DuWinter's Muse

'Life IS Risk!'

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Black Water Hattie (6 of I'm not even going to hazard a guess.)

Title: Black Water Hattie (Chapter 6)
Author: duwinter
Fandom: DWP
Pairing: Eventually Miranda/Andy
Rating: PG-13

Dedication: This story is dedicated to two members of our community, the Raven a.k.a. unfortunateggs who has repeatedly asked for a sequel to my story No Swimmin. (Sorry, it started out to be, but this ain't it.) and mxrolkr, whose wonderful story Cerulean Blue (even though it's not finished, if you haven't read it, go do so now) midwifed the concept of this story. The other thing responsible for this story is the random occurrence of three songs that I happened hear back-to-back on my iPod one morning while walking my two dogs in the local dog park. The Charlie Danial's Band's The Legend of Wooly Swamp Jim Stafford's The Last Chant and Swamp Witch

Setting: AU. This takes place around the time of the film, but as AU's go this one is a bit out there.

Summery: A film Miranda and an AU Andy.

Disclaimer: The Devil Wears Prada and it's characters do not belong to me. No profit being made here. I'm just playing with the characters for a short while and I promise to put them away neatly when I'm through.

Comment: Comments feed the muse and the Muse is always hungry. Remember, a fat muse is a happy and productive muse. Comments and constructive criticism eagerly encouraged.

Author's Note: I am attempting to write Andrea's character as speaking a rural central Florida dialect. I hope you, as my audience, can tolerate my poor efforts in this direction and try to read it as it is intended to sound without my attempt at this literary device driving you crazy.

Credit where credit is due: All hail the mighty and all knowing jazwriter, beta Goddess extraordinaire. Bow, pay proper homage and offer sacrifice.

Previous Installments Here:
Black Water Hattie, Chapter 1
Black Water Hattie, Chapter 2
Black Water Hattie, Chapter 3
Black Water Hattie, Chapter 4
Black Water Hattie, Chapter 5

Rumors of what she'd done, rumors of what she'd do,
kept folks off the track of Hattie's shack
in the back of the Black Bayou.

Swamp Witch - Jim Stafford

Serena and Andy got off the elevator on the executive floor of Runway and walked into Miranda's outer office. “Where have you been?” Emily hissed frantically to the two women. “Miranda's been back for more than an hour, and she's been waiting for you! Over the last 20 minutes she's asked where you were five times! Why was your cell phone off?!”

“Miss Serena was jus' showin' me some of the big city, Miss Emily,” Andy said happily, heading for Miranda's office.

Emily watched her go and then turned to the Brazilian beauty. “If I were you I'd make myself scarce. Miranda is looking for blood, and I think it's yours!” she stage whispered.


Miranda looked up from her desk, pursed her lips, and struggled to control her inflection when she spoke. “Where have you been? I've been worried sick!” She said, her tone low and urgent.

“Miss Serena got me some lunch an' took me shoppin', 'Randa. Showed me th' way ya all do things in New York City,” Andrea said quietly, her smile faltering as she saw Miranda's demeanor .

“Really?” Miranda responded, a sharp edge to her tone. “What did you have to eat?"

Andrea's eyes narrowed in concentration. ”I had somethin' called a hot dog. They sell 'em from little carts on the street. It was really good. Miss Serena tells me they ain't made o' dog though.”

“Why on Earth did she have you eat such a thing?!” Miranda exclaimed testily.

“She was kinda in a hurry ta get ta where we was goin',” Andy replied, softly, her tone indicating that she had started to have some inkling of Miranda's agitated mood. “Said we needed ta be quick cause she had ta get me back 'fore you got back.”

"Where did she take you? Bergdorf Goodman? Henri Bendel? Bloomingdales? Intermix?” the older woman demanded.

I don't think she took me ta any of them places. Least I don't recollect none of them names.”

Miranda stiffened. “Do you remember a name like the St. Regis?” she asked coldly.

“I don' think that was a place we went, neither,” Andy responded innocently. “What kind o' stuff do they sell there?” she asked.

“They let rooms, Andrea,” Miranda said callously.

“Does Miss Serena need a place ta stay, Miranda?” Andy replied curiously. “I'd a thought she'd a have one, livin here an all.”

“Roy is waiting downstairs with the towncar,” Miranda said coldly. “I want you to go back to the townhouse and wait for me there. I'll be home some time this evening.”

Andy cocked her head and, apparently realizing what Miranda was implying. She looked at her . “You got the wrong idea,” she said softly. “An' you're 'bout ta make a dang fool o' yerself.”

“Don't argue with me Andrea. Do as I tell you,” the fashion queen demanded.

Andy flinched as if struck and complied, gathering the meager things she'd brought with her, she silently left the office.

Miranda strode around her desk and irately stabbed a perfectly manicured finger down on the intercom button on her telephone. “Emily, tell Serena that I want to see her immediately...”


