Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada
Characters: Miranda/Andy, Cassidy and Caroline
Summary: Miranda has always been good at keeping secrets, and she likes them, too. She doesn’t even mind being in the closet. But when she finds out that she’s not the only one with secrets, she is forced to act, for Cassidy's sake.
Word count: 3 824
Notes: This is written for a prompt given by pure_ecstasy6. The first part (Cassidy’s point of view) is here and the second shorter shaper (Andy’s pov) is here. This is the end; thank you for all your feedback! <3
The girls were having a snack in the kitchen. I just shot a quick glance at them when I passed the door, and I saw that they were reading a magazine; probably Runway.
I don’t know what it was that made me stop there. I didn’t normally eavesdrop on my children, and I trusted them to respect me in the same way – respect only works if it’s mutual. And yet I was standing where I could hear them without being seen.
“I would like to have that dress; it’s gorgeous, don’t you think?”
“Yeah”, Caroline replied, “but mom won’t let you have it. She’ll say that it’s not a dress made for kids…”
“I wish she’d stop treating us like we’re children!” Cassidy complained. “I’m not a little girl anymore, why is that so hard to understand?”
“Hey, don’t ask me; I’m on your side, remember?”
Cassidy murmured something, and I thought about what I had just heard. Did I still treat the girls as children? They were children, of course, but at the same time, I couldn’t deny the fact that they were growing up. I wondered which dress they were talking about, and I was just about to go in there and talk to them about it, when I froze in the middle of a movement because Caroline said:
“But is it just the dress you’re looking at, or the girl in it?”
“Oh, stop it!”
I could hear it in my daughter’s voice that she was blushing.
“Come on, I’m just curious. Do you think she’s attractive?”
“If you must know”, Cassidy said, “I think she’s pretty, but she’s not my type.”
“So what kind of girl is your type?”
I realized that I had almost stopped breathing, and I took a step back, feeling dizzy. One part of me wanted to stay and hear more, but I didn’t; I remembered my own rule, and I quickly retired to a soft couch.
My heart was pounding, and my head was still spinning; only one thought was spinning around in my brain: Is Cassidy gay? Is she gay, too?
Before I knew what I was doing, I picked up my phone and I called Andrea.
It didn’t take Andrea very long to come, and she looked at me with alarmed eyes and begged me to tell her what was wrong.
Seeing her worried face, I came to my senses a little bit and assured her that nothing was wrong, I was just surprised… I explained the situation to her, and she sat down next to me.
“So Cassidy seems to be gay? What’s the problem?”
“Oh, I don’t know, it’s just… I mean, if we’re both gay; two in the same family… does it mean that it’s genetic, or what?”
Andrea shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t know. Who knows? Who cares? Does it really matter if it is or not? I don’t think so.”
Andrea’s big eyes looked deeply into mine, inquiring, searching for something. She took my hand and said:
“Miranda… Do you think that there’s something wrong with being gay? Do you rather wish you weren’t a lesbian?”
Andrea’s question made me stop to listen to myself. Since she came back into my life, about a year after she walked out on me in Paris, she taught me what it meant to be truly happy; to feel safe and protected by someone’s love. Andrea saw me, and wanted me for who I am; none of my previous lovers or husbands had made me feel that. What did it matter, then, that she was a woman? Or maybe it did matter. Maybe it was because we were both women that it felt so right; that was something that I had considered, vaguely, at times when I had felt that there was something missing in my relationships with men – but it had never been more than a very vague idea, and I had never explored it. Not before she made me want to explore it.
“Of course not”, I said, “how can you think that? Don’t you know that I’ve never been as happy as I am with you?”
It was true; probably the truest words I had spoken during the entire day. I just didn’t feel the need to shout it from the roofs, declare it to the world. Or love was private, our own secret treasure that no one needed to put their dirty hands and paparazzi eyes on…
“Have I taken this secrecy too far?” I asked my beloved lover, and she said:
“Oh Miranda, I understand your need for privacy – but this is your daughters we’re talking about. What is it that you try to protect them from by keeping our love a secret? And now – what is it that you’re afraid of for Cassidy?”
I opened my mouth and spoke before I knew what I was going to say:
“I have not been a stranger to the idea of homosexuality before”, I said, “it exists everywhere, and some of my closest friends are gay. I have taught my girls not to have prejudices, to be open-minded about these things. But I have seen and heard things. I know that some gay people go trough hell because of ignorant people’s stupid cruelty… I know that sometimes, the families of these people suffer because of this, and especially the children… I hope, of course, that the twins’ school is good enough to deal with these things properly, but Andrea, what if someone saw something wrong in our love, and decided to take their hate out on my girls…”
“You’re very right about that”, Andrea said, “but Miranda, I really don’t think you’re doing the kids a favour by keeping them in the dark. And don’t you think that you would feel much better if I could be a part of your life for real?”
