A/N: This is my first attempt at Fanfiction. I woke up with the idea in my head after inhaling so much DWP/Mirandy fanfic. This is not beta'd. All mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: I do now own any of the Characters belonging to The Devil Wears Prada. These are owned by Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox.
Summary: Andy leaves Paris with final words for Miranda.
A/N 2: I have spent some time since my last update editing this story in the hopes it would coax my muse from hibernation. There are no major changes to the storyline/plot.
I realise by now you will understand 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 walked many miles today to come to terms with my choices. Not such a great move when wearing Jimmy Choos.
I acknowledge I did irreparable damage today, you may 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 experienced 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 conveyed your distaste, apathy and more recently your approbation.
Miranda relaxed feeling victorious after having pulled one over her nemesis Irv Ravitz and Jacqueline Follet regarding 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 find 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 in 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 could 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 experienced a momentary sense of freedom and then the tears started.
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 different. To be 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 this hot should melt that iciness?
I hope you understand that was a joke, right? You are distinctly nothing like the names provided by Page Six and the other gutter press. People would understand that if they looked close enough. Your barriers are high but they aren't impenetrable.
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 formed again.
Andy remembered the last conversation she had with her now ex-boyfriend Nate.
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." Nate hissed. "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 used 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," He told her.
"That's absurd..." Andy declared.
"That's okay, that's fine, just own up to it. Then we can stop pretending like we have anything in common anymore." Nate stated sadly.
"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.
To get to the reason I am leaving Runway. The last nine months were the hardest I have encountered, I 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 changed beyond all recognition, into someone they dislike and will never 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 washed their hands of me a few months ago, they hope I see sense and move back to Ohio, so they can push me back into Stanford and into the family law business.
Nate's final words before he left me were; "The person whose calls you always take, that's the relationship you are in." I 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 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 felt I have no choice? When what I feel is so far beyond my control 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 lost some of my unique identity? The good that people used to notice in me is no longer good enough.
Did it disappear when I gave up that Cerulean sweater and become a Runway Clacker? When I decided to take Paris from Emily? When I elected to walk away?
Have the choices I made in the last nine months done irrevocable damage? I hope not!
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.
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."
You once told me 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 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 assumed you hated me, but I came to recognise 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 noticed a brief look of approval. I wanted more of them. I watched you closely after that. I could read you, meet your unspoken requirements. I actually cared, 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.
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 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 entire world.
I lived 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 belief 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 I was screwing up by not seeing just how phenomenal you are at what you do.
I will not berate you for the distinct lack of trust in him. You could have informed him about Irv's plan to oust you from Runway and replace you with Jacqueline. He would stand by you with the unfailing loyalty he has shown you since day one. As would I, Emily and anyone else who has worked in 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 from you the way I did. And it is possibly the most reprehensible way to behave. I may leave Runway but I will never leave you. I hold the hope I can find my way back to you. I live in the hope that I can meet you one day in the future as your equal, not as a lowly ex-assistant. But that also depends on your next steps towards me.
Understand 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.
As Andy popped the letter in an envelope and looked around the hotel room ready to pack, 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 6:45 am,"
"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 wrote this letter to 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 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 tell her?"
"Cause she'll say it back and we'll 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. Do you 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 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 he mentioned to me how calm Miranda had been since Miranda's Andréa came along." Nigel smirked.
"She's calm 'cause I get shit done rather than run around like that 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.
Miranda was furious. Pacing across her suite her thoughts were of one person. How dare Andréa walk away like that? Didn't she understand 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 must 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 an 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 did 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 6:45 am 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 fit 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.
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 became 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.
Miranda was pulled from her thoughts by Nigel leaving the room. Her anger had somewhat dissipated with her recollections and she became 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 although she likes her coffee hot, it is usually needed that way due to it cooling considerably before she's even drunk 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 could see beyond that particular epithet.
Miranda felt guilty about Andréa's life outside of Runway. She knew 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 assumed 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 could 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.
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 desk. 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 for 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 sense 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 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!"
Started with the abruptness Andy kept talking. "...that uncovered the exploitation of…" Miranda stared at Andy who took the hint and walked away. As she reached for the door she spun around. "Okay, okay 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.
Miranda continued to reflect on the changes she had seen within Andréa. She had always firmly believed 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 experienced an overwhelming sadness she too had not knowingly appreciated the changes until now. Miranda knew 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.
I understand 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. Having been on the receiving end often enough, you know 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 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 was more vulnerable than ever. 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 given to me by people who do not understand 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 recognise that when those who have known me 20 or more years still cower in my presence? How can you look 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 recognise the beautiful soul that has graced my presence daily for the last nine months. The innate kindness, generosity and stubbornness have always been present within you Andréa but obviously, the strong, graceful, confident woman you are becoming isn't appreciated by those that should celebrate 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, recognise deep down you always have choices.
When you think everything is beyond your control remember that you are the master of your own destiny.
When you believe 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.
Regarding my behaviour towards Nigel, I realise I should have confided in him. I do have plans for his future I will discuss 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 left 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 I can 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.
Miranda called down to reception to request the bellhop deliver the letter to Andréa.