed softly. Hearing Miranda's light steps making her way across the room she opened her eyes to find Miranda stood before her watching silently. "Come here." Andy asked offering Miranda her hand. As it was grasped she pulled Miranda onto her lap.

"I'm sorry for winding up your mother, I couldn't resist." Miranda started to apologise.

"No apologies. She knows what I want from our future now, the balls in her court, she either accepts it or she loses me." Andy smiled sadly. "I told her to get out, that I didn't want her here infecting my life and the life of my new family with her negativity and ignorance."

Miranda looked at her, her eyes gentle. "I cannot promise you an easy life or that I will never disappoint you my Andréa, I cannot promise that when it happens I will be the perfect wife...But I can promise you that I will love you every single day of my life my darling."

"I don't want perfection Miranda. I want you, flaws and all. You hold my heart in your hands and I trust you not to break it." Andy told her softly as she brushed Miranda's signature forelock out of her eyes.

"I'll cherish it. I promise." Miranda twisted the ring on Andy's finger.

"You're making a lot of promises my love." Andy said.

"I don't want you to regret the decision to be with me." Miranda told her softly.

"The only regret I have right now is the fact that my parent's disturbed our time on the roof and I had to get dressed." Andy smirked. "Are my imps dressed?"

"No, they're refusing to get out of their pyjamas." Miranda rolled her eyes causing Andy to chuckle. "Cassidy did tell me she wanted you to take her shopping for t-shirts."

"Yes! My mini-me has taste." Andy grinned as Miranda snorted. "Do you have a problem with my clothes my love?" Andy asked in mock outrage.

"Mm, no comment." Miranda smiled. "I do infinitely prefer when you are wearing nothing but your glorious birthday suit though." Miranda whispered the words close to Andy's ear, her warm breath firing Andy's imagination.

"I may have to change that idiom I used on my dad for you. It shall be happy life, naked wife." Andy grinned cheekily and Miranda chuckled.

"Come with me my darling, I have something to show you." Miranda slid off Andy's knee and grabbing Andy's hand pulled her to her feet she walked them out of the Formal living room and up the stairs to the guest room opposite their bedroom.

Opening the door Andy's eyes met twin sets of blue eyes. Her eyes scanned the room and she saw a stack of gift wrapped presents on the floor. "Miranda?" Andy queried softly.

"You didn't think I'd stop at the ring did you darling?" Miranda smirked as Andy nodded. "I couldn't very well have you carry your own gifts down stairs this morning."

"Miranda it's too much...the cell phone too..." Andy trailed off.

"My darling, please hush. Open your gifts. We'll start with the ones from Cassidy and Caroline." Miranda smiled softly as Andy sat on the floor in front of the stack of presents.

Turning her head she looked into their faces she gave them a bright smile. "C'mon then my imps." Cassidy and Caroline jumped off the bed as they pulled their gifts from the pile and placed them in front of Andy. Miranda sat herself on a chair in the corner of the room where she could happily watch.

Andy was amazed at the gifts in front of her. Pulling a rectangular package towards her she shook it. "Well it's not chocolate." She grinned. Looking at the tag she gave Caroline a wide smile and began opening the gift. Two books fell out and looking down she saw Caroline had given her two titles that she'd been itching to read. A Thousand Splendid Suns and Thirteen Reasons Why. She looked at Caroline and offered her a bright megawatt smile. "These are amazing Caro, they were on my to-read list. Thank you." Caroline went pink and smiled back shyly. Looking down at the thinner rectangular package she saw it was from Cassidy. Opening it she laughed when she saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its sequel Dawn of the Dreadfuls. "Trust you Cass."

Cassidy smiled widely. "You mentioned P and P was a favourite. This is just the classic with a twist. We bought ourselves copies of each book too."

"You two are amazing. I look forward to reading all four of these" She was really happy with her gifts so far. Pulling another gift towards her she unwrapped it and was stunned to find a personalised leather bound journal with her name and the year embossed on the front. "Oh God this is so beautiful. I kind of don't want to spoil it by writing in it." She stroked the soft leather and smiled happily. "Thanks Cass." Opening another gift she found a solid pen case from Cross. When she opened the case she found two pens with her name and the year engraved. "Oh wow." She felt tears spring up in her eyes.

"Why are you crying? Don't you like it?" Caroline asked nervously.

"Caro this is an amazing gift, and these are happy tears. I love all my presents my little love. They're all so very thoughtful. I'll use the pens all the time and each time I hold one in my hand I'll think of you, of how much you mean to me, both of you. Thank you so much." Andy told her softly.

Caroline launched herself at Andy and gave her a tight hug. "Love you." Caroline whispered before letting go and running up to Miranda and climbing on her knee. Looking at Caroline and Miranda she saw their happiness.

Smiling she stood and stretched. Holding her arms out to Cassidy she following her sister's footsteps threw herself into Andy's arms. "Love you Andy." Cassidy whispered as Andy placed a kiss on her head.

Untangling herself she also ran to clamber up on to Miranda's knee, elbowing Caroline in her rush. "Move Caro." She hissed.

"You move. I was here first." Caroline stated her eyes, so like her mom's, filling with ice. Miranda winced as the girls fidgeted.

"Girls, your mom has two knees and you two are fighting each other on them. Please settle down and be considerate of one another and your mom." Andy told them softly.

"Yes bonus-mom." They said together grinning. Turning to their mom they said. "Sorry mom."

"So that's the one that's going to stick." Andy smiled at them. "Any preference where I start with the rest of this pile of gifts?" Andy asked.

"There's a large rectangular box at the front." Miranda smiled.

Walking over Andy looked at the large stack of gift wrapped items and sighed softly as she pulled the box Miranda suggested and got to work unwrapping her gift. Looking down she saw the iconic Chanel logo on a black box. "Oh my God." Andy whispered. Looking towards Miranda she saw her smirk. Opening the box she looked down to find Chanel black lambskin leather thigh high boots. "Miranda sweetheart..."

"Before you say a word I got them before our conversation earlier, obviously. I remember very clearly the day you wore the one's from the closet." Miranda smiled softly.

"Thank you my love." Andy whispered. She began unwrapping in earnest amazed at the amount of clothes. A vast array of t-shirts from Armani, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Alexander Wang and Gucci. Jeans from Rag and Bone, True Religion, 7 for All Mankind and Levi's.

There were items from the Paris shows that she believed would suit her Andréa and some that she'd noticed had caused Andy's eyes to sparkle with interest. As Andy unwrapped a tie-dye dress from the Balmain show that was showcased by Angela Lindvall she knew she'd chosen right. Andy's eyes expressed her bewilderment. "You noticed what I liked."

"Mm." Miranda hummed noncommittally.

Andy moved on to find a short, strapless shift dress from Valentino in black with a flower print and the vibrant Valentino red one-sleeved evening gown. She opened more gifts to find shirts, skirts, dresses, and pants from DKNY, Lanvin, Versace, Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta Gucci, Zac Posen, Calvin Klein, Armani,. Phillip Lim, Christian Dior and Stella McCartney, she lost count of the different designer labels she had encountered. She shook her head in disbelief.

Looking up she saw Miranda watching her intently, both twins had disappeared without her realising. She was about two thirds through the items when she got to the shoes, Louboutin's, Jimmy Choo's, Manolo Blahnik's, ankle boots from Michael Kors and Chanel, a pair of UGGS. There was also two new pairs of Converse Chuck Taylor's, red low-tops and black hi-tops. She opened more gifts to find accessories from Hermes, Prada, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. "Sweetheart this is too much, I have enough now to see me well into the next five years." She smiled at the older women in the hope no offense would be taken.

Miranda stood and walked over to where she was sat crossed legged. Sitting down next to her with her legs outstretched she explained. "Yesterday morning, when the story broke I began to be inundated with emails. Everyone knew you were back from Asia and they wanted to know if the story about us was true. Many people expressed their delight, some their disbelief. Valentino was particularly effusive in his joy." Miranda grinned. "So many people were asking what they could do to welcome you home. I explained to a select few that when you left New York you shipped everything off to Ohio in order to travel as lightly as you could, I told them you had given Emily and Runway all you had received in Paris. You have garnered so much goodwill and respect in the industry when you worked for me this was the result." Miranda offered her a beautiful smile. "I was as shocked as you are but upon reflection it is not overly surprising."

"This was all done in the space of a day?"

"Well yes, by late yesterday afternoon. When I left you and the twins baking Roy and Nigel arrived and we quickly and quietly moved everything up here. The jeans, t shirts, UGGS and Converse, well they're from me. It's what you are obviously comfortable in and I want you to be comfortable my darling. The two Valentino and the Balmain dresses and the Chanel boots are from me also. There are other gifts within what is left to unwrap that are from me and our girls too. If you have had enough unwrapping for now we can go eat lunch, it is all prepared."

"Lunch sounds good." Andy grinned. "Thank you for all of this Miranda. It was surprisingly unexpected. I was happy with the ring and iPhone."

"I know you said you do not want to benefit from my position in the world, my wealth, but I will want to buy you things knowing I'll experience the joys of your beautiful reactions Andréa." Miranda told her.

"But I can offer you so little?" Andy mumbled.

"I have worked hard in my life Andréa to ensure I can have everything I need. A good home for my family, a great education for my children. I would gladly give you and my Bobbsey's the world if I could." Miranda spoke quietly. "You unknowingly give me so much my darling. And your gifts today were wonderfully thoughtful and uniquely you. In all honesty the best gift I received this year is that sketch of my girls and knowing I will have it on my desk or wall in the New Year. I do not require material possessions, and what I get from you, from your presence in my life, well that cannot be bought." Miranda tried to explain.

"I love how generous you are Miranda and I wouldn't change it for the world. I have seen so much beauty in you over the last year, but this side you are letting me see now, the side you share with me and our girls, that has to be the most beautiful." Andy told her softly. "It is everyone else's generosity that has me dumbfounded."

Miranda stood gracefully. "My darling Andréa, one day you will realise just how truly spectacular you are. You are the best kind of person to know." She held her hand out for the brunette. "Now I should feed you before you waste away to a size zero."

"I thought you'd be happy the smart fat girl was not so fat." Andy grinned cheekily. "Being a size two isn't so bad."

