A/N: Inspired by Telanu's "mirror" stories She Likes a Prizefight and Prends Garde à Toi, I rewrote the same scene from Miranda's POV using much of the same language.
"Are you bloody insane?" Miranda heard Emily hiss into the phone. Really, it was amazing how sound carried from the outer office. "Or suicidal? You walked away and lived to tell the tale. Why in God's name would you want to attract her attention or remind her of your wretched little existence?"
No. Surely it couldn't be... Please let it be…
"No, Andy, I will not give you five minutes of her time. She'll kill both of us."
Andréa. The one who walked away six months ago. In the middle of Paris Fashion Week. Without giving notice. Andréa. The one who, for reasons unknown to all but Miranda, the editor hadn't punished by blacklisting her. Andréa wanted to meet with her? Was willing to risk the editor's wrath? Why?
"Emily," Miranda called from her office. "Tell Andréa I will see her today at three o'clock. That's all."
Runway's feared editor in chief smiled as she imagined the stunned look on her first assistant's face.
"She'll see you today at three. Don't be late," Emily snapped when she had recovered her voice. Under her breath, just loud enough for Miranda to hear, she added, "And don't expect me to attend your funeral."
Could the hours pass any more slowly? Miranda was certain she had never been more acutely aware of the time. It was with both relief and anticipation that at precisely three o'clock, she sensed her presence even before she heard the door close behind the young woman with a soft snick.
She feigned being engrossed in the photos on her desk until Andréa approached. Only then did she allow herself to look up. Over the rim of her stylish reading glasses, she pinned her erstwhile assistant with an icy blue gaze that drank in the sight of her and missed nothing.
Andréa was lovely, gorgeous in fact. Her long chestnut hair was becomingly wind-blown and her skin seemed to glow. Though her clothes were nowhere near as fashionable as those she had worn while working at Runway, she was certainly dressed more stylishly than the average cub reporter. She stood before Miranda with an air of resolve and confidence that the editor could tell was part bravado, an intuition confirmed moments later by the journalist's hard swallow and her apparent inability to speak.
Miranda arched an inquisitive eyebrow at the tongue-tied young woman standing before her. "By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me," she drawled sarcastically, but without any real venom, prompting Andréa to speak.
"This is way overdue, I know, but I'm sorry for the way I left. And thank you for the reference." Andréa's dark eyes connected squarely with hers. There was sincerity in them. Sincerity and something else. Something that made the editor's heart race.
Miranda noted that Andréa was not apologizing for leaving. She would have been disappointed if she had. Though the editor certainly didn't appreciate the timing or the manner in which it was done, she admired the courage and grit it must have taken for Andréa to do so, especially since the aspiring journalist knew full well that the Devil in Prada would most likely blacklist her. The young woman had needed to leave; Miranda, not generally prone to self-examination or to second-guessing herself, had come to understand that after engaging in some long overdue introspection precipitated by the events of Paris Fashion Week.
For months she had demanded the impossible of her junior assistant and made scathing, hurtful, insulting remarks. And in Paris, she had rebuffed Andréa's kindness and been dismissive of her attempts to warn Miranda of Irv's machinations.
But the conversation in the car, the result of her need to maintain her image and prove to herself that she needed no one else, had been Miranda's most egregious mistake, her worst miscalculation. It was that conversation that had finally driven her beautiful, sensitive, and compassionate assistant to quit right then and there.
By rights, Andréa should despise Miranda. But that look in her eyes, the very fact that her former assistant was standing in her office, taking a huge personal and professional risk…
The editor needed to be certain. Her brilliant tactician's mind raced as quickly as her pounding pulse. She slowly removed her reading glasses and set them on the desk. "You want my forgiveness." She was careful to make sure her expression and inflection revealed no indication of what she was thinking.
She took Andréa's silence for confirmation.
"Forgiveness is not something that I grant often, if ever," Miranda finally said, leaning back in her chair and tenting her fingers. "In your case"—she tilted her head and regarded the younger woman thoughtfully, evaluating, assessing, taking her measure for a very long, weighted moment—"I might be willing to make an exception…" She paused deliberately and noted the spark of hope that appeared in the young woman's eyes. "For a price. And, I'm sure that it will not surprise you, in light of what you know of me, that it is, shall we say, rather steep. Perhaps you will find it too steep."