Andy wandered restlessly around the empty townhouse late in the afternoon. Upon returning to the townhouse She had changed out of what she considered the "fancy" clothes that Miranda had laid out for her this morning and put on one of her familiar tattered sundresses. Her time since had been spent laying out numerous Tarot readings as she tried to divine what lay ahead for her. As she had told Serena, trying to see into her own future was the most unreliable part of her gift. She was frustrated but acutely aware that something important was coming on the wings of an impending thunderstorm. Her cards, spread on the front room coffee table, had, however, been uncooperative in communicating what it was that was approaching with the coming tempest. The storm was close now, she could smell the lightning in the air and feel the trembling of the thunder on her skin, even though no lightning had flashed or thunder sounded over the city yet.

She heard the opening of the front door, and she rushed toward the sound, hoping that it was Miranda so she could explain what it was that she and Serena had been doing and defuse Miranda's ire at her only friend in the city. She rounded the corner into the foyer of the townhouse, and there stood two sullen-looking identical twin girls, both dressed exactly the same in plaid skirts and white blouses with ties and dark blue jackets.

With them stood a very hoity-toity-appearing woman, nose in the air. Andy could feel the arrogance coming off her in waves. She made a quick shy bob of her head in a timid greeting, this not being her home to welcome some unknown into.

The woman looked her up and down disdainfully, obviously not impressed with what she saw. “You are one of the domestics, I take it?” the woman demanded in carefully enunciated English.

Andy silently shook her head, too embarrassed to speak. This was one of those fine ladies that Momma had warned her about. One of the ones that drank tea and spoke proper.

“Then the nanny,” the woman insisted, as if Andy wasn't standing there listening. “Caroline and Cassisdy have been suspended from Mrs. Swineford's Academy for starting a fight in the cafeteria. They will be allowed to return to the campus on Sunday evening so that they can attend classes on Monday.”

Andy bobbed her head again, acknowledging what was being said to her.

“She's NOT our Nanny!” one of the mirror images said stridently.

“Oh,” the proper woman said, “I see. Perhaps an undocumented domestic that doesn't understand English? Habla Espanol?” she asked, her tone exasperated.

“No, Ma'am,” Andy replied, her voice quiet and the rural Southern inflections in her accent very prominent. “I speak American.”

The woman rolled her eyes. “As I was saying, The twins have been suspended and will not be permitted to return to the campus until Sunday evening. Their father, who I am informed should be responsible for them this week, is apparently away on business. His domestic staff were unwilling to take charge of the girls so I have brought them here to their mother's home.” She again, doubtfully, looked the girl up and down. “You will have to take charge of them until their mother returns from work.”

Andy nodded. “I c'n look after 'em,” she answered. “But I ain't workin' fer Mizz. Priestly. I'm here visitin',” she explained.

“You can't leave us here with her!” one of the twins asserted. “We don't know her! She's not somebody that Mom would have here! She might be a burglar!”

The woman cocked her head. “Now girls, I've had enough of your fabrications,” she declared stridently. “You were less than truthful about what happened in the cafeteria, and you neglected to mention that you knew full well that your father was out of the country!”

The twins looked resigned to the verbal defamation when Andy, who had been watching the trio in the foyer, shook her head. “Yer wrong ta talk to 'em like that,” she stated, her tone suddenly strong and sure. “They didn't do what ya think they did. It's the one that told on 'em ya need to look to. Under her roommate's bed ye'll find th' proof.”

The twin's escort defiantly shook her head. “The investigation has already been done, and the girls had a hearing before the Student Disciplinary Committee. They were found responsible. They were properly suspended by the rules of the school...” she insisted.

Andy met the woman's eyes and she smiled a small, wicked smile. “That's what ya want ta believe, but as sure as the others are, ya ain't sure.” She looked at the twins and jutted with her chin. “Them is 'Randa Priestly's children. How'd ya think she's gonna react when she learns ya have punished them falsely? Ya really want ta be one of tha ones on the receivin' end when Mizz Priestly brings em back ta school on the Lord's Day?” Andy chuckled, an unearthly and sinister sound. “I wouldn't want ta be one o' them. Mizz Priestly ain't 'xactly th' forgivin' sort.”

The proper woman paled, and the twins looked at Andy dubiously. Andy cocked her head the other way. “Y'all run along now. Ya leave th' girls with me. I'll see ta what they need till their Mama comes home. By th' way,” Andy asked, as if it were an afterthought, “what is y'all's name? I'm sure Mizz Priestly's gonna ask me, so's I needs ta know.”

“I am Miss Isabel Simmons,” the woman said somewhat nervously. “I am the vice principal, female student disciplinarian, and the twin's etiquette instructor.”

“Miss Isabel Simmons,” Andy repeated. “I'll be sure ta tell Mizz Priestly that y'all was kind enough ta bringing her young-uns home.”

The woman paled again and, after saying a quick farewell to the twins, fled out front door.

Andy turned and gazed at two virtually identical sets of eyes staring back at her, one hostile the other curious.

“Who are you, and what are you doing in our house!?” Demanded the one with mannerisms so much like her mother's.

“ 'M Andy,” the woman from the swamp said sullenly. “And I ain't no burglar,... 'm a witch...”


The summons to report immediately to Miranda's office arrived almost as soon as Serena had reached her desk. She quickly gathered notes on everything she was working on so that she would have answers immediately at her fingertips for whatever questions Miranda might have. She rushed to the elevator and endured the seemingly longest two-floor trip of her life. She knew that Miranda was actually intending to call her on the carpet, and she suspected why.

