The Space Between Us

00: It’s Nothing

For the first time all morning, Amelia felt as though she could breathe.

She thought that she had been ready for it. As the big day had drawn closer, the excitement of everyone around her had only increased, but the leap in excitement now that the day had arrived had caught her off guard. She had been overwhelmed. Between her over-excited bridesmaids, and her anxious mother, she had barely had a second to think, so it had come as a great relief when they had each been called away to deal with one hiccup or another. All Amelia wanted was a second of quiet. A moment where she could sit and try to grasp how it was she was really feeling.

She was excited. They had been planning for months, almost a year, and she was excited that the day had finally arrived, but the excitement hadn’t come without a tinge of worry, or without the few doubts that lingered at the back of her mind. It had felt right. When Fernando had asked her to marry him, the yes that she had given him had almost burst out of her without a beat of thinking time, and whilst she was sure that it was still the right answer, she had a slight case of cold feet. She wasn’t close to running away, she knew that she would probably regret it if she did, but it hadn’t stopped her mind from racing. It hadn’t stopped her from wondering if there was something she had missed.

Letting out a shaky breath, she brushed a few flyaway hairs out of her face before she looked up at the mirror, her lips quirking into a reluctant smile when she saw the figure who was lingering the doorway. “Why didn’t you knock?” she asked.

It took a moment for Lionel to respond, but eventually, he dragged his stare up to meet hers in the mirror, a slightly forced smile of his own playing on his lips. “You looked lost in thought” he replied “I didn’t want to make you jump” he added.

Amelia turned around to look at him. “It’s the first time I’ve actually been alone since I woke up” she admitted “I was just making the most of the quiet. My mother and the others will probably be back here before I know it” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, still lingering in the doorway. “How’s your mother been this morning?” he asked.

Amelia let out a laugh that was somewhere between amused and shaky, her fingers fidgeting with the material of her dress. “Promise not tell her what I say next?” she asked, looking up at Lionel through her eyelashes.

Lionel held his hands up innocently. “Promise” he played along.

“She’s excited” Amelia mused, turning back towards the mirror in front of her “Maybe a little too excited. Since I woke up this morning, she’s been flitting all over the place, and fussing over every little detail of everything. I am glad that she’s excited, but it’s been a little overwhelming. I was kind of glad when the florist appeared and announced that there was a little problem. I knew she’d never let me go and handle it” she added.

Lionel didn’t say anything. He wanted to. Since he had woken up that morning, he had been thinking about what he wanted to say to Amelia when he saw her, but now that he was actually in the room, the words had deserted him, leaving him only with the voice that was insisting that he had waited for too long.

“Leo?”

Lionel’s eyes snapped back up to meet Amelia’s in the mirror. “Huh?” he spluttered.

Amelia smiled. “I asked if you needed something” she said “Last time I checked, I hadn’t made you a bridesmaid” she added.

Lionel huffed out something close to a laugh, his hand nervously smoothing his tie.

Amelia watched him in the mirror, the smile on her face dimming. “Has something happened?” she asked “Is Fernando alright?” she added, her voice growing slightly more panicked.

“He’s fine” Lionel answered “And nothing has happened. Everything’s happening like it should be” he added.

“Then why do you look so worried?” Amelia pressed “And don’t say you don’t. It’s me” she added.

Lionel’s mouth, which had been opened to object, closed without a word.

Amelia frowned, watching in the mirror as he smoothed his tie out again, before she turned back towards him and pushed out of her seat.

Lionel watched as her dress fell into place. He watched as she reached down to fix an imaginary wrinkle in the snow white material, and to twist her engagement ring back around so that the diamond that Fernando had apparently spent weeks agonizing over choosing was proudly on display, before he shook his head, the voice in his head blaring now.

He had missed his chance.

He had missed it almost three years ago, before Amelia had stumbled into Fernando in a bar.

He had missed it a handful of days after that, when Amelia had been asking him whether or not she should reply to the text that Fernando had sent to her, inviting her out to dinner.

He had missed it every time she had had doubts about Fernando, every time she had thought that breaking up with him was the right move.

He had missed it every day, for years, and it was too late to fix it. He had shown up that day to tell her, to say all of the things he hadn’t said for years, but the longer he looked at her, the surer he got that he couldn’t. Amelia loved Fernando. She loved him enough to get past her doubts about him, to forgive him after every silly fight they’d had. She loved him enough to be stood in front of Lionel, moments away from walking down the aisle towards him, and Lionel couldn’t take that away from her.

“Leo?”

Lionel’s eyes slowly trailed up the length of her body, marvelling at how beautiful she was, before he offered her a lopsided smile. “It’s nothing” he said “I just wanted to see how you were, before everything started” he added.

The crease in Amelia’s forehead didn’t disappear, but it did grow a little less prominent. “Really?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head, trying not to look away from her. “Yeah” he confirmed “I thought you’d be nervous” he added.

“I am nervous” Amelia replied “And a little overwhelmed, but I think I am ready. I mean, Fernando’s a good guy, isn’t he?” she asked.

Lionel hesitated for the small fraction of a second before he nodded. “I think so” he confirmed.

If Amelia had noticed his hesitation, she didn’t let it show, offering him a soft smile that was tinged with relief. “That means a lot” she mused.

Lionel smiled back at her gently before the sound of voices travelled up the hall, causing him to glance over his shoulder briefly before he shook his head, turning back to Amelia. “I should get out of here” he said “You look beautiful, Amelia. Fernando is...He’s a very lucky guy” he added.

Amelia’s cheeks flushed pink as a soft smile toyed with the corner of her mouth, something Lionel took a moment to memorize before he stepped back out of the door. Flashing her one last smile, he watched her lift her hand to wave to him before he turned and walked down the hall, his smile disappearing as he realised that that was likely to be the last moment that they shared alone.
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This is a rewrite of a story that I posted previously, 'All This Time'.