Author's Chapter Notes:
A/N: I wrote this for a DWP ficathon last year, and since it's a Harry Potter crossover, I figured Chaos would be a good home for it too. The biggest 'warning' here is FEMSLASH! Also, calling it a 'crossover' isn't really accurate. No HP characters show up, and if you don't have a pretty good knowledge of the Devil Wears Prada storyline, you're going to be fairly confused.
Official Disclaimer: None of the characters or settings in this story are mine, really. That's the problem with crossovers; they're even less mine than usual.
Andy Sachs and the Cleverly Worded Plot Device
by: Hayseed (email@example.com)
Prologue: ...and the Christmas Conspiracy
"We're on to you."
It was still kind of hard to tell the twins apart, even after living with them for more than a year. At least, it was hard to tell them apart if she was trying to look at their faces. There was an accusing note in that prim little voice, however, that was all Caroline.
In what she hoped was an appropriately wise-looking manner, Andy just kept calmly sorting through the box of delicate glass ornaments, not looking up. "I'm not exactly sure what that means."
"Yeah, you are," Caroline replied. "We've got you all figured out, and if you're not careful, we're going to tell Mom all about you."
"The whole living-together-thing means that odds are, she already knows whatever you’re talking about," Andy said dryly. "Do you think it's a good idea to put these on the tree with everything else?" She held up one of the little ornaments blown into the shape of a lumpy star. "I mean, purple isn't really what I'd call a traditionally festive color, and we've got a million and one boxes of stuff anyway."
More to the point, the set of purple stars was kind of ugly, and she was pretty sure ugly didn’t fly on the Priestly family tree.
"Of course they go on the tree," a voice that might have been mistaken for Caroline's chimed in. Instead of that slightly angry edge, though, Andy heard a hint of condescension that better belonged to Cassidy. "Prince Harry gave those to Mom a few years ago. They can't not go on the tree."
"And you're trying to distract us," Caroline said snidely. "It won't work, Ahn-dray-ah."
She absolutely hated it when they said her name like that. When Miranda said her name, it was just right. When one of the twins did it, it made her hand itch to slap someone.
Instead, she settled for putting the box full of blown-glass purple stars in the pile she'd designated as 'yes.' "I'm not trying to distract you. I don't even know what you're talking about."
"My iPod went dead last week," Cassidy told her in a lazy drawl. "Again."
"That's when we figured it out," Caroline said. "Since you moved in, I've gone through eight iPods and three laptops, and Cass has lost a bunch of her stuff, too."
Andy rolled her eyes. "Are you accusing me of being a thief?"
Cassidy matched her eyeroll for eyeroll. "Are you deaf or something? We're not saying you steal them; we're saying that you have some weird mojo thing that breaks our stuff. It's like, you walk by or something, and the screen goes all weird and fuzzy, and then it just... dies."
"And that's not all," Caroline interrupted. "There's the flickering lights, too."
"Oh, yeah," Cassidy said. "I forgot all about that."
"Like every night, all the lights in the house start flickering for almost an hour. And that never happened before you got here."
"We even called the power people, because we figured there was something wrong with the house, but they said it wasn't their problem. Hey, Caro, remember the other thing?"
Caroline blinked a couple of times. "No, what other thing?"
"You know... the gross one."
Shaking her head wildly, Caroline grimaced. "Oh, ew. I remember. But I can't say it. You better."
"I don't want to."
"One, two, three... not it!"
"Not -- oh, hell."
Andy was sufficiently entertained by their antics that she didn't even get after Cassidy for swearing. In fact, she stopped sorting through ornaments and looked up at both of them.
Standing side-by-side, arms folded, and glaring at each other, the girls looked like something out of a sitcom. But she couldn't laugh. She'd never forgive herself if she didn't find out exactly what they were accusing her of.
"We were all in the kitchen, and Mom was cutting something up, and she cut her finger or something," Cassidy said awkwardly, not taking her eyes off her now-smirking sister. "And you... oh, this is repulsive... you made a big fuss about kissing it better."