When she arrived in Miranda's outer office, Emily wouldn't even make eye contact, and Serena suddenly wondered if her quest to win the Englishwoman's heart might have just gotten her fired. She decided that her only choice was to brazen it out and face the Dragon. Walking into Miranda's presence with her head up she asked, “You wanted to see me?”

Miranda sat at her light table, using a magnifying glass to inspect negatives from a recent photo shoot. “I want to know what you think you're doing,” she said in a tone that Serena knew screamed to duck and cover.

Serena sighed softly. “Not what you think Miranda,” she answered softly. “Andy is helping me with a personal problem.”

“Personal problem?” Miranda virtually whispered. “What kind of personal problem could a girl who's lived her whole life in the nineteenth century help you with Serena?” She asked incredulously. “You're a modern woman, and she...she is a child out of her element.”

Serena's eyes widened and, letting her fiery Brazilian temperament flare, spoke without thought for possible consequences. “Miranda,” she shook her head and replied impassionedly, “she's not a child. You need to understand that. She came here for you. Left everything she's ever known because she wants to be with you. That's the only thing that's in her heart. Anything she does for me is because she feels she owes me for bringing her here!”

Miranda stiffened in her chair, “I think,” she said, her tone low and dangerous, “that you are forgetting who you're talking to.”

“I was here, Miranda,” Serena replied emphatically. “I saw how happy you were when I first brought her into your office. I saw you regain something you thought you'd lost. God, Miranda, I thought you were beautiful before that moment! But in that split second that she came around from behind me, you lit up. I saw what I thought was perfect truly achieve perfection. No one has ever been as beautiful as you were in that moment.”

“You saw nothing!” Miranda growled quietly. “It is fairly important to your future employment in this industry that you remember that, Serena,” she continued ominously. “I rely on your discretion. In fact I insist on it.”

“You'll have my discretion, Miranda,” Serena answered, and then the woman from Brazil sighed and looked away from where Miranda sat. "You have nothing to fear from me in regard to Andy's affections. I have lost my heart to another. It is that which Andy is helping me with. She will do a spell for me to win the heart of the person I love.

Miranda glared at the woman before her. “Are you telling me that you believe Andrea is a witch?” She demanded incredulously.

“Don't you?” Serena asked, surprised. “Open your eyes and your mind Miranda! Certainly you can see that she's not like anybody else you've ever met! There is something primal and unworldly about her. Something not of the here and now.” The Brazilian beauty shook her head and met Miranda's eyes. “I was born and raised in a place where the other world and those with a connection to it are things that are quietly accepted,” she said. “I believe in her power. It's not a joke. It's what she is. And If you cannot bring yourself to believe in it, you can't believe in her. If you can't believe in her, Miranda, then she won't be able to stay here with you.”

Comforted by twenty-first century surroundings and memories of the primal fear she'd felt while in the swamp fading into forgetfulness, Miranda looked at the woman before her disbelievingly. “She is nothing more than a disadvantaged girl from a backward place,” the icon asserted in her terribly quiet Runway voice. “And you shouldn't be entertaining her fantasies.” At that moment the telephone on Miranda's desk buzzed. Miranda looked at it angrily, having instructed Emily not to disturb her, however there was one reason that Emily would disobey Miranda's injunction. The Icon reached out and pushed the intercom button.

“Miranda,” said Emily's voice through the electronic speaker on the intercom, “Your daughter Caroline is on line one.”

Miranda stabbed the lighted button on her phone and picked up the handset. “Bobbsey, how lovely to hear from you,” she said into the telephone handset. Glancing at the beautiful Brazilian standing before her deck, she covered the telephones mouthpiece and said, “We'll finish this discussion later. That's all.”

Serena's nod acknowledged that what was between them wasn't finished. She turned and, with dread in her heart about the coming confrontation, left the office.

Miranda turned her attention to the telephone call from her daughter. “Is everything all right, Bobbsey?"

“Mummy, there is a strange woman in the house,” the girl all but whispered from her end of the telephone line.

“In the house?” Miranda replied. “Bobbsey, where are you?”

“I'm at your house,” the girl said softly, her voice trembling a little.

“At my house?” Miranda said, confused. “Why are you not at the school? And if not the school, why are you not at your father's? Isn't it his week?”

“We got suspended, but it wasn't our fault!” the young girl on the telephone said with tears in her tone, evidently aware her mother was going to be angry. “Daddy is away on business, and his housekeeper wouldn't take responsibility for us. So Miss Simmons brought us here, but the Nanny and the Housekeeper aren't here, and there's this strange woman. Mummy, she says she's a witch!”

“She's not a witch, Bobbsey” Miranda replied softly. “She's a confused girl from a backward place. Her name is Andrea.”

“But Mummy, what is she doing here?” her daughter asked.

“She's...,” Miranda started, and then the truth tied her vocal cords. The situation was ludicrous. How was she to explain, even to her own children, that she had fallen under the spell of a rural, uneducated backwater girl half her age. She could not reasonably explain the situation she found herself in, even to her daughter. “She's helping Mummy out with an article for the magazine, Bobbsey,” Miranda answered, smoothly lying to her child. “Mummy is doing a before and after piece,” the plausible excuse flowing all too easily past her lips. “Now Mummy needs to get back to work. I'll be home this evening, and we will discuss this suspension you and your sister seemed to have earned yourselves. In the meantime, be kind to Andrea. She is a long way from her home, and I'm sure she's finding things very strange.”

