All This Time

51: You’re Not Where You Thought You Would Be

Tiredly rubbing the space between her eyebrows, Amelia pulled away from her laptop, tired of not being able to focus on the spreadsheet that filled its screen. She had been trying to focus on it for hours. Despite having a few days out of the office for the holidays, she had insisted that she would be able to find some time to go over some paperwork before she headed back, but between missing Lionel, and reeling from the news that her younger sister was pregnant, she had found it hard to focus, something which was steadily making her more and more frustrated. She hated that she was upset. The news that Thea and Charlie were going to be parents was wonderful, and, mostly, Amelia was thrilled for them, but she couldn’t deny that her heart had sunk a little when she had seen the onesie laid out on the bed ahead of her, a reaction she felt awful for having. She was jealous, and she hated herself for it.

Pulling her hand away from her head, Amelia leant forwards and saved the document before she closed the laptop and placed it back beneath the sofa. Shuffling to her feet, she stifled a soft yawn into her hand as she padded towards the kitchen, flicking the switch on the kettle. After she had pulled a mug from the cupboard, she placed it on the counter before she leant back against it, closing her eyes with a soft sigh. Listening to the soft rumble of the kettle, she heard the sound of voices in the corridor outside and the barks of her neighbours’ dog before she heard a knock at her front door, something which caused her to frown before she moved towards it. Trying to smooth down her messy hair, she pulled the door open, her eyes widening at the sight of Lionel who stood on the other side of the door.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards into a tired smile. “Hi” he greeted.

“I thought you weren’t getting back until tomorrow?” Amelia squeaked.

“I thought I’d surprise you” Lionel replied “Can I come in?” he asked.

Amelia stepped out of the doorway, allowing Lionel to step across the threshold, before she stepped back towards him, wrapping him in the hug that she had been craving for days. Lionel made a small noise in surprise, but didn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around her, his chin rest on the top of her head. “I missed you, too” he mumbled, his voice caught somewhere between soft and teasing.

Amelia didn’t say anything. She just cuddled closer to him.

Lionel lingered in the hug for a few more moments before he pulled out of it, offering Amelia a slightly bemused smile. “Is everything OK?” he asked.

Amelia didn’t meet his eyes, but she nodded her head and quirked a small, bashful smile. “Everything is fine” she said “I’m just...You’ve caught me by surprise. I was probably going to head to bed. My head’s killing me” she added.

Lionel frowned, perturbed by the fact that she wasn’t quite meeting his eyes, but he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he gently pulled her back towards him, pressing a soft kiss to her temple. “Go and get comfortable” he murmured “I’ll make your tea and bring it through. Can I stay?” he asked.

Without hesitation, Amelia nodded. “I’d love that” she said.

Lionel placed another kiss on her temple, smiling slightly against her skin. “I’d love it, too” he murmured.

Watching her thumb as it traced a line back and forth against Lionel’s stomach, Amelia let loose a quiet sigh, cuddling a little closer to his side. He hadn’t pushed her into talking. She had been expecting him to. When he’d bought the mug of tea that he had made for her into the bedroom, she had been anticipating him offering her a sceptical look, or saying something that led her to admitting that there was something on her mind, but he hadn’t. He’d just offered her a smile before he had climbed under the duvet next to her, letting her curl into him whilst he found something to watch on television.

Turning her head slightly, she placed a soft in the middle of his chest, something which caused Lionel to look down at her, his lips lifting into a soft, dopey smile. “You OK?” he asked softly.

“Can I tell you something?” Amelia asked.

“Always” Lionel answered, gently pushing her hair behind her ear.

Amelia reached up, capturing his hand in hers before she settled it against his chest. “My sister is going to have a baby” she said softly “She and Charlie told us all on Christmas day. The little one is due in the summer” she added.

Lionel’s forehead furrowed, something which made Amelia huff out a soft laugh, amused by his confusion. “That’s not what I wanted to tell you” she explained “But to understand what I want to tell you, I had to tell you that” she added.

“OK, good” Lionel said, his expression relaxing into a slightly teasing smile “Because there was a little part of me that was terrified that you were going to tell me that you were pregnant, too. I love you, but we’re not ready for that yet” he added.

Amelia rolled her eyes playfully, trying to ignore the little flutter of butterflies that had kicked up in her stomach when he’d said ‘yet’. “It’s not that” she quipped.

“So what is it, then?” Lionel prodded.

Amelia felt her smile melt away before she let loose another gentle sigh. “It’s not going to make me sound good” she murmured “It’s probably going to make me sound pretty awful, but when I saw the scan photo that Thea was showing to me, I felt my heart sink a little. It’s not that I am not happy for her and Charlie, because I am. I know that Thea’s going to be a wonderful mother, and you should have seen how excited Charlie was, or how excited mama and Henri were, I just...I really thought I’d have done it by now. Thea and Charlie have been together for as long as Fernando and I were together, and whilst they’re going to have a baby...”

“You’re not where you thought you’d be” Lionel finished for her.

Amelia closed her mouth before she gently nodded her head.

Lionel gently brushed his thumb over the back of her hand before he turned to look at her. “Are you unhappy now?” he asked gently.

“No” Amelia replied quickly “That’s not...You know how I feel about you. That’s really not what I am trying to say” she insisted, her voice slightly panicked.

Lionel’s lips quirked amusedly. “I didn’t think it was” he said “I was just...Do you remember what you said to me about making comparisons between me and Fernando?” he asked.

“I told you not to” Amelia answered.

“Then you don’t get to do it, either” Lionel said “You and Fernando were together for as long as Thea and Charlie, but your relationship and theirs are different. You and Thea are different. Charlie and Fernando are different. What is right for them, isn’t necessarily right for you, and vice versa, especially in the context of how your relationship with Fernando ended. I know it’s hard sometimes, but you can’t make comparisons, Amelia. It’s not fair to yourself” he added.

Amelia looked up at him for a moment, her eyes searching his face, before she broke into a reluctant smile. “You’re giving me my own advice?” she quipped.

Lionel smiled back at her softly. “It’s good advice” he said “It’s as applicable to you as it is to me. We’re not them, we’re us, and I happen to think that we’re pretty great together” he added.

Amelia’s smile grew a little more certain before she leant up, pressing her lips to his briefly. “I think you’re right” she murmured.