All This Time

49: You

“Are you staying?”

Lionel, who’d been pushing Amelia’s front door closed after himself, nodded his head wordlessly as he shrugged his jacket off of his shoulders, trying to ignore the soft sigh that Amelia let out somewhere behind him. He knew that she wasn’t upset with him. Amelia wasn’t upset with anyone, not even her mother who had exchanged his name for that of her ex-husband, she was merely hurt because he was hurt. He didn’t want to be. Felicity hadn’t meant to do it, and he knew that it hadn’t come from her missing Fernando, or resenting the fact that Lionel was with Amelia instead of the other man, but the knowledge had done little to soften the blow he’d felt in his chest when the word had hung in the air.

Hanging his jacket on the hook beside the door, he toed off his shoes before he turned around, his eyes settling on Amelia who was sat on the couch, watching him carefully. Letting out a quiet sigh, he scratched his jaw awkwardly before he shook his head, a pained smile on his face. “Do you not want me to stay?” he asked.

“Of course I do” Amelia replied.

“Then why are you looking at me like that?” Lionel retorted.

“Leo...”

“She said the wrong name, Amelia” Lionel interrupted, his voice a little sharper than he would have liked it to be “It’s not the end of the world. She called me by the name of her former son-in-law, a man who has spent Christmases with her, a man she probably envisaged spending a lot more Christmases with. It’s an easy mistake to make, really” he added, letting out a humourless laugh.

Amelia ducked her head at the sound, something which caused Lionel to exhale another sigh, deflating slightly as he moved to sit down on the coffee table ahead of her. “I didn’t mean to snap. I am sorry” he murmured “It just...it bothers me more than I would like it to. I know that it’s stupid” he added, reaching out to tuck her hair back off of her face.

Amelia leant into his touch. “She didn’t mean it” she said gently “You know that, don’t you?” she asked.

“I do” Lionel confirmed with a reluctant nod.

“She likes you” Amelia insisted, twisting her fingers in the hem of his t-shirt “And you know how she feels about Fernando. It was a stupid thing to say, but it wasn’t her trying to unsettle you, or be spiteful. It just slipped out. She feels awful about it” she added, peeking up at him through her eyelashes.

She knew that he knew it, but still she wanted to say it out loud. Felicity had made a mistake. She hadn’t been paying attention, and clearly she had been lost in thoughts about nights similar to that one, but she hadn’t said Fernando’s name in an attempt to hurt Lionel, or make him feel as though he wasn’t welcome. She liked him. Despite her worries that Amelia was moving on too quickly, she liked the Argentine, and the last thing she wanted was to make him feel like she didn’t.

Lionel shook his head. “She doesn’t need to” he said “It was just a slip of the tongue. Can you call her and tell her not to worry?” he asked.

“Tomorrow” Amelia replied.

Lionel nodded his head slightly, but didn’t say anything, something which caused Amelia to lean towards him, gently pressing her forehead against his. “I’m sorry for today, and for tonight” she mumbled “I love my family, but since Fernando...” she trailed off, her lips twisting upwards into a rueful grin.

Lionel’s fingers gently tucked another flyaway hair off of her face as he lightly brushed his nose against hers. “They got hurt, too” he murmured “They saw you get hurt, which was awful, but they’d inducted him into your family, so they lost him, too” he added.

Amelia sat up, creating some space between them as she frowned slightly. “Is that what bothered you?” she asked.

Lionel wanted to shake his head, but instead, he let out a quiet sigh, nodding it ever so slightly. “I know it’s not new information” he said “He was your husband, your mother’s son-in-law. I know that, but I just...It was a reminder that, as much as your parents might like me, I am an awfully long way from being to them what he was” he explained, grimacing slightly at his own words.

For a moment, Amelia just frowned to herself, processing what he had said, before she shook her head. “You can’t compare yourself to him” she said.

“Amelia...”

“You’ve asked everyone not to compare the two of you” Amelia interrupted “How can you ask everyone else to do that if you’re going to do it yourself? There are a lot of things that you’re not that Fernando is, and most of them are bad. Yes, he was my husband, and he was a part of my family, but he screwed all of that up, and now you and me, we’re at the beginning of something new. This isn’t a competition. You’re not just some replacement for him. He is him, and you are you, and right now, you’re the one I am in love with. You, and only, you” she insisted.

She couldn’t believe that she had missed it. It ought to have been obvious that what was bothering him was more than just her mother accidentally saying Fernando’s name, and she was amazed that she hadn’t made the connection. He had felt like he was part of something. He had spent the evening with her family, doing things with them that they only did with people that they considered close enough to be family, and when Felicity had said Fernando’s name, it had been a jarring reminder that he wasn’t. He’d been made to feel like he was an outsider, and that he was just filling the space that Fernando had left behind, an idea Amelia immediately wanted to dispel. She hated the idea that he had even thought of comparing the two of them.

Lionel’s expression softened, something that made Amelia cup his jaw, gently guiding his forehead to rest against hers again. “You’re you” she murmured “And I love you” she added.

“I’m sorry” Lionel replied quietly.

Amelia leant forwards, pressing her lips to his.

Lionel sighed gently into the kiss, mumbling a soft ‘I love you’ that made Amelia smile against his lips before she stood up, holding a hand out towards him that he took, allowing her to gently tug him to his feet and towards her bedroom.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)