“Yes, Mummy,” Caroline answered, and Miranda hung up the phone without so much as a goodbye, her mind turning to the endless work she needed to attend to.


“She has golden hair, 'n she's a bit older than y'all,” Andy said, stroking the Tarot card she had just laid on the table.

Cassidy excitedly watched as the strange young woman again went to the deck and added another card to the growing reading she was doing. “Yeah, she's a real skanky bitch,” Cassidy offered flippantly, her eyes watching for the young woman's reactions to her use of the harsh words.

Andy's hand paused, card half way to the table. “Don't rightly know what that word skanky means,” she said quietly, “But I 'spect that your Mama would pin your ears back if she heard ya use that other word.” She looked at the girl. “Ya gots the blessin' of a real education. Been taught ta talk proper 'n ladylike. Y'all should use what'ch learned. No reason fer ya ta be a stupid, ignorant gal like me.”

Cassidy looked with surprise at her mother's guest. “You're not stupid,” she insisted. “You can read the Tarot and do spells and stuff.”

Andy shook her head sadly. “Never had no schoolin'. Can't read nor write neither.”

Both girls looked at the young woman in shocked surprise.


Miranda stood fuming, watching twilight fall on the cityscape, visible from her office window. She was angry with herself, and, for the first time in her memory, she was frightened. She was Miranda Priestly, the very epitome of focused action. She hated indecision more than anything. Yet she didn't know what to do about the yearning inside her.

She had sent Andrea away after lunch and yet, somehow, it was she, Miranda, that had suffered punishment. She was trapped in a conundrum. She was in love with a woman she really didn't know. A backwoods girl that had no idea how to comport herself in Miranda's world. Miranda was the Ice Queen, the Dragon Lady, the pinnacle of the fashion industry and a favored subject of the paparazzi. She was under siege in her position at Runway, her power base diminishing while her nemesis Irv Ravitz' was growing. The two sides of herself were at war. She dared not tell the truth about the young woman staying in her home. To do so would make her the laughing-stock of not only the tabloid press, but of the social circles that she associated with. Under attack as she was in the office and struggling to keep her power, she knew that she could not afford the kind of public ridicule knowledge of her relationship would generate. The masses would assume that Miranda had brought this ignorant, poor girl from the swamp to be her sex toy. Such speculation would weaken her position severely. Trapped between what her heart wanted and what her rational mind was telling her, she came to the decision that at least for the foreseeable future Andy must remain her “dirty little secret."


Caroline and Cassidy watched Andy as she mixed beans into rice, and the heavenly smell of baking corn bread that they had helped make from scratch wafted up from the oven. The afternoon had passed easily in this strange woman's company. Caroline had been lured in by hearing Andy read Cassidy's cards and then allowed the woman to read hers. She was amazed at how insightful the card reading was as to whom she was and what she was feeling. A cold shiver had run down her back, and Andy's eyes had come up from the cards as if she herself had felt it. “Ya don't needs ta be a-feared of me, Caroline,” she said softly, her face lighting up in a warm smile. “I'll die 'fore I let either of ya ever come ta harm.” Caroline thought of the fact that this ragged dressed vision had not mistaken one girl for the other all afternoon, simply knowing which identically dressed twin was which. A skill that no one but their Mother seemed to possess and which Andy seemed to do as naturally as breathing.

The girls had fun taking Andy around the house, trying to glean what she did and did not understand of their world. This had begun when they tried to get her to play on their video game console with them, and they realized Andy had no idea what a television was. They watched with interest while she gazed with fascination at the flickering images on the scene.

After that it was a race around the house, showing her items that they could not imagine living without. Washing machine, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, a stove that didn't have to be lit with a match. They intuitively realized Andy could help them sort through and understand the complex emotions and confusion they were experiencing from their feelings of abandonment due to their mother's multiple divorces and her grueling work schedule. They were also contending with what they were experiencing physically with their bodies changing as they entered puberty. All of this language they had picked up from hours spent with therapists that had never done either of them a lick of good, as the therapists were happy to spout it out but never really took the time to understand that what they might need to do was some hand holding by explaining things in simple terms to a couple of scared and lonely little girls. The twins realized that Andy could help them, and they could help this woman adjust. They could teach her about their world and help her make sense of items in the house that she apparently had never seen before. Before what Andy had called a wash day dinner was served and thoroughly enjoyed, the twins had made a new friend.


In the back of the town car on the way home Miranda again ruminated on her workplace situation. Things had not gone smoothly at Runway during the remainder of the day, and she found herself leaving later than she had intended. She was surrounded by incompetence at work and seemingly had to micromanage far more of the decision-making process than she should have to considering the salaries she paid her department managers. That, coupled with the fact that she was virtually under siege from the political machinations of Irv Ravitz's plotting, caused her mood to sink completely into discontent.

