All This Time

24: It Wasn’t Just A Bad Dream, Was It?

Propping his feet up on the mattress, Lionel settled into the chair beside the bed, watching Amelia sleep over the rim of the mug that Felicity had thrust into his hands almost as soon as he stepped foot outside of the room. Amelia had told him that he didn’t have to stay. In the aftermath of Fernando’s appearance at her birthday party, it had quickly become clear that Amelia heading back to her apartment to spend the night alone was a bad idea, so Felicity and Henri had convinced her to stay for the night, but Amelia hadn’t wanted him to stay. She didn’t want him to see her fall apart again.

It had been inevitable. From the moment that both Lionel and Amelia had heard Fernando’s voice, the end result had been easily predictable, and Lionel knew that Amelia hated that he’d been there to see it. He knew things were bad. He knew what Fernando had done, and how badly it still affected Amelia, but he hadn’t witnessed just how badly their relationship had deteriorated until the previous night, and he knew that it was something Amelia had tried to keep him away from. She didn’t want him to be stuck in the middle of her and Fernando, but the previous night had made it clear that that was already where he was.

Letting out a quiet sigh, Lionel leant towards the bedside table, setting his mug down before he heard the mattress squeak, causing him to look back at the bed just as Amelia rolled onto her side, her eyes fluttering open. When she saw him sitting beside the bed, she frowned slightly before she looked up at the ceiling, letting out a sleepy laugh. “This isn’t my bedroom” she huffed.

“Technically, I think it is” Lionel quipped, playing along “At least, it was” he added.

Amelia turned to look at him, grinning. “You’ve been talking to my mother” she said.

“She made me coffee” Lionel quipped, gesturing to the mug on the side table “I was just being polite. She let me stay last night, after all” he added.

The grin on Amelia's face faded at the mention of the previous night. “It wasn’t just some awful dream, was it?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t want to shake his head, but he knew that he had to. “Afraid not” he said regretfully.

Amelia let out a quiet sigh, but didn’t say anything, something which encouraged Lionel to climb out of his chair and pad to the other side of the bed. Settling against the pillows, he turned onto his side, gently pushing Amelia's messy hair away from her eyes which were watching him. When he still didn’t speak, Amelia quirked a soft smile. He was waiting for her to say something, to decide the way the interaction continued, and it meant a lot to her that he wasn’t just pushing her into talking. She knew other people would want to talk about what had happened, that they would want to know how she felt, but she hadn’t gotten it figured it out and she was grateful for the opportunity to avoid it for a little longer.

“Where’d you sleep?” Amelia asked.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards into an understanding smile before he gestured towards the chair on the opposite side of the bed.

Amelia followed his gesture before she let out a soft gasp. “You didn’t” she squeaked.

“Someone beat me to the sofa” Lionel quipped with a little shrug “And when I came in here, you were spread out across the whole bed. It was the only place available. It wasn’t bad, though, and your mother supplied me with a wonderfully warm blanket. It was fine, Amelia” he insisted.

“You should have woken me” Amelia protested “I’d have made room for you” she added.

Lionel shook his head. “I was fine” he said “Besides, you looked exhausted when you finally decided to go to sleep. I didn’t want to disturb you” he added.

Amelia's expression softened for a moment, and Lionel thought that it was the moment that she decided to talk about what had happened with Fernando, but she was quick to shake it away. “Is everyone else awake?” she asked.

“Your mother is” Lionel answered “And I think I heard Henri moving around when I was on my way back up here, but your sister is still sound asleep in the living room with her boyfriend. Why?” he asked.

“I was wondering if I could sneak out” Amelia replied “But if my mother is awake, then there’s no chance” she added.

Lionel offered her a slightly pointed look, something which caused Amelia to exhale a quiet sigh, wordlessly admitting that she knew that he was right. The people downstairs cared about her. Her mother, her sister and her stepfather were worried about her, and she knew that avoiding them wasn’t the right way to handle it, even if she was still reeling from Fernando’s appearance at her party. They were the people that loved her the most and she had to, at the very least, give them the chance to see that she was alright.

“Your mother’s already making breakfast” Lionel said gently “Just stay for that” he added.

“OK” Amelia agreed.

“I am going to go, though” Lionel quipped, flashing her a small, teasing smile.

“But I have to stay?” Amelia played along, smiling back at him gently.

“They’re your family” Lionel reasoned “And I have somewhere else I need to be” he added.

Amelia arched an eyebrow playfully, but before she could get out whatever playful reply she had been thinking of, Lionel leant in, brushing his lips over hers. It was quick, but it was so soft and careful that, when he pulled away, Amelia had no idea what to say to him, something which caused him to smile at her sheepishly. “We were interrupted last night” he said gently.

Amelia nodded, the starts of a dazed smile pulling up the corners of her lips. “We were” she confirmed.

“Text me later” Lionel said “Enjoy this morning, Amelia” he added before he moved to leave the room.

Amelia watched the door close after him before she lifted her fingers to her lips, ghosting them over her skin as she smiled to herself. She didn’t know why they had waited as long as they had.