"Size two is acceptable, however I do miss those delicious curves of yours in couture. You told me the last night how you watched my backside as I walked in front of you, I can happily admit to doing the same every single time you walked out of my office, your long legs in skirts was another focus for my attention as you sat cross-legged opposite me, notebook in hand." Miranda smirked. "Come with me my darling, we shall eat and then come back for the rest of your gifts."

"Maybe I should allow the twin tornadoes in here. I'm sure they'd make short work of all this stuff." Andy grinned as she unfolded her legs and stood tall.

"Maybe I should have invested in a thesaurus for you." Miranda smiled up at her love as she entwined their fingers. "Stuff." She sighed shaking her head. "That word is going to become the bane of my existence."

Grinning happily Andy pulled the editor from the room and led them down the stairs to the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Miranda spent lunch taking Andy into unpacking. Andy sulked that it was not how she expected to spend her Christmas Day, her attitude causing the twins to grin at her as they left the kitchen to play more Guitar Hero. Miranda and Andy spent time cleaning up their dishes before heading up to the master suite.

As Miranda made room in her closet and drawers for Andy she looked at the brunette she smiled at the sight of her folding her new t shirts and placing them away neatly. Andy was taking a lot of care with the clothes she had received and it made the editor's heart smile to see the young woman making herself at home. She really wanted Andy to feel as if she belonged with them.

Spotting a silver toiletry bag on the floor Miranda scooped it up and stalked towards the en-suite before Andy could realise. Within less than a minute she was walking back out of the bathroom clutching the bag and laughing warmly. Andy looked up and saw what Miranda held in her hands and blushed. She stood quickly.

Miranda stood in front of her attempting to get her laughter under control. "My darling, I expected to find a toothbrush, not...not..." She wheezed out another bark of laughter.

Andy felt tears of mortification spring into her eyes and covered her face. Sobering quickly Miranda stepped into Andy's personal space and pulled her into her arms and her hands away from her face. "My darling Andréa, do not be embarrassed with me. May I show you something?" Andy nodded wordlessly.

Miranda led the young woman across the room and sat her down at her side of her bed. "Open the second drawer my darling." Andy did to find a similar sized purple bag. "I should have spotted the similarities." She chuckled. "Ann Summers have a wonderful range for women." She grinned. "Thank God for International delivery and discreet packaging."

Andy giggled, still slightly embarrassed. "I found the shop in London, on Oxford Street. I'd walked past a few in Soho, they were quite sleazy looking. It was the window displays that captured my attention, they have some lovely lingerie." Andy smiled.

"You were in London?" Miranda queried.

"Only for the one day. I decided against the direct route back to New York when I was planning to leave Paris, at the time I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to come back here. The thought of returning to the empty apartment was a little off putting. I'd never lived on my own before." Andy was nervous admitting her fear.

"What did you think of old Blighty?" Miranda asked. "I have an innate fondness for my home city."

"I enjoyed the little I saw, I loved the architecture. The sound of Big Ben was the second most amazing sound I'd ever heard."

"What's the first?" Miranda asked curiously.

"Your voice, especially when you're saying my name. It gives me butterflies every time I hear it." Andy admitted shyly.

Miranda grinned and closed her drawer. Walking around to the other side of the bed she placed the bag in the bedside table on that side. Biting her lip she looked towards the brunette. "Would you let me watch you Andréa?" She nodded to the bedside table.

Andy blushed even more furiously and stuttered. "Uh...I...Well...I...Sure..."

Miranda stalked around the bed and sat by Andy's side. Entwining their hands she said. "You don't sound too sure my darling. I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"You don't Sweetheart, not really. You make me feel surprisingly at ease." Andy blushed again. "God I feel so gauche. I've just never, well you know, talked about this, never mind let someone watch me. It's always been a private thing. An outlet at times I'm excessively stressed or exceptionally frustrated."

"I've never watched anyone; it is not something I have ever contemplated." Miranda admitted. "With you though, seeing the contents of that bag, it has lit the fire of my imagination. I would actually return the favour if it was something you wanted to see, we could share the experience."

"You would?" Andy whispered. She was thunderstruck by the offer. Thinking about Miranda stretched out on the bed fucking herself made her breathless. "That would be so hot." She let out a deep breath as Miranda brushed an errant curl out of face.

"We should finish unpacking your things. It doesn't look like there's much more but you do have other presents to get through." Miranda smirked.

"You've spoiled me." Andy said lightly. "I would have been satisfied today just being here with you and the twins. I don't have the need for all these things."

"I know that my darling." Miranda offered a small honest smile. "You are one of the few genuine people I have met that doesn't expect anything from me. Are you afraid that having any expectations may hurt or disappoint you?"

"No, I live by the one motto, appreciate everything and expect nothing. I love you but did not ever expect you to love me back, when I found my feelings were actually returned I allowed myself to become invested in our future." Andy struggled to find the words. "It's like dealing with Em, I have always attempted to act towards her with kindness, but it cannot be expected for her to return that kindness. I can't really explain it."

"I have always had the mentality of not expecting anything from anyone as you can only rely on yourself. I've found myself struggling to trust and communicate with others, I have struggled with intimacy. Maybe that's why my marriages failed. I have invested my energies into establishing high levels of security and self-sufficiency while ignoring my loneliness. I am able to make demands on others without the fear of rejection because I have the Dragon Lady to fall back on." Miranda explained.

"With my relationship with you I have no fear about being disappointed, I am actually content with what we have together. I do have expectations from this relationship though Sweetheart; they are things I will also freely offer you." Andy told her.

"Tell me what you expect from us." Miranda asked as she moved against the headboard.

Andy offered her a small smile. "I expect affection; I don't care how it is expressed. Physical affection, such as hugging, kissing, or holding hands is especially important for me. That's a deal breaker. I'm a fairly tactile person. I won't however do anything in public that could be an embarrassment to you." Andy explained. I expect intimacy too. I'm not just talking about sex. I doubt after the last few days we'll ever have difficulties in that department." She grinned. "It means letting you know me and allowing yourself to be known."

"What else do you need from this my darling." Miranda asked gently.

"I expect compassion. If I hurt I will need you to be the soft place I fall. I will at times need your tenderness. I expect respect, for me as a person and for my boundaries. I'll need you to be gracious about any weaknesses you may find in me. I expect consideration, you don't have to do everything I want all of the time but occasionally I will expect you to look at things from my point of view." Andy looked up at Miranda and finding her looking relaxed took a deep breath before continuing. "I expect time. We will need to make time for each other. It can be ten minutes at the end of the day for all I care. I don't want to end up asking myself how much of my own time I'm willing to spend waiting for you to try to fit me in."

"Have there been any expectations I have already met?" Miranda asked teasingly. "It is a fairly thorough list." She grinned at the brunette who blushed.

"In some ways you have met each of my expectations and even some I didn't know I had." Andy told her with a small smile.

"Explain please." Miranda requested.

"I didn't expect you to have such an interest in me. I'm just Andy Sachs from Cinci, Ohio. I'm an average person, yet you seemed thrilled to learn more about me, about my artistic side. You seem interested in my opinions, thoughts and feelings. It wasn't something I had even considered that I should expect from you."

"It would be a reasonable thing to expect. If I wasn't interested there would be no point in continuing this relationship my darling." Miranda spoke softly. "And by generosity, I assume you don't mean my gifts?" Miranda questioned.

Andy shook her head in response. "No, I do not mean the material generosity. It is the way you have helped and soothed me through all this. You have given yourself to me fully and that feels like the ultimate gift. It has been the definitive act of generosity."

"I will always try to meet your expectations in our relationship Andréa. I do not wish to take this for granted. It has been so easy being with you the last few days and I don't want to become complacent. I will fight for us..." She was interrupted by her cell chiming. "Sorry." She said. Looking down she sighed as she read. "It's Gregory, he would like to come and see the twins."

"You should go on down and ask them, after yesterday..." Andy shrugged. "...I don't want to see them upset Miranda, no more than they have been today. My mom was ridiculously puerile earlier. How she thought I'd just leave with them is beyond my comprehension." She shook her head sadly.

"I will not say anything bad about your mother my darling, I hope in the future she can get over the issues she has regarding our relationship, for your sake. Will you come down with me?" Miranda stood and stretched.

"I will join you in the den after I've finished putting everything away." Andy said. "It shouldn't take too much longer. We kind of got side-tracked with our deep and meaningful conversation." She grinned up at Miranda. "When I'm done here would you like coffee?"

"That would be glorious. Thank you my darling" She bent over and placed a kiss on Andy's forehead before stepping from the room.

xxxxxxxxxx

The doorbell rang an hour later Andy was making her way down the stairs. Caroline charged past her running down the stairs quickly. "Hey kiddo, take it easy." Andy called after her.

"Dad and Charity are here." Caroline explained.

"Ask them if they want coffee, I'm just going to make some for your mom and me." She grinned at the young girl as she walked into the kitchen. Hearing the young girl greet her dad coldly she was amazed at how similar she could be to her mother. Shaking her head she smirked. Hearing the tread of footsteps making their way up the stairs she was shocked to hear the chirpy voice coming from the doorway.

"Good afternoon Andy. Happy holidays." Spinning around, cups in hand she found herself being smiled at warmly by a petite, tanned blonde.

"Hi, Merry Christmas. You must be Charity? It's nice to be able to put a face to the name."

"Ditto. Tales of Andy Sachs are legendary in our home; I heard they're just as legendary within Runway too." Charity offered her a wide smile.

Andy grinned and pointed to the coffee machine. "Do you and Greg want one?" Andy asked.

"That would be amazing. Thank you." Charity said. "So I'm not known for beating around the bush, may I ask you something?" Seeing Andy nod she continued. "Are you really going to adopt the twins? They're a handful and Greg is concerned."

"Charity, that decision is not mine alone to make. It is something that Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy have a say about too. What exactly are Greg's concerns?" She asked as she continued to prepare coffee.

"Your age, then there's the fact that you have only been with Miranda such a short time. We are aware you have been travelling; the twin's talked about you a lot."

"My age is not a problem; in fact I believe that it will allow for me to be able to be able to understand the girls better. I do believe I have a good three years on you. You're 22 right?" Charity stuttered out a quick yes. "The twins are quite a handful, as you have said, but they respect me, they stopped playing pranks on me a long time ago. Greg is correct when he states Miranda and I have only been together a short time, however I have known Miranda for over a year now and as new as this relationship is I have loved her for a long time."