To top it off, Andrea's sweet smile and quiet encouragements had been absent since she had sent the girl to the townhouse just after lunch. It had made the afternoon hard to bear. Miranda's quandary had, if anything, become more tangled since her decision of this afternoon to keep her association with Andrea a secret from the public at large. It would require that the girl no longer go into the office with her each day. Which in turn would mean that the girl's soothing smiles, comforting short caresses, and calming words would not be available to Miranda when she might desire and need them. In the back of the town car she consoled herself that tomorrow was Friday and she would have the weekend in Andrea's company; then she remembered that her daughters had been suspended from their school and would be home with them for the next three days. She closed her eyes and sighed softly. So the secrets must be kept even within Miranda's intensely private home-life.

She was roused from her reverie when the car came to a stop in front of the town house, and her chauffeur, Roy, opened her car door for her. She stepped from the car, and after dismissing Roy, she stalked to the front door. Opening it with her key, she stepped inside and encountered something she hadn't heard in her home for some time. She heard her children laughing. Surprised by the sound, she moved quietly towards its source and found her girls and the fey girl from the swamp engaged in a no-holds barred tickle fight on the floor of the formal living room. It was evident that even against two determined opponents, Andrea was holding her own. Caroline was down, and her ticklish midsection was being mercilessly tickled by not only Andrea but by her twin sister as well. This went on for a moment until Cassidy, seeing her chance, pounced and started tickling a distracted Andrea, who apparently was also quite ticklish. Caroline, gaining a moment's respite, regrouped and joined the attack on the laughing Andrea.

Miranda's heart swelled. Here, this fey creature from a primal place had brought her little girls' laughter back into her home. She swallowed hard against tears forming at the edges of her eyes. She stood in the doorway silently until Cassidy noticed her. There was a brief moment of the uncanny silent communication between the twins, and her daughters' laughter ceased. The game was suddenly over. Andrea looked up at the two preteens. “It's just yer Mama,” she said, trying to catch her breath from being tickled relentlessly. “She don't mind that we's playin.”

The twins looked solemn, and Andrea smiled up at Miranda from where she was stretched out on the floor. ”Hey, lil' birds,” the young brunette woman said, “y'all run ta yer rooms. Yer Mama and I need to have words 'fore she says som'thin' she's gonna regret.”

Miranda pursed her lips. “Andrea,” she said in that terribly quiet Runway voice that she used to terrify her employees. “I need to speak with my daughters about their behavior at school.”

Andy looked at Miranda and then smiled at the twins. “Git,” she insisted.

The twins, seeing a moment's reprieve from their mother's scathing diatribe, fled upstairs.

Miranda watched them go and then turned on Andrea. “You have NO right,” she said hostilely. “They are MY children!”

“An yer about ta make a fool of yerself in front of 'em. Bad enough ya did it in front of Miss Serena, but yer children are scared of ya. Unsure that ya love um. We needs ta fix that right quick, 'Randa” Andrea answered quietly in a practical sort of voice.

Miranda was taken aback. “They misbehaved at school. They were suspended. As their mother, it is my responsibility to see to their discipline...” she temporized as she tried regain control of the conversation.

Andrea cocked her head and smiled a small, knowing smile. “That nice Miss Simmons from th' school will be callin' in a bit,” she offered casually. “She'll tell ya that there's been an awful mistake. That yer girls didn't have nothin' ta do with what happened other than bein' in the wrong place at th' wrong time.”

Miranda looked at her guest skeptically. “How do you know this?” she demanded.

Andrea shrugged and toed the carpet with her beautiful bare feet. “Cause I told her where ta find the truth o' what happened, and she's more a-feared o' you than o' that nasty Mizz Swineford. That woman don't like you. Not even a lick. She's jealous o' what ya have and she's takin' it out on yer girls. She heard that yer girls started the ruckus, and then what really happened didn't matter no more. She didn't want ta hear the truth. She wanted ta punish yer daughters cause they're yer daughters.”

Miranda narrowed her eyes. Any attack on her daughters was simply not permissible. She held her tongue and watched Andrea stare down shyly at her feet.

“Miss Simmons didn't believe yer girls did anythin' wrong,” Andrea continued almost absently, apparently enjoying the feel of the lush carpet against her bare toes. “But when she tried ta speak fer em, she was overruled by all those lickspittles that want Mizz Swineford ta promote them ta the open position.” Andrea again cocked her head and looked up at Miranda. “What's th' open position, Randa? I don't understand that part,” she asked curiously.

Miranda stared at the girl. “How do you know what you know Andrea?” she asked. “How did you come by this? Did Miss Simmons tell you?”

Andrea shook her head. “I have the knowin', 'Randa. It's m' gift. I was born with it, just like m' Mama and her Mama and her Mama before her. I knows it same ways I knew that the bald-headed man was comin' ta find ya at Ol' Lucius' place. Just as I knows what's gonna happen twixt us when th' time comes.”

Miranda was distracted by the sudden ringing of the telephone. It sounded very loud in the nearly silent house. She turned and moved toward the kitchen so she could answer it. “We'll continue this discussion after I answer this call and have talked to the girls,” she stated.

Andrea drifted along behind her, almost as if dancing to a music only she could hear. When they passed the staircase leading to the second floor, Andrea turned and placing a lightning quick, feather light kiss on the older woman's cheek, she then bounded up the stairs. “We'll be waitin' on ya, 'Randa. Think ya may have som'thin' ta say ta yer daughters soon enough,” she said laughingly as she ascended the stairs.

