The Space Between Us

10: You Know I Would

Letting her forehead settle against the railing of her balcony, Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh, more than happy to just sit and listen to the sounds of the city for a few minutes. She hadn’t been in a hurry to escape. Despite having spent most of the evening on edge, expecting Lionel to ask about Fernando, she had enjoyed herself, but when Lionel had offered to wash the dishes, she had taken the opportunity to slip outside.

She needed a couple of minutes to try and get her head around a few things, to smile about how much she had enjoyed the night, and to worry about the fact that, eventually, she and Lionel were going to have to confront all of the things they were avoiding, but mostly, she just wanted to enjoy the fact that he was there. For a long time, she hadn’t thought that the two of them being in the same room at the same time was something that was ever going to happen again.

Feeling a soft breeze ruffle her hair, she quirked a soft smile to herself before she heard the door behind her open. Shuffling to one side, she made a space for Lionel next to her, smiling up at him as he slowly lowered himself into it.

Lionel returned her smile shyly. “What are you doing out here?” he asked.

Amelia shrugged. “I like it out here” she answered “It’s not quite the garden I had before, but it’s something” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, turning to look at the view.

Amelia watched him for a moment, marvelling at his profile, before she shook her head, settling it against the railing again. “I’m glad that you’re here, you know” she said quietly “I know it’s been awkward, and I know that there’s probably a lot more awkwardness to come, but tonight has been...it’s been one of the best nights I have had in a while” she added, smiling embarrassedly to herself.

“How hard has it been?” Lionel’s voice was careful as he spoke.

Amelia closed her eyes at the question.

“You don’t have to tell me” Lionel followed up quickly, seeing the expression on her face “I shouldn’t have asked” he added.

Amelia was quiet for a long moment, so long that Lionel contemplated getting up and leaving, but eventually she sighed. “I thought that it would have gotten easier by now” she said “The first few weeks were...they were really hard. I couldn’t think about anything else. Everything I did seemed to make me think about it, and, as a result, I became a shell of myself. I stayed in my mother’s spare bedroom, and was basically a miserable mess” she explained.

Lionel didn’t say anything. He just shuffled a little closer to her and moved to wrap an arm around her shoulders.

Amelia startled at his touch, but was quick to move into it, gently taking a hold of the hand that was hanging over her shoulder. “I think I am getting better” she continued “And that’s probably mostly down to Nora and my family. They have been there for me every single step of the way, no matter how hard I’ve tried to push them away, and believe me, I have tried. They still drag me to Sunday lunch or brunch or dinner at my mother’s, no matter how many times I tell them I don’t want to go” she added, her expression brightening slightly.

“Your mother has never been particularly good at taking ‘no’ for an answer” Lionel chirped.

Amelia shook her head, letting out a gentle laugh. “No, she hasn’t” she agreed “But, on this occasion, I think she’s right to keep making me show up. It is a good thing” she added.

Lionel nodded his head, allowing a beat of quiet to pass between the two of them, before he cleared his throat lightly. “How busy are your Thursday nights usually?” he asked.

Amelia could hear the shyness in his voice before she turned and saw it on his face. “About as busy as this” she answered “Why?” she asked.

Lionel ducked his head, trying, and failing, to hide the redness on his cheeks even in the damp light of the balcony. “Maybe this...this could become a thing like Sunday dinner with your family” he stumbled out “It’s just a thought. I know we’re not as close as we used to be, but I just...You know what,? It was a stupid idea” he added, an embarrassed smile on his face.

He had thought that it was a good idea, but the more he spoke, and the more he really considered it, the less sure he got. They weren’t what they used to be. Two dinners hadn’t made them close all over again, and whilst he wanted to do anything he could to help her get over what had happened between her and Fernando, he knew that he couldn’t pretend that nothing had changed.

Too much had happened for him to slip back into her life seamlessly. He had admitted that he had had feelings for her, feelings big enough that he had even considered stopping her wedding before she had gone through with it, and it meant that he couldn’t just walk back into her life. He didn’t want anyone, least of all Amelia, thinking that he was attempting to use the end of her marriage to take advantage of her. It was the furthest thing from what he was doing. Amelia was hurt, and all he wanted was to help her, but he knew how it would look. He knew that if he let her get too close, everyone around her would rush to put space between them again.

Amelia blinked up at him before she reached up, gently touching his jaw as a soft smile bloomed on her face. “You’d give up your Thursday nights for me?” she asked.

Lionel ducked away from her touch. “You know I would” he murmured.

The expression on Amelia's face darkened a fraction, momentarily turning slightly bitter, before she shook it away. “I think I would like that” she said.

“Really?” Lionel spluttered.

Amelia nodded, smiling up at him gently. “It beats sitting here by myself” she quipped.

Lionel scoffed playfully, something which made Amelia laugh before she curled into his side a little further. Lionel stilled a little, but eventually tightened his arm around her shoulder, allowing the two of them to sit in comfortable silence and enjoy the view.