All This Time

22: Is That Too Much To Ask?

“I know it’s your birthday and everything, but I am kind of on a schedule”

Amelia, who was staring into her wardrobe, quirked a smirk before she leant back, glancing at Molly who was perched on the end of her bed, scrolling through something on her phone. “I did say you had a free pass” she retorted “I mean, you had a baby two weeks ago. I would have understood” she added, ducking back behind the open wardrobe door.

“Stefan can cope with the girls for a couple of hours” Molly replied “It’s your birthday, Amelia. I wanted to be there to celebrate it with you” she added.

Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh as she pulled out a pair of shoes. She knew what Molly wasn’t saying. For the previous three years, Amelia's birthday had been an event that was planned by Fernando, and she wanted to be around to make sure that, in his absence, Amelia didn’t spend the evening by herself, dwelling on what would have been. He always did something special, made a bug fuss of her, and whilst what Molly and Felicity had planned wasn’t the most exciting thing, they both wanted to make sure that Amelia knew that there were still people around to make a big deal out of her birthday. They wanted her to know that there were other people that loved her.

“You know my mother would have made enough fuss for everyone” Amelia quipped as she sat down on the bed.

“I know” Molly replied “But I was the only one with Leo’s phone number. She had to invite me to get it” she added with a playful smirk.

Amelia rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stifle the slight smile that tugged up the corner of her mouth. “Just how many people should I be expecting to see at my mother’s house?” she asked, placing her feet into her shoes.

“A few” Molly replied with a nonchalant shrug.

Amelia glanced at Molly amusedly. “You didn’t have to do this” she said.

“It’s dinner, Lia” Molly retorted “All I did was help your mother with some phone calls and buy you a present” she added.

Amelia allowed the small smile she had been fighting to stretch across her face before she wrapped her arms around Molly, squeezing her tightly. Molly didn’t hesitate, wrapping her arms around Amelia in return. “We just wanted to make sure that you had a good day” she murmured “You deserve it, you know” she added.

Amelia huffed out a self-deprecating laugh as she untangled herself from the hug, but Molly didn’t let her get far, drawing her back in so that she could offer her another reassuring squeeze. Amelia resisted for a moment, knowing that Molly was worried that her mind was still fixed on Fernando, but she eventually gave in, letting out a soft sigh. It wasn’t going to be easy to ignore Fernando’s absence, but she was resolved to try. Her friends and family had gone through a lot of effort for her and she didn’t want to ruin it by focussing on who wasn’t there.

~#~
“Amelia?”

Amelia lifted her head, looking up at Lionel who stood in the doorway that led back inside of her mother’s house. She had thought that someone would come to look for her. With the number of guests slowly dwindling as people headed home for the night, she had known that it would only be a matter of time before someone caught onto the fact that she had disappeared, and she wasn’t entirely surprised that it was Lionel. He, like Molly, Thea and Felicity, had spent most of the night with one eye on her, waiting for the moment that things got too much.

She hadn’t gotten overwhelmed. Whatever reservations she had had about the party, and about her ability to keep her mind off of Fernando, had disappeared when she had seen just how many of her close friends had filled her mother’s living room, but she had still needed a moment of quiet. It was the first time in a long time that the thought of Fernando hadn’t worked it’s way into her head, and it had left her feeling lighter. She felt happy and loved, and that was something she wanted to take a moment to appreciate.

Amelia smiled. “Hi” she said.

Lionel smiled back at her. “Hi” he mimicked.

Amelia swivelled in her seat, making room on the bench she sat on for Lionel to join her. “Sit with me?” she asked.

Lionel hesitated briefly, sending a cautious glance back over his shoulder. “Your mother is trying to get rid of people” he quipped.

“She won’t kick me out” Amelia replied “And you’re my ride since Molly had to get back to Stefan and the girls, so you’re OK” she added.

Lionel spared another look over his shoulder before he stepped towards the bench, sitting down in the space that Amelia had made for him. They were quiet for a little while, content in the silence, before Lionel cleared his throat. “Are you OK?” he asked quietly.

Amelia's lips quirked before she nodded her head, busying herself with a loose thread on her jacket. “I’m really good, actually” she answered “I know that you probably won’t believe it, but tonight was...it was really amazing, and I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate that. I can’t thank my mother or Molly enough for it” she gushed.

Lionel watched her, a tender smile on his face. “You did look like you were enjoying yourself” he said.

“You were watching me?” Amelia's voice was warm and playful.

Lionel let out a slightly surprised laugh, his cheeks pink. “I might have had an eye on you” he replied “I wanted to make sure that you were actually having a good time, not just pretending that you were. Is that wrong of me?” he asked, playing along.

Amelia shook her head, laughing quietly.

Lionel stared at her, watching her laugh and smile, before he gently brushed the hair off of her face, something which drew Amelia's eyes back to his. “I’m glad that you enjoyed it” he said “I don’t think I was the only one worried that you wouldn’t” he added, gently cupping her cheek in the palm of his hand.

Amelia leant into his touch, exhaling a soft sigh. “I know you weren’t” she murmured “Until I got here, I wasn’t sure I would, but it was wonderful” she added.

Lionel gently drew his thumb along her cheekbone, inclining his head towards hers slightly.

Amelia mirrored him, leaning slightly closer, before the sound of raised voices from inside reached her ears, causing her to frown before she ducked out of his grasp. Pushing herself to her feet, she quickly walked back inside of the house, Lionel following close behind her, before she stopped, recognising the voice that was shouting at her stepfather.

Lionel recognised it too, causing him to reach for Amelia's hand, enclosing it in his.

“I just want to say happy birthday to my wife, is that too much to ask?” Fernando’s voice was loud, and his words were slightly slurred.

Amelia slowly pulled her hand from Lionel’s and stepped into the living room, drawing Fernando’s stare towards him. At first he grinned, clearly pleased to have gotten what he wanted, but quickly, his expression soured when his stare drifted over her shoulder and towards the man who stood behind her.