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The Opening of Hearts

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Miranda Priestly sat on her very expensive love seat in her study on a quiet Friday evening. The proofs she had been going through lay abandoned on the small coffee table before her, and her hands instead clutched a crystal glass filled with some very strong whiskey. She rarely indulged, but tonight was an exception. Stephen was currently on the top floor of her house groping some twenty-year-old blonde. Miranda snorted. How clichéd. She had come home early this evening, with the intention of taking a warm bath and relaxing after a week from hell, but the second she walked through her front door she knew something was wrong.

The girls had left after school with their father for the weekend, and Miranda was looking forward to some peace and quiet. If Stephen decided not to argue tonight, that is. As Miranda had ascended the stairs, there was a thud somewhere in one of the top floors. Intrigued and a little weary, Miranda decided to see if Stephen was home early too. But she was not prepared to encounter the sight that greeted her.

On the third floor, Miranda was about to call out her husband's name when she heard it. A moan. A woman's moan. Followed quickly by the tell tale and quite disgusting, animalistic grunt from Stephen. It was clear what was happening in his room. Approaching his door, Miranda would have rolled her eyes if she hadn't been so angry when she saw the idiot hadn't even bothered closing his door. Through the gap, she was able to see her husband's naked back as he kneeled on the bed, and before him, on her hands and knees, a young female body that cried out and threw her blonde head back.

Miranda, enraged and humiliated, silently descended the stairs to the ground floor and hid in her small study at the end of the corridor. She paced for almost 30 minutes before sitting down in her love seat. How dare he? How dare he humiliate me in this way? Was she really such an awful wife that her husband would have a mid-life crisis with some young, Barbie girl who probably had breasts firmer than rocks? Miranda fumed, but she knew she would not even confront him about it: she would simply file for a divorce and hopefully not talk to him ever again.

Not knowing what to do, she began going over some proofs from the latest shoot. She needed to take her mind off the subject, or a relaxing evening would become the complete opposite. But working was good. Working was safe.

Only 10 minutes after she had began to work, however, she realised that she was barely paying attention at all, and that in fact she had not made a single correction to any of the photos. With a frustrated huff, Miranda stood and went to her liquor cabinet. Seeing her favourite (and strongest) whiskey, she poured herself a large glassful and sat back down again, bringing the bottle with her.

She should have seen this coming, really. Stephen had cowardly informed her that he wanted a divorce while she was in Paris for fashion week more than two months ago. She winced when she remembered that night: the way Andrea had looked at her, her big almond eyes showing such understanding and compassion. It was never the same after that night. Andrea had seen her with her walls down, and now their work dynamic had changed completely.

Stephen had regretted it. When she was back in New York, Stephen had told her that he hadn't meant any of it, that he wanted to stay with Miranda and that he would do anything to make their marriage work. Not wanting a scandal, and not wanting to hurt the girls, she had agreed to give their marriage another chance. She snorted.

That worked out wonderfully.

She could not tell how much time has passed, and she was sure the bottle had been full when she had poured her first glass. How much had she had already? Her head felt fuzzy and she was quickly heading towards complete and utter drunkenness. She stood to go put away the liquor, but when she heard the usual rattling of keys and her front door creeping open, she couldn't help but hold her breath as her heart sped up.

.....-.....

Andy Sachs had had one hell of a week. Work had been absolutely terrible, with her boss ordering a re-shoot of Dolce and Gabbana for the latest Autumn issue and firing a total of 5 people. To make matters worse, Nate had finally moved his things out of her apartment. Took him long enough. He had gone back to Boston almost two months ago, and barely two weeks after he'd arrived he had met someone else and was now in the process of moving in with her. Which is why he phoned Andy up only three days ago demanding she let him get his things. Andy, of course, had no objections. He had been a complete unsupportive idiot to her since she'd gotten her job at Runway, and had been a total jerk towards the end of their relationship. Now, he played innocent, claiming she was the guilty one for their break up and thus tainting her friendship with Lily and Doug. God, even her parents were on his side.

Now, completely rid of a disapproving boyfriend, Andy felt like she could finally relax again in her own home. Things were starting to feel okay again. Doug was coming around, apologising for taking Nate's side so rashly, and Lily seemed to be on the same path, and Emily had (almost) forgiven Andy for Paris and their relationship was now much better than it ever was before. But most importantly, Miranda seemed to appreciate Andy's efforts more. Since Paris, things had changed between them.

Andy had found Miranda crying. Crying. No make up, no perfect hairstyle in place, no breath taking, expensive clothes on her body. Just Miranda wrapped up in a silky bathrobe and with what looked like a broken heart. Andy had listened to Miranda's words closely, had taken every little detail of the woman in. And that is when Andy saw Miranda as truly human. A person who had feelings, who had a heart, who breathed air, just like everyone else. A person who was in pain. Although Andy had a feeling it was more on behalf of her daughters rather than her failed marriage. The bastard never deserved her anyway.