"At least Mom made a face and said she was stupid," Caroline added with a knowing nod.
"Yeah, but she let her do it," Cassidy replied, shuddering. "Anyway, I saw Mom's finger, like, ten minutes later or something, and the cut was completely gone. Not just healed up -- gone!"
"And there was blood and stuff, so you can't just say it wasn't as bad as we thought. The towel was all gross with blood."
Biting her lip, Andy thought long and hard about what to say. The line between alienation and humor was too thin to gauge here. So instead, she settled on, "What do you think all of this means?"
The twins exchanged a hesitant look. She could all but hear the conversation that passed between them.
Do we tell her?
Do we have a choice?
A decision was made and Caroline cleared her throat delicately. "We think... well, that is..."
"You're a witch," Cassidy interrupted in a flat voice.
"You know, pointy hat, bubbling cauldron, all of it," she said.
Caroline apparently regained her courage, because she took up the thread next. "You even have a cat."
Andy let that hang in the air for a while. But eventually, she had to speak up. "Um... so after you bust a couple of iPods and your mom fails to cut herself, you decide that I'm a witch on the sole basis that I have a cat?"
Bucky had a sort of sixth sense about knowing the absolute worst place to be. As soon as Caroline brought the cat issue up, Bucky came sauntering into the room. After giving the box of purple stars a dismissive sniff, she twined herself around Andy's legs and started purring.
"See?" Caroline crowed triumphantly. "Witch."
"Oh-kay..." Andy drawled, scooping Bucky up and scratching her ears. "Bucks, did you know that the Salem witch trials were still going on?" she asked her playfully. "I had no idea."
Bucky's only reply was a lazy feline blink.
"We're going to tell!" Caroline snapped. "We're going to tell Mom all about the spell you've got her under, and then you'll be sorry!"
"I will?" Andy asked blankly. "Because I've got to tell you, girls, I have absolutely no recollection of casting a spell on Miranda. Not that it would work, anyway."
"Not that what would work?" Miranda's sharp voice said from out of nowhere. Andy couldn't help jumping just a little at the abruptness of it, and Bucky's response was to gently hook her claws into Andy's shoulder.
"Hey, quit it, Bucks!" Andy said, just as Cassidy gave Caroline a vicious pinch and muttered, "Now you've done it, dumbass."
"Cassidy," Miranda reprimanded, but there was little behind it.
The claws tightened, and Bucky let out a quiet growl. "Jesus, Bucky," Andy hissed. "What are you trying to do?"
"Andrea, are you having an animal control problem?" Miranda asked, sounding amused.
Instantly, Bucky pushed off Andy's chest and made her way over to Miranda the instant her feet hit the ground.
"Traitor," Andy said, blotting the blood spots rising on her shoulder and watching Bucky butt her head against Miranda's knee. "I always knew I should have gotten a dog."
Bucky's whiskers trembled in a cat-laugh, and Miranda chuckled herself, leaning down to give Bucky a couple of perfunctory pats. "Speaking as a long-term dog owner, I can safely say that you probably would have gotten yourself into more trouble than you could handle, Andrea."
"Hey, Patricia is my dog!" Caroline interjected angrily.
"Oh, really?" Miranda asked. "How odd, then, Caroline, that I've never seen you pay for a vet's bill, or take her to the groomer's."
"I feed her every day," she retorted.
"Yeah, but I'm the one who always has to take her to the dog park when you forget," Cassidy said with a moue of distaste. "And she's always jumping up and knocking me down when I come in the door and getting that awful dog-smell on all of my clothes.” She gave Miranda a thoughtful look. “Hey, Mom, how come we didn't get a Jack Russell terrier like I wanted?"
Caroline elbowed her sister. "You lost the coin toss. Besides, Mom bought you that stupid hamster when you cried about it."
"Patricia ate Mr. Sparkles!" Cassidy all but wailed. "It was never fair! You always get your way!"