Arriving in the kitchen, Miranda picked up the telephone receiver and put it to her ear. “Miranda Priestly,” she said into the mouthpiece.

“Ms. Priestly?” an unknown nervous voice said. “This is Miss Isabel Simmons. I'm the assistant principal in charge of discipline for female students at Mrs. Swineford's Acadamy? I brought your girls to your home this afternoon...”

“Because they were suspended for some transgression of the school's rules,” Miranda tersely
finished for the caller, suspecting that the woman on the other end of the phone was on the verge of babbling, for which Miranda had no patience. “What is it you have to tell me, Ms. Simmons?”

“Ms. Priestly, I'm afraid that there has been something of a miscarriage of justice,” the woman on the other end of the telephone call explained timidly. “We of the discipline committee had been led to believe that your daughters had started a violent altercation in the school cafeteria, but on further investigation we have discovered that we were mistaken and that the girls were not at fault. In fact, they tried to stop the confrontation when it occurred.”

“And where did you find this proof that you did not have it before your disciplinary committee suspended my daughters and returned them to my home without so much as a phone call to me?” Miranda asked, her voice dropping into the tone that often made people she used it on pale and quake in their shoes.

“I left your girls in the capable hands of one of your domestics, although if I were you, I'd look into hiring someone else. The girl can't speak properly and actually had the nerve to claim she was a guest in your home,” Ms. Simmons chuckled on the other end of the call. “Imagine, dressed like a rag-a-muffin and a guest in the Miranda Priestly's home!”

“Andrea is, in fact, a most welcome guest in my home, Ms. Simmons,” Miranda grated, now struggling to control her temper. “And how she chooses to dress during the day when no company is expected is of no concern to you!”

“Of...of course, Ms. Priestly. I'm sorry, I spoke out of turn,” the now frightened woman on the telephone stammered.

“As my daughters are apparently not suspended from your school, you can tell the attendance monitor that I will return them to the campus on Sunday. I expect them to be given full credit for all class time that your disciplinary committee’s incompetence caused them to miss. You can also tell Mrs. Swineford that I will expect her to meet with me and also to personally apologize to my girls upon my returning them to the school Sunday afternoon!” Miranda said in a deadly quiet tone. “Now Ms. Simmons, you said you'd found the evidence that cleared my daughters."

“Yes, Ms. Priestly.” Miss Simmons answered. “It was a video recording of the incident on one of the student's cell phones. The phone is the property of the roommate of the student that accused your daughters of starting the incident. The video makes it quite clear that your girls were not the ones to start the fight, and when it did begin they did their best to intervene and stop any violence. What I don't understand, Ms. Priestly, is how the young woman who was at your house could have known about the cell phone and was also able to tell me where it was hidden. As you know, students at Mrs. Swineford's Academy are not permitted to have cell phones on campus.”

“Andrea is a young woman of many unique gifts,” Miranda answered. “Good night, Ms. Simmons." And with that, Miranda disconnected the call, while herself wondering exactly how Andrea could have known.


The twins were sulking in the playroom. “She's gonna kill us, then she's gonna ground us, like, forever,” whined Caroline.

“No she ain't,” Andy said softly as she rubbed Cassidy's back. “Ya needs ta relax, gal,” she said gently into the ear of the girl whose shoulders she was massaging. “Ya don't want ta have one of them panic attacks like ya done had before.”

Cassidy turned to look at Andy, and Caroline's surprised eyes also found her. “I haven't had one of those attacks for almost a year. How do you know about them?” the younger of the Priestly twins asked.

Andy shrugged. “I just knows stuff I needs ta know,” she answered earnestly. “It's sort o' like somethin' whispers stuff in m' ear. Like right now I know that if'n ya don't calm down an' breathe, yer gonna have one of them attacks, and we'll have a bunch o' men in blue uniforms muddying up your Mama's carpet ta bring ya air ta breathe from a bottle. An yer Mama wouldn't like that. Not a lick.”

Cassidy looked down. “Mom is gonna be mad. We got suspended,” the girl almost whispered as her breath became shorter. “Once she's off the phone, she's gonna rip us a new one.”

Andy smiled. “No she ain't,” she said gently, touching the scared young girl's face. “Cause that there telephone call that just came? It was your Miss Simmons tellin' yer Mama that it was all a big mistake. And yer Mama gave that woman a right piece o' her mind, she did.”

The girls' eyes followed Andy as she rose from where she'd been rubbing Cassidy's back and watched as the fey young woman moved languidly toward the door to the hall. “Yer Mama is comin' ta talk ta ya. Yer gonna see everythin's gonna be all right,” Andy said as she passed out the door just before Miranda entered. “I'll go down an' make sure ya have some hot dinner waitin' fer ya when ya's done talking ta yer daughters,” Andy offered to Miranda in passing.

“Girls,” Miranda said softly, looking at the scared faces of her two prides and joys. Her heart wrenched, and she realized that Andrea was right. Her girls were scared of her, and in that moment she knew that the existing state of affairs of their relationship was completely unacceptable and must change in the immediate future. “That was Ms. Simmons...” she began, making sure her tone was gentle.


