Andy Sachs and the Cleverly Worded Plot Device
by: Hayseed (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Epilogue: ...and the Requisite Happy Ending
(back to ‘present day’)
“Can Carrie and I go to the park?” Cassidy asked with a beseeching air. “I want to try out my new board. We’ll be super careful, and if I see any ice at all, I promise I won’t get on the ramps.”
“Wear a helmet,” Miranda said with a sigh.
As soon as Cassidy scampered out of the room, Miranda fixed Andy with a baleful glare. “A skateboard?” she asked venomously. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“I gave her a helmet and pads and everything with it,” Andy said. “And you saw how tightly she hugged me. She’s been wanting a skateboard for ages.”
“If she breaks her neck, I’m blaming you.”
“Miranda, she won’t break her neck. Caroline and Cassidy are smart girls; they know how to be safe.”
With a sad expression, Miranda resumed shoving bits of wrapping paper into a garbage bag. “I know I can’t keep them under glass, but a part of me wants to.”
Andy dropped her handful of wire ribbon and wrapped an arm around Miranda’s shoulders. “I can’t pretend to know what it’s like,” she said quietly. “But I want to help you. And I’m sorry about the skateboard; I didn’t think it would upset you.”
Miranda turned in Andy’s embrace. “There’s no need to apologize,” she said into Andy’s shoulder. “It’s a good thing. It’s what she wanted, and I need to learn to let her have her own opinions. Caroline as well.”
Andy grinned. “As long as you’re willing to keep that kid in piano lessons, I think she’ll be happy for the rest of her life.”
“I don’t know where she gets her ability. Her father was absolutely tone deaf.”
“Um-hmm,” Andy hummed, thinking of the one and only time she caught Miranda singing in the shower. It sounded about like Bucky caught in a storm drain, howling her head off. Not, of course, that she would say such a thing to Miranda’s face.
Drawing out of Andy’s arms slightly, Miranda gave her a mild glare. “I know you’re thinking it, Andrea. You might as well just say it.”
“Thinking what?” Andy said innocently. “About how absolutely gorgeous you are? All the time.”
“Nice try,” Miranda replied, stepping away and picking up the trash bag again. “When are they coming over?”
“She said one. You know how Lily gets about Christmas, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if--“
The doorbell rang.
“Well, hey,” Andy said, smiling widely. “Speak of the devil. Devils.”
“We’re leaving now!” Cassidy cried as she came barreling through the den, Caroline hot on her heels. They both had helmets strapped to their heads, Cassidy was carrying her new skateboard, Caroline had a battered pair of rollerblades, and they were both grinning ear-to-ear.
“You have your phone?” Miranda called in their wake.
“Yeah!” Caroline’s voice floated back. “Oh, hi, Lily, Luke.”
“Gosh, Jack’s gotten really big,” Cassidy said. “We’ll be back later. I got a skateboard.”
Obviously, someone said something that didn’t carry through the house.
“Yeah, Andy can be pretty cool sometimes,” Cassidy said in reply to whatever it was, causing Andy to chuckle and Miranda to give her a wry look. “Anyway, bye!”
The door slammed, and Andy hoped Lily and Luke had the presence of mind to be on the correct side of it.
“Boy,” Lily said as they came into the den, “it’s kind of like getting caught in a whirlwind, isn’t it?”
“Just think,” Andy said playfully, coming over to exchange hugs and to take the dozing Jack out of his mother’s arms. “One day, yours will be their age.”
“I’m hoping he skips adolescence entirely,” Luke said, leaning forward to plant a kiss on Miranda’s cheek. “Stephenson men often have what is kindly referred to as an ‘awkward’ period as teenagers.”
“Yeah, maybe you’ll grow out of yours some day,” Lily told him with a playful nudge.
He rolled his eyes. “Remind me again why I proposed to you.”
“Imperius,” Lily replied promptly.
Shaking her head, Andy made her way over to the sofa, arranging Jack in her lap as she sat down. “There’s no hope for you, is there, kiddo? If only one of your parents was crazy, you might have a shot. But both of them?”
