Emily Charlton moodily sipped her egg nog as she kept her back to the wall. She'd done a good job of avoiding Andrea bloody Sachs so far, and she wasn't about to let the chipper little reporter get her from behind. Why had Nigel invited her to his Christmas party? It wasn't the first time she had asked herself that question tonight.
In the weeks following Miranda's return from Paris without her second assistant, she'd been an absolute beast to work for. Miranda had shown no interest in locating a replacement for Andrea, and so Emily had to shoulder all the work. That, combined with Miranda having a shorter temper than usual, had served to make Emily's life a living hell.
To make matters worse, Emily was grimly convinced that Miranda had been preparing to promote Andrea to first assistant. She practically already had, the way Emily and Andrea's roles had reversed, but it hadn't been made official. Occasionally Emily looked into Miranda's eyes and thought she saw disgust there. You're not supposed to be my first assistant. My first assistant is supposed to be fatter.
The thing was, Emily couldn't even hate Andrea. She wanted to. Oh, how she wanted to! But there was a closet full of the latest fashions from Paris in her apartment, all because of Andrea. And for all the trouble Andrea had caused her by leaving, she would have caused more by staying. Emily had told her when she started that a lot of doors would open if she could make it for a year as Miranda Priestley's assistant. Emily had lasted well beyond than a year, and what would her resume have said? "Second assistant, promoted to first assistant, demoted to second assistant"? "Terminated (because the other girl was better)"?
At least now Emily could resign when she was ready without having to worry about such a fate. But she'd stayed on. Mainly because she didn't know what Miranda would do if both her assistants quit in just a few months' time. Emily would probably bear the brunt of it, though.
She'd come to the damn office Christmas party to get away from thoughts like this, and of all people, Andrea walks through the door! The only thing worse would have been Miranda herself, but there was no chance whatsoever of that happening. The idea of socializing with her staff never would have occurred to her.
Andrea was no party crasher, either. Nigel had made it quite clear when he spotted her that she was an invited guest. Emily wasn't even aware that they'd been in touch since Andrea's departure. This fact depressed her. She wasn't aware how Andrea managed to get closer than her to Nigel either.
Consequently, while she didn't hate Andrea, she didn't want to see her either. Emily supposed goody-two-shoes Andrea was asking after her, but if Emily had her way, she'd always remain one step ahead of her. Just once, Emily wanted to beat her.
So she was skulking in hallways and dark corners while Andrea enjoyed herself at the party. If this was victory, victory sucked.
Fine. She'd put up with Andrea for one more night. Then Emily would never see her again. It was an early Christmas gift.
Emerging from the hall she'd been lurking in, Emily promptly bumped into another , let it not be her, she thought as she looked up.
"Oh, thank God," she burst out.
Serena looked puzzled. "Huh?"
"I was afraid I bumped into Andrea," Emily confessed.
"What do you have against her? She's really very nice. And if she hadn't - "
"Trust me, I know," Emily interrupted. "I just don't want to be reminded of it. And I will be reminded of it if I see her. Or if other people bring it up," she added meaningfully.
"You're looking rather festive tonight," Emily said. Serena was dressed in all bright red. She looked like a giant pointsettia. Maybe that was the idea.
"Thanks," Serena said, looking down at herself. "You look good yourself."
"Well, at least I haven't lost that," Emily said dryly. "What are you doing back here?"
"Bathroom break. Plus I had to get away from Jocelyn. She wouldn't shut up about the Super Bowl."
Emily goggled at her. "Jocelyn watches football?" It was so, so . . . unfeminine! No wonder she didn't advertise it. Miranda would have ripped her apart.
"She's had a few glasses of wine," Serena told her. "Apparently she's a big Patriots fan. Ugh."
"How rich!" Emily chuckled, choosing not to ask how Serena could know enough about the Patriots (whatever city they were from) to not like them.
"Have you noticed all the mistletoe?" Serena asked, changing the subject suddenly.
"Oh yes." Nigel had mischievously attached several sprigs to the ceiling all over the loft. As virtually everyone at the party was either a woman or a gay man, they'd quickly been forgotten. "I've counted fourteen so far."
"Did you get that one?" Serena pointed a finger straight up.
