When We Were

Sixty Nine: This Place Has Grown On Me


Emilia, who’d been idly tracing the rim of her tea cup, blinked a couple of times before she turned around in her seat, glancing up towards the kitchen doorway to where Lionel stood, his hands fiddling awkwardly ahead of himself. Staring at him for a second, she quirked a faint smile before she nodded her head, answering the question that his hesitation had posed. Lionel still waited a split second before he moved, giving her half a chance to change her mind before he settled into the seat at her side.

Emilia watched him out of the corner of her eye, allowing a slightly uncomfortable silence to pass between them, before she gently shook her head, tucking her hair back off of her face. “Why did you tell my mother?” she whispered “I mean, if you have these worries, why did you share them with her and not with me?” she clarified as she turned to look at him, her eyes searching his face.

It had been a couple of hours, after the brief conversation that they had had, Emilia had headed back downstairs to help Luca with his homework, but her mind had been stuck on the talk. She had been a little surprised by the suggestion that Lionel had doubts and worries, but she had been more surprised that he had opted to share them with her mother before he had shared them with her. They’d gotten better at opening up, the more time that they had spent together, the better that they’d both gotten at talking about things that were on their mind, and it had stunned her slightly that he hadn’t mentioned it.

Lionel felt her gaze on his face, but didn’t turn to look at her. “Scared” he mumbled.


“What if you’d said that I was right?” Lionel interrupted gently “I didn’t want to hear that, Em. I’m quite happy to live in blissful ignorance” he added, turning to look at her.

Emilia quirked a little ironic smile, shaking her head. “And so you thought you’d just tell my mother?” she asked.

“You should be honest with her when she asks how you are” Lionel retorted “Then she won’t ask me and I won’t say too much. You know I am still scared of her” he added, his voice caught between soft and playful.

Emilia rolled her eyes. “What makes you think I wasn’t honest?” she asked.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards ever so slightly. “She asked me” he noted “And I am well versed in your ‘I’m fine’ game from the long distance part of our relationship. If you’d have told her an honest truth, she wouldn’t have put me on the spot in the first place” he added knowingly.

Emilia breathed out a little laugh, one that was caught somewhere between amusement and awe. “When’d you get to know me so well?” she prodded as she lifted her mug to her lips, taking a sip of her warm drink.

“Somewhere between what felt like a million video calls back to Argentina and the arrival of the little girl upstairs” Lionel quipped, playing along gently.

Emilia smiled gently at his response, allowing another moment of quiet to pass between the two of them, before she let out a quiet sigh. “I do miss Jordi and Sam” she admitted quietly “And of course I am sad that they’re not going to meet Maisie until we go home on your winter break, and that I am going to be out of the loop with their pregnancy too. I miss my job, even if it was just as a personal assistant, and I miss the few friends that I still had after I fell pregnant with Luca. In a strange way, I even kind of miss the routine I had with Isaac. I miss all of that stuff, but I don’t resent you for it, Leo” she explained carefully.

Lionel stared at her, his eyes softening. “You could, though” he mumbled.

“I could” Emilia agreed with a little nod of her head “But how could I when what we have here is just...it’s what I wanted” she mumbled softly.

“What you wanted?” Lionel prodded “You wanted to move across the world?” he added, laughing awkwardly.

“When I realized that this was the only way this was going to work out, yeah” Emilia replied.

“And that’s what you wanted?” Lionel asked “That’s what you still want?” he added.

Emilia’s smile was instant, her nod firm. “This place has grown on me” she mused “Maybe it’s because it’s where you are and I’ve always hated video calls” she added impishly.

Lionel couldn’t stop himself from letting out a laugh.

Emilia leant forwards and collected his hand in hers, pressing a soft kiss against his palm. “I mean it” she mumbled “I might miss a lot of things about home, but that doesn’t mean I hate it here or that I resent you for being here and not there. I fell in love with you, and I knew what that was going to mean, eventually. Maybe it was quicker than I thought it’d be, maybe a little sudden, but I am glad to be here because it’s part of being with you” she explained softly.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “If you weren’t happy...”

Emilia, who’d tugged Lionel’s hand so that it cradled her cheek, turned and kissed his hand again. “If you’re worried...” she said at the same time.

Lionel smiled, gently brushing his thumb over her cheekbone. “I should tell you” he mused.

“And I would tell you” Emilia replied, grinning up at him.

Lionel shook his head. “I’m sorry” he mumbled.

Emilia leant in and kissed him softly. “Don’t be” she whispered as she pulled away “I’m glad that we talked. We should do it” she added.

Lionel gently pushed her hair behind her ear, his eyes mirroring hers, before Maisie’s crying filled the room, causing him to quirk a gentle smile. Leaning forwards, he kissed her again, lingering in it for a few long seconds before he pulled back, just far enough to press a firm kiss against her forehead. “I want you to be happy” he murmured “It matters to me that you’re happy. Luca and Maisie too. That’s...that’s all this is. I know you love me, and I love you, Emmy, so much. I don’t doubt our connection. Honestly, since Jordi’s wedding, I don’t think I’ve doubted that once” he fussed softly.

“Good” Emilia mumbled as she tilted her head back to look up at him, offering him a slow smile.

Lionel smiled back at her, stealing another quick kiss, before he made his move to walk out of the room, only to pause when Emilia grasped a hold of his hand. Quirking his eyebrow slightly, he offered her a look, causing Emilia to shrug and grin at him. Shaking his head, he squeezed her hand softly before they both walked out of the room, both feeling much lighter than they had when they’d walked in.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)