I nodded, suddenly ashamed of myself. By keeping Andrea to myself as a secret treasure, I had not only shut the girls out from a big part of my life, but I had shut her out of our family, too. But I had never meant to hurt her, or the girls.
“And how”, Andy continued, “do you think Cassidy feels about hiding things from you?”
“I don’t know…”
“Well, neither do I, but I guess she feels pretty much the same way as you do right now. I suggest you have a talk.”
“You’re probably right”, I admitted and hugged her, “why didn’t you talk to me like this before?”
Andrea raised an eyebrow.
“I’m surprised to hear you say that. Because you have a way of saying ‘that’s all’ in a way that makes me lose every argument as if I still were your second assistant.”
I laughed and kissed her.
“Oh no, I don’t believe that. Besides, you were a very good assistant. If you’re half as good a reporter, I think you’ll win the Pulitzer prize one day.”
Andrea kissed me back and made me, as always, forget about everything else. Then she moved away from me.
“Yes, you always say that. Stop changing the subject. You’re going to talk to them now. This is enough, Miranda, we can’t do it like this anymore.”
I watched as she got up from the couch and walked toward the door. If an assistant talked to me like that, I’d have her fired immediately. But when Andrea talked to me like that, she set me on fire.
“Caroline! Cassidy!”, she shouted.
“Andrea”, I murmured, “please don’t shout – sometimes I think that you’re a teenager, too.”
She turned around and smiled coyly.
“Really? I’m sure I can find some school uniform somewhere if that’s what you want…”
“That’s most definitely not what I want; don’t say such appalling things.”
Andrea laughed, and I realized that she was just teasing me; I was not in the mood for jokes, and I didn’t understand how she could be.
“What’s appalling?” Caroline entered the room and Cassidy followed. “It sounds like fun, tell us about it.”
“It’s nothing”, Andrea said, “the reason I called is that your mother needs to talk to you about something.”
“Is it about the school trip?”
“No”, Andrea said.
“Is it about…”
Cassidy looked at Andrea, pale and almost scared, and I suddenly remembered that secret and important talk they had about a week ago. I had forgotten about it. I suddenly started to suspect that what I told Andrea about my daughter had not been a surprise to her after all.
“Andrea”, I said sharply, “why didn’t you tell me…”
“Not now, Miranda”, she interrupted, “this is about what you are going to tell the girls, remember?”
“Mom, what is it?” Cassidy stared at me. “Do you have bad news? Did someone die?”
“Oh no”, I replied quickly and tried to smile, “not at all; it’s not bad at all… at least I don’t think so…”
Isn’t it funny, I thought, I can rule Runway and half the fashion world, if not all of it, but sometimes I don’t know how to handle my own family.
Andrea joined me on the couch again, Caroline took an armchair, and Cassidy sat on the armrest.
“Cassidy, don’t do that”, I admonished her almost automatically, “don’t be such a monkey; it’s not good for the furniture. Get your own chair.”
“I think the chair can handle it just this once”, Andrea said, patting my arm. “Okay; I’m not going to say it, Miranda…”
I took a deep breath.
“Okay, girls, this is what I wanted to say: You know that Andrea and I have been very good friends for quite some time now. I can’t tell you how much it means – In fact, she has been a very good friend to all of us…”
“Oh no!” Caroline interrupted, “don’t talk sentimentally like that – she’s leaving, isn’t she?! Andy, are you going away somewhere? Like far, far away and you’re never coming back?”
“Let your mother finish”, Andrea said firmly, “you’re not making it any easier for her by interrupting. And no, I’m not going anywhere; I’m staying right here with you guys.”
“Yes…” I said, and then I didn’t know how to go on.
Andrea sighed impatiently.
“You could say”, she suggested, “that we have sort of an announcement to make.”
Yes. That was clear enough. No turning back now.
“The announcement, that is, that Andrea and I are in a serious, committed relationship. I mean that we are involved… romantically…”
The girls stared at me, in silence.
“What she is trying to say”, Andrea filled in, “is that we are in love. As in, I love your mom and she loves me, and we’re together.”
“What?” Cassidy whispered, and Caroline shouted:
“No, you’re kidding? Seriously?! Wow, mom, that’s awesome!”
