All This Time

38: Because?

Sleepily ruffling his hair, Lionel perched on the edge of Amelia’s sofa, his ears filled with the distant sound of the shower running in the bathroom. It had been his idea to stay on the sofa. After spending an entire evening cooing over their new relationship, the last thing Lionel had wanted to do was move things along too quickly, and whilst he had been reluctant to leave the apartment, he had wanted to give Amelia some space, knowing that the previous night had been harder for her than it had been for him. He had enjoyed himself. After they had cleared the air with Henri and Felicity, he had allowed himself to relax and to enjoy being introduced to a lot of the important people in Amelia's life, but he knew that she had had a tougher time, even if she had tried to cover it with playful smiles. The fact that she hadn’t said a word on the drive home told him everything he needed to know.

Rubbing his jaw softly, he allowed a soft yawn to tumble out of his mouth before he heard Amelia clear her throat, something which caused him to tilt his head up to look at her, a faint smile pulling at his lips. “Morning” he said, his voice croaky with sleep.

“Morning” Amelia replied, twisting a damp piece of hair around her finger “I just wanted to ask if you have to go. I know for a fact that none of my nosy friends or family are planning on dropping by, so if you’re free, we could go and grab breakfast or something. I don’t know if you’re tired of me after last night, but I thought I’d ask” she added, letting out a nervous laugh.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards a little more before he shook his head. “I’ve got a recovery session later” he mused “But do you think that we could eat here, instead? I like it being just the two of us” he added.

Amelia’s cheeks flushed a soft shade of pink as she smiled bashfully down at her feet. “I think I can handle that” she mused.

“You’ve been shopping this week?” Lionel chirped impishly.

Amelia huffed out a laugh. “I might have thought that you might stay over” she admitted “So maybe I made sure to go out and do it, just in case” she added.

“Just for me?” Lionel teased.

Amelia offered him a playful roll of her eyes before she retreated back into her bedroom, stopping only to call over her shoulder. “Get started on something” she chirped “I’ll be with you in a few minutes” she added.

Lionel watched the bedroom door swing closed again before he leant back into the sofa, smiling goofily to himself.

“How do you think last night went?”

Amelia, who was pushing the last of her food around her plate, let out a quiet sigh at the question before she looked up, finding Lionel watching her with a familiar, half curious, half concerned expression on his face. She had been expecting the question. Despite her best attempts to keep the atmosphere light, she knew that Lionel had been itching to ask it, and she knew that she had to answer it.

She had been quiet the night before. After the party had finished, and she had been tucked into the passenger seat of Lionel’s car, she had found words difficult to come by, and she knew that it was something she needed to explain to him. She had liked having him there. After she had left him with Henri and come back to find the two of them grinning like old friends, the tension that she had been carrying since she had walked in had dissipated, but it had room for her to be more aware of other things, things she had put out of her mind to focus on worrying about how her mother would react to Lionel.

“Everyone loved you” Amelia replied, spearing the last piece of food with her fork.

“I know that” Lionel’s voice was playful, something which caused Amelia's lips to quirk up reluctantly “But you know that’s not what I am asking” he added.

Amelia chewed the forkful of food for a long moment, long enough for her to think over what she wanted to say, before she sighed, settling the fork down onto the plate. “The party was fine” she said “And I really liked you being there, but some of the other stuff was...was harder than I was maybe expecting. There were a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen since wedding, let alone my divorce, and they had questions, and those that didn’t have questions gave me that look I hate. I also maybe didn’t enjoy hearing Henri pledge his undying love for my mother in a way that sounded too similar to the speech that...that my ex gave at our wedding” she explained, fiddling with the end of the fork to avoid looking up into what she was sure would be Lionel’s sympathetic face.

She hated that it had bothered her. She had known what she was getting into, her mother’s anniversary party was always going to be about her wonderful marriage, and was always going to involve seeing a lot of relatives that Amelia, either consciously or unconsciously, had been avoiding, and she hated that part of her had disliked being there. She wanted to be happy for her mother. Henri was a good man, and he was easily the best thing that could have happened to Felicity after Amelia's father had died, but as much as she had tried to keep Fernando from her mind, it had been nearly impossible, and she hated that. She hated that he still had enough power over her to take away from her happiness for those around her.

Lionel watched her for a second before he tentatively reached out, placing his hand over hers.

Amelia startled slightly before she turned her hand over, gently knitting their fingers together. “I don’t want to keep talking about Nando, and I tried so hard to keep him out of my mind, but it was hard” she murmured.

“I know” Lionel replied “But you did have some fun, didn’t you?” he posed, offering her a playful smile.

Amelia couldn’t stop herself from smiling back at him, appreciating his attempts to brighten the mood, before she nodded her head. “I did” she confirmed.

“Because…?” Lionel teased.

Amelia let out a laugh, shaking her head. “Because my new boyfriend was there too and I, much like most of my family, like him an awful lot” she played along.

Lionel squeezed her hand again before he brought it to his lips, kissing the back of it gently. He knew it was something he was going to have to live with for a while. Fernando wasn’t something that Amelia could just forget, and he knew that she was still learning to handle what had happened between them, but he was optimistic, even if it was cautiously so. He thought that they had something good, and that Amelia thought it too.