Emily raised her eyes and saw the mistletoe over their heads. "No, I don't think so. Fifteen then."
Serena grinned. "You know, legend has it people do things under the mistletoe besides count."
Emily raised an eyebrow. "I don't think I've seen a single person kiss under the mistletoe tonight. So I'm not sure the rules still apply."
"Oh, come on. No one's going to see. And it'll put off your reunion with Andrea just a bit longer."
"Well, in that case, let's make it a long one." Emily wasn't afraid of kissing another woman, even in jest. She'd spent too much time around homosexuals in her line of work to be squeamish about it. And if she was going to kiss someone at the party, it might as well be Serena, who was probably her best friend at Runway, and who she would probably missed when she inevitably left (unless Serena beat her to it, and knowing Miranda, that was anybody's guess).
Still, it felt a little odd. Maybe because she hadn't had time for dating in a very long time, and now she was ending her dry spell with a Christmas peck from Serena.
Serena's eyes sparkled. "Let's make it for thirty seconds then."
Before Emily was quite ready, Serena made a show of looking at her watch, and then kissed her.
It wasn't a kiss Emily was used to - Serena's lips and skin were softer, for one thing. She also wasn't trying to ram her tongue down Emily's throat like almost every man she'd ever been involved with, and that, if nothing else, made Emily get over her surprise and kiss Serena back.
All things considered, it was nice. It didn't make Emily want to go running out to buy boots and flannel shirts, but she had no complaints.
No complaints, except for the fact that as Serena and Emily pulled away from each other, Emily was somewhat certain that Serena's mouth had remained slightly parted for a moment, and tugged at Emily's lower lip as she moved back.
As if she wanted to prolong the moment.
Or maybe even deepen it.
Serena looked down. "Thirty-five seconds, damn. Maybe I should have brought a stopwatch."
Emily stared at her. "What was that?"
"What was what?"
"That kiss!" Emily shot back. "It was getting a little less than innocent at the end there!"
Serena's cheeks flushed. "Er, sorry, I guess we just got stuck or - "
Emily looked at her suspiciously. Why had her face turned an even brighter shade of red than her outfit? "And I thought you had to use the restroom," she remembered.
"Yes, you're absolutely right, I do!" Serena said quickly. "So I'd better go now. I'm - "
"It was a coincidence that we bumped into each other at this exact moment, wasn't it?" Emily blurted out. She was ruining the one good friendship she had left, she knew it, she was asking a question which was bound to lead to hurt feelings . . . but the very idea in front of her was just too compelling to ignore.
Serena looked like a trapped animal. "Emily, what are you saying?"
She hadn't denied it. "My God," Emily said. "You set this up, didn't you?"
"What, no! Emily, I wouldn't - "
Emily laughed suddenly. "And I thought my love life was in desperate straits. If you're coming to me for a kiss . . ." Her laughter grew bitter now. "Me, a worthless personal assistant who only has her job because someone else turned it down! Surely you can do better than me, Serena."
"Don't say that," Serena retorted, and Emily's laughter died at the intense look in her eyes. "Don't say you're worthless. Don't you ever say that. One person can't decide that for you, not even fucking Miranda all-seeing all-knowing Priestly. There's at least one other who could never think you're worthless."
"Serena," Emily whispered. She didn't even notice that Serena just said used a dirty word to refer to Miranda.
"You know, some people at Runway," Serena went on, "aren't in a relationship because their work doesn't allow them the time. And some because they've been treated like shit for so long that they start believing it's true. And, there are those who are just waiting for that one specific person to want them back."
Emily understood, and even if she hadn't, she needed only look at Serena's face. This hadn't been an impulse, a trick of the wine, an attempt to combat those lonely holiday blues. Serena kissed Emily because she had wanted to for – days, weeks? But definitely more than a few minutes. And while Emily had thought Serena could do much better, the other woman didn't share her view. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I never knew."
"Well, you do now. Besides," Serena said, "if you insist on going by what Miranda thinks, then that probably makes me worthless too, so we'll just have to be worthless together."
"Serena – but we're not together," Emily said. "I don't even know what I could give you. I've never been gay. You're the first woman I've ever kissed!"
"And did you like it?"
