All This Time

40: That’s Not Nothing

“Amelia, please. Open the door”

Amelia, who was still sat against the foot of the door, didn’t move. Instead, she sat completely still, listening to the sound of Fernando’s shuffled footsteps before there was a soft thump against the door, something Amelia would have guessed at being Fernando’s forehead gently bumping against it. She wanted him to disappear. As unlikely as it was after he’d kissed her, Amelia just wanted him to walk away from the door without another word, but she knew that he wouldn’t, and that eventually, if only to avoid complaints from her neighbours, she would open the door and let him in.

She knew what he would say. For a moment, before Lionel’s face had appeared in her mind, and before she had realised what she was doing, she had leant into the kiss, and she knew that it was the sort of thing that Fernando had been waiting for. She knew that he’d think it was a sign that she wasn’t quite as over him as she’d have him believe, and that there was very little she could say to refute it. She had excuses. She had been drinking, and when he’d kissed her, for a brief moment, she had been lost in all of the memories that were wrapped up in his kiss, but she knew that it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be enough to convince that it wasn’t more than just a kiss, nor would it be enough to convince Lionel that that was all it was.

“Baby, you can’t just leave me out here” Fernando’s voice was soft as he gently knocked on the door again “I just want to talk, Lia. Please” he added.

Amelia pressed her palms against her eyes for a moment, trying to stop them from stinging, before she slowly pulled herself up to her feet. Staring at the closed door for a second, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand before she pulled it open.

Fernando, who’d been resting against the door, stumbled slightly when it moved before he took a pace backwards, wordlessly waiting for a sign from Amelia about what to do next. Amelia didn’t say anything either. She just stepped away from the door, leaving it open behind her. Fernando hesitated for a split second before he followed after her, gently closing the front door behind himself. The sound of the door clicking shut resonated in the quiet apartment for a few moments before Fernando turned around, watching Amelia disappear into her bedroom.

He thought about following her, but decided against it. Instead, he padded a little further into the room, studying the pictures that had been neatly arranged on a shelf behind the sofa. He wasn’t surprised to find that he wasn’t in any of them. When Amelia had left their home, all she had taken with her was a suitcase full of clothes and important documents that she’d need, and it meant that all of the pictures of the two of them together were still with him, safely tucked up in a box in the back of his closet. With a soft sigh, he studied the pictures until he heard the bedroom door open again, allowing Amelia, now dressed in an oversized sweatshirt, to pad back into the living room.

“Is this Una or Molly’s new baby?” Fernando asked, turning back to the pictures of the shelf.

Amelia blinked a couple of times, caught off guard by the question, before she stepped closer to his side, staring up at the picture. “Maya” she replied.

“She’s cute” Fernando mused “Looks like Stefan” he added.

Amelia's lips quirked upwards despite herself, but she was quick to pull them back down, allowing an awkward silence to fill the air for a few moments before Fernando sighed, turning his stare to Amelia. “Baby...”

“Please, stop calling me that” Amelia interrupted, her voice shaking slightly.

Fernando nodded his head tightly. “Sorry” he murmured “It’s a habit” he added.

Amelia fiddled with the sleeves of her jumper, determinedly avoiding Fernando’s stare. “Nothing has changed, Nando” she murmured softly.

Fernando inhaled a deep breath before he exhaled it slowly, shaking his head. “You kissed me, too” he noted “I felt it, Amelia. That’s not nothing” he added.

Amelia closed her eyes, trying to ward off another film of tears, before she looked up at him, hoping that the expression on her face would help convince him. “I can’t keep doing this with you” she said “You can’t keep showing up here. I have told you that before. And the surprised me, and for a second, a split second, I got lost in it, but it isn’t something that’s going to happen again, or change my mind about us. This...we’re over, Nando, and I really need you to start accepting that, because all you’re doing is making things harder on me” she added, trying to keep her voice from shaking.

“Maybe it’s hard because you know we’re not finished with each other” Fernando countered.

“It’s hard because you seem to think just being here will be enough to make it right” Amelia said “Just like you thought telling me that you broke things off with Gianna before you proposed would somehow make me feel better. You either can’t or won’t see the damage you did to me. You think words will work, or just hanging around, looking for a window, and you’re not listening to me. I don’t want this, Fernando. I don’t want you” she added, just about stopping herself from yelling the words at him.

Fernando swallowed, his hand awkwardly rubbing his jaw.

Amelia's expression softened before she turned to look at him fully. “It’s done, Nando” she whispered “And it’s not changing” she added.

Fernando dipped his head, gently resting his forehead against hers.

Amelia didn’t move away, her eyes fluttering closed. “I know it’s a lot to ask” she said quietly “I know how hard moving on is, trust me, but I need to ask you to let me go. To let me move on, and be happy. I want that for you. Despite everything, I want you to find something that makes you happy, and I need you to let me have the same thing. I am begging you, Nando” she added.

Fernando lifted a hand, gently smoothing down Amelia’s hair before he leant up, kissing her forehead gently. “OK” he whispered, moving to rest her his head against hers again. It was the last time, he knew it, and he was going to hold onto the moment for as long as he could.

“Promise me” Amelia said quietly “Promise me that this is it, Nando. No more surprise visits. No more phone calls. A clean break, for real this time” she added.

“I promise” Fernando replied.

Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh, something which made Fernando’s lips quirk up into a sad smile. “I hope he knows how unbelievably lucky he is to have you” he said gently “Leo, that is. I hope he doesn’t make the biggest mistake I did and take you for granted” he added.

Amelia pulled her head back, offering him a sad smile of her own. “I don’t know that he’s going to get much of a chance” she mumbled, slipping her hands into the pocket of her jumper “Once I tell him about tonight, I think it’ll be over before it really started” she added.

“Don’t tell him” Fernando quipped.

Amelia scoffed, shaking her head. “That’s not an option” she replied “It only makes things worse” she added.

Fernando nodded his head slowly. The fact that Amelia was talking about him wasn’t lost on him. Stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets, he shuffled towards the door before he opened it, pausing on the threshold. “I do know how badly I hurt you” he murmured “I understand why you’d think I don’t, but I do. I can see it when you look at me. Your eyes don’t look the same now, and any smile you’ve given me since you left, it hasn’t been the same. I took that...that spark you had for me away and I know it, and I am going to regret it for a very long time. I just...I hoped that there would still be enough of something here for us” he added, flashing her a rueful smile before he stepped out and closed the door behind himself.

Amelia stared at the closed door before she turned and padded towards her bedroom, already thinking about the next time she saw Lionel. She had to tell him. Regardless of what had happened after the kiss, it had still happened and she knew she had to admit it. No one else had seen it, there was no one else that would tell him, but still Amelia was adamant that she wouldn’t keep it a secret, even if it did mean she ran the risk of losing him. She couldn’t hide it from him.