“Awesome?” I repeated, slightly shocked by the reaction. Funny that I was the one to be shocked – yes, and maybe Cassidy too…
“Yeah, mom; don’t you think I have eyes? Not that it’s been obvious, but I’ve sort of had this feeling that there’s something more to this ‘friendship’, and let’s face it; your relationship with men haven’t been that successful…”
Clearly, I had been underestimating my children, or at least one of them.
“I guess they haven’t…”
“And besides”, Caroline went on, “Andy has this way of looking at you sometimes, so I suspected that she at least had an unrequited crush on you. But then I was thinking that I’m maybe making this up; that I’ve started to see queerness everywhere just because Cassidy is gay…”
The words faded away as she spoke, and she looked apologetically at her sister.
“Sorry, Cass… I didn’t mean to…”
“Thanks a lot for outing me”, Cassidy said, her voice pressured and hard, “thanks a lot!”
She looked angry, confused.
Just like, I figured, I would look if someone had outed me against my will.
“Sweetheart”, I said, “Cassidy, it’s all right…”
“I was afraid to tell you”, Cassidy murmured, and I saw tears coming to her eyes, “I was afraid that you’d be disappointed, or angry…”
I got up from the couch and walked the few steps towards the twins and I put my arms around Cassidy, hugged her and stroke her back, rocked her like a baby in my arms.
“My baby”, I said helplessly, “I’m so sorry. What did I ever say or do to make you get that idea into your head?”
If other people fear me; well, that’s all right, because I can use it to get what I want. But my children?
“Nothing I guess”, Cassidy sobbed, “It’s just that… who knows what someone really thinks and feels, deep down…”
I looked at Caroline; she shrugged her shoulders.
“I told her that you’re not a homophobe, mom… But at the same time, she’s right, you know – sometimes people accept things as a general idea, but they don’t want it in their homes…”
“Oh my God”, I said, almost crying myself, “I’m sorry… You shouldn’t have to doubt me like that. I should make sure that you know every day that I’ll always love you, no matter what.”
“So you don’t mind?”
“Of course not. I’m only sorry if you are. And you should be happy. If loving another girl is what makes you happy, then you’ve got every right to that happiness. If anyone tries to tell you that there’s something wrong with being gay, don’t listen to them. They’re just scared and ignorant people who don’t know anything about love.”
“Thanks mom”, Cassidy said, “but what if these people have the power to hurt you?”
“Oh sweetie”, I said, “the world is a cruel place sometimes, but no one, do you hear me, no one will ever get to hurt you while I’m around.”
I spoke with all my conviction; I believed myself. I had made a beautiful home for my girls, I had chosen a good school for them, I had lots of power in the world of publishing and in the fashion world. If I had to, I could protect my children from everything.
But Cassidy burst out in a flood of tears and threw her arms around me. She cried until she was shaking and I couldn’t make out one world of what she was saying.
“You can’t protect me from everything”, she said after a while, “you just can’t, mom.”
“But my darling”, I said helplessly; again I looked at Caroline, and again she shrugged her shoulders.
“Don’t look at me”, she said, “I thought that you both should be relieved by now, now that you’re both out of your closets.”
“You don’t know everything”, Cassidy said. “I want you to know now. But I can’t say it. Andy… please?”
“Sure”, Andrea replied immediately, “Miranda, don’t get mad at me for not telling you this before, but I promised Cassidy not to. The thing is, she got beaten in school a little while ago. They beat her up, pushed her to the floor and kicked her.”
“Oh my god”, I whispered and held my daughter even closer, “and you were afraid to tell me…”
Yes, I suppose that I would have wanted Andrea to tell me this the moment she found out, but now, I barely noticed the apologetic tone in her voice, because I was so filled with anger. I was raving with fury, more than I had ever been in my entire life. Even the worst moments of my career were nothing compared to this.
“They did this to you because you’re gay?”
Cassidy nodded her head against my shoulder, which was soaking wet from her tears.
How dared they treat my child like that? Or any child, for that matter! But now, this was about my child. And I had foolishly believed that I protected her from any kind of queer-bashing by hiding a part of myself from my kids.
“And no one did anything about it?”
“Miranda”, Andrea said, “you know what highschool is like. Some of the teachers have been in the jungle so long that they begin to accept its laws and forget that they once came from a civilized place.”
I let go of my daughter, turned around and looked at Andrea.
“But we can’t accept that. That’s unacceptable.”
My standard answer when I disapproved of something.
“But mom”, Caroline said, “Andy is right, you know. It is sort of a jungle. What can you do about it?”
“Missionize”, I said. “Or go to war if I have to. Did you know about this?”
“About the beating? No, mom. I would have defended her if I had known! Just like I would defend you. If anyone touches my family, I’ll fight them!”
