All This Time

12: That’s Fair

Lionel looked away first, a shaky laugh falling out of his mouth as he turned towards the front door, pushing it closed again. He didn’t know what to say. Amelia’s confession had been sudden, and he was reeling from it, but he knew that he couldn’t just leave, even if that had been his first instinct. Amelia had said it. Whether she was drunk or not, she had broached the subject that they had both been so carefully avoiding, and he knew that leaving it hanging between them would only erase the progress their friendship had made. She couldn’t unsay it and he couldn’t pretend that he hadn’t heard it.

“Leo?”

Lionel kept his stare on the closed door for a moment longer, trying in vain to get his thoughts in order, before he slowly turned to look at Amelia. “Is this really a conversation that you want to have right now?” he asked quietly “This...This isn’t a conversation that you can start and back out of. If you’re not ready to do this now, say so” he added.

“I’ve already said it” Amelia said quietly.

Lionel nodded his head slowly before he took a step away from the door, crossing his arms over his chest. “Do you mean it?” he asked.

Amelia, who’d been staring down at his feet, looked up at his face before she offered him one short nod. “I do” she confirmed.

“Can you understand why I might struggle to believe it?” Lionel pressed, trying his hardest to keep his voice level. It was hard. From the moment the words had fallen out of Amelia’s mouth, his head had been spinning, and trying to keep himself composed was a tough task. Part of him wanted to yell, to ask why she had thrown out a revelation that had blown apart his world like it was nothing, but the other part of him was itching to hear what she had to say.

“You don’t believe me?” Amelia asked with a frown.

“I didn’t say that” Lionel said “I just...You just threw it out at me, Amelia. What exactly am I supposed to think?” he pressed.

Amelia shrugged helplessly. She didn’t know what to say to him.

Lionel rubbed his forehead, taking a second to calm himself down, before he looked at her again. “What do you mean you almost went with me?” he asked gently.

Amelia closed her eyes, allowing the question to hang in the air for a moment, before she leant back into the couch, pulling her knees up towards her chest. “I know how this looks” she said “You think it’s about Fernando, don’t you?” she asked.

“Is it?” Lionel prodded.

Amelia shook her head. “I have known you since we were teenagers” she said “I’ve cared about you since we were teenagers. I...I thought that there was something there, maybe, but you...you never said a word and so I decided that it was probably just me, so I moved on and I met Fernando. And then it happened. You were there, telling me things I had dreamed of you saying to me and it was...it was almost enough, but I couldn’t do it, Leo. I couldn’t hurt Fernando that way. I loved him” she added with another helpless shrug.

Lionel sunk down onto the couch beside her, his hand rubbing at his forehead in shock.

Amelia watched him silently, waiting for the moment he turned to look at her, his eyes wide and vulnerable. “I...I didn’t know that you...you really felt that way?” he asked.

Amelia’s answering shrug was small and accompanied by a rueful half smile. “You never asked” she said “Not until it was too late. I know that things are messy now, but I loved Fernando then. I had convinced myself that I wanted to marry him, and I couldn’t not do it, no matter how big a part of me wanted to take your hand and run away. I didn’t realise until after everything with Gianna that I...I knew I was making a mistake before I walked up the aisle. I knew it before you got there too. I thought it was just cold feet, but it wasn’t. I shouldn’t have married him” she added.

Without thinking, Lionel moved to take her hand, knotting their fingers together in her lap.

Amelia gently drew her thumb over the back of his hand, wordlessly thanking him for the comfort.

“Was it me you wanted, or was it just not Fernando?” Lionel’s voice was quiet and shaky.

Amelia’s head snapped up. “What?” she asked.

“Would you have almost taken any hand?” Lionel asked “Or were you tempted to go because it was me?” he clarified.

“Leo...”

“You’re hurting over him, Amelia” Lionel interrupted, turning his head to meet her stare “It’s so easy to look back at everything that happened through the haze of you hurting over him now. I saw you together. I know how you felt about him, how excited you were to marry him. I think it was just cold feet, and now you think it’s something else because he ended up being an asshole” he explained.

“You can’t explain my own feelings to me” Amelia shot back, snatching her hand out of his so that she could stand up.

“And you can’t just toss out the fact that you had a crush on me years ago” Lionel countered, following her off of the couch.

“But you get to show up on my wedding day and profess your feelings to me?” Amelia said “Because that was so fucking fair, wasn’t it? Do you know that I spent most of my honeymoon thinking about you? I was on a beach with my gorgeous brand new husband, and all I could think about was you. Of how badly I had hurt you, and how much I wished we had had the conversation so much sooner. How I wished you’d said something before Fernando, because you had so much opportunity to. Instead, you showed up on my wedding day and put me in an impossible situation and then you fucking disappeared on me. You didn’t answer the messages I left for you, you just cut me out, punishing me for the fact that after years of friendship, you put me on the spot less than an hour before I was supposed to marry another man!” she yelled.

Lionel’s expression sobered, all of his frustration and anger disappearing.

“You don’t get to be pissed at me for choosing Fernando” Amelia’s voice was quieter, but the anger was still obvious “And you don’t get to try and explain how I feel, or how I felt, about anything to me. You had so many chances. I was always there, but you didn’t take any of them. You waited until the worst possible moment and then you punished me for not wanting to hurt the guy I had promised to marry” she added.

“Amelia...”

“Get out” Amelia cut in “This conversation was a mistake” she added.

Lionel’s mouth snapped shut before he nodded. “Fine” he muttered before he strode to the front door and left, slamming it after himself.

Amelia flinched at the sound before she sunk back onto the couch, letting out a loud, frustrated groan into her hands.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)