DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story would follow Expectations in my series of DWP fics.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To jah728[at]rocketmail.com
WARNING: Character death – Patricia.

By jah728


There were times, like today, that Miranda Priestly felt her life was defined by responsibility.

Family. She was responsible for caring for her three beautiful daughters and young wife. Her responsibilities encompassed providing food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and a nurturing home environment. Miranda was very sure the last item would surprise anyone who did not know her well. However, Miranda did her best to let her wife and children know how important they were to her and how much she cared. Carrying out her responsibilities to her family was a labor of love.

Runway. Now that was definitely a responsibility. She was responsible for maintaining the high standard Runway was known for with every single issue. If she failed in her responsibilities, the magazine would suffer, circulation numbers would fall, people would lose their jobs, stock values would plummet, and investors both large and small would lose money. Failure meant more than a slap to her ego. Failure meant pain for a lot of people.

Fashion. Miranda took her responsibility for spreading the word of good fashion very seriously. Trends featured in Runway could increase production at a textile mill in Asia, launch a designer's career, or help a retailer meet sales projections. Conversely, if Miranda did not like something, the trend could wither and die along with the associated jobs at the textile mill and design house.

Miranda almost laughed when she considered the irony of how she came by her over-developed sense of responsibility. When she was a teenager, her father had abrogated his family responsibilities by walking out on her mother, sister, and herself. Her mother worked full time and went to night school for additional training for the chance at a better job. Miranda was given the responsibility of taking care of her younger sister. This meant making sure homework was done, preparing simple meals, helping with laundry, and cleaning the house. When money got tight, Miranda offered to drop out and get a job to contribute to the family finances. Her mother adamantly refused. She told Miranda that she had a responsibility to make something of herself. Her success would help her family and others.

Miranda closed her eyes and sighed. Responsibility was why she was currently sitting on the floor of the sitting room stroking the soft fur on her St. Bernard's massive head.

Earlier Andrea had taken Patricia on a walk when the big dog started limping. Her wife immediately called Roy for a ride to the veterinarian's office. Miranda was carrying out her Runway and fashion responsibilities when Andrea called in tears. Family responsibilities always took precedence and Miranda calmly imparted instructions for handling the rest of the day's business as she strode towards the elevator. Once inside, Miranda leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. Although she didn't pray often, she felt it was appropriate in this case. Miranda asked for the strength to deal with her responsibilities for one of the deity's perfect creatures.

As soon as she entered the clinic waiting room, a veterinary technician rushed around the counter and ushered her into one of the examination rooms. Andrea was sitting on the tile floor crying and petting Patricia. Before Miranda could say anything, the doctor hurried in with a set of x-rays.

"Hello, Miranda." Dr. Farrar slipped the x-rays into the clips on the light box mounted on the wall.

"Doctor." Miranda pulled her reading glasses out of her purse and slipped them on as she stepped closer to examine what the veterinarian was pointing to.

"I told Andy I needed additional x-rays to confirm or deny my suspicions. If you look at this section of bone here and then this section here you can really tell the difference." The doctor gestured to the white bone on one x-ray and then outlined a cloudy area on the other. "We could do a biopsy for confirmation but I don't believe the additional pain it would cause Patricia would be worth it. I'm afraid it is an osteosarcoma."

Miranda felt like all of the breath was sucked out of her lungs. Andrea had uttered the words 'possibly bone cancer' when she called earlier. Miranda had hoped that there was some other explanation. "Is there anything we can do?" She had to ask but deep down she knew the answer. She had always been aware that Patricia's giant breed was susceptible to this disease.

The Doctor's sad expression told Miranda everything she did not want to know. "I'm sorry, Miranda. For the bone to be this far gone, the cancer has probably already spread to her lungs."

Miranda turned as Andrea sobbed. "She's had a little cough off and on for the last week," Miranda whispered.

The doctor nodded sympathetically. "Even if we amputated, Patricia carries most of her weight on her front legs. It would be hard on her and would probably only buy her a few months."

Miranda pulled off her glasses as she straightened her shoulders. She needed to be strong for her family and Patricia. Her tears could come later. "Is she in pain now?"

"No, I gave her a shot when she came in. The problem now is that the bone could break at any time. It could happen as she walks across the room."

"If we take her home, would you be available for a house call in a few hours?" Miranda moved towards Andrea and reached down to help her up.

"Of course." The doctor turned off the light box and pulled down the x-rays.

"And the other issue we discussed before?" Not caring if she had an audience, Miranda pulled Andrea into a hug. She wasn't sure who was comforted more, Andrea or herself.

"I'll take care of it," Dr. Farrar promised.