"Well, yes, I suppose I rather did. But it wasn't earth-shatteringly, eye-opening better than kissing a man."
Serena shook her head. "I'm not asking you to change teams for life, you know. You say you like kissing men and women equally? That's fine, Emily. What I'm asking is – did you like it enough to do it again? With me? Am I the kind of person you'd be . . . interested in?"
Emily blinked. She should have been reeling by now, but when you put it like that, it seemed remarkably simple. Would she like to kiss Serena again? She believed she might. Was Serena beautiful? The first time Emily met her, she'd assumed Serena was a model who had gotten lost in the halls of Runway. Was she relationship material? Emily was closer to her than she was to anyone else on this side of the pond. She'd bonded with Serena within a few weeks of her arrival at Runway as a petrified second assistant, overloaded by work, treated like a nameless pack mule by Miranda and a contemptible moron by Dominique. No, a contemptible English moron, since Dominique was as Anglophobic as the French got. Serena had only been there six months longer, so since they were sharing the bottom rung of the ladder, they'd formed an alliance that quickly became friendship. So the potential was certainly there.
"Between our schedules, we couldn't give each other much time, you realize. And we couldn't behave any differently in the office, or Miranda would have us flayed."
"I don't think we'll ever find a person more understanding of our busy work schedules than a fellow Runway employee, Emily," Serena pointed out. "We'll make time away from work. Enough time that when you and I eventually, inevitably escape from Miranda's orbit – or get kicked out of it – we'll know if we want to take advantage of all that free time or not."
"True," Emily admitted. She bit her lip. "Can we start making time tonight then?"
Serena's sudden, genuine smile made her look so beautiful, Emily wondered once again how she had ended up behind the camera instead of in front of it.
"Emily! I was wondering where you were."
Emily closed her eyes and sighed. Mood killer. "Hello, Andrea," she said, turning around. "Merry Christmas."
"Oh, merry Christmas to you too," Andrea said brightly. "And you, Serena." Her wardrobe hadn't completely receded back into the depths of TJ Maxx, Emily saw. And she might even be – well, not size 4, but if there was such a thing, she'd be a size 5. Bright, quick, helpful Andrea. Who wouldn't love to have her at their side?
"So Andrea," Serena said casually, "I didn't see you with a date tonight. Where's that chef I've heard you talk about?"
Andrea's smile faltered. "Oh, um, nobody tonight. He and I, we, you know, we tried, but it didn't – "
God, maybe there's some justice left in this world. "So you're not seeing anybody?" Emily asked.
"Nope, I guess not."
Emily looked back at Serena and smiled. She had known exactly how to cheer Emily up. Then she faced Andrea once more.
"Too bad. I am."
I win tonight, Andrea. Miracles come true on Christmas, they really do.
Author's Note – I adore Emily, I really do. She's my favorite character in the movie (and I love Emily Blunt as well). My sympathies often lie with the villainess or supporting character who gets nothing while the heroine gets everything. While that doesn't exactly apply to Emily – she does get to keep her job and all of Andrea's Paris clothes – she's also devoted herself to Miranda for over a year, and in the end it's the reluctant Andy who wins Miranda's respect instead. I'm also a big Mirandy shipper, so I was reading a ton of DWP femslash years ago, but naturally there wasn't much focus on Emily. I did see a few Andy/Emily fics that I liked, but it was hard to ship Andy with anyone besides Miranda. Then, at some point, Serena began popping up as a romantic option for Emily, and I swiftly became as much a fan of "Seremily" as I was of Mirandy. Serena is a small part, but on the other hand, it's Gisele Bundchen. I liked the thought of Emily ending up with someone played by one of the world's most beautiful women.
I believe this was a Christmas challenge for someone on LJ back in 2008. I liked it, but I'm a big believer in "setting up" romantic pairings, and this was one of several stories where I didn't have the time because it wasn't going to be a multipart fanfic. So I didn't think the Seremily here was solid enough.
(True story – when I saw "The Muppets" in theaters, there's that scene when they arrive at the fashion magazine offices, and because the whole setup was screaming "DWP parody", I sat there thinking, Please let Emily Blunt be at the reception desk, please let Emily be . . . Having Emily pop up a second later was probably something I'll still remember years from now :D)