All This Time

48: I Like That You’re Here

“You’re not going to start a fight, are you?”

Amelia, who hadn’t moved to undo her seatbelt when Lionel had pulled the car to a stop, turned to look at him, her expression not matching the amused one that lit up his features. They had avoided disaster. Thea’s comments had forced the two of them into talking about what had been bothering Amelia, and they had come out of the conversation in a better place than they had entered it, but it didn’t mean that Amelia wasn’t irked at her sister. She knew that she had meant well. Whilst her friends and family had been prepared to give her space when her relationship with Fernando had started, the way that that relationship had ended meant that they had grown more protective of her, and she knew that Thea had only said what she had said because she was trying to look out for her, but it wasn’t lost on her how easily it could have backfired. There was no way Thea could have known how Lionel would have reacted, and if he had decided to call it quits, Amelia would have had little idea what had happened, meaning it would have hurt her even more.

“Why don’t you look annoyed?” Amelia asked.

Lionel shrugged as he slipped the keys out of the ignition. “We’re fine” he answered “And I know that Thea wasn’t trying to do any damage. She might have gone about it the wrong way, but it came from a good place” he added.

Amelia’s expression softened a little, something which caused Lionel to place his hand on her knee, squeezing it gently. “We’re OK” he enthused softly.

Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh before she nodded her head slightly. “You’re right” she said “I won’t start a fight with her, but I will have to say something. I know that she meant well, but I don’t want her to think that she can just say things like that to you. There’s a difference between being protective and what she did” she explained.

Lionel squeezed her knee again, wordlessly agreeing that it was the right course of action, before he moved to climb out of the car. Amelia waited for a second before she followed, taking the hand that he held out towards her. Smiling a little to herself, she squeezed his hand softly as they stood on the porch, waiting for someone to answer the door. “Are you nervous?” she asked.

Lionel, who’d been watching the door, turned back to her with a small, bashful smile. “A little” he answered “I know that there isn’t really a reason to be, but I think I am probably going to be a little nervous around them for a little while. They’re wary, for a lot of reasons, and it’s probably going to take a while for us all to be completely comfortable with one another. Why? Are you nervous about having me here?” he prodded.

Amelia’s lips quirked upwards as she shook her head. “I like that you’re here” she mused.

Lionel’s face lit up with a slightly surprised smile, something which made Amelia giggle before she leant over, kissing him softly.

“Uh” Henri’s voice caused the two of them to draw apart, both smiling bashfully at the older man.

“Sorry” Amelia said, ducking her head to hide her slightly pink cheeks “I didn’t hear the door open” she added.

“It’s fine” Henri mused “Your mother is in the living room with Thea and Charlie. Dinner should be ready pretty soon” he added, stepping out of the doorway to allow the two of them to step into the house.

Amelia moved first, stepping over the threshold and shrugging out of her jacket, before she turned back to the open door, flashing Lionel a small, reassuring smile that was enough to encourage him through the door.

Lifting her wine glass to her lips, Amelia tried, and failed, to stifle her soft smile, her eyes fixed on Lionel who was stood on the opposite side of the room, talking happily to Charlie and Henri as they hung decorations on the tree that had been put up in the corner of the room. She had kept him slightly in the dark about what was going to happen that night. She had been worried that if she had admitted that her mother and stepfather had a tradition of waiting until she and Thea could be present to put up the Christmas tree, then Lionel would have tried to back out, not quite ready to be initiated into her family’s traditions, but he hadn’t hesitated to join in. He had been cautious about it, but after a little coaxing from Felicity, and pleading from Charlie who’d asked him to join in so that he wasn’t the only outsider, he’d grown into it, something which made Amelia smile. She wanted him to feel welcome.

“Lia, put the glass down and get over here. It’s not even my tree and I have done more to decorate it than you”

Amelia blinked a couple of times, surprised by the sound of Charlie’s voice, before she rolled her eyes, scoffing playfully. Leaning forwards, she placed her glass down onto the coffee table before she padded across the room, taking the decoration that Charlie was holding out to her. “You know” she mused “I think I preferred it when you were quiet when you came over” she added.

Charlie poked his tongue out playfully, causing Amelia to laugh as she leant over, playfully pushing his shoulder so that she could step in front of him.

“How long have you and Thea been together, Charlie?” Lionel prodded, placing another decoration into Amelia’s hand when she reached out towards him.

“Three years now” Charlie replied.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “When did you stop being quiet here?” he asked, letting out a nervous laugh.

Charlie quirked a small, understanding smile before he shrugged. “It takes time” he quipped “Felicity is kind of scary” he added.

“I heard that” Felicity, who was sat at the dining table, wrapping presents, quipped.

Charlie’s cheeks flushed a soft shade of pink before he held up a hand in apology. “Sorry” he said.

Felicity didn’t glance up from what she was wrapping. “It’s OK” she said “But you and Fernando need to hurry up and finish decorating that tree so that I can take a picture of us all together” she added.

Amelia felt her stomach drop as she watched Lionel’s head drop, his cheeks flushing pink.

Thea, who was sat beside her mother, kicked her beneath the table as both Henri and Charlie ducked their heads, feeling the jovial atmosphere in the room disappear to be replaced by something heavy and uncomfortable. “It’s Leo, mama” she corrected.

Felicity’s head snapped up. “Oh, god” she squeaked “I am...I am so sorry, Leo. I wasn’t paying attention” she added.

Lionel felt every eye in the room on him before he lifted his head, forcing the most convincing smile he could as he looked over at Felicity. “It’s OK” he said.

“Leo” Amelia murmured softly, reaching for his hand.

Lionel merely offered her a smile, hoping that she would believe it. He knew that it was going to take some time. Fernando had been a part of Amelia’s family, and despite everything that he’d done, it was going to take them a while to move past it, but Felicity’s slip of the tongue was an unneeded reminder that he was still a long way from being what Fernando had been, both to Amelia, and to her family.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)