"Girls, is this really necessary?" Miranda sighed.
Andy wanted to point out that Miranda was more or less the one who started the squabble by bringing Patricia up in the first place, but that would almost definitely lead to an argument. And then the... ensuing discussion or whatever you wanted to call it once the argument was resolved would probably scar the twins for life.
"Don't get distracted, Cass," Caroline said, nudging Cassidy again. "Follow-through, remember?"
"Yeah, but it wasn't ever right, what happened to poor Mr. Sparkles," Cassidy replied. "I mean, you were the one who thought it would be a good idea to let him out of his cage so he and Patricia could play together."
"In my defense, we were six," she said. "Anyway... we've got Mom here now, so let’s, uh..."
Another silent conversation, but the content was fuzzier this time. All Andy knew was at the end, the twins gave each other a short little nod.
"Done something weird--"
"To you, like--"
"Or something," Cassidy finished with a triumphant smirk at Andy.
The freaky twin double-speak always threw Andy off-guard. Once they started ping-ponging words back and forth, she lost track of who was who and exactly what was going on. It wasn't until the 'or something' that Andy figured out which one was which again. Cassidy was nothing if not predictable.
"A spell?" Miranda echoed, nose wrinkling in obvious confusion.
"Yeah, Mom, Andy is--"
"A witch or something--"
"We swear it's true!"
"A witch?" Her tone was more even on this one, the confusion settling firmly into disbelief.
"Haven't you noticed all of the weird stuff going on?" Caroline asked desperately. "The lights, the electronics going all wonky, the... the..."
"Other stuff," Cassidy finished in a rare show of sisterly compassion. Andy almost laughed at the relief on Caroline’s face as she realized she didn’t have to elaborate.
A long pause.
With a loud meow, Bucky started pushing against Miranda's leg again. Miranda just picked her up and firmly deposited her in Andy's arms.
"A witch," Miranda said again, almost pensive now. "Girls, I know that meeting Daniel Radcliffe last week was very exciting, but that's no reason to--"
"Mo-om!" the twins wailed in unison. "Mom," Cassidy continued to whine, "you're not listening to us."
"No, sweetheart, I'm listening," she replied. "And what I'm hearing is causing me serious concern for your mental health. Maybe all of the stress with school, the Christmas season, your father..."
"Mom," Caroline said, rolling her eyes, "if you shacking up with a girl didn't disrupt our sanity, why on Earth would Daddy marrying Sandra bother us at all? I mean, they've been dating for, like, centuries. If me and Cass are stressed, maybe it's because we have to share a house with an evil spell-casting witch!"
Apparently, Bucky'd had all she could take. With one last stern look at Andy, Bucky jumped out of her arms and made her way out of the room, flicking an ear in the general direction of the twins as she departed.
"See, Mom?" Cassidy said shrilly. "She's even got that weirdo cat, her whatsit."
"Familiar," Caroline corrected. "All witches have familiars. I've read about it."
"Caroline, darling, I don't think you could call your Harry Potter novels 'valid research,'" Miranda said. "And if you two have such a problem with my relationship with Andrea that you are resorting to fantastical delusion, I believe it would be best for you to start seeing Dr. Thornton again."
"Mom, we don't need therapy!" Caroline insisted. "You just need to listen!"
"I'll call the doctor first thing tomorrow morning, dear," Miranda said in a voice that clearly brooked no argument. "Now, why don't you and Cassidy go and choose a movie to watch this afternoon. If you would like to invite some friends over for the duration, I believe that would be fine. I'll be at Runway for several hours."
The girls' mouths hung open for a good while, but there was a hard finality in Miranda's dismissal that was impossible to mistake. After about a minute of dead silence, Cassidy's mouth snapped shut. "Fine," she barked. "We were just trying to help you, but if you're not going to believe us, maybe we'll just let you stay under the spell."
The sound of their feet pounding up the stairs as they ran was as loud as a series of gunshots.