Miranda sat beside them and looked over Jack with an intensity she usually reserved for the Book. “Cassidy was right; he’s growing like a weed.”
“And his powers are starting to flare,” Lily said. “Yesterday when I went in to wake him up, all of his toys were floating mid-air.”
“Two’s pretty young for that stuff to start,” Andy said, giving him a little cuddle. “How’s he going to control it?”
“We’re working on it,” Luke said. “Between my parents and yours, Andy, we should manage to at least construct some shields for him if nothing else works.”
“Well, that’s good,” she replied. “It would be awkward to have to play big bad Obs man to your own son.”
He shrugged. “I’ve done worse. And I know for a fact Jack would never do something as stupid as... oh, let’s say, blow up a coffee machine in full view of half-a-dozen Muggles.”
“Fu--“ She looked down at the sleeping boy in her arms. “Screw you,” she snarled, catching herself in time. “That wasn’t my fault.”
“It never is, is it, Sack-of-Sh--“ Lily jabbed an elbow in his side. “Tuff.”
Lily laughed. “How funny is it that Jack thinks ‘sh-tuff’ is a swear word? A couple of weeks ago, we were at the park, and he fell down in the grass, looked down at the stains on his knees, and shouted Sh-tuff at the top of his lungs.”
“Better than the alternative, right?” Luke said with a shrug.
“Poor kid,” Andy said, brushing hair out of Jack’s eyes. “You’re going to be the weirdest one in kindergarten, and it won’t be your fault at all.”
“Are you speaking from experience, Andrea?” Miranda asked slyly.
“We’re not going to answer that, are we?” Andy asked Jack, deliberately not looking up. “Of course we’re not, smart boy.”
“Although,” Miranda continued, “I cannot count the number of calls I received when the girls were in kindergarten. Apparently, Caroline quite enjoyed the flavor of paste.”
“Every class has a paste-eating kid,” Luke said with a sage nod.
Miranda sighed. “As the parent of a ‘paste-eating kid,’ I can tell you that it causes a fair number of digestive problems. Not to mention that whenever a child would tease Caroline about it, Cassidy would always leap to her defense. I had as many calls about Cassidy’s fights as I did about Caroline’s... food choices.”
Lily smiled. “I don’t have to tell you how awesome your kids are, Miranda, but I have to say, it makes me feel better as a parent to know they had some bumps along the road growing up.”
Jack’s eyelashes fluttered slightly, and Andy pulled him up to something resembling a seated position. “Are you waking up, Jacky-boy?”
He grunted and shoved his fists into his eyes, rubbing fiercely. “Tired,” he muttered. “Santa early.”
“You should have seen him at five this morning,” Luke said fondly. “He was all but bouncing off the walls.”
Andy grinned. “I’m betting Lily had him all charged up about Christmas.”
“Hey,” Lily said defensively, “Christmas is the best holiday ever, and I will argue anyone into the ground that disagrees with me. I’m just instilling the proper Christmas spirit in my household.”
“All I’m saying is thanks for the invite, ladies,” Luke said in a serious tone, giving Andy and Miranda a very earnest smile. “If I had to watch A Christmas Story one more time, I was going to take a hammer to the television.”
“You would not,” Lily told him indignantly. “You love that TV.”
“Shoot your eye out,” Jack mumbled sleepily, nuzzling into Andy’s shoulder.
“Oh, my God,” Andy exclaimed in disbelief. “You’ve turned my godson into a Christmas zombie!”
“Christmas!” Jack said, perking up out of his stupor. “Got presents, Andy. Got presents?”
As he struggled out of her embrace to perch on the sofa between Andy and Miranda, she couldn’t help but smile down at him. “Yep, I got presents. What did you get?”
He furrowed his brow in concentration. “Bear. Box. Pid-shirt.”
Miranda looked over toward his parents. “What on Earth is a pid-shirt?”