"How can you love her? Greg always says how impossible she was." Charity asked.

Andy spun around and leaned against the counter frowning at the young woman. "Miranda can be impossible. In her professional life she demands excellence, she expects perfection. But she never asks for anything she doesn't give herself." Andy grinned. "I am not going to discuss how I can love her. That is between me and her. I am content in knowing she allows me to express it, and that she returns my feelings, we fought against them for so long." Andy sighed. "I don't know what happened between Greg and Miranda, but I do know whatever it was hurt her deeply. With any relationship you build there are expectations, I believe she may have been left disappointed when they weren't met. You and Greg see the person she portrays to the world, I have always been able to see beyond that. I see the ways her eyes sparkle with amusement or dismay even when her face reflects no other emotions. I've seen the way her lips quirk when she's amused and she's trying to hide it, or the way she purses her lips holds different meanings. I have been able to read Miranda since shortly after I started working with her."

"Wow. Your face really lights up when you speak about her." Charity exclaimed clapping her hands happily. Andy rolled her eyes and turned back to the coffee.

Pouring four mugs she set them on a tray and moved to the fridge. She poured cream and grabbed juice for the twins. Turning slightly she asked. "Do either of you take sugar?" Seeing Charity shake her head she listed the tray and made her way across the kitchen. Meeting Charity's eyes she nodded for her to follow and they made their way up the stairs.

Entering the den Andy sensed the atmosphere was tense. Cassidy was studiously ignoring the adults and banging away on the Guitar, focusing solely on the screen as Knights of Cydonia rolled in the background. Placing the tray on the coffee table she added cream to her coffee and picked up one of the juices. Walking towards the TV she sat crossed legged next to Cassidy placing the juice in front of the young girl. "You OK honey?" She asked softly. Seeing a small nod she sat and watched as Cassidy missed a string of notes and started muttering darkly under her breath. "Hey Cass, may I have a go?"

Cassidy handed her the guitar and offered a small smile. "Let's see how well you do." She said cheekily. Andy flicked through the songs in quick play grinning when she saw Hit Me with Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar. She changed the difficulty to medium which caused Cassidy to laugh. "You're going to go down in flames Andy."

Arching her eyebrow at the young girl she started playing, keeping time with the notes as they moved up the screen, humming along to the music. She was on a 200 note streak when Caroline sneaked over and shoved a handful of ice cubes down the front of her t shirt. As she started missing notes, laughing as she squirmed against the cold and wet the performance meter fell rapidly, sound effects moved from cheering to boos' and the song ended in an epic fail.

Andy laid the guitar down and pounced on Caroline capturing her in her long arms as the young girl giggled. "Gotcha my little imp. I'll teach you for ruining my perfect streak." Caroline squealed as Andy picked out a few stray ice cubes and shoved them down her back. Andy found herself being tickled within an inch of her life when Cassidy jumped on her back. She let go of Caroline as she twisted trying to get a hold of the red head on her back. She erupted into loud laughter as Cassidy continued to poke and tickle the brunette. Laughing hard she struggled to catch her breath and started to wheeze. She stuttered. "St...Stop Cass..."

Cassidy backed off fearfully seeing Andy red faced and wheezing and coughing through her laughter. Miranda stood and stepped towards her concerned. Caroline made her way to Cassidy as they watched hands entwined. "Darling, look at me." Miranda requested as she knelt before the brunette. Andy continued to wheeze as she struggled to speak.

"Move Miranda." Greg said impatiently lifting her out of the way. Hearing Andy's squeak of protest at him manhandling Miranda he rolled his eyes. "Miranda sit next to Andy. Andy look at me." She glared at him angrily. "I know right now you probably want to cuss me out again, to be able to do that you need to be able to breathe." He waited for Miranda to sit down next to Andy and continued to speak. "You have the choice to sit up straight or lie down but you need to follow my lead." He saw her struggle to sit up straight. "Now breathe in slowly through your nose." He looked at her as she took a slow deep breath. "And exhale...slowly." He stood over her while she closed her eyes and concentrated on his voice. "And again." He told her.

He made her repeat the action until she got her breathing under control. She looked at Miranda and croaked. "I'm sorry."

"No need for apologies my darling. Will you be OK?" Miranda questioned gently clasping her hand.

"I'll be fine." She looked at Cassidy and Caroline and saw their fear. Holding out her arms she whispered hoarsely. "C'mere my little loves."

They charged into her arms causing her to let out a large breath. Miranda looked at her daughters. "Please be careful with Andy." She told them.

"I'm not that fragile Mira." She grinned at the older woman who rolled her eyes at the use of a nickname. She held the twins lightly on her lap and explained hoarsely. "When I was just a bit younger than you two are now my sister and I played prank on my Grandpa. We were in the barn at their farm and we dropped a big pile of curdled cow's milk and hay over him." She grinned. "I saw he looked like a scarecrow and burst into an amazing fit of laughter which brought on an asthma attack. When my mom and dad took me to the E.R they diagnosed me with laughter-induced asthma, I also have hay fever which can make it worse. What has confounded my doctors over the years is that it's rarely affected by exercise, as you know when the weather permits I like to jog. If I keep on top of my symptoms it is generally not a problem. Every now and then I forget and a burst of laughter nearly empties my lungs and then I struggle to catch my breath."

"Is it scary?" Cassidy whispered.

"It can be, yes honey. I carry an inhaler in my purse or jacket. I can't stop from laughing for the rest of my life, and I wouldn't want to. That would be ridiculous." Andy told her.

"I'll be gentler in future." Cassidy told her.

Andy shook her head. "No my little ones, there's no need for gentleness, as I told your mom I am not breakable. What your dad did to help regulate my breathing works. Sometimes in the moment I panic." She looked at Greg as he sat back on the sofa and smoothed his hands down the creases in his trouser legs. "Thanks Greg."

"You're welcome." He blushed.

"How did you know what to do Gregory?" Miranda asked.

He looked at Charity who nodded. "Charity is asthmatic. I had to learn to help her regulate her breathing. To ease your mind Miranda I can confirm what Andy said about her symptom's being fairly mild. They could be much worse." He looked at the brunette and offered her a small smile. "Now about that cussing out?"

"I'll let you off, just this once." Andy told him with a grin. Greg and Charity laughed. "Please do not manhandle Miranda again in my presence though."

Miranda scoffed at the warning in Andy's tone. "I should call Elizabeth." She stated. Andy looked at her in confusion. "Dr Henry, my personal physician."

"No sweetheart, there's no need for that. I'll be fine now." Andy said. "There's no need to fuss."

Miranda stood and gestured to the twins to get up off Andy's lap. Before they did they both placed a kiss on her cheeks and gave her a hug. "I'm sorry for scaring you my imps." She told them.

"As long as you are OK, that's all that matters." Caroline told her. Seeing Andy's eyes drooping she and Cassidy looked towards their mom.

"Come on my darling. Up off that floor." She stepped forward and held her hands out to Andy. Grasping them she pulled herself to her feet. Miranda led her to the large comfy chair she had vacated and pushed her into it. "Do you need anything?"

Andy shook her head and whispered. "No, I'm good thanks my love."

Cassidy stepped up to her side and placed a throw over her. "Can I sit with you?" She asked hesitantly.

"Sure my little love, get up here." She yawned as Cassidy settled on her knee. She covered them both with the throw. Caroline sat at their feet wanting to be near Andy and her twin. "There's room for you too Caro honey." Andy told her sleepily. Caroline grinned and climbed up onto her and the three of them snuggled in.

Miranda watched them with a soft smile on her face. Turning to Greg and Charity she waited for them to talk. When nothing was forthcoming she sat in another chair and rolled her eyes. "Greg, it's a fair distance from Harrison, why are you here?"

Charity grabbed his hand in an offer of support. "I wanted to see the twins, to attempt to apologise for yesterday. Cassidy won't even look at me, I'm sure her head's been filled with nonsense about me."

She looked towards Andy and saw she had fallen asleep. All three of them had their eyes closed. "If you believe that Andréa or I would fill either of the girl's heads with hatred for you then you are sadly mistaken. However our children did inform us that it was you in fact that had attempted to do so, telling the girl's Andréa did not want them and that she was in fact just putting up with them because of me. It's funny that she is apparently only with me for what I can give her, yet she hasn't asked for a damn thing, not even the return of her feelings." Miranda was furious. "She came back from her travels because the twins wanted her here for Christmas, she came with no expectations in regards to a relationship with me."

Charity attempted to soothe the situation. "Greg, I spoke to Andy in the kitchen, she loves Miranda and going off Miranda's reaction it's obvious she loves Andy. Look at the twin's, they adore her too. She is so good with them, full of love and laughter."

Greg huffed. "I want you to reinstate my rights as their father."

"You have got to be kidding me?" Miranda hissed. "You cheated on me all through my pregnancy and then issued me with divorce papers when they were barely six months old, by that time you had already moved out to live with...oh God I can't even remember her name...Zoe? Heather? No, it was Amy."

Cassidy cracked one eye open as she listened to her parents. Cutting her eye at her sister she knew she wasn't asleep either. Andy's arms tightened around them both indicating she was awake too.

"It was stupid of me to surrender my parental rights, I didn't realise what it meant until yesterday." Greg tried to coax.

"You knew exactly what it meant Gregory. Your lawyers actually ensured the request to renounce your parental rights was approved, even though the judge was against it. Your legal team were very thorough; my lawyers haven't been able to find a single loophole. You are nearly ten years too late to have a change of heart."

"I'll take it to court." Greg sputtered.

"And you will lose. Except this time your daughters will be aware of the fact you didn't actually want them, they will know I had to cajole you into taking an interest in them. You know I would give my girl's anything, they wanted their father." Miranda shook her head in exasperation. "They will have to stand up in family court, do you honestly think after yesterday they will tell the judge enough that he overturns an existing ruling with corresponding evidence of your lack of interest, and trust me Gregory over the years I have sent my lawyers every proof of cancelled weekends, parent evening's and recitals. Every voicemail, email and text message is documented. Not to mention the fact that if the twins are in agreement Andréa will be legally adopting them. They've started to call her bonus-mom."