Andréa stood taller and jutted her chin out stubbornly, her body language communicating to Miranda exactly what she was thinking. Yes, steeper than securing an unpublished Harry Potter manuscript. Miranda allowed a smirk to appear on her lips.
"In exchange for my forgiveness, you will arrive at my townhouse at precisely nine p.m. this Friday. You will let yourself in with the copy of the key you no doubt still have from your days as my assistant, and make your way to my bedroom. There, you will strip down to your lingerie, kneel by the bed, and wait for my arrival." She kept her voice even and practical, her tone indifferent and bored, but the wording of her scandalous, demeaning proposition was carefully chosen. Years of playing the part of Snow Queen made it easy for her to keep her face impassive and her own eyes from conveying anything but lust.
Andy's jaw dropped open.
"You will be mine to do with as I please for the weekend." Miranda let her voice become silky and dangerous. "You will deny me nothing. Nothing will be off limits."
A hot flush appeared on Andréa's cheeks and those expressive brown eyes searched Miranda's countenance for some indication of whether or not the editor was serious. Clearly she was aroused, intrigued, startled, and uncertain as to what it meant. Good.
Now for the true test. Miranda made her face stony and her tone glacial. "At exactly six o'clock Monday morning, you will leave my townhouse."
As hard as the young woman fought to conceal it from her, Miranda, so gifted at reading people, could see the devastation wrought by those harsh final words and felt a rush of triumph. The reporter looked like she was seconds from throwing up or bursting into tears or…
Andréa choked out, "I–"
…fleeing. That would not do. That would not do at all.
Miranda held up an elegant hand. Now that she knew that Andréa's desire for her would not be satisfied with emotionless, meaningless sex, that the woman standing before her wanted so much more, she allowed her gaze and tone to soften, to reveal warmth and affection and tenderness and even a hint of vulnerability. "I am not finished, Andréa. You will return to your apartment, where you will await the movers I will have hired. By the time I get home Monday evening, I expect to find you completely moved in."
Disbelief and shock chased one another across Andréa's beautiful face. Miranda could see the moment the journalist understood the implications of the proposal; she appeared to be on the verge of fainting. She opened her mouth to say something, but again Miranda preempted her.
"No, no. You are not to answer now. You are to think very, very carefully before you make a decision. You have until Friday night, when your answer will be made evident by your presence – or lack thereof – in my bedroom. That's all."
She heard Andréa gasp. No doubt the young woman was thinking Miranda's proposition was crazy and impossible and inconceivable. Too much. Too fast. And it was. But Miranda was by nature decisive.
Her sexual attraction to Andréa had not come as a surprise, nor had it been difficult to acknowledge and accept – and, for the most part, ignore. The discovery – made much later – that she harbored deeper feelings for her former assistant… That had been a totally unwelcome realization.
At first she had dismissed those feelings as misplaced affection for someone who had done better than any other the job of anticipating and fulfilling Miranda's demands, who had demonstrated in doing so an all-too-rare combination of intelligence, competence, and efficiency. Of course she would miss that person; it wasn't Andréa herself she missed. It was ridiculous and foolish to think otherwise.
It was only well after Andréa left her employ that Miranda had realized that she missed her warmth, her kindness, her sweetness, her guilelessness, her determination, her underlying resilience. Too late, she had realized that Andréa Sachs was someone she could love.
Presented with this wholly unexpected opportunity to reconnect and having ascertained that Andréa could – and did – love her too, despite having seen the Dragon Lady at her worst, Miranda seized her chance. And if Andréa agreed to this, Miranda vowed to love her and cherish her and treat her the way she deserved to be loved and cherished and treated.
Miranda donned her Runway persona once again. "Andréa," she snapped without any real bite. "Why are you still standing in my office?" She flicked her fingers dismissively and slid on her reading glasses. "Go use up someone else's oxygen."
Andréa smiled a luminous, breathtaking, joyful smile. "Yes, Miranda," she said much as she used to do when she was the editor's junior assistant, only the submissive tone was patently false, playfully teasing… promising.
Cheeky girl, Miranda thought, a welcome warmth erupting in her chest as she watched the reporter walk out her door. It felt an awful lot like… hope.