Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twelve

The next morning when Alex opened her eyes, well before her alarm was set to go off to get Emma up for school; she turned over to snuggle up next to Harry and fall back to sleep for a little while. What she saw when she turned made her gasp and her eyes well up with tears; there was her daughter, snuggled up in the bed in the middle of them, tucked right up under Harry’s arm. Her head was laying against Harry’s chest, her little arm extended over him. Harry’s arm, the one that wasn’t tucked around Emma was thrown above his head against the pillow and he looked just as peaceful and relaxed as Emma did.

There were many, many things that Alex had wanted for Emma that she never really expected her to have since John had died without Emma having ever known him. This was one of those things; this connection that Harry and Emma seemed to find with each other. She put a hand to her swelling heart and she watched them silently. She smiled slightly as an idea formed in her head, and she quietly turned and slid from the bed. She flipped on the lamp on her nightstand, hoping the hazy light it gave off wouldn’t be enough to wake either of them. Although Harry stirred, she got lucky and the both stayed asleep. She grabbed her camera from her desk and, making sure the flash was off, snapped a picture of them.

Placing the camera back in the drawer and smiling at the thought of what she was going to do with picture of the amazing moment she just caught, she turned off the light and slid back into bed with her loves, snuggling tight with them until her alarm went off.


A few hours later, Alex roused Harry for breakfast, having already pulled Emma out of bed a half an hour before to get her ready for school. Alex had wanted to let Harry sleep a little more, he looked so peaceful, but Emma was dying for him to join them for breakfast.

“Harry, wake up,” she said softly, rubbing his chest gently.

His eyes fluttered open, finding her and focusing on his love. His hand slid up and grabbed her arm, pulling her down to his lips.

“Good morning,” he said hoarsely.

“Hmmmm. It is,” she whispered against his lips. “Breakfast is ready. Emma wants you to join us.”

Harry smiled up at her. “She knows I’m here?”

Alex grinned. “She does. I found her in bed with us this morning. You don’t remember her crawling in either?”

Harry shook his head, the grin still plastered on his face. “What’s for breakfast?”

“Get your lazy ass out of bed and come see,” Alex teased.

Harry stuck his bottom lip out in a mock pout. “I need my beauty rest. I’ve got this amazing woman to impress.”

She laughed. “I’m already impressed. Unless you are talking about someone else, and then you need to tell me who’s ass I need to go kick.”

He laughed with her and then released his hold on her arm, sat up, and put his feet on the floor. “I’m talking about you, no ass kicking is needed.”

Alex smiled. “Good. See you in there in a minute?”

He nodded, grinning at her.

“Okay,” she said as she turned around to make her way back to the kitchen.

“Alex?” he called softly to her.

She turned around, a light smile playing on her lips. He crooked a finger to her, beckoning her to come back. She immediately turned around, going back to stand in between his knees in front of him. He put his hands on her hips and pulled her close, so his face was buried in her stomach. He pulled up her shirt a touch and kissed her bare skin, cause her to gasp and a little shiver to run through her body.

“I love you,” he said as he pulled back from her and tugged her shirt back down.

“I know,” she said quietly, with a soft smile before once again turning and leaving him to his own devices.

Harry stood up and went to use to the restroom. He brushed his teeth and splashed some water on his face. He stared at himself in the mirror for a minute and found himself marveling at the truly happy individual that stared back at him. Was it really only yesterday that he was already deep into a bottle of whiskey, tormented over losing her? It seemed like a million years ago. They had already bridged that gap between them and covered so much more ground.

He was truly heartbroken over leaving her for deployment. When the time came to get on that plane to Afghanistan, he didn’t know how he was going to handle leaving her and Emma, but he didn’t want to think about that right now. Right now, he wanted to go eat breakfast with his two favorite girls, go home and pack for their flight to Balmoral this afternoon, then go enjoy four days completely alone with Alex in the Scottish Highlands. He grinned at his reflection in the mirror. Four days alone with Alex…the possibilities were absolutely endless.

Leaving the bathroom room he slipped on his jeans and the button down he’d worn the night before and padded barefoot into the kitchen.

“Good morning, pretty girls,” he said upon entering. Emma was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for breakfast to start, and Alex was placing syrup and butter on the table for them. From the looks of things they were having pancakes. Harry’s stomach immediately grumbled in anticipation.

“Harry!” Emma squealed. She flew from her chair and Harry scooped down to pick her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he hugged her close, watching Alex smile in delight at both of them.

“I’m so glad you are here for breakfast,” Emma said. “You should have slumber parties with Mummy all the time.”

Harry bit his lip to keep from laughing as he set Emma down, taking her hand and leading her back towards the table. “Emma, I think that is an excellent idea.” He looked up at Alex and smirked, waiting to see how she responded to that little gem from her daughter.

