Lost Treasures

writtensword presented a prompt on January 14, 2011 at the LiveJournal DWP page, which I decided to use. I changed it up a bit from what she suggested—I hope you don't mind, WS!

Summary: Slightly AU where Andy never worked for Miranda. Instead, she works at a small clothing boutique where she convinces the owners to let her design the window displays. The decorations quickly cause quite a stir, even catching Miranda's attention. Miranda decides to have Runway feature the shop and its designs, including an interview of the window display designer. Recognizing Andy's talents, Miranda becomes fascinated and sets out to convince Andy to leave the little boutique for bigger and better things. Her interest in Andy transforms from business to personal in her quest to keep Andy in her life.

Disclaimers: I was going to write a really technical, legal version here about how I am not earning any money off of this story and am merely offering it for entertainment value, protected by the fair use doctrine (in a much more impressive format, of course); forget that—you all know. Plus, I'm a real piss-ant, so if you are the owner of the characters, book, movie—whatever—and want to sue me, go ahead and try. Bring it on. I have a law degree, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Further Disclaimers: Natalee Smith is an original character I created in an earlier story, Secret Service. In addition, Lost Treasures is a fictional boutique I created especially for this story.

Rating: NC-17 baby! Just not right away.

Timeline/ages: Starts out around September. Miranda is still Miranda. Her children are a few years older than what is usually presented—I placed them as teenagers.

Author's Notes (aka shameless plug): Good news, good news! My book, Castles Built on Clouds, is now available on Kindle worldwide! For all those people who have enjoyed my fanfiction and who love ebooks, this is your chance to read my published book. It is literary fiction, set in modern times. You can read the synopsis on my LJ page or at the Amazon website.

Even if you don't subscribe to ebooks, you can purchase the book online. I want to be clear that no same-sex physical relationships are in this book, although it is all about three women and their spiritual evolution as their lives intersect one summer. In fact, there are heterosexual relationships. Nevertheless, I hope you'll give it a shot!

Betas are awesome! Please spare a moment or three to give silent thanks and praise to some very hard-working individuals—my betas, quiethearted, peetsden, and shesgottaread. They all read and edited this story TWICE—not once, TWICE. Aren't they awesome? Also, thanks go to dhamphir and akasarahsmom for their support and kind words while I pulled out my hair and complained about various silly problems I uttered as rationalizations for not finishing the story.

This long story consists of a Prologue, ten chapters, and an Epilogue—about 42,000 words. All parts are up and linked. Enjoy!

spacegoose converted the story to an ePub format. If anyone wants a copy, let me know here or PM me with your e-mail address, and I will forward it to you. THANK YOU SPACEGOOSE!


Prologue

Looking out the window at the cool, autumnal day, Andy grinned with delight. Harold Powers had finally, finally agreed to her request, pleadings really, to let her try her hand at decorating the windows in his boutique. Normally, his wife designed the windows with the latest fashions. Grace did a good job, but it was apparent, at least to Andy, that she approached it as a task instead of an opportunity to connect with those who viewed the displays. She did not enjoy this part of her responsibilities, while Andy coveted it, yearned to create what her imagination so vividly conjured. And now Harold was giving her that chance.

The boutique was located two blocks south of Saks on Fifth Avenue in the Diamond District. Every day Andy walked past the well-known department stores, greedily soaking up the diverse personalities reflected by their window displays. Andy had so many ideas of how to promote the boutique where she worked—she vibrated with excitement now that she was being given the opportunity.

Once the boutique closed, Andy could get to work. Normally, Grace just started decorating whenever she had the time, but Andy wanted to make the changes in the display without having to worry about being interrupted. Maybe she was just being a bit of a romantic, a bit theatrical even, but Andy wanted to create the changes without anyone seeing her do it—as if little fairies had waved their wands or elves had delivered a gift to those walking by the store. No one wanted to actually see the work occurring—they just wanted to appreciate the end result. At least during the time she had worked at the boutique she had earned her boss's trust enough so that he had agreed that she could decorate the windows overnight. It was perfect since she could sleep in the next day—her day off—as long as Nate wasn't a jerk.

Although he worked late on the weekends, Nate expected her to be home whenever he was. The boutique was small, however, and Andy ended up working most nights. With these new responsibilities, she would be out even later. Today, she had arrived at work when the store had opened, and although she supposed she should feel tired by now, she vibrated with anticipation. It wiped away all the long hours spent on her feet and made her feel giddy as possibilities danced before her eyes.

The challenges were working without a budget, without props, without anything to help her but the clothes in the boutique, mannequins, some art supplies, and her ingenuity. Perhaps if she did a good job, she could convince Harold to expend a small amount of money on the window dressings, provided of course that business picked up.

Andy had a plan, though. She had decided to pay tribute to great literature.