Cassidy looked up at Andy. Seeing her soft smile she snuggled in further. Caroline hugged her tighter. Under the throw the twins held hands across Andy's stomach, communicating silently.

A slight movement caught Miranda's attention, as her gaze fell on the brunette she noticed her smile and guessed the young woman was awake. Looking closer at the twins she realised they were in fact just comfortable rather than asleep. She swallowed hard and tears formed. She was concerned that after hearing what they had then they would hate her. She watched as Andy bent her head slightly and brushed a kiss on Cassidy and then Caroline's head.

Greg turned slightly noticing where Miranda's attention was held but he couldn't see that they were awake. "Think of the press Miranda, they already make your life hell. Think of what they would say if they believed you were keeping a father away from his children." He smirked in his belief that Miranda would do anything to keep her children out of the press.

"I will hand feed the press the story myself." Miranda hissed furious at his threat. "In fact I live with an amazing writer who is about to have her work published in a major magazine. She can write my story. Who better than her, who loves me and the children she is willing to raise with me?"

Greg looked stunned. "You would feed the story to the outside world?" He was appalled. "How could you?" He asked.

"How could I not when you make the same threats in order to attempt to get what you want?" Miranda counteracted. "My daughters are awake over there, resting with the woman they have come to love as a second parent. Thank you for helping Andy before, but I believe you should leave, right now." Miranda stood and crossed her arms.

Opening her eyes fully Cassidy looked at Greg. "Dad..." She called out.

"Yes Caro?" He looked at her and gave her a fake smile.

"You should leave now and don't expect a call from us..." She told him.

He was stunned. "But...but...Caroline!" He exploded.

"God you're useless." Cassidy told him rolling her eyes as she clambered off Andy's knee. "I'm Cass...I can't believe you can't even tell us apart. It's never been as obvious, although it's not the first time you've mistaken us." Greg sputtered incoherently at his daughter as she looked at him with ice filled eyes as she stepped by Miranda's side and placed her arm around her mom's waist. "At least Andy can tell us apart, at least she actually wants us. With her we are not a pawn in whatever mind-fuck you're attempting with our mom."

"Cass, language." Andy said attempting and failing to stifle a giggle.

Caroline looked at her sister and grinned widely. Looking at Greg she turned serious as she stated. "We don't need you dad. All we need is right here."

They all watched as Greg stormed from the room, hearing his footsteps clatter on the stairs his departure was met with the slamming of the front door. Charity looked up. "I'm sorry." She whispered as she followed Greg slowly from the townhouse.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Miranda had attempted to sequester herself on the roof after Greg and Charity left but immediately found herself being followed by the twins. Andy made her way up after them slowly, feeling an ache in her chest, and sat heavily on the recliner, as soon as she sat down the twins clambered up onto her lap and snuggled in.

As they sat quietly, watching the clouds pass in the sky, Caroline and Cassidy attempted to reassure Miranda.

"We know you would do anything for us mom." Cassidy stated.

"He's the one at fault, not you. You didn't ask for this. I'm glad he left." Caroline added.

Miranda pursed her lips. "I did not want you to know. You, my terrors, were pretending to be asleep as Andréa dosed." She looked at Andy. "And what woke you? You obviously needed the rest after your asthma attack."

"You woke me sweetheart, you never raise your voice, you don't ever need to, but I am attuned to certain tones of your voice." Andy grinned. "Even now if my cell went off at 2am I'd probably pick up with a 'yes Miranda'." Andy smiled.

Miranda rolled her eyes and smirked. "Silly girl." She gazed at Andy affectionately. She looked at the twins curled up with Andy and her smile faltered. "Bobbsey's, if you have any questions about your father and I then now is probably the best time to ask."

Cassidy and Caroline looked at each other and with a quick nod Cassidy spoke quietly.

"Why did he give up his rights to be our parent?"

Miranda shook her head sadly. "I don't really know, he would never tell me. As you both know I was a bit older than most new mother's when I got pregnant with you. I don't think your father ever expected us to have children. Early in our marriage we both concentrated on our careers, children were always going to be the thing we did 'one day'. After many years all of a sudden we found out that our little family of two was about to double. That was the best day of my life and also the scariest. Your father started to distance himself afterwards." Miranda sighed. "I wasn't a good wife, not really. I moved up through Runway very quickly while your father struggled to make his mark on Wall Street, I missed dinners and worked long hours and we were apart more than together. Neither of us took the time to focus on each other and connect and your father found solace elsewhere."

"He cheated on you?" Cassidy questioned. "He must have been crazy." Cassidy looked up at Andy and whispered. "I bet you think he's crazy too."

Andy looked down at the red head and chuckled. "Certifiably insane my little love." Miranda scoffed and rolled her eyes as she heard Andy's words but she couldn't stop the smile that formed and the joy spreading through her at the words.

"So you got divorced and he asked not to be our dad?" Caroline asked.

Miranda nodded. "Yes. When he handed me the divorce papers he also had his lawyers draw up paperwork for him to relinquish his parental rights and responsibilities. I tried to talk to him about it, to tell him it would be a decision he regretted. I swore to him that I would not ask him for a single cent, but believed you had a right to two parents. He didn't listen and when it went to the judge he argued about his lack of paternal feelings. I was granted sole legal and physical custody and he got his wish to surrender his parental rights to me, due to that there was nothing to allow him any kind of visitation like a lot of children have when they have parents who are divorced."

"So what changed?" Cassidy asked.

"One night as I was tucking you into bed you asked about him, you told me you wanted to see him and get to know him. How could I refuse you anything, especially that?" Miranda swallowed a lump that was forming in her throat, "I tried so hard to be both mom and dad but I failed, so I went to him and asked him to try, just a few visits here and there, but then you seemed to enjoy your time with him so I let it continue. I wanted him to be a presence in your lives, and when he cancelled I tried to make up for it. I married Stephen in the hope he could be a father figure when your father wasn't around." Miranda swiped a tear from her eye and looked at her daughters.

"Well we have Andy now." Cassidy grinned at the brunette who smiled back widely.

Caroline moved off Andy's lap and moved towards Miranda. Pulling her daughter on to her knee she wrapped her arms around the young girl. "Mommy, Cass and I were talking and we don't want to see him anymore. He separated us and then frightened Cass."

Andy heard Cassidy mutter. "Bonus-mom to the rescue." She kissed the young girl on the crown of her head and attempted to stifle a chuckle.

"Your father may attempt to make things hard, if he decides to take legal action you are old enough now to have to stand up and speak to a judge."

"Well I will just tell the judge that he may be my biological father but he's not my dad." Cassidy declared.

Andy looked down in confusion. "What's the difference Cass?"

"I heard your dad with your mom after he left the town house, he was really upset with her. Your dad told her you would always be his little girl. He reminded her that he was the one to get the tweezers to remove the splinters out of your fingers when you built a cubbyhole in the back garden and who practiced pitching with you for your softball games. He carried you off the field on his shoulders and celebrated with you over ice cream when you won. He took you out for your first drive, smoked half of your first cigarette and took you for your first beer." Andy nodded confirmation at Cassidy's words.

"Any man can be a father but a dad is someone who would come to cheer me on at my soccer games and who would watch Cass's plays and come to both of our piano recitals. He would take us for ice cream or hotdogs or to a ballgame or a concert. He'd be able to tell us apart." Caroline explained. "We wouldn't come second to whichever new girlfriend he has and he wouldn't be angry at us for wanting our mom."

"You're right Caro. Those things you said a dad would do aren't things only a dad can do."

"We know that. It's just..." Cassidy shrugged. "...Mom tries and you made it easier for her to be with us when you worked for her and she's made more time since Stephen left. You came to Caro's first soccer game and you saw me in Oliver Twist, I saw you at the back of the auditorium as I sang Consider Yourself. You, as mom's assistant, were more present then our own father."

"You made a really good Artful Dodger." Andy smiled down at her.

"You were there for those occasions." Miranda was stunned. "Why?"

"Because you couldn't be. The day of Caro's soccer match Lagerfeld had flown in and arrived unexpectedly at Runway. When Cass did Oliver Irv called that budget meeting at the last minute. You were furious on both occasions and all attempts to get Greg to Dalton were met with a wall of silence, so I went." She shrugged nervously. "I wanted the twins to know how much you really wanted to be there." Andy explained.

Miranda sat and contemplated. Her initial thought was to be angry at the brunette for taking liberties with her girls but deep down she knew it came from caring, from the pure and loving heart of the young woman.

"Don't be angry at Andy mom." Caroline requested as she stroked Miranda's frown line away. "We were happy to see her there, if it had to be anyone but you then Andy was the best person. She explained why you weren't there rather than leaving us disappointed."

Miranda was dumbfounded. Looking at her daughter she smiled. "I'm not angry Bobbsey. I'm just shocked, I had no idea." She looked at Andy and offered her a tender smile.

Caroline kissed Miranda's cheek and got down off her lap and walked towards Andy and her twin. "Come on Cass, we'll play Mario Kart."

Cassidy grinned and jumped off Andy's knee. "You're going to get your butt kicked Caro." She claimed.

"As if." Caroline stated as she grabbed her sister's hand and dragged her towards the house.

Watching the twin's head indoors Miranda shook her head as their bickering continued as they made their way indoors. Looking at the brunette she saw her looking concerned.

"I didn't ever mean to be presumptuous regarding the twins. I just wanted to offer them some reassurance. They were so excited about their extra-curricular activities and..." Miranda raised her hand.

"Do not apologise for caring." Miranda looked at her and smiled. "Do you know what prompted me to get Emily to go after you when I dismissed you on the day of the interview?"

Andy shook her head. "No, I always wondered."

Miranda smirked. "You showed a large amount of chutzpah. It was refreshing. Most people come into an interview with me knowing who I am, they bow down in supplication as if I am some Goddess." She rolled her eyes. "You were fierce, you came across as arrogant and self-confident despite how you looked. You were a walking contradiction."

"Nige once told me that he asked if you were doing a before and after shoot he didn't know about. He was sure that's why you sent Em after me." Andy snorted. "It seemed after a time the enormity of working for you made me lose my ability to fight back."

"I think there's more to it. You said in those letters in Paris that one look from me had the ability to throw your equilibrium out of balance." Miranda said softly. "I never truly understood what you meant. All I know is that when you went through your makeover although you became more stylish and graceful you seemed to grow socially awkward and inarticulate, you were nothing like the person I had interviewed."