Miranda sat at the kitchen table, surprised at the amount she'd eaten. Usually she picked at her food, but tonight she'd eaten with appetite. The food was common. Beans and rice and cornbread. A tasty green salad completed the meal. Everything was delicious, and it was the best meal Miranda could remember having in a very long time.

Although her daughter's had eaten earlier, they had sat at the table with their mother and Andy and enthusiastically engaged in conversation with the two adults, including sharing the story of how the salad had contained dandelion leaves, which they had never before heard of, and how they and Andrea had gone out into the neighborhood to collect the greens to include in their dinner. It was the first time in a very long time, in Miranda's mind, that there had been laughter and a feeling of "family" at the kitchen table. It was a feeling that she had to admit to herself that she had missed.

Now her girls had gone upstairs to prepare for bed, leaving her and the girl from rural Florida alone in the kitchen. She was acutely aware of Andrea sitting at the other end of the table and shyly watching her eat. “You were very good with my girls this afternoon,” she offered as she sipped a cup of after-dinner coffee that Andrea brought her.

Andrea nodded. “They's good girls,” she answered earnestly. “And things is gonna be all right now fer a bit,” she continued as she lifted a ripe strawberry from a small plate before her and sensuously bit into it.

Miranda watched the red juice on the beautiful young woman's lips and felt a strong urge to stand and go to her. A wanton image formed in her mind of her tongue licking the nectar from the pink lips, and as her body clenched in reaction to that image she imagined licking the sweet sticky juice from other parts of the luscious body before her. “What are you doing to me?” the older woman whispered, almost unaware that she'd spoken aloud.

“I be witchin ya,” the fey girl replied softly, looking across the table and deeply into Miranda's eyes. “I be weavin' m' love and carin' about yer heart and bindin' it ta the love and carin 'round mine.”

“Are you saying you are casting a spell on me?” Miranda asked, feeling as if she were in a dream.

Andrea shook her head. “Can't use spells on ya fer love nor hate,” she answered, her eyes smiling. “Wouldn't work. Fate says we're ta be tagether. Nothin' me nor you do can make no difference.” The girl rose up from her chair and stalked slowly, like some beautiful predator, toward Miranda's seat. “'M gonna kiss on ya some now, Randa, like you did me when we was at Ol' Lucius' shack.”

Miranda watched her come as if in a dream. She desperately wanted to taste the fey girl's lips again. Desperately wanted what she had experienced momentarily while in that primeval place. That perfect clarity, that childlike joy, that feeling that everything was so simple and all she had to do to live the rest of her life in total happiness was to give in and naively run away to some patch of wilderness and live with this beautiful fairy there. Her mind turned, reason reasserted itself, and something slammed shut inside her. “If you're not casting a spell on me, then what are you doing?” She demanded quietly.

The girl stopped, just an arm's length away, and her demeanor was suddenly more reserved and tinged with a touch of sadness. “I was lettin' m' heart sing ta yourn. Lettin' ya feel me. Feel what I'm feelin',” she answered, her face no longer radiating the unbridled joy it had been a moment ago. “Ya could do tha same,” she said sadly, “iffin ya'd just let go an' allow yerself ta.”

“Such things are fantasy, Andrea,” Miranda stated flatly. “One cannot see into another's heart,” the older woman said, taking refuge in her Ice Queen persona.

Andrea shook her head sadly. “Ya just won't let yerself see,” she said quietly. “There's only so much time, 'Randa, an' when it's gone, it'll be gone...”


Upstairs the twins had chosen to bed down together as they often did if uncertain about anything. The school, of course, forbid this. They had even gone so far as to assign the girls to separate dorm rooms, each with their own roommate. There was a polite fiction maintained among the students living in the dorm that the twins actually slept in their separate rooms and didn't live together.

Laying on the bed, Cassidy looked across the narrow space between her and where her sister lay. “What do you think of Andy?” she asked in a whisper.

Caroline, lying on her back, stared at the ceiling and whispered her reply. “Did you notice that she's known us apart all day? Right from the first she's never called you by my name or me by yours.”

Cassidy nodded and smiled. “She knows stuff too. Those readings she did with her Tarot cards were amazing. All those things she knew about us. About our lives...”

Caroline shivered. “She knew that Miss Simmons would find that phone and that what was on it would get us out of trouble with Mom. And she knew about your panic attacks...” The elder of the twins turned to face her younger sister. “How can she do that?” she whispered, her eyes scared.

“She told us, silly,” Cassidy answered. “She's a witch...

Caroline looked away. “You think maybe she would have a spell or something that would make Mom happy?” The elder twin whispered.

Cassidy snorted. “Mom happy?” she asked incredulously. “That would take more than a witch; that would take a freaking miracle...”


The early light of dawn Friday morning found Miranda leaving the townhouse and on the way to her office, uncomfortably aware that she no longer held the upper hand at Runway. A late night telephone call from one of her allies on the board of directors had alerted her to Irv Ravitz' latest machinations. Irv had arranged a breakfast meeting of the board, and Miranda had again been warned that undermining her control of her beloved magazine was on the agenda. As the editor-in-chief of a major Elias-Clarke publication, Miranda had the right to attend any board meeting called. Although she wouldn't have a vote in the outcome, she could certainly be there to state her magazine's case and do what she could to minimize any damage Irv intended to inflict.