With a sigh, Andy returned to sorting through the ornaments. How on Earth had Miranda managed to get a tree decorated year after year if she always had to go through these boxes? There had to be a dozen boxes at the very minimum, each crammed to the brim with ornaments of various levels of acceptability. If there had been some sense of reason in the organization, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but the ornaments seemed to be jumbled together randomly.
She thought after a while that Miranda had gone back to her study to work on the Book, but a cool hand on her shoulder proved her wrong. "Your cat scratched you," Miranda said quietly. "You're bleeding."
Blinking, she glanced down at the pinpricks of blood welling next to Miranda's hand. "Yeah, well, you know Bucky..." she shrugged and concentrated for a moment. The blood slowly disappeared as the wounds closed themselves.
"I still can’t believe it, even when I see it."
Andy grinned. "I know. You just told the twins that."
"Honestly, Andrea," she huffed. "You know what I mean."
"I do," she conceded with a nod. "I just hadn't realized they'd put so many pieces together. I haven't been as careful as I thought."
"It is rather difficult not to notice the electricity flickering, you know," Miranda said, smirking.
She rolled her eyes. "Shut up. You know you like it."
Miranda said nothing, but her lips twitched.
"Anyway, maybe I should just come clean with Caroline and Cassidy. If I explained everything, maybe they wouldn't think I was evil," she said thoughtfully.
"Possible," Miranda replied.
"On the other hand," Andy continued, thinking aloud, "if it occurred to them what I can actually do, I might be forced to spend the rest of my natural-born life transfiguring the latest handbags at their demand."
"It would save me a small fortune," she said with a carefully neutral expression.
With a grimace, Andy shook her head. "You're a big help, you know that, right?"
"I aim to please," Miranda purred.
Miranda didn't really flirt all that often, but when she decided to... boy. The problem was, the end result was that Andy's brain more or less turned into mush. And she didn’t have enough practice to know how to get it to stop happening every damn time.
"Um..." she stammered. The lamp dimmed of its own accord, and Miranda's lips curled into a pleased smile.
"You do realize that if you told the girls about... yourself, then they might figure out why we have electrical issues," she continued in that same seductive tone. "We might have to... adjust. That would not be acceptable."
"I... you..." Yep. Brain still Jell-o.
Miranda leaned in and the hand on Andy's shoulder slid lower. "I don't have to go to Runway, Andrea. Not if..."
The light bulb in the lamp exploded, sending shards of powdered glass tinkling to the floor.
Andy blushed as Miranda continued to smirk at her.
"I’ll clean it up later..." she mumbled, trying to scrape the pudding in her skull together into something resembling a thinking mind.
"I look forward to it," Miranda breathed.
And with that, her brain clicked back into place. Turnabout was fair play, after all. It wasn’t fair that she was the only person in the room unable to string a sentence together.
Andy muttered a few well-placed words, and there was a loud click as the door locked itself.
A couple more words, and their clothes melted away. The first time Andy performed that little trick, it had brought everything to a screeching halt, as Miranda had to be reassured that her couture hadn’t been destroyed, just... relocated. Now, though, instead of complaining, Miranda blushed bright red and bit her bottom lip.
A final jerk of the head, and the 'yes' pile of ornaments slid across the room, leaving the rug clear.
Abruptly, Miranda craned her neck over Andy's now-bare shoulder, distracted by the shifting ornaments. "You're not planning on putting those purple monstrosities on the tree, are you, Andrea?"
"Cassidy said Prince Harry--"
"I wasn’t planning to invite the Royal Family to view our tree. Those ornaments are hideous; I don’t even know why they’re still in the house."
Something struck Andy at that moment, as she took in a naked Miranda kneeling on the living room floor, scowling at a pile of floating Christmas ornaments with a furious expression. Andy threw back her head and laughed long and hard. All the magic in the world couldn’t make Miranda any less Miranda.
"What?" Miranda asked irritably.
"I don't know why Cassidy and Caroline thought I had cast a spell on you," she said, still giggling. "It wouldn't work even if I tried."