Andy laughed heartily and rubbed her chest as it tightened. "You have no idea do you? After that makeover there were times you looked at me like you could devour me whole. It used to throw me off balance, but it also left me wanting more. I just didn't realise what wanting more meant." Andy admitted. "There was a fire in your eyes that is hard to describe. I saw it this morning when you straddled me in that very seat you're sat in." Andy smiled lightly.

"So when did you realise what you felt was more?" Miranda questioned.

"It was the night before we left for Paris that it was made abundantly clear to me what it meant. I told you what Nate said, about the person's whose calls I always take being the relationship I was in. The moment he fired that pearl of wisdom at me I kind of stood and thought 'You know what, he's right'. I wanted more but couldn't see how it could ever be. Looking back that night I realised I had been fighting my attraction for you for months, maybe even the whole time I had been at Runway. Anyway Nate walked away and I had my moment of madness in Paris and then ran away from my feelings."

Miranda shook her head and stood holding her hand out to Andy. "Come inside my darling. This cold can't be good for you. Don't think I haven't noticed you rubbing your chest."

"It always aches for a few days after. It's like I've done a chest workout at the gym." Andy looked around the roof space as she clasped Miranda's hand and stood.

Miranda entwined their fingers. "When was the last time you had an attack?" She asked.

"A few months ago, I'd stormed out after an argument with Nate, Doug and Lily and well...It didn't interfere with work so..." She continued to look around. "I know this is your haven Miranda..." Andy started to speak only to find herself cut off.

"What happened to Mira?" Miranda quirked her eyebrow at the young woman.

Andy grinned. "Well I know Nige calls you Mira sometimes, but when I did it earlier you rolled your eyes." Andy grinned. "I just assumed it was a no go."

"Mm nothing is a 'no go' for you my darling." Miranda grinned.

"So if I change my usual sweetheart to babe..." Andy giggled as Miranda scowled.

"Don't you dare?" Miranda sputtered before realising Andy was teasing. Smirking she asked. "So what were you saying about my haven babe?"

Andy giggled. "Well there's a lot that could be done up here, you know, to make it a really beautiful space." She was hesitant to provide her input into Miranda's sanctuary.

"If you had free reign what would you do?" Miranda asked.

Andy blushed. "I'd make it a space that you can luxuriate in. I'd put in more plants and maybe put decking or turf down. Make it into a real rooftop garden. The recliners are great but it's very open up here, which makes it cold. I'd maybe install one of the outdoor heaters. I'd leave the view unblocked. I love how you can see across to the Park." Andy stalled as she saw Miranda's lips curving into a large smile.

"It was always my plan to do something up here, I started with the sunroom and then life got in the way. I like your rooftop garden idea. If I asked you to draw up plans could you?"

"Su...sure...I think so...yes!" Andy decided it would be her project to make the roof, which Miranda obviously loved, into a space that she could relax and reflect in. "Why do you like it so much up here Mira?"

Miranda looked at her. "It has been the one space that has been purely mine. I bought the townhouse just before the twins were born, we lived in an apartment on Fifth and Lexington before then. Greg never really moved in, some of his things maybe but he was absent more than anything. Stephen hated heights so he never came up here."

"If I do design this roof garden this will still be your space Sweetheart." Andy stated.

Miranda shook her head. "No my darling Andréa. This will be our space. This was where I used to find peace, these days that peace is found in your presence."

Andy grinned down at the older woman, pulling her close she bent and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "Have I told you lately how much I love you?"

"Mm maybe. I have one thing to say though..." Miranda smiled up at her, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

"What's that then?" Andy asked curiously.

"I love you more." Miranda smirked as Andy chuckled.

"Once again beautiful I think we'll have to agree to disagree." Andy told her with a megawatt smile. "Now come on inside and I'll make us a coffee."

"You'll do no such thing, you will rest while I make coffee." Miranda told her. Seeing Andy about to reply she placed a finger against her lips. "I do not want to hear one argument out of that gorgeous mouth of yours Andréa."

"Yes Mira." Andy smirked as she pulled the older woman into the house and watched as Miranda cranked the window closed behind them.

xxxxxxxxxx

The rest of the day moved quickly. Their Christmas dinner was eaten with gusto and seeing the amount of leftovers Andy happily claimed that she could live off turkey sandwiches for the foreseeable future. She especially adored the Key Lime pie Miranda served for dessert and had a second helping much to the shock of the twins. Miranda smiled indulgently and ushered everyone upstairs when the food was consumed. Their evening passed with music, movies and lots of chatter and laughter between Andy and the twins. Miranda spent the majority of her time quietly watching Andy, concern evident in her blue eyes.

As the twins bid the two women goodnight Andy pulled herself off the floor and sat on the wide comfy couch next to Miranda. Stifling a yawn she looked at the older woman and smiled softly."Wanna make out? She asked cheekily.

Miranda snorted and kicking off her pumps tucked her legs up and rested her head on Andy's shoulder. "I would like to just sit and relax, if that is OK?" She said quietly.

"That's fine sweetheart." Andy sat back and wrapped her arm around Miranda pulling her closer. "Well today's been interesting."

Miranda chuckled. "That is the mother of all understatements my darling. The start of the day was wonderful and then...well..." She stalled.

"Yeah I know, then my mom and dad happened and there was that thing with Greg. It's been one hell of an emotional ride." Andy stated.

"That doesn't concern me, that thing before, with your asthma attack, well that scared me more than I care to admit. Why didn't you say anything about it? It wasn't on your Runway file." Miranda asked.

"Sweetheart, it doesn't usually impact my life except in really emotional circumstances, my attacks are caused by the changes in my breathing patterns from laughing, crying, yelling and even anxiety and stress, that's the worst of it, because it causes even more emotional stress which makes recovering a longer process. I usually manage my asthma well. If you've ever paid attention I breathe through my nose a lot, it warms the air before it hits my lungs."

"Why is that important?" Miranda asked curiously. "I heard how Greg demanded you breathe through your nose."

"When you breathe rapidly through your mouth it pulls in cold, dry air. That is one of my triggers, it causes the tightening of my chest and the coughing." Andy explained. "Do you think I haven't noticed you watching me closely this evening Mira?" Andy arched her eyebrow at the older woman who looked down.

"I had to reassure myself that you were OK." Miranda admitted quietly. "Seeing you unable to breathe was terrifying."

"No Mira, I am here for good. I realise what happened earlier was scary for you and the twins and I'm sorry that I didn't tell you before, but what was I meant to say? How do you bring something like that up in passing conversation? For the last four days we've spoken about our feelings and attempted to navigate this...and it's been emotional..." She trailed off attempting to gather her thoughts. "...but we still have a lot to learn about each other. I know how you like your coffee and what kissing that little spot behind your ear does to you. I know you prefer gowns by Valentino over Holt and Versace. I know you were raised in London and the small titbits that the internet tells the public. I know that you would do anything to keep our girl's from hurting. I know how protective you are, how you have a vulnerable side, a softness you try to hide. I know that you have been left disappointed by your previous relationships." Andy faltered as she attempted to get her emotions under control. "I want to be with you and I want this to last, no matter what life throws at us or how hard things get. I don't want you to experience hurt, confusion or disappointment due to my presence in your life. The rest, well we can figure out more about each other as we go along."

"Acceptable." Miranda whispered raising a head to catch Andy's eyes. "Now maybe making out will help us figure this out..." Her lips curled into a large smile as Andy tilted her head downwards and raising her hand to Miranda's face lifted her chin ensnared her lips in a searing kiss. Hearing the moan coming from the older woman Andy allowed the kiss to deepen.

After a few minutes Andy broke this kiss and taking a deep breath and smiling whispered. "Kissing you takes my breath away, it's the best kind of breathlessness."

"Bed." Miranda declared.

"Acceptable." Andy offered the older woman a bright smile and standing pulled Miranda to her feet.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Boxing day morning was more of the same as the previous four days they had spent together at the townhouse. They relaxed over a good breakfast and spent time enjoying each others company.

The night before Miranda had taken the young woman to bed and started running her a bath. By the time Andy returned to the bedroom dressed in a Northwestern t-shirt and boxer shorts she was tucked up and feigning sleep. She had decided to hold off from any attempts to be intimate. Andy climbed into bed she pulled the editor close and ran a hand up her thigh beneath her sleep shirt. Miranda had to fight the urge to roll over and take what she craved from the brunette but found her concern over the afternoon's asthma attack far outweighed her own desire. Within a few moments Andy stopped her movements and with a sigh rolled over and away from Miranda.

Over lunch the girls asked if they could visit a friend and Miranda agreed. They stormed from the room and stampeded up the stairs quickly as Andy started clearing their plates.

"Have you checked your emails for a response from Marc at Rolling Stone?" Miranda asked.

"No, I didn't want to spoil our time together by having to work. Whatever his response is, it can wait." Andy said as she stacked the dishwasher.

Miranda stood and wrapped her arms around Andy's waist from behind. "Do you want to go for a walk this afternoon?"

Andy grinned. "Yeah, why not? It will be good to get some fresh air?"

"You've been very quiet today, are you sure you are OK?" Miranda asked quietly.

Andy tensed at the words. "I'm fine." She muttered.

Miranda untangled herself. "Don't lie to me Andréa, one of your most redeeming features is your inability to lie and your body language speaks volumes." Her tone of voice was icy cold.

Andy turned and Miranda saw the sorrow in the expressive brown eyes. "I'm sorry Mira, I just..." She shrugged. "...I didn't mean to upset you...It's just...Why did you pretend to be asleep last night? You could have just said...Well you could have said anything."

"I didn't want to hurt your feelings." Miranda admitted. "It wasn't that I didn't want to, that I don't want you, I did, I do. Never doubt that."

Andy grinned at Miranda's words. "Promise me something." Andy asked looking down into Miranda's eyes.

"Anything." Miranda said.

"Please don't hold me at arms length or treat me with kid gloves Mira." Andy said softly. "If you don't want...well you know..." Andy blushed. "...To be intimate well I would be happy just holding you in my arms." Andy told her. "Now I realise what happened yesterday afternoon scared you but I'm here, and apart from the occasional asthma attacks I'm also really healthy." Andy said pulling her closer. "But if it makes you feel better I will make an appointment with your physician.".