The twin's, no longer in trouble with their mother, ergo, no longer grounded, were free to do as they pleased with the sudden long weekend. Waking leisurely, delicious unknown smells tempted them from their beds and drew them down to the kitchen where they found Andy at the stove. The woman turned and smiled at the girls as they entered the room. “Fixin' breakfast fer y'all,” she said, her voice singsong. “Somethin' tells me y'all are gonna like m' griddlecakes. Even found some black strap molasses ta go on um.”

The girls watched fascinated as Andy poured batter into a hot frying pan and swirled her wrist to make the batter coat the bottom of the pan. In just moments she flipped a griddlecake onto a plate, handing it to Caroline. “Ya don't eat no meat, so this here griddlecake gots cheese and green apples in it. Ya goes ta the table and put some of that molasses on that an' take a bite.” She turned to Cassidy as she poured more batter into the pan and then crumbled crisp bacon into the cooking cake. “Yours'll be done in a flash with lots 'o bacon, just as ya like.”

The girls were once again amazed at Andy's seemingly intimate knowledge of each of them. They did as instructed, and in moments they were moaning their appreciation for the hot treat on their breakfast plates. As Andy poured milk for them, one of the twins asked, “So, what you want to do today?”

There was silence in the room, as Andy, not realizing the question had been directed at her, waited to hear what was said.

Caroline chimed in, “Would you like to see some of the city? I'm sure mom wouldn't mind us showing you a little, as long as you're with us.”

Andy thought for a moment, and then, with eyes glittering, answered, “Well, if 'n you're sure yer mama wouldn't mind, I would like ta go see a cat 'bout teachin' a man good manners...”

On to Chapter 7

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You know, when I first started reading this I was a teensy bit dubious, but you have such a way of reeling people in with your words that now I'm a hopeless fan and REALLY want you to write faster lol
I love it, everything about it.
Awesome job, can't wait for more!

You were dubious? Imagine how I felt when this idea sprang nearly fully formed while playing with my dogs at a dog park. It pleases me no end that you are enjoying my tale. I seem to do AU well. As I said in another reply, I'm hopeful that the balance of this story will be completed around February/March. I have other ideas chomping at the bit and I've promised myself that I will start no new stories until the two I have in the pipeline are finished. In the immediate future I will be working on finishing my storyBeyond the Call. I'm trying to meet and end of January deadline to finish it up.

This is a great, unexpected gift! [dance of joy]
Oh please continue this. This is one of the most interesting AU's I've ever read.

Thank you so much for your kind words and I liked your Snoopy dance. *grin* This is a sort of out there AU but it was born in a sort of out there way. So it goes. I will be finishing this story, hopefully by February/March. Between now and the end of January I have to concentrate on my Beyond the Call. I have promises to keep to the winner of the Sandy Relief Fandomaid auction winner.

Great, a new part !

Thank you !

No, Thank You for reading my poor words!

I love this story...It reminds me of my kin down in the Louisiana swamps(voodoo exists people it truly does) Went fishing with my daddy in the swamps once and seen dead chickens hanging from trees oO...My grandparents talk just like Andy so great job on her accent. ha

Edited at 2012-12-31 09:16 pm (UTC)

Thank you for the kind words about my attempt to write Andy in dialect. I think it adds to the story, but I can see how it might annoy certain readers. I recently went to New Orleans for the first time and saw some of the swamp near that city. That is a trip I will make again in the near future. I can't think of a place I've enjoyed more in my whole life. Thank you for reading and I'm pleased that you are enjoying my story.

Loved the update! This is coming along nicely... I'm just afraid of what heartache Miranda is gonna go through before she opens her eyes.

Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next bit. Happy New Year!

Heartaches? Well....Angst is what I do well...*grin* Thank you for your kind words and for reading me. Happy New Year to you and yours' too!

She's going to that shop to teach that guy a lesson!! Oh man! I'm liking this Andy. She's a witch! That's so freaky but cool at the same time. I mean she's a real witch! She does tarots and has the Sight. I just wow. Miranda needs to open her eyes before she messes it up! She already is messing things up! she needs to stop that. Hopefully with Caroline and Cassidy around and even Serena they can help open Miranda's eyes. She left the swamp for you! Come on Miranda. Sheesh.

But yeah I'm loving this Andy. She's great! "You in love wit' her, ain't cha? Gonna be more fer ya ta love. Lot more,” I was laughing so hard! I had to stop reading at this part. And when she explained she had to get her stuff that's why she left her at the shack. I was laughing! That makes total sense but I didn't even think of it! And then Miranda was smiling when she saw her at Runway. Really smiling! Yes! I'm loving this story. The tale of Hattie and 'Randa: Life in the Big City. lol.

(Oh! Almost forgot to mention how cute Emily was twirling for Serena. Emily needs a smack on the head too. Serena is there you dolt! She loves you! Get it together!)

What a fantastic, original story! Thank you!! But Lily got left in the swamp? Thank you making her multi-dimensional. I love this version of Andy and the supernatural theme.

Great chapter. Somehow I got distracted and missed your updates. I loved how Andy stepped in and re-directed Ms. Simmons. Telling Miranda about the phone call was priceless.
This is such a unique story.
Thanks for the read.

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