"Thank you." Miranda gathered Patricia's leash and with one arm around Andrea carefully escorted wife and dog to the car. Roy was waiting at the curb with the door open and helped to steady Patricia as she climbed up onto the backseat. Jumping was definitely not allowed. Andrea slid in next and briefly hugged Patricia while Miranda settled in. When they pulled away, Roy lowered the back window so that Patricia could stick her nose out and sniff the world as they drove.

Andrea leaned against Miranda's shoulder and tried to get her tears under control. "I wanted to get out of the house for a little bit. So after lunch I left the baby with Cara and took Patricia to the park. She was fine the whole way over." Andrea watched the dog sticking her muzzle out of the window. "All of a sudden she whined and started favoring her right front leg. I am so sorry, Miranda."

Miranda reached over and took Andrea's hand in hers. "You have nothing to be sorry for, darling. There was nothing you or I or anyone could have done to prevent this."

"I know. I just. I just wish." Andrea's lip quivered as she swallowed and tried not to burst into tears again.

Miranda wrapped an arm around Andy's shoulder and pulled her close. Kissing Andy's temple Miranda provided what comfort she could.

As if knowing she was uppermost in their thoughts, Patricia turned towards Andrea and Miranda and gave them a doggy grin before shoving her muzzle though the open window to continue sniffing.

"The girls are going to be heartbroken," Andrea said quietly.

"I know. They haven't had to deal with loss before." Miranda had no idea how she was going to talk to the girls.

Andrea wiped a few tears from her cheeks. "I know it's silly, but I'm glad Patricia got to meet the baby."

"Patricia loves sleeping in the nursery. I always knew where to look for her when she wasn't on her bed downstairs." Miranda had gotten used to walking around a sleeping Patricia whenever she got up in the middle of the night to check on the baby. Andrea started leaving a nightlight on so they could keep from tripping over the furry mountain.

Andy and Miranda were quiet for the rest of the ride home. Once they arrived at the townhouse, Roy held on to Patricia and eased her out of the car. After telling the couple how sorry he was, Roy scratched the dog's ears one last time. He waited for them to enter the townhouse before driving away.

Pausing at the hall closet, Miranda grabbed a blanket they normally used for picnics and then led Patricia into the sitting room while Andy went upstairs to talk to Cara and get the baby. Miranda spread the blanket on the floor in front of the couch and gently ordered Patricia into a down stay. Kicking off her shoes she sat on the floor next to the dog. As she leaned against the couch, Patricia settled her head on Miranda's lap.

Andy came in with Catherine a few minutes later and joined Miranda on the floor. "The girls will be here soon. What will you tell them?" Andy reached over to pet Patricia as the dog sniffed the baby's sock covered foot.

"The truth," Miranda said quietly. "There's no good way to break this type of news."

Andy nodded and just sat quietly with her wife, daughter, and dog. She had gone through this type of situation before. Andy knew that doing the right thing was harder on the people than the pets.

Finally, Miranda heard the twins bursting into the foyer. There was a sudden break in the sound of their excited voices. A few minutes later Caroline and Cassidy were at the sitting room door. They looked worried and scared.

"Mom?" Caroline inched in, surprised to see her mother sitting on the floor. Her mom never sat on the floor. Andy did sometimes, but never her mom.

"Cara said Patricia's sick." Cassidy edged past her sister and moved to kneel by Patricia.

"Yes, darling, she is." Miranda murmured.

Caroline lowered herself to the floor next to her sister. "She doesn't look sick. What's wrong?"

Miranda took a deep breath and looked her darling daughters in the eye. "Patricia has cancer. She was in some pain earlier, but the vet gave her something for that. However, this is not something she can get over. It will only cause her more pain and suffering." Miranda paused letting the words sink in. "It is my responsibility to see that Patricia does not suffer needlessly."

Caroline wiped tears from her cheeks. "What's going to happen?"

"The vet agreed to come here. Patricia will be comfortable and won't be scared." Andy's calm voice belied the tears in her eyes.

"Will it hurt?" asked Cassidy.

"No, bobbsey, she'll just go to sleep," Miranda assured. "I'm very sorry, girls." Miranda was torn. She so very much wanted to pull her daughters into her arms to comfort them. But she needed to stay with Patricia until the end.

Both girls nodded their understanding before throwing themselves on top of Patricia. They wrapped their arms around their friend. Patricia turned her head and licked both of the girls.

"Mom, I don't think I can," Cassidy started and stopped.

"No, darling. I don't expect you or your sister to stay. Patricia is my responsibility and I'll stay with her." Miranda gave her family a watery smile as she continued petting her dog.

Finally, they heard the doorbell and Cara escorted the vet into the room.