"You'd do that?" Miranda asked nuzzling Andy's neck.

Stroking Miranda's hair Andy whispered. "I'd do anything for you my love. If there is something I can do to ease your mind I will gladly do so. You and the twin's mean the world to me." Andy's cell went off and she stepped back. "Sorry." She said. Pulling her cell out she checked her messages. "Dad's outside. I think he's come to say goodbye."

Miranda frowned. "I thought their flight wasn't until this evening?"

Andy shrugged. "I don't know sweetheart. But I'll find out." Andy stalked from the room, within a few minutes she was dragging Richard into the kitchen. "Dad sit down. Please tell me what's going on?"

He paced. "She left. I woke up this morning to find her gone. I've been trying to call her for hours." He stopped and frowned. "She answered 20 minutes ago. A text message telling me she was back in Cincinnati and that she'd be gone by the time I got home."

Andy sat heavily and gasped causing Miranda to step from the room quickly. Rushing to the closet she searched Andy's jacket for the inhaler she'd admitted to carrying. Stalking back to the kitchen she saw Andy breathing deeply. "Andréa?" She queried. "I have your inhaler should you need it."

Andy shook her head.."I'll be OK, give me a minute." She continued to breathe deeply through her nose.

Richard looked at Miranda curiously. "She told you?" He asked.

Miranda shook her head. "No, she had an asthma attack yesterday afternoon, it was quite the shock."

Richard chuckled. "That sounds like my stubborn Andy, silly girl has always seen it as a weakness." He sighed. "Do you mind if I ask what caused it?" Richard said. "As far as I'm aware it's been a while between attacks."

Andy snorted. "We haven't exactly been on speaking terms dad. I could have had multiple attacks and you wouldn't have known." Andy stated.

Richard blushed. "Jill keeps me informed about the things you may not tell me or have not been able to tell me." Andy huffed. "Now don't blame her. I know I've been absent but I do worry." He sat down opposite Andy and Miranda busied herself at the Jura.

Turning she leaned against the kitchen counter. "She was trying to cheer the twins up. Their father paid us an unexpected visit." Richard gazed at Miranda uncomprehendingly so she attempted to explain. "Unfortunately he reacted quite badly to our relationship and the Page Six nonsense on Christmas Eve and upset the girls in the process. Suffice to say they were less than thrilled to see him."

"Oh." Richard gasped.

Miranda looked down. "It's not what you think. Gregory surrendered his parental rights to me as part of the divorce, it was his choice. I however arranged visitation after the twins requested to get to know him. Anyway Caroline decided yesterday it would be fun to place ice down Andy's shirt as she played Guitar Hero with Cassidy. Andy retaliated and as she did so Cassidy jumped on her back and started tickling her."

"That would certainly do it." Richard gave his daughter a small smile which she returned before looking at Miranda. "Andy frightened the life out of me when she had her first attack. It's why I put my foot down with Ginny yesterday, I know how much emotional upheaval can affect her."

Miranda nodded her understanding. "In a way I am glad Gregory was here. He knew what to do, whereas I..." She looked down. "...Well I found myself quite out of my element."

Looking up she smiled widely as she heard the clattering of feet in the stairs. Looking at her Richard was amazed by the change in the editor as the twins barrelled into the room. Both stopped when they spotted Richard. Looking between the adults Cassidy could see Andy struggling and trotted towards her and wrapped her arms around her waist. "Hey Andy, are you OK?"

Andy nodded. "I'm fine my little love." She said softly. "My chest is still aching a little after yesterday." She grinned in an attempt to reassure the young girl. "I've agreed to see the doc to put everyone's mind at ease."

"Bobbsey's say hello to Mr Sachs." Miranda reminded them of their manners.

"Sorry mom." Cassidy muttered. Turning towards the older man Cassidy said "Good afternoon Mr Sachs."

"Hello Cassidy." Richard said with a smile.

Caroline looked at him shyly, unable to stop herself she asked. "Mr Sachs, how do you know I'm not Cassidy?"

Richard turned towards the door and looked at the other twin. "Oh well that's easy Caroline." He said offering her a wide smile. "Although you look very much alike there are small differences. Cassidy has a few more freckles on her nose and cheeks. Your cheekbones are slightly higher and your chin a little rounder. Personality wise it is evident too. You seem a little more reticent in comparison to the boisterous little girl that just ran towards Andy and who told us off yesterday."

Miranda smiled at Andy gently. "You must get your perceptiveness from your father." Turning to Richard she smiled shyly. "Andréa has been one of very few that has been able to tell the girls apart from shortly after meeting them. Caroline is apparently very much like me. Cassidy is a bit more outgoing."

"Like Andy." Richard smiled broadly.

Miranda nodded. "In many ways yes, they have a very similar disposition."

Andy grinned down at Cassidy. Holding her arm out to Caroline she said. "Come here Caro."

Offering Andy a wide smile Caroline walked over and wrapped herself up in Andy's arms. "Hey bonus-mom." She whispered.

"Hey baby. You ready to go to Hunter's?" Andy asked. Seeing Caroline nod happily she stood and looked at Miranda. "Sit down Mira, I will finish the coffee. Do you want one dad?"

"No, no. I should be getting ready to leave soon. Checkout at the hotel is at 3pm." Richard stated. "I'm sorry about barging in and disrupting your family time again Miranda." He looked at his daughter and smiled sadly. "I just wanted to see you Andy."

"Richard, as Andrea's father you are now family. If you should wish to stay with us, well you are very welcome." Miranda grew flustered in her attempt to put Richard at ease. "If you need to check out then I can drive us to the Hotel after the twin's have left to visit their friends."

Richard looked between Andy and Miranda. "You really wouldn't mind?"

Andy grinned. "Miranda never says anything she doesn't mean. Isn't that right my imps."

"Yeah." Cassidy grinned, looking at Richard she smirked.

"So now Andy's our bonus-mom does that make you our Grandad?" Caroline asked hesitantly.

Richards eyes widened in his shock as Caroline looked down embarrassed. Pulling himself up he walked towards the redhead and knelt down. "Please look at me honey." At the raising of blue eyes he offered a wide smile. "Do you want to know something?" He asked. Caroline nodded. "I always wanted grandchildren. I think you and your sister will fit into that role perfectly." Caroline's smile widened happily at Richard's acceptance. "I have one proviso though." Richard told her smiling. "I always wanted to be grandpa rather than grandad. Is that OK?"

"That's acceptable Grandpa." Caroline told him as Cassidy grinned at him.

Andy didn't realise she was crying until a soft hand reached out and stroked the tears away. "Gimme a minute OK?" Andy husked catching Miranda's eyes. She moved from the room quickly and heard her dad chuckle upon hearing Caroline mutter exasperated. "Mom, she's crying again?"

Miranda looked down at Caroline as Richard stood and stretched. "As I explained the other night Andréa is an emotional person Caroline, it is not something to be concerned about or something to roll your eyes at." She looked at Richard. "I know she feels things very deeply, she has a tender heart."

Richard smiled. "She takes after my side of the family, we are all very practical when it comes to work, but love...Well...I know they will be happy tears, trust me on that."

Miranda let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. Looking at Richard she saw he looked tired, she poured him a coffee and set it in front of him as he grinned. Turning to Cassidy she said. "Is Hunter's mom coming for you?"

"Yes, they should be here anytime now." Cassidy grinned as the doorbell rang and charging from the room she ran straight into Andy as she reached the front door.

"Hey, slow it down kiddo." Andy laughed. "I think it's a good job we don't live in Australia, I'd have to rename you Taz."

Cassidy grinned as Andy opened the door. Spotting the milling paparazzi she frowned. Looking up she met the gaze of a tall blonde and her daughter. "Hi, I'm Andy, the twin's are just getting their things. Would you like to come in for some coffee?"

"Oh no thank you. We'll just wait here for the twins." She grinned nervously. "My apologies I seem to have forgotten my manners. I'm Amanda and this is Hunter."

Andy smiled and leaned against the door as Cassidy and Caroline exited the house. "It's lovely to meet you both."

Cassidy turned and gave her a hug followed quickly by Caroline. "See ya later Andy." They chorused as they jumped down the townhouse steps followed quickly by Amanda and Hunter.

"I'll see you guys later, have a lovely afternoon." Andy called after them.

As she turned around to enter the townhouse she heard one of the paparazzi call out after the twins. "Hey girls, how do you feel about your mom being a dyke."

Andy spun around. Seeing Cassidy about to say something she sputtered. "Cassidy do not dare answer that!" She watched as Cassidy flipped the journalist the bird as she got into Amanda's car. She spun around to see the question had come from the same paparazzi that she'd provided the previous warnings to. Stalking towards him she caught the movement of the door opening in her peripheral vision. She continued to move slowly, as she came face to face with the journalist she prodded him once in the chest. "You piece of shit..." She spat. He backed up with Andy following step by step. "...You are a vile, repugnant little man and an absolute disgrace to your profession." He continued to back up until his back hit a tree. "You should be ashamed of yourself, not only for your behaviour towards those children but for you obvious ignorance..."

She felt a hand on her arm. "Andy, come on inside honey." She heard her Dad speaking as if from a distance.

Holding up one finger she gestured for one moment. Breathing in deeply she continued to speak. "...Now I have asked you once before to move on, you will not be finding anything out from us. You can take our photos and print your lies and the assumptions you make about our relationship but we will continue to live our daily lives as planned. We will certainly not be providing any of you with any comments about the relationship." She exhaled deeply before continuing. "Like the rest of the world you can read about it in whichever publication offers the most cash for me to write MY story. Now fuck off!" She spun around and as she walked back to the townhouse she saw Miranda's small smile as the editor held her hand out to Andy and led her slowly into the house.

Looking at Andy she could see her shaking and pulled her into her arms. "It's OK my darling Andréa."

"N...No! It was wrong of me to react like that." Andy stated. "I should have ignored it." She took a shaky breath.

"Do you think Cassidy would have ignored it if it wasn't for your warning?" Miranda smirked as Andy shook her head. "I must say watching you unleash your dragon is certainly something to behold my darling. And the fact it was in protection of our girls means more to me than I could ever say." Miranda whispered. "Please do not worry about those vultures." Miranda told her.