Since that night, Andy couldn't help but notice new little things about Miranda: small details that allowed her to see the woman beneath the Dragon Lady persona. The way her voice often softened when she was pleased about something, or the way the corners of her eyes would crinkle just slightly when she found something amusing. But her favourite was the way she sometimes bit the side of her mouth just so to keep from smiling. This rarely happened, of course. Andy had only seen it twice: once when speaking with her girls on the phone, no doubt Caroline had made a particularly smart comment or other, and the other time just last week when Andy had answered something especially witty at Emily's sarcastic comment about Andy's clothes. Miranda had been sitting on her desk working and Andy was about to enter the woman's office when Emily had, as usual, snarled something about Andy's appearance. Andy hadn't even taken her eyes off her boss when she answered the rude comment. And she had seen it. The Miranda Not-Smile. Andy didn't even remember what Emily had said, or what she'd answered back. All she remembered from that moment was the sight of Miranda hiding an amused smile, and feeling warmth spread to every single cell in her body.

Andy knew she should not feel this way towards Miranda. This was her boss. Her female, married, twice her age, icy boss that could render men to tears and could tear you apart with a single comment from her sharp tongue. I am in so much trouble. I am absolutely fucked.

The town car slowed to a stop, and Andy realised that she had arrived at Miranda's house.

Speak of the devil.

Andy quickly got out of the car, dry-cleaning and Book in hand, and waved to Roy as she ascended the steps. She made quick work of opening the door and left the dry cleaning and book in their respective place. She was turning to leave when she heard the breaking of glass and then-

"Shit!"

Andy froze, stunned. Did Miranda just curse? Before her brain could warn her that she was entering dangerous territory, she quickly turned back around and saw a light at the end of the hallway.

"Miranda? Are-Are you okay?"

"Andrea? Be quiet! Get in here." Miranda harshly whispered loud enough that Andy could hear it.

Andy had a bad feeling about this, and Miranda sounded unsettled. Even though the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in, Andy silently and slowly walked towards Miranda's study. Dreadfully, she entered the room and almost gasped.

Miranda was on her knees on the floor, picking up large pieces of glass with her bare hands, which were trembling just slightly. Her hair was tousled, as if she's run her hands through it several times, her feet were bare, and her blouse pulled out from under her skirt, wrinkling slightly at the bottom. To say Andy was shocked was an understatement.

"Miranda," Andy said, softly closing the door behind her, "are you okay? Here, let me help you."

Andy proceeded to do just that, helping Miranda off the floor and into the love seat, then carefully taking the glass from her outstretched hands and placing the pieces on a corner of the coffee table. Kneeling back down on the floor next to the broken glass, Andy reached into her bag and got out a packet of tissues, cleaning up the largest pieces of glass from the floor and mopping up the liquid.

"Thank you."

Andy froze for the second time that night. It was a whisper that Andy almost missed, but she had heard it, and Andy was so shocked that she turned around to face her boss, not even bothering to stand up.

Miranda looked down at her second assistant, literally kneeling at her feet, and felt her heart grow lighter. She took a deep breath and looked away from those mesmerising brown eyes, but Andy had seen the teary blue orbs, and she saw the way Miranda was wringing her hands slightly. Andy knew this sign well: Miranda was upset by something. She had seen it that night in Paris, and another time in the car on the way to the hospital when Cassidy had broken her arm after falling from the monkey bars of the school play ground.

"Miranda, are you okay? What's wrong?" Andy whispered soothingly, as if dealing with a frightened deer.

"Nothing is the matter, Andrea." Miranda repressed the need to cringe, hearing her hoarse voice sound weak and a little drunk.

"Please, I-I want to help."

At that, Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes.

"Of course you do. You always try to help, don't you, Andrea? You are so naive and innocent, but surely even you must know there are things one simply can not do?"

Andy remained silent after that, not really knowing how to answer and clueless as to how to deal with an emotional Miranda Priestly. She stood up and sat on the settee opposite Miranda, placing her hands over her lap and waiting, although for what, she knew not. Miranda swallowed thickly, not looking anywhere near her assistant. Her beautiful, kind, compassionate- Stop! She took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

"Just go, Andrea." Miranda waved her off in dismissal, but her voice seemed fragile, her gaze was cast downwards, and her right hand came up to toy with her necklace, which usually meant she was overthinking.

"No."

Miranda looked up sharply at that, and her gaze turned cool as she regarded the young woman sat across from her. Andy had no idea what she was doing. She could easily get fired for this, but it hurt too much to see Miranda this upset, and she cared more about Miranda's well being than her job. Miranda seemed very upset, and very drunk if the bottle of whiskey on the coffee table and her disregarded appearance was anything to go by.

"No?" Miranda arched a brow, looking at Andrea with a bored, yet cold expression on her face. The Ice Queen's walls were slipping into place, and Andy hated it.

"No, Miranda. You are upset, and drunk, and I am going to take care of you. Even if you don't want to tell me what's wrong, I am not leaving until I'm sure you are feeling better and will come to no harm."

There was a pause, and Andy didn't even breathe as she waited for Miranda's response. Just as Miranda opened her mouth to retort what was likely a harsh, sarcastic remark, she was interrupted by the sound of heels coming down the stairs, walking across the entrance, the front door opening and then closing again. Miranda, seeming unimpressed, looked at her wristwatch and let out a dark, humorless, icy chuckle.

"One hour. Stephen really has outdone himself this time." Miranda looked at Andrea, a contemplative look on her face before something akin to defeat crossed her blue eyes. It broke Andy's heart. "Very well" she whispered, "You want to help me, Andrea? Get me out of here. Get me out of this house."