All This Time

10: I’m Trying

“You did tell Molly that I was coming with you, didn’t you?”

Amelia, who was pulling her sweater over her head, let out an amused laugh when she caught sight of Lionel’s nervous face. She knew that he was worried. In the few weeks that had passed since he’d walked back into her life, the time that they had spent together had always been just the two of them, but after some prompting from Molly, Amelia had extended an invitation for him to join her at a party that her friend was throwing to celebrate her partner’s birthday. She knew why Molly has asked her to invite him. Since Amelia had first told Lionel about what had happened between her and Fernando, they had spent a lot of time together, and she knew that Molly was worried about it, even if she had insisted that she simply wanted to see Lionel again. Amelia knew that she was worried that she and Lionel were getting closer than was good for them.

“She’s not going to be surprised to see you, if that’s what you’re worried about” Amelia replied, tugging her hair loose from her collar “She asked me to invite you” she added.

Lionel, who was leaning against the door frame, frowned. “She did?” he asked.

Amelia nodded, but didn’t meet his eye, busying herself with fussing with her hair in the mirror. She knew that if she looked at him, she would admit that Molly was worried about the two of them, and it wasn’t a conversation that Amelia wanted to start. It was still the one thing they hadn’t talked about. Whilst they had worked their way through what had gone wrong between Amelia and Fernando, and discussed the complicated feelings that Amelia still had for her ex-husband, they hadn’t talked about her wedding day and what Lionel had told her then, but Amelia knew that it was coming. Eventually, they were going to run out of ways to avoid it.

“She said she’d missed you” Amelia said.

Lionel quirked a slightly baffled smile. “I didn’t think she liked me that much” he quipped.

“I’m only telling you what she told me” Amelia quipped, moving to retrieve her shoes.

Lionel watched her, his expression sceptical, but he didn’t question it. It was something he was learning to get used to. They had gotten closer. After Amelia had explained how her marriage had ended, some of the distance that had existed between her and Lionel had disappeared, but it wasn’t going to go away completely until they talked about them and it was something neither of them were in a rush to do. He could live with the awkward silences, the times where he thought about saying something and stopped himself, but he didn’t know that he could handle Amelia pulling away from him again.

“Are you ready to go?”

Lionel, who’d been staring into space, blinked a couple of times before he lifted his head, finding Amelia smiling at him curiously. Quirking a bashful smile, he nodded his head. “Ready when you are” he quipped.

Amelia offered him a small smile before she stepped past him, moving to collect her keys and the present that she had left on the sofa. Stepping towards the front door, she stopped for a second before she turned back around, looking up at Lionel who was trailing after her. “Just...just don’t let Molly scare you” she said softly.

Lionel tilted his head, letting out a confused laugh. “Is she going to try to?” he asked.

Amelia just shrugged before she pulled the front door open and walked through it.

~#~
Smiling warmly, Lionel patted Stefan’s shoulder before the other man strode away, insisting that he would be right back with another drink for the two of them. It hadn’t taken long for him and Amelia to get separated. Almost as soon as they had walked through the front door, Amelia had been swept away by Molly and Una, and Lionel had been left trying to find someone he recognised in a crowd of Amelia’s friends, but he had found Stefan quickly, and the other man had been more than happy to reintroduce him to friends of Amelia’s that he hadn’t seen in a long time.

After Stefan had disappeared into the kitchen, Lionel scanned room, quickly finding Amelia who was laughing as one of Stefan’s uncles swayed her playfully.

“Leo?”

Lionel’s stare moved away from Amelia reluctantly, settling on Molly who’d appeared at his side. “I thought you’d find me eventually” he quipped, his lips quirking upwards slightly into an awkward smile.

Molly mirrored his smile. “You did?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head, his eyes returning to Amelia. “She told me not to let you scare me” he said “I figured that that meant you were going to try and talk to me” he added.

Molly ducked her head, a sheepish laugh falling out of her mouth. “I didn’t know I was so predictable” she quipped.

“It’s not that you’re predictable” Lionel mused “You’re her friend, and she’s gone through something horrible. it’s inevitable that you’re going to want to try and look out for her. Any good friend would do it” he added, his expression softening slightly.

He knew what was coming. Amelia’s warning just before they’d left her apartment had made it obvious, and he wanted Molly to know that he didn’t blame her for it. She was just trying to protect Amelia who, despite all of her attempts to try and hide it, was still hurt and vulnerable after what had happened between her and Fernando.

Molly let out a quiet sigh, her hand gently squeezing his arm to draw his attention back to her. “He really hurt her, Leo” she said softly “I know she’s talked about it, but I don’t know that she’s really let you see that. I can still remember the look on her face when I walked into her mother’s living room. She was inconsolable and whilst she is slightly better now, I don’t think she’s made the progress that she’d have us believe. You know how much she loved him” she added.

Lionel’s eyes traced Molly’s face before he nodded. “I do” he confirmed.

Molly squeezed his arm again. “I’m just asking you to be careful” she said “You’re a complication that I don’t think she’s really ready to handle yet. I know you’ve got stuff you probably want to say to her, but I am asking you to not do it now. Please, don’t make this harder on her than it already is” she added.

Lionel glanced at Amelia briefly before he turned back to Molly, offering her a sombre look. “I’m trying” he said.

Molly smiled at him sadly and squeezed his arm again. “She is glad to have you back around, you know” she said softly.

Lionel smiled slightly. “But you’re not so sure?” he quipped.

Molly shook her head. “She needs all the friends she can get” she said “I just worry that the line between you two isn’t quite as clear as it used to be and that she might do something she regrets later. I’m worried about both of you getting hurt by each other” she added.

Lionel exhaled a soft sigh, but didn’t say anything. He had had the same worry himself.