All This Time

01: A Million Miles Away

“Amelia, we’re going to be late”

Amelia blew out a shaky breath, reluctantly pulling her stare away from the tan line on her finger to check that her mother hadn’t appeared in the doorway, before she shook her head, forcing herself up to her feet. Her hand felt strangely empty. Even despite everything that had happened, she had been remarkably reluctant to slide off the engagement ring and wedding band that she wore, but she knew that it was time. The divorce had gone through, and the tiny spark of hope that she had had that she and Fernando would figure things out had died when she had seen his signature beside her own.

“I just need a couple more minutes” Amelia called back, pulling a pair of socks out of a drawer.

“Fine” Felicity called back “But then we really do have to leave. I’d like to be at the restaurant before your sister arrives” she added.

Amelia nodded to herself before she settled back at the foot of the bed, pulling her socks onto her feet. For a second, she didn’t look at her hand. She was determined not to, but when she moved to pull on her second sock, she caught sight of the tan line again and she felt the same drop in her chest she did every time she had looked at it in the handful of weeks that had passed since her marriage had officially ended. It had been over for months. She had left their home after she had discovered the secret he’d been keeping from her and she hadn’t set for inside of it again, but still she felt strange now that the end had been officially finalised.

Closing her eyes, she let out a tired sigh before she jumped, feeling a hand squeeze her shoulder. Glancing up quickly, she offered her mother a feeble smile before she stood up, ducking out of her mother’s grasp. “I just need to put my shoes on” she announced, collecting the pair of boots that she had left out.

“You know your sister would get it” Felicity said carefully.

Amelia’s hands stilled for a second before she shook her head, her eyes firmly fixed on the laces she was trying to tie. “I’m fine” she said.

“Amelia...”

“I am tired of this thing dragging me down, mama. It’s my sister’s birthday, and I want to be there for it. Can I just do that?” Amelia’s voice was harsher than she had intended, so harsh that Felicity flinched slightly.

“I’m sorry” Felicity said quietly.

Amelia shook her head, deflating slightly. “I’m sorry” she said “I didn’t mean to snap. I just...I don’t want to think about it any more, and I get annoyed with myself because I can’t seem to stop myself. I want to go tonight, mama. I want to be there for Thea” she added looking up at her mother, pleading with her to believe what she was saying.

Felicity was quiet for a beat before she leant over, placing a kiss on the crown of Amelia’s head. “I just want to help” she murmured “I hate seeing you still so hurt” she added.

Amelia melted into the hug that her mother had wrapped her in for a moment before Felicity drew away, leaving another kiss on the crown of her head. “Come on” she said “If we don’t go now, your sister is going to think we forget about her” she added.

Amelia let out a soft laugh, something which made Felicity smile at her sadly. It was a sound that was all to rare lately.

Amelia noticed the way her mother was looking at her, but she didn’t say anything. She knew that no matter how many times she said she was OK, her mother probably still wouldn’t believe her.

~#~
Drumming her fingers against the stem of her wine glass, Amelia titled her head, once again unable to resist staring at the unfamiliar ring around her finger. She had tried to stop herself. When she had sat down with her mother and sister, she had eagerly joined in their conversations, determined to not get lost in her own thoughts again, but as the night had worn on, her determination had faded, and she had found herself getting lost in staring at her hand again, still trying to get used to the strange emptiness she felt.

“Lia?”

Thea’s voice caused Amelia to startle, almost tipping the glass of wine she held over. “Huh?” she spluttered.

“Are you OK?” Thea asked, trying not to smile at the near miss “You look like you’re a million miles away” she added.

Amelia briefly thought about shrugging and playing it off, but instead, she shook her head and exhaled a quiet sigh. “I was thinking about heading home, actually” she said.

“Is something wrong?” Felicity pressed.

Amelia immediately shook her head. “No” she said “I just don’t think I am the most fun right now. Do you mind if I head out, Thea?” she prodded.

Thea hesitated, but she shook her head, offering Amelia a soft smile. “I’m glad you came” she said.

“Really?” Amelia’s voice was warm and teasing despite how tired her smile looked.

Thea scoffed. “Really” she insisted “You know I love spending time with you” she added.

“Now that we don’t share a house, sure” Amelia quipped.

Thea laughed and stood up, eagerly wrapping her older sister in a tight hug. “Seriously, it was good to see you” she mumbled

“Enjoy the rest of your night” Amelia mused “Happy birthday, Thea” she added before she stepped back. Ignoring the worried look that her mother shot her, she pulled her jacket around her shoulders and collected her bag before she moved to walked out of the dining room. Stuffing her hands in her pockets, she dodged around other customers, desperate to get to the door.

“Amelia?”

Amelia, who had one foot out of the door, stopped suddenly at the sound of her name. She hadn’t heard the voice that had said it in over a year. Drawing her foot back over the threshold, she slowly looked over the crowd before she felt a tug on the sleeve of her coat, drawing attention to the man who stood close behind her. His expression was uncertain. There was the start of a smile on his face, but it was small and bashful, like he wasn’t quite sure if he should smile at her or not, and his grip on her jacket was loose, like he had reached for it before he had thought and regretted it but couldn’t back out of the decision.

Amelia just stared at him for a second before she let out a shaky laugh. “Leo” she breathed.

Lionel let her jacket slip through his fingers, dropping his hand back to his side. “Sorry” he said.

“It’s OK” Amelia breathed.

“I should let you go” Lionel mused “I just...It’s been a long time” he added.

Amelia ducked her head, trying to hide her flinch at the thought of the last time they had seen one another. “It...it has” she agreed.

Lionel stared at her and Amelia stared at him, both waiting for the other to speak before they let out nervous laughs and looked away. “Are you on your way out?” Lionel asked.

Amelia swallowed and nodded. “I was having dinner with my mother and Thea” she mused “I wasn’t feeling dessert” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “How about a drink?” he asked “If you’ve got time, if you want to. You don’t have to” he added quickly.

Amelia thought for a moment, a long moment, before she finally nodded. “OK” she agreed.