In response, Lily glared at Luke. “I’m guessing,” she said dryly, “that he’s saying ‘stupid shirt.’ My mother sent clothes, and Luke wasn’t impressed. Repeatedly.”
“Come on,” Luke protested good-naturedly. “Who the he-heck gives a two-year-old clothes? That’s as bad as my horrible Aunt Bertha always giving me underwear for Christmas.”
Biting her lip, Andy turned her head to look at Miranda, who was doing a pretty good impression of a statue. Which meant she was on the verge of hysterics.
“And they were always the wrong size, too,” he complained. “What twelve-year-old wants underwear with Mickey Mouse on the butt?”
A snicker escaped from between Miranda’s tightly clamped lips, which nearly set Andy off, but she managed to rein herself in.
Jack looked delighted. “Funny!” he said, giggling and clapping his hands. “Funny Daddy.”
“I will say, kiddo, that your daddy is usually funny completely unintentionally,” Andy told him with a conspiratorial wink.
“Funny daddy,” Jack gurgled.
“Okay, Sachs,” Luke cried, frowning. “You, me, wands, midnight. You’re going down!”
“At least ten years of Defense classes together says otherwise, Lucas,” Andy replied sweetly.
Jack shook his head and crawled into Miranda’s lap. “Silly Andy,” he told her.
She nodded. “Absolutely, dearest. Andrea can be very silly.”
“Silly Andy. Funny daddy.”
Miranda smirked. “Lily, I would have no concerns about Jack’s progress in school if I were you. He’s a very astute young man.”
Lily returned her smirk. “I’ve trained him well. Haven’t I, sweetie?” she asked him.
With a beaming smile, Jack clapped his hands again. “Smart mama!”
Laughing delightedly at the crestfallen look on Luke’s face, Lily gave him a companionable pat. “So the kid knows which side his bread’s buttered on, eh, Lucas?”
“Maybe Santa didn’t mean to bring you all those toys,” Luke told Jack in a mock-stern tone. “Maybe I should ask him whether or not some of them should go back.”
“Smart daddy,” Jack said after a moment of obvious panic. “Smart daddy and smart mama.”
“And smart Jacky-boy, too,” Andy said, kind of impressed at his grasp of logic.
He put a finger to his lips and gave her a sly look, sliding over to her again. “Smart daddy. Smart mama. Silly Andy.”
Her mouth fell open. “Oh, so is that how it is?” She tickled his side until he shrieked with laughter. “Silly Andy, is it?”
“Yes!” he cried, squirming away from her tickling fingers. “Silly, silly, silly!”
“Oh, well...” she drawled, settling back against the sofa arm. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Aah!” he crowed, throwing himself on her, small fingers looking for any potentially ticklish spots.
“Uncle,” Andy said, laughing. “Uncle!”
He looked up into her eyes. “You give?”
She nodded. “I give.”
“All right.” He grinned and planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek before scrambling back over to Miranda.
“Boy, I sure am glad we picked her for godmother,” Luke said after a fairly long pause. “Who needs playmates when your godmother is just a big ol’ kid herself?”
Andy sniffed. “Because I am a mature, responsible adult, Mr. Mickey Mouse Underpants, I will choose to let that insult slide.”
As Luke’s mouth opened to respond, Lily gave him a gentle nudge. “Just let it go, Luke. You won’t win.”
He sighed, but his mouth closed again.
“So, Andy,” Lily said with forced cheer. “Christmas dinner?”
“Oh, yeah,” Andy said, “we’ve got the full spread. I even managed to finagle Mom’s chocolate pie recipe.”
“Wow, I thought she’d take that one to her grave.”
She grinned. “I may have given her the impression that a very important food critic regularly dines at our table.”
“Andrea Sachs!” Lily exclaimed. “You big fat fibber, you.”
“Hey, Miranda is a very discriminating eater,” Andy said seriously.
Miranda rolled her eyes at the mention of her name. “Only when you cook, Andrea.”
“I can cook,” she protested.