Richard stepped back into the house and cleared his throat. "They've cleared off." Miranda looked at him curiously. "I'm sorry Miranda. It seems Ginny may have said some quite damaging things to the press, which are going to be reported upon tomorrow. Please know I had no idea, I wouldn't bring harm to you, Andy or the twins in any way."

"We should sit and discuss this. The more I know the more damage control I can put into place." She led them to the den and sat down, pulling Andy down beside her, on the wide couch. Looking across at Richard as he sat in an armchair she asked. "So what exactly has your wife told the press?"

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Richard swallowed hard against the lump that had formed in his throat and started tugging nervously at the collar of his shirt. He let out a deep breath he started to explain. "Ginny and I didn't create a sense of openness at home when Andy and Jill were growing up, but I certainly didn't think either of my daughters would be uncomfortable discussing their sexuality with me. I admit to making the assumption both my daughter's would be straight, it was always about the boys they liked rather than being more gender-neutral. I'm not a homophobe by any means. I believe what two adults do in the privacy of their home is their business. Ginny however never hid her intolerance, there are numerous occasions I have heard her making derogatory comments that would have potentially made my beautiful child uncomfortable in expressing who she is." Andy settled deeper into Miranda's side and found herself being pulled into the older woman's arms as Richard continued to speak. "Andy, I would never say I love you no matter what, that would suggest that being who you are is something to be overlooked in the name of love, like saying I love you even though..." He trailed off and swiped his eyes as tears formed.

"I know Dad," Andy said softly.

"I didn't react well when you told your mom and I you were gay; I'll admit I was hurt more than anything that you felt you had to hide who you are for so long. I made myself think I couldn't trust you because you had been hiding this huge part of yourself from me. I tried to run away from the perceived problem of your sexuality, and I let myself get swept away by your Mom's views. We made your heartbreaking confession all about us, and that was wrong. For Ginny, it went against everything her church taught her. She wanted to shove those words back down your throat, but she couldn't. Our child had admitted she was gay. She began to wonder where she went wrong as a mother; she kept asking me why you were doing this to us until I finally told her it wasn't about us. It was always about you being true to yourself." Andy wiped her eyes as her tears started to flow. "I knew that once you told us it was obvious, you were so sure of what you were saying, but I needed to give myself time to consider the journey you had been through to reach that point, I realised that I needed to love my child. My faith needed some re-consideration, because no matter what I am proud of you Andy, of the woman you are."

"What made you change your view?" Miranda said softly having put the ice queen to sleep.

"I thought about the courage it took for Andy to tell us about her sexuality, especially when she would know it contradicted mine and her mother's core beliefs. I'll admit I was flooded with fear, doubt, anger, disappointment and shame. I didn't let myself consider the emotions Andy would be trying to deal with. I wasn't kind to my child and left her to flounder in darkness." He looked down ashamed. "I forgot that my job as a father is to show my children the unconditional love of a parent. My child is more important than others people's opinions. I don't want either of my daughters living with self-loathing. I am aware my child is strong and capable, but I want to be there for her every step of the way. I have realised the problems we may have with this are nothing compared to the difficulties you'll have or will face Andy."

"And Virginia?" Miranda asked. "What has she said to the press?"

"She told them that Andy just hadn't found the right man yet. That one day, when she was out from under the spell you had cast upon her, she'd find herself a good husband. Ginny believes Andy is blinded by what you can offer her and told the press as much." He closed his eyes. "She told them Andy was with you for what you could provide her. Her comments made Andy sound like she was some gold digger. She told them she hopes you both realise how unnatural your relationship is, and that you will consider the effect it will have on the children, regardless of how much they seem to adore Andy. She said your relationship is opposing God's design for humankind and that she would continue to pray for Andy's salvation from the path of destruction and humiliation she has chosen."

Andy giggled. "So she's going to pray the gay away?" Miranda snorted out a bark of laughter.

"You know your mom Andy, she says things without thinking, she acts foolishly. She'll regret it eventually, but I'm scared for her, that she'll have burnt every bridge before that happens." Richard said.

"She burnt bridges with me a long time ago Dad, you know that. She had me lie to you for a year from when I was 13 years old, placing excessive fear into me that I would be the one that broke our family apart if I uttered a word about her and..." She trailed off seeing the hurt flash behind Richard's eyes. "If you remember that was the year my asthma got unmanageable. After that, I found I couldn't respect her in her hypocrisy." Andy stated softly.

Richard sighed heavily. "I haven't made your mother happy for a long time Andy. We stayed together for you and Jill. It is only now I am seeing what damage her betrayal and my acceptance of it caused. When it all finally came out, I was about to leave, and she asked; 'What about the children?' So I stayed. We did not set a good example for you and your sister. That's why I let myself recognise how special your feelings for Miranda are. I thought I'd be the one to teach you not to settle for anything less than spectacular, but you somehow realised it for yourself."

Andy offered Richard a bright smile.

"I would like to know how did you get the press to leave?" Miranda asked.

"I told them to investigate Timothy 5:8." He grinned at Miranda's blank look.

"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever," Andy explained.

Miranda grinned as Richard spoke to Andy. "Jill's moving to New York next month; she was offered an internship at Max's law firm. She's refusing to speak with your mother over all of this. And you're here with your new family and, from what I gather, you have started writing. I always knew you wouldn't want to settle back in Cincinnati."

"What's keeping you in Ohio Dad? You stayed there for mom, she didn't want big city living, but you did at one stage." Andy asked. "Max has been trying to tempt you here for as long as I remember, but you always said no."

Richard grinned. "It wasn't the right choice at the time. I was actually hoping to see Max before I left, it's been a while." He looked at Miranda. "What will you do about the press?" He asked softly.

"Nothing. Your wife has shown her ignorance. She's probably done us a favour. Many people feel like she does about the LGBT community but New York is a progressive state in many ways, the fashion industry especially." Miranda explained. "I will discuss it with my publicist, but I see no point in commenting back. It would make things extraordinarily uncomfortable if Andréa and Virginia ever mend bridges."

Andy snorted. "That's not very likely." Miranda saw Richard nodding his agreement and chose not to say anything further. Looking across at Andy's father she saw his shoulders slump. "My offer stands Richard. If you wish to stay longer, you are welcome. I can make up a guest room easily enough, and it will be good for you and Andréa."

"Thank you, Miranda, that is very generous, and I accept. Do you know, you're not half as scary as Andy painted you to be when she first started at Runway." He grinned widely.

"My dear Richard, you haven't seen the worst of me yet," Miranda smirked, and she raised herself off the couch. "I'll go and bring the car around. Will you be joining us my darling?" She asked Andy smiling widely.

"Sure, will we be taking the Porsche? Can I drive it again?" Andy grinned.

"I thought we'd take the Land Rover." Miranda smiled as Andy gaped at her and swept from the room.

She heard Richards final words. "How many cars does she have?"

"I have no idea Dad," Andy admitted breathlessly.

xxxxxxxxxx

Richard settled into his room on the second floor. He was happy to find the twins would be sharing the floor with him, even with Miranda's warnings of the immense noise they generated. He had organised an early dinner with Max and had spoken to Jill at length about Ginny and Andy. Jill was thrilled he and Andy had overcome their differences but unamused by her mom's behaviour. He had sent the one call his wife had attempted, after he sent her a text telling her he was remaining in New York for a few days, to voicemail.

He looked up he saw a pair of blue eyes looking shyly up at him from the doorway. "Hi, Caroline." She said with a smile.

"Hey, Grandpa. Do you need anything?" Caroline asked.

"No honey, I'm going to shower and dress for dinner with Max." He watched Caroline closely as she shuffled from foot to foot. "What is it, honey?" He asked gently.

"Will you and Mrs Sachs be getting a divorce, is that why you're seeing Max?" She asked hesitantly.

"Come here," He said. Caroline stepped into the room; she sat on the side of his bed as he knelt in front of her. "You can see how happy your mom and Andy are, can't you?" She nodded and offered a wide smile. "Well, I haven't been happy for a long time, but when I got married, I always swore it would be for life. I never pictured that 30 years later my wife would leave me. I am not having dinner with Max to talk about divorce proceedings; although I do know he's very good at his job, I am seeing him an old friend. Max and I studied at Stanford together, and we have kept in touch over the years." He smiled.

Caroline grinned up at him. "How well does Andy know Max?" She asked.

"Max is Andy's Godfather," Richard told her. "He has known her since her birth; he celebrated many a 4th July with us on my parent's farm."

"Oh," Caroline whispered. "So he's like what Nigel is for Cass and me?"

"When Andy and her sister Jill were born, I chose Max as their Godfather because he is a good man. I knew he would take an interest in my children's upbringing and their personal development; he would offer advice, understanding, support and encouragement at times I could not. Is that what Nigel does?"

Caroline nodded. "Uncle Nigel is funny. He calls Andy Six."

"Why does he do that?" Richard was confused.

"Because that's what size I was when I started at Runway, and Six was apparently the new 14." Andy grinned as she leant against the doorframe.

"Is that why you lost weight? You're skin and bones honey." Richard asked.

"No Dad. I lost a little weight with all the running around in heels I did, I became more toned. The weight loss happened while I was overseas. I lived off a primarily vegetarian diet, and I was sick for a little while. I also found I lost my appetite; I think I was a little depressed." Andy walked into the room and sat beside Caroline. "Please don't worry about me, Dad."

"It's just that, well, you see all these young women in the magazines and they're all so thin. I just thought..." Richard trailed off.

"Those women are thin and with reason; they showcase the designs they are wearing. I know right now I'm probably as close to their size as I'll ever get. I realise I was a healthy weight before I left for Asia, Miranda has also indicated her displeasure at the weight loss." She saw Richard and Caroline's look of surprise and grinned.

Caroline smiled at Andy. "She didn't say anything when you ate two pieces of pie last night. Cass wondered about that because she always tells us not to overindulge."

"What kind of pie?" Richard asked.

"My favourite, Key Lime. I wonder if there's any left..." Andy trailed off as Caroline laughed. "What?" She asked the little redhead.

"Mom and Cass just finished it off," Caroline told her.

"Ah, not fair!" Andy exclaimed as Caroline let out a burst of laughter at Andy's look of horror.

"I was just teasing. Mom saved you a slice for dessert. We have ice cream too." Cassidy giggled as Andy grabbed her and started tickling her.