"Thank you for doing this here, Doctor," Miranda could barely push the words out. "Andrea, please take the girls upstairs. I'll be up soon." Miranda kept her head down as she spoke, not taking her eyes off Patricia.

"I'm staying, Miranda. Cara has offered to wait with the girls." Andy took Catherine's hand and stroked Patricia's head with it. "Girls, it's time," she whispered.

The girls took turns giving Patricia a hug and a kiss on the head. Even Cara leaned down and scratched the big dog's ears before taking the baby from Andy and ushering the twins out.

"You don't need to stay, Andrea. Patricia is my responsibility." Miranda gently stroked the dog's head.

"I know that, Miranda." Andy reached over and cupped Miranda's cheek. "And you are my responsibility."

Miranda swallowed and turned her watery eyes back to Patricia. "Doctor?"

A little while later, Andy and Miranda stood in the doorway of the media room. Cara was holding baby Catherine and the twins were flipping through the T.V. channels. Cassidy noticed her mom and Andy first and nudged her sister.

Andy walked over and took Catherine from Cara. After a few quiet words, Cara patted Andy's arm and left. Andy cradled Catherine and dropped down on the love seat. Catherine was awake and waving her little arms around.

Miranda moved to the couch and settled in between Caroline and Cassidy, wrapping an arm around each daughter.

"Is it over?" Cassidy asked softly.

"Yes, bobsey," Miranda whispered.

"What now?" Caroline asked.

"I've made arrangements to have her cremated. We'll be able to bury her ashes in the backyard." Miranda hugged her girls and gave each a kiss on the top of their head. She was so tired her whole body ached.

"Hey, did I ever tell you guys about the first time I had to pick up Patricia at the vet?" Andy glanced up from playing with Catherine.

Miranda smiled as Andy related the story of being dragged through the streets of New York by the playful dog. One story led to another and for a little while four hearts were at ease.

Three days later, Andy was home to take delivery of a box. Wiping a couple of tears, she dialed Miranda.

"Hello, darling." Miranda answered on the first ring.

"Hey," Andy said quietly. "It came today." Andy sat the box down on the hall table.

Miranda slipped off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. "I'll be home early."

"Okay, see you soon." After she hung up, Andy just stood with her hand on top of the box for a few minutes. Finally, she gave the box a couple of pats and went upstairs to check on the baby.

Later that afternoon, the Priestly family stood in the corner of the backyard. Andy knelt and placed the box with Patricia's ashes in the hole she and Roy had dug the day before. Caroline and Cassidy were leaning against their mother, who was holding Catherine. Everyone, except the sleeping baby, had a few tears in their eyes. Over the last couple of days they had come to terms with what happened. Their heartache eased a bit each day.

Andy stood up and brushed the dirt from her knees. "I didn't know Patricia as long as all of you, but I did love her. She was a great dog."

Caroline wiped her eyes and agreed. "She was the greatest."

Cassidy nodded, not able to say anything.

Miranda swallowed and gazed down at the baby in her arms. "She was my best friend for twelve years and I will miss her very much."

Andy smiled sadly at her family. "Why don't you guys go on inside while I take care of this," she said as she gestured to the pile of dirt to one side.

"Girls, take Catherine inside. We'll be along presently." Miranda carefully handed the baby to Caroline and watched the girls cautiously cross the yard and enter the house.

"You don't have to stay, Miranda. I've got this." Andy reached for the shovel leaning against the fence.

"I know, Andrea." Miranda watched as Andy slowly filled in the grave. "In twelve years, the only time Patricia broke my heart was on the day she died."

Andy paused and leaned against her shovel. Glancing at Miranda before turning her attention back to the pile of dirt she said, "You can't say that about anyone else can you? Not even me."

Miranda reached out and rubbed her wife's back. "No, I'm sorry. Even though I didn't realize it at the time. However, you made it up to me by coming back."

Andy kissed Miranda's cheek and finished filling the hole.

As they were walking back to the house with their arms wrapped around each other, Andy gently tapped Miranda's chest. "She'll always be here you know."

Miranda leaned her head against Andy's. "I know."

Just as they came to the kitchen door, Miranda paused. "Andrea," Miranda swallowed, "thank you. I." She stopped, not sure how to express everything she was feeling.

Andy smiled and stroked Miranda's cheek. "You don't need to thank me. I know you and your overdeveloped sense of responsibility. I love you and I will be right beside you sharing those responsibilities."

Miranda nodded and gently kissed Andy. Motioning for her wife to precede her into the house, Miranda took one last look at the corner of the yard and the freshly turned earth. With a soft sigh, she followed her wife inside.

The End

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