With a laugh, Lily shook her head. “Only if scrambled eggs counts as a meal. Which it doesn’t.”
“I made the pie,” Miranda confided to a grinning Lily.
“Pie?” Jack asked hopefully. “Good pie?”
Miranda smiled. “I certainly hope so. I assume you like pie?”
He nodded vigorously and reached up to pat her cheek. “Pie!”
Andy gasped. “Miranda, your... your... oh, shit!”
Jack just laughed and patted her cheek again. “Pretty,” he said with a giggle. “Pretty, pretty, pretty.”
“What is it?” Miranda asked, going very still. There was a thud as Luke knocked his chair over in his haste to stand up.
Leaning over, Andy ran her fingers through Miranda’s hair. “Your hair,” she whispered in her ear. “It’s, um, it’s pink.”
She blanched. “Pink?”
“Can you fix it?”
“Lily’s better at that kind of thing than I am,” Andy said, giving her friend a significant look. “In fact, if I recall correctly, their first date ended with Luke having pink hair.”
“If it’s any consolation, Miranda, you look far better than I did,” Luke said apologetically.
Lily came over and picked up a lock of Miranda’s hair. “Um, Andy? I don’t know how to get rid of this,” she said with a sigh. “Jack didn’t use the standard hex, so I have no clue how to undo it.”
“Well, let me...” Andy ran her hands back through the pink hair, messing it up thoroughly. “I can feel the charm... maybe I can...”
“Mom?” twin voices exclaimed in horror.
You could’ve heard a pin drop. In Montana.
“Shit,” Jack said, offering the girls a bright smile.
With an appropriately maternal moan, Lily covered her face with a hand. “Thanks, Andy. I really appreciate that.”
“Could we maybe concentrate?” Miranda snapped.
“Um, girls?” Luke tried. “Maybe we should step into--“
“Lucas Stephenson!” Miranda exclaimed, cheeks turning scarlet with sudden fury. “You are not going to erase my daughters’ memories.”
“For the record, Miranda, I was only trying to give Andy some quiet to focus. I wasn’t going to do anything to the girls.”
“Do anything?” Caroline all but shouted. “Like what?”
“What the hell is going on here?” Cassidy shrieked. “What’s wrong with my mother?”
Andy gritted her teeth. “If you give me thirty seconds of quiet, Cass, I promise I can answer both those questions. But right now, I need you two to shut up so I don’t accidently hurt your mom. Okay?”
They fell silent.
After a few more moments of probing Miranda’s scalp, Andy felt comfortable enough to start. “Miranda, I’m only going to test some hair at the back. That way, I can make sure it’s going to work.”
“Fine,” she replied hoarsely.
Carefully, Andy grabbed a bit of hair and closed her eyes. Concentrating as hard as she could, she ran her fingers down the length of the hair.
“Did it work?”
With a silent prayer, Andy opened her eyes. “Yeah,” she breathed, unable to contain her sigh of relief.
Miranda’s eyes slid shut. “Thank God. I was not looking forward to explaining this at the office.”
Andy pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “You’re not quite out of the woods yet. Hang on.” This time, she wrapped her hands around Miranda’s whole head, touching as much hair as possible.
There was a gasp.
From one of the twins, probably.
When Andy opened her eyes, Miranda’s hair was mostly back to normal. A few more strokes and the few remaining pink streaks were gone. “Got it,” she said, sliding back onto the sofa to give Miranda a brief hug.
“Now, you and I are going to have a long talk, John Andrew Stephenson,” Lily said sternly, grabbing Jack and all but yanking him out of the room.
“Miranda, we are so, so sorry,” Luke said. “We didn’t--“
She flapped a hand at him. “No harm done, Lucas. Andrea and I have discussed the possibility of accidents like this before. It was only a matter of time, really.”
He offered her a tentative smile. “If Lily weren’t busy reaming out Jack, I’m sure she’d point out that at least you weren’t set on fire like she was.”
Andy rolled her eyes. “Come on, she’s not still milking that tired old story, is she? My dad put the fire out, and she was completely fine.”