And Caroline’s eyes, too, were burning with rage, and with pain. She reached for Cassidy’s hand and squeezed it hard. I could tell that she would have wanted to fight, that very moment, just like I did.
“I don’t doubt that you’re brave and strong enough”, Andrea said, “but I like your mother’s first idea better. Knowledge is the key to most problems. It’s disgusting that something like this can still happen in a school. They should start teaching you kids something substantial. And they get that through knowledge.”
“Exactly”, I said, and I more or less repeated Andrea’s words the next morning when I called the school and explained the situation.
“I will not tolerate”, I said, “that my daughter gets beaten up because rumour has it that she’s gay, is that clear?”
“Of course Mrs Priestly”, the voice in my ear said. “Fighting in school is definitely something we take seriously. And of course, spreading rumours is also definitely not okay.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that, although it should go without saying. But this isn’t only about fighting or spreading rumours, it’s about the attitude.”
“Do you think it’s enough”, I said impatiently, “to tell the kids that it’s not okay to ‘accuse’ someone of being gay when they’re not? It does not send the right message to say ‘you might hurt someone’s feelings if you call them gay’ – that way, all those words; homosexual, queer, gay, dyke, remain as insults. Do you get my point?”
“Yes, Mrs. Priestly.”
“Then what do you do to prevent that from happening? What do you do to make sure that the kids learn to understand that there’s nothing wrong, or shameful or dirty about love in any shape, form or color?”
“We do of course”, the man said with a little hawking, “stand up for democratic values and human rights at our school…”
“Yes, but what do you do?” I tapped a pen impatiently at a note pad, wishing I could shake the pompous man.
“As I said, we do not accept violence, and we don’t want anyone to feel discriminated. In fact, I think that we have a fairly open climate. I think that even a couple of our teachers are gay, not that they flaunt it in any way…”
“So you have gay teachers at the school? And that makes you think you’re safe and have done your part?”
“But we must also bear in mind”, the man said, beginning to sound a little nervous, “that some of our kids come from deeply religious homes…”
I was really beginning to loose my patience.
“I don’t see how teaching children not to hate, and to give them knowledge about the facts of life can be offending to anyone’s religion.”
“No, Mrs. Priestly, I agree…”
“Then I want to see you take some action. I want no more of this ‘see nothing, do nothing’, or I might consider another school for my girls.”
“We wouldn’t want that, Mrs. Priestly…”
I hoped that I had made him listen and understand me. But I added a few more words to make my message clearer.
“And also, my partner, Andrea Sachs, is a reporter at the Mirror. She mentioned being interested in writing something about this topic. Maybe even a series of articles about homophobia and hate crimes, and how it’s flourishing in high schools because of the passivity of the people in responsible positions.”
The man began to speak, but I was not finished yet.
“I believe that children who behave badly are badly brought up; maybe not by school but by their parents. And I also believe that most parents agree with me that it is the school’s responsibility to help to enhance tolerance, acceptance and knowledge. We can only expect children to be smarter than the grownups’ bigotry if we give them the tools to think for themselves; that is, to encourage critical investigation, and to give solid and correct information.”
All this was, of course, only words. But what could I do? Go find those kids who harassed my child and beat them up like they had beaten her? The thought was tempting, I admit it. But Cassidy had refused to mention their names; she believed that having them punished would only make things worse. And of course I could never do such a thing, not really. And Andrea was right; violence was not the right key to this problem, or to any problem. The school had to deal with it. But at least I had made my point. And going public, that was not an empty threat; they had to see that. They could also realize that I could influence other parents and, in short, make trouble.
It turned out I didn’t have to do much more about it. That phone call had made some impression, it seemed. The school organized a series of lectures and invited gay activists, queer celebrities – I have to admit one or two appeared as a personal favour to me – and older college kids; in short, people who could give homosexuality a face. There were debates and talks, and films in English class; books discussed and papers written.
As Cassidy pointed out, attitudes couldn’t change overnight or within weeks, but later she told me that she felt much more comfortable and less alone.
“And do you know what”, she said, “a couple of those people have actually apologized, and I think they really meant it.”
“I’m sure they did”, Andrea said. “They were probably just afraid because they suddenly found themselves in the middle of a lynch mob. If people were less afraid, things like that wouldn’t happen.”
“But why”, Cassidy said, “why is it that so many people think that queer people are so bad? Why does a word like ‘homophobia’ even exist?”
“That”, I said, “is one of the world’s great dark mysteries…”
“Yes”, Andrea nodded, “because there’s too much hate and fear and too little love in this world. But we’ll fight to make a difference, right? By setting a good example.”
“Because we’re a family”, Caroline said and took Andrea’s hand, “with lots of love in it.”