You. Are. An. Imp." Andy told her as laughter erupted from the little girl. She let Caroline go and stood up as Caroline got herself under control. "Come on my little love; we should let Grandpa get ready for this evening, we'll find Cass and torment her for a while." She grinned at Richard as Caroline grabbed her hand and pulled her from the room. "See ya later Poppa bear, say hi to Max from me."

"Will do honey," Richard called after them as they made their way hand in hand down the stairs.

Andy and Caroline entered the den to find Miranda and Cassidy planning a dance-off on the Wii. Sitting down together, they watched as Miranda took the victory in the three bouts.

"You could let me occasionally win Mom," Cassidy stated.

"And what would that teach you Bobbsey?" Miranda smirked. "You play to win and accept both victory and defeat with grace. You have to roll with life's triumphs and punches Cassidy." Miranda imparted her wisdom.

Andy snorted out a laugh at Miranda's words. "So Scrabble the other day was you accepting defeat graciously?"

Miranda mock glared at her before smiling. "Mm, maybe I showed poor sportsmanship when I tipped the board over. That it is most certainly something, I must work on. Maybe over a game of Monopoly."

"You don't want to play Monopoly with Andy, she cheats." Richard's voice came from the doorway as he entered the room.

Cassidy smiled up at him as she switched the Wii off and changed over to XBOX and Guitar Hero. "Mom does as well Grandpa." She told Richard as she passed Caroline the second guitar.

"I do not cheat..." They both sputtered. Looking at each other, they locked eyes and grinned.

They broke the connection as Richard sat in the chair and spoke. "Max will be here for me momentarily."

Miranda smiled. "Where is he taking you for dinner?"

He mentioned Pastis. I've heard good things about it." Richard told her.

"Mm, an acceptable choice. I highly recommend the Seared Organic Salmon or Escalope De Veau."

Richard grinned, "Is it a French restaurant?"

Miranda nodded and offered a small smile. "Yes, it is somewhat of a favourite of mine. Their breakfast and brunch menu is divine. We'll have to have brunch soon. I'm back at work tomorrow, but my schedule should be fairly flexible until after the new year."

Andy heard the doorbell and made to move to let Max in. "I'll get it," Richard said. We are going t have a drink nearby before dinner.

"Tell him to take you to Harry's or Connolly's," Miranda smirked as Andy laughed and Richard left the room with a wave.

"Well, I never expected you to know of Connolly's. You don't seem the type to be frequenting Irish Pubs." Andy was surprised.

Miranda sat beside Andy on the couch and placed her head on her shoulder. "They have a delicious Irish Beef Stew and a great range of cocktails, and it is somewhere I have taken the twins on occasion for lunch." Miranda smiled up at the brunette. "Have you been?"

"Yeah, I had a quick Friday night dinner with Nigel there just before Paris. The shepherd's pie was one of the best I'd eaten." She looked down. "I'd never say that in front of my Grandma though, she'd kick my ass."

"Your grandmother is still around?" Miranda asked.

"Mm yes, my dad's mom. Ellen Sachs is very much a formidable woman. My grandparents gave up their farm when I was 15, and my uncle and Aunt took over. Dad built an accessory dwelling unit at the back of our house, and they moved in. Grandpa died back in 2000, and within a year Grandma had moved into one of those retirement communities. She plies all her visitors with cake and cups of tea." Andy grinned.

"So why did she move out of her granny flat?" Miranda asked.

"Ah, she butted heads with my mom quite a bit, she wasn't too impressed with mom's continual interference in mine and Jill's lives. I'd begun to study at Stanford and found I wasn't quite fitting in. I advised every one of my desire to move to Northwestern. My mom expressed her displeasure that I was willing to give up a full scholarship at a top-ranking University, and was especially furious when Grandma told me to follow my heart and gave me the incentive I needed to make the transfer to Northwestern."

Andy grinned at Miranda's gasp. "You had a full scholarship?" Miranda asked.

"Yeah. My SAT scores and 4.0 GPA helped. Stanford and Harvard were my parent's choices. I also applied for Columbia and Northwestern. Stanford offered the best scholarship so seemed like the most logical solution at the time."

"Do you regret not going into law?" Miranda asked.

Andy shook her head. "No, that was my parents dream for me, it is also Jill's dream, it was never mine. When I was a child, I dreamed of being an artist, and I've always wanted to write."

"Well, I am extraordinarily proud that you are attempting to follow your dream and I will do what I can to assist, even if it's just to offer encouragement." Miranda looked up and smiled softly. "Now, what shall we do for dinner?"

"We could go out..." Andy trailed off as thoughts of the press entered her mind.

"Acceptable." Miranda smiled widely. "Bobbsey's, what would you like for dinner?"

"Serendipity 3." They both claimed.

xxxxxxxxxx

Dinner was a happy event for the four of them. Only Miranda declined Serendipity 3's famous dessert, choosing instead to pick at everyone else's; Caroline's banana split. Cassidy's Peanut butter ice cream and Andy's Forbidden Broadway Sundae, even with Miranda's help none of them could finish their enormous desserts. Andy and the twin's had Frozen Hot Chocolate's, and the three of them had been hit with brain freeze much to Miranda's delight, it was a moment that had caused much laughter from the four of them and their server.

The twins were asleep by the time they had made their way back to the townhouse and Andy, and Miranda had to pick up the sleeping redheads and carry them into the townhouse in front of the few milling paparazzi as their camera's flashed brightly.

Kicking the door closed behind them they gently carried the twins up to their respective bedrooms. Andy quickly laid Caroline on her bed and straightened. Pulling the sneakers and socks off the young girl, she pulled the blankets over her and placed a soft kiss on her forehead as Miranda entered the room looking flushed.

"You're letting her sleep in her clothes?" Miranda queried.

"I didn't want to wake her by manhandling her," Andy admitted shyly.

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Watch this." She stated. Sitting Caroline up, Miranda pulled her t-shirt over the young girls head and replaced it efficiently with a nightshirt. Laying Caroline back down against her pillows, she tugged at the button and zip of her jeans and pulled them down. As Miranda removed the jeans, Caroline grumbled incoherently and rolled onto her side. "The twins could sleep through the apocalypse." She shook her head and offered Andy a smile. "Now I know they'll be up early as Cara is due back. They miss her when she has time off."

Andy grinned and stepped towards Miranda. "What will she say about my presence here."

"Knowing Cara something along the lines of 'about effing time'." Miranda smiled. "Come with me darling, we'll get a glass of wine and settle in the den, I'll light us a fire, and you can choose a movie."

"Don't you need to work?" Andy asked hesitantly.

"Work will be there tomorrow. I would rather focus on my time with you." Miranda admitted.

"Wow, okay." Andy clasped her hand and led her from the room and down to the den. Leading Miranda to the couch Andy looked down as Miranda sat. "I'll go get us that glass of wine. White okay with you?" She smiled.

"Mm, yes." Miranda smiled one of her rare genuine smiles.

"What? No 'acceptable'?" Andy asked cheekily. Watching as the older woman rolled her eyes, she chuckled and left the room quickly.

Andy returned to the den a few minutes later with a bottle of wine and two glasses. She found Miranda sat on the rug in front of the now roaring fire with her feet curled up underneath her. She was staring contemplatively into the flames. Andy sat crossed legged next to her and waited for the older woman to speak.

Andy poured them each a glass of wine and handed Miranda one of them. Miranda looked at her and started to speak quietly. "If Rolling Stone doesn't give you full editorial control of the exclusive they want, the editorial team at Runway have advised me they will," Miranda told her. "I initially said no. As Editor in Chief, the magazine has always been about fashion and lifestyle, not my private life. I do not want to be accused of promoting my own personal agenda or of nepotism by publishing you in Runway. I know you are talented in many ways, and I'm sure your writing will reflect that but..." She trailed off.

"I'll not say no to the to the possibility of ever publishing an article in Runway, but I would prefer this not to affect your professional life," Andy said. "Why would they want to publish such a thing anyway?"

Miranda sighed. "Over the next year we have been discussing putting the focus of each issue on the underrepresented minorities in fashion, plus-size and women of colour were two of our ideas. We have also been toying with the idea of promoting how the LGBT community influences the fashion industry."

"I could understand that it aligned with Pride month but..." Andy trailed off as Miranda snorted.

"My thoughts exactly," Miranda stated. "But as Nigel, Emily and multiple others have advised Pride is not just something to celebrate one month a year. And according to the emails, I have been receiving; as a figurehead of the fashion world, people seem to believe that our newly acquired relationship status could be the focal point of that particular issue.."

"So, are you saying you want me to write our story for Runway?" Andy queried gently.

"No, just to consider it, if, for any reason, Rolling Stone is unable to meet the requirements you laid out." Miranda looked at her. "I know you offered the exclusive to them due to a sense of loyalty for the relationship you have built with their editorial team..." Miranda trailed off and closed her eyes as Andy cupped her cheek.

"Haven't you realised by now that my loyalty is to you, and by extension of that, to Runway," Andy stated softly.

"I would never voluntarily ask you to go back on your word, and I am still unsure if it would actually be suitable," Miranda admitted. "It may be best going to an alternate publication and focusing on the LGBT issue idea for the June edition."

"I don't know if writing about us is such a good idea at all." Andy shrugged. "But people are, for whatever reason, curious." Andy sighed as she took a sip of her wine. "I just hope the press presence eases soon, for the twins sake rather than my own. I am well able to handle myself but the girls..."

Miranda snorted. "You missed it when the press was at its worst at the start of the divorce. My terrors pelted the paparazzi outside with water bombs filled with poster paints."

Andy grinned. "And I'm sure Cass was flipping them all the bird from the balcony too."

"Mm perhaps." Miranda smiled sadly. "Unfortunately our girls are well versed in dealing with those vultures, probably more so than you."

Andy nodded her agreement. "True, I won't stand for them having their lives disrupted more due to my presence here. Those comments today, they don't deserve that Mira, and I will do what I can to protect them, and you."

"You can't fight the whole world for us my darling," Miranda stated softly.

"Wanna bet?" Andy grinned widely at the editor before pulling her into her arms. Placing a light kiss on Miranda's cheek, she settled in behind the older woman as they continued to watch the flames.

xxxxxxxxxx