Taking out a sketch pad, Andy reviewed her drawings. She had many ideas harking back to the greats from which to choose. Even if no one noticed the displays, they would make her happy. She had always loved books, the magic of falling into them, traveling to different worlds where she experienced others' lives. They took her away from her own travails, if only for a little while. Over the years books had taught her about courage and weakness, wonder and disgust. They had helped her to grow and expand her thinking. They had helped her to navigate through her own life challenges. Andy knew she was not talented enough to touch people the way such authors had affected her, but she aspired to make a difference somehow. This was her way—in a small boutique—of reaching out.

Skimming through her drawings, Andy thought of her earlier conversation with Harold.

"Please let me try, Harold. Grace spends so much time here, and I know she'd rather devote it toward what she loves instead of decorating windows. I have some ideas I'd love to try. Just let me try this once, and if you hate it or we get complaints, you'll never have to let me do it again." Andy had trotted out her best puppy-dog look, gazing through lowered eyelashes as she'd clasped her hands to her chest and held her breath. She even had fluttered her eyelashes, knowing that Harold would get a kick out of her obsequious behavior.

A negligent wave and a loud chuckle had preceded his answer. "Sure, sure, Andy. Take a shot at it. I'm sure Grace could use the break. But only with what we have, okay? We don't have a budget for window designs. Generate some customers, and we'll see."

It was funny to think of how she had run after a dream to write for so many years only to find herself firmly entrenched in fashion. She had fought with her father, who had wanted her to attend law school, for the chance to come to New York and work for a newspaper that would reach more people than their local periodicals. She hadn't even wanted to apply to law school, only doing so to appease her father, who had been practicing law for more than twenty years. Yet, Andy had experienced a rude awakening when she had found herself unable to find work in New York, even after sending her resumé around for several months. What was worse, she had gone so far as to interview for a second assistant spot to the editor-in-chief of Runway, only to be turned away by Miranda Priestly herself with a sneer and dismissive eye-flick. Andy had never felt so humiliated in her entire life.

On that day ten months ago, Andy had felt her writing aspirations die. She had realized just how arrogant and naïve she had been to believe she could move to the City, become a journalist, and make a difference. A few weeks after that illuminating interview, Andy had answered an ad to work at the boutique. She had learned from her mistake and dressed much more carefully, borrowing money from her dad to purchase the proper clothes. Andy's refusal to acknowledge couture in favor of acting like a serious journalist had been immature and unpractical.

Her mother would have been so disappointed in her. When Andy was a child, she used to play dress up with the grand gowns and fancy clothes her mother had owned. Barbara Sachs had grown up with money, often attending social events where artists and politicians mingled. Before she had met Andy's father, an eclectic group of artists, politicians, and writers had gathered monthly at her mother's estate, passing the day trading ideas, laughing, and connecting. After she had met and married Richard Sachs, her mother had slowly pulled away from those wild, bohemian days to become a respectable wife, as defined by his parents.

As Andy had grown older, her mother had shared her love for fashion with Andy by teaching her how to combine colors, fabrics, and styles to create the perfect look. Her mother had died three years ago, devastating those she had left behind. Andy could not look at couture without remembering her. And yet here she was surrounded by it every day. She had realized once she had bombed the Runway interview that if she were going to survive in the City, she needed to dress the part and stop her juvenile rebelling against anything that reminded her of her mother.

The owners of the shop had hired Andy immediately. Although her responsibilities had nothing to do with her dreams to write, they did feed into her more aesthetic tendencies, and over time those pangs of grief had dulled to a manageable level. In fact, she had somehow found her way back to loving couture, and when she thought of her mother and clothes, it created a welling of warmth in her breast.

Andy settled into the position easily, finding herself able to connect with the boutique's eclectic clientele without much difficulty. The pay wasn't great since she was a commissioned sales employee with a meager salary base, but Andy was able to sell enough pieces each month to cover her portion of the bills. It helped that Harold was good about giving her as many hours as she needed to meet her financial goals.

Over the last few months Harold began giving Andy more responsibilities—often sending her to designer showrooms to pick up clothes, allowing her to open or close the shop, and even talking to her more about the pieces in the store. As she had before her mother's death, Andy found that every aspect of fashion fascinated her. If only she had woken up a bit sooner to the realization that avoiding fashion would not bring her mother back, Andy might be working for the premier fashion magazine in the country if not the world right now.

Shaking her head to rid herself of such thoughts, and by extension of the no-nonsense editor-in-chief at Runway with the indifferent mask and cool voice, Andy returned her attention to her plans for the windows. If she could not write to touch others and make a difference, she could affect passersby through the visual expression of her voice with a little help from literary masters. Grinning with anticipation, Andy began to catalog what she would need. She didn't care what Miranda Priestly thought or didn't think of her—she knew she had the ability to make a difference. And she would.