“Fire?” Cassidy asked shrilly.
Blinking, Andy turned in her seat to stare at the girls, standing in the doorway with twin expressions of shock. She’d actually forgotten they were there.
Miranda smiled at them. “Come here, girls. I’m fine.” She opened her arms, and both girls all but catapulted themselves toward her.
“Are you really okay, Mom?”
“She didn’t hurt you, did she?”
“We told you she was dangerous--“
“But you didn’t believe us!”
“Caroline, Cassidy,” Miranda began slowly, “you’re going to have to listen to us without interrupting. Do you understand?”
Andy took that as her cue. “A couple of days ago, you said you thought I was a witch. Well, you weren’t completely wrong.”
Cassidy’s eyes widened. “I said--“
“Cassidy,” Miranda admonished in a gentle voice.
“The Harry Potter books are based on a true story,” Andy continued. “Hogwarts really exists, even though it’s called something else. Both of my parents are wizards, and I’m one, too. And so are Lily and Luke.”
“I’ve always known, sweethearts,” Miranda told them. “Andrea and I decided it would be best if you didn’t know for a little while. That way you could get to know each other without magic getting in the way.”
“So... you’re a witch?” Cassidy asked slowly. “Like, for real?”
Andy smiled. “For real.”
“Why did you work at Runway, then?” Caroline asked. “That seems kind of lame for a witch. Especially if you could be off, like--“
“Taming dragons or something,” Cassidy broke in.
“That answer may be longer than you want to hear,” Andy admitted. “Let’s just say that I was as interested in Muggles as you are in wizards.”
Caroline giggled and elbowed her sister. “Cass, did you hear what she said? She said Muggle.”
“Did you go to Hogwarts?”
She shook her head. “Nope. Lily, Luke, and I went to BHH. That’s Black Hills High. American wizards have their own schools.”
“Caro, maybe... hey, Andy--“
“Do you know Harry Potter?”
Over their heads, she and Miranda exchanged a wryly exasperated look. “Not personally,” she said, holding back a laugh with some effort. “But I’ll tell you something even your mom doesn’t know.”
Their eyes widened. “Really?”
“One of my professors in high school, my favorite professor, actually, was the basis for Professor Snape.”
Caroline’s nose wrinkled. “He was your favorite? But he was so nasty in the books.”
“Did he really have yellow teeth and everything?”
Andy laughed. “No, he looked pretty normal. A lot of stuff in the books is made up. But he was hard on us, just like Professor Snape was hard on Harry and everybody. He was my favorite because I learned more from him than anyone else.”
“Gosh...” Cassidy exclaimed.
“So,” Andy said awkwardly. “Has this convinced you that I’m an evil witch?”
“Are you kidding?” they asked in unison. “This is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to us,” Caroline said. “Well, apart from meeting Daniel Radcliffe.”
“And my skateboard is pretty awesome,” Cassidy said. “Although this is cooler. But not by much.”
They raced from the room, chattering so rapidly that Andy couldn’t make out a word.
Luke grinned at the empty doorway they’d just disappeared through. “I’m going to make sure Lily hasn’t scared Jacky to death,” he told them mildly, heading out through the same door, leaving Andy and Miranda to stare at each other.
“Well...” Miranda said quietly. “It’s been a busy day, hasn’t it?”
“Understatement of the century,” Andy replied with a short laugh. “But we survived.”
“I have always meant it,” Miranda told her all of a sudden.
Andy furrowed her brow in confusion.
“I still enjoy my time with you more than anyone else in the world,” she said. “Even with pink hair.”
“I love you,” Andy said impulsively. It wasn’t something they said often, but that made it even more valuable.
Miranda’s eyes sparkled. “So the Defense professor you’ve raved about so often is the prototype for this Snape character? And he was evil?”
Andy shrugged. “What can I say? I appreciate a challenge.”
“I will choose to take that as a compliment,” Miranda said haughtily.
“You should,” Andy said, leaning over for a kiss.