All This Time

53: You Didn’t See Me Then

Quietly depositing a mug of tea onto the bedside table, Lionel sunk back against his pillow, his stare landing on Amelia who was still curled up against her pillow. They didn’t often stay at his place. Amelia, despite often professing that she hated the small apartment that she had come to call home since her divorce, was reluctant to spend the night anywhere else, and Lionel was, more often than not, happy to spend the night wherever she wanted to, and it meant that when he had found her stood on his front doorstep in the middle of night, he had been more than surprised.

She had asked if she could see him. When he had called her just before midnight, she had asked if she could come over, but she had backtracked on the request quickly when he had hesitated, and it meant that the sight of her on his doorstep, her eyes watery and her smile slightly shaky, had knocked him for six. He knew that the party hadn’t gone to plan. As much as Amelia had tried to keep the wobble out of her voice when they’d talked, she hadn’t even come close to being successful, but the extent of how much she had struggled with it had surprised him.

It wasn’t news to him that Amelia was still trying to get over what had happened between her and Fernando. Her entire world had been turned on its head. The hurt that Fernando had caused her was something that was going to linger for a long time, and Lionel had known it from the outset of their relationship, but it didn’t stop the slight burn of frustration that flared up in him from time to time. He was always quick to swallow it, to remind himself that, despite his and everyone else’s opinions of Fernando, Amelia had been head over heels in love with the man, and the knowledge of what he had done to her weighed heavily on her heart, but he was scared that one day he’d let it get the better of him. He was scared that he would say something to Amelia that he wouldn’t be able to unsay.

“Leo?”

Lionel, who’d been staring vacantly up at the ceiling, jumped at the sound of Amelia’s voice before he turned his head, finding her blinking up at him, her eyes soft and apologetic. “Hm?” he hummed.

“Are you OK?” Amelia asked softly.

Lionel’s eyes searched her face, taking in the nervousness in her eyes, before he nodded his head, offering her a soft smile. “I was just going to ask you that” he said.

Amelia huffed out a shaky laugh as she rolled onto her back, pushing a hand through her messy hair. “How do you want me to answer that?” she asked.

“Honestly” Lionel replied.

Amelia fiddled with the strand of her hair, taking a moment to think over the question, before she let it slip from her grasp, falling back against the pillow she laid on. “I feel embarrassed” she answered softly “I worked myself up over something that really wasn’t a big deal, and I...I acted like an idiot. I feel silly, both for being overwhelmed at the party, and then for showing up here like I did, and I am worried that you’re getting bored of watching me get upset over him, because I know if I were in your shoes, I would be” she added, letting out a humourless laugh as she stared up at the ceiling.

Lionel exhaled a quiet sigh. “I understand why you still get upset” he said softly.

“I know you do” Amelia replied, turning to look up at him “I just...I don’t know how I would feel if our roles were reversed” she added.

Lionel stared at her for a moment before he reached over, gently tucking her hair behind her ear. “It’s started to bother me more” he admitted “But I know that you’re not...that’s it not to do with us. I hate that you’re still hurting, Amelia, and I hate that there’s nothing I can do to make it stop. I can’t remove your history with Fernando, but know that if I could, I would. I just...I want you to be happy” he added, the pad of his thumb gently tracing the line of her cheekbone.

“I am happy” Amelia said, her lips curving up into a soft smile “You didn’t see me when it first happened” she added.

Lionel offered her a pointed look, something which made Amelia sigh as she lifted her hand, covering his which had settled against her cheek. “My point is that I am not unhappy” she clarified “I was when it first happened. I was devastated. I was so angry at Fernando, and at Gianna. I was so angry at myself for missing it, because it was happening for six months, even after they stopped sleeping together, he was still sneaking around to see her, and Penelope. He ruined my trust in him, but worse, he completely obliterated my ability to trust myself, and that...that’s getting better. I really thought I would struggle more with us. I worried that I wouldn’t trust you, and that I wouldn’t believe myself, but I do. I trust you, and I love you, and I am happy” she insisted.

Lionel’s expression was slightly dubious, something that caused Amelia to turn her head, pressing a gentle kiss against the palm of his hand. “Molly said something to me last night” she murmured “It wasn’t something I’d really thought about before, but now that’s she said it, I think she’s right. She told me that, whilst losing Fernando was shitty, it’s made space for something new, maybe something better” she added.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards slightly. “Are you saying we’re fate, Amelia?” he quipped impishly.

Amelia’s answering laugh was soft as she shook her head. “I’m saying that I have spent too long thinking about what I lost” she clarified “And not enough time thinking about what could happen next, or what’s good with what’s already happening in my life. I’ve got a great family. They interfere a lot, but they do that because they love me, and I am lucky to have them. I love my job, and my friends, and then...then there’s you. I’ve got you” she added.

“Is that a good thing?” Lionel’s comment was playful, but there was apprehension in his expression that made Amelia’s smile grow just a little wider.

“It’s the best thing” Amelia answered “I can’t promise I won’t still have nights like last night, but I can promise you that it’s not because I am missing him. Why would I when I have you?” she prodded.

Lionel’s expression softened before he gently slid his hand off of her cheek and into her hair, guiding her into a soft kiss. “You’re not saying it’s not fate, then?” he teased, leaning up to kiss the side of her nose gently.

Amelia laughed. “You can believe what you want to believe” she said “I just know that I am glad to be here right now, in this bed, with you” she added.

Lionel pressed his lips to hers again. “So am I” he murmured.