Alex pursed her lips, pretending that she didn’t think that was an excellent an idea. She was only able to get about five seconds of that face in before she gave in and smiled. “Emma, I think Harry can come over for slumber parties more often.”

Harry almost laughed when she said slumber parties. It just shy of hilarious how different Emma’s idea of a slumber party was from Harry’s. He wasn’t going to be a dirty minded guy at the breakfast table. His desire to show respect for Alex letting him be here would overtake anything else. He glanced up at her then though, and she looking at him like she expected him to laugh. The corner of her mouth was tilted, waiting on his commentary.

He cleared his through. “Alex, those pancakes look amazing.” He turned to Emma. “I’ll bet your mum makes the best pancakes.”

“Not as good as Pop’s,” Emma said quickly. She quickly realized her error and glanced guiltily at her mother. “Sorry mummy.”

Alex laughed and reached over to ruffle Emma’s hair. “It’s quite alright kiddo. You are right. Pop’s pancakes are the best in the world.”

Alex began to dole out the pancakes, two for Emma, four for Harry, and three for herself. Emma asked Harry to butter hers, but wanted to put the syrup on them herself. He did as she asked, then supervised as she poured the syrup, cutting her off just when he knew she was about to get excessive with it.

“Who’s Pop?” Harry asked when they had all started to dig in.

Alex smiled. “My dad and Emma’s grandfather; she calls my mom ‘Mimi’. John’s mom is called ‘Granny’.”

“Ah. Emma, did you know I call my grandmother ‘Granny’?” Harry asked.

Alex’s eyes got big. He was talking about the Queen and she knew it.

“Really? What’s her real name?” Emma asked with a mouthful of pancakes.

“Emma, no talking with your mouth full,” Alex chided gently.

Emma swallowed. “Sorry, mum.”

Alex smiled and winked at her before turning back to Harry. “So, Harry…I believe you were about to tell us your grandmother’s name.”

He chuckled at the slight snark he heard in her voice. “My granny’s name is Elizabeth.”

“That’s a pretty name,” Emma said, slightly distracted by another big bite of pancake.

“Hopefully someday you’ll get to meet my granny,” Harry said to Emma, before glancing up at Alex. He almost couldn’t wait to see the look on her face.

He was well rewarded.

Her mouth had dropped open and she was staring at him with eyes so wide he was sure they were going to bug right out of her head.

“Meet your granny?” Alex whispered. She pointed her fork at Harry almost accusingly.

“That’s what he said, Mum,” Emma chimed in.

Harry dissolved into laughter. That kid had too much sass for him to handle.

“Relax, Alex. You aren’t going to meet her today…or tomorrow for that matter. Just…someday…okay?” His face softened, his eyes searching her to make sure she wasn’t about to freak out.

Alex gulped. “Someday,” she murmured.

Harry watched Alex as she went back to her pancakes, cutting and spearing before putting each bite to her mouth. She was so methodical, so organized about it, that Harry knew she was processing meeting his grandmother someday in that brain of hers he loved so much.

Luckily, Emma didn’t notice her mother’s sudden descent into silence, or was just used to it, and she turned her attention to Harry. “I get to stay at my granny’s all weekend,” she said matter-of-factly.

Harry smiled and winked at her. “I know. What are you going to do with your granny all weekend?”

Emma sighed, a big dramatic air about her, before she launched into a description of the usual activities to take place at Molly’s house when she stayed there. Lots of Disney movies, board games, puzzles, and walks in the park were going to take place, and Emma was beyond excited.

And Harry loved listening to her. He loved how open she was with him, how she was so full of excitement and wonder at everything.

Eventually Alex came back around and joined back into the conversation, making sure that Emma knew all of the rules for staying at Molly’s and letting her know that she was only a phone call away if she needed her. Emma rolled her eyes at her mother, having heard this same speech a hundred times. Harry laughed as Alex reminded Emma for what surely wouldn’t be the last time that ladies did not roll their eyes, especially at their mothers.

At least Emma was smart enough to look sheepish about it.

Harry had to use every trick he had not to fall out of his chair with the laughter at the two of them. They were so similar with their mannerisms and smart-aleck tendencies, he wondered what it would be like when Emma was a teenager and she wouldn’t be so quick to feel bad about rolling her eyes at her mother.

Then the thought smacked Harry right on the head.

He hoped with all of his heart that he was around to see it.


Alex had taken care of making sure her weekend was open before she had woken Harry up that morning. She called work, making sure they could do without her that day and on Monday, and she called Molly, making sure Emma could stay with her. She apologized profusely for the short notice, but everyone was just so happy that Alex was happy, and with someone has wonderful as Harry, that they were all perfectly willing to accommodate her.

Harry left Alex’s flat when Alex left to take Emma to school. He went back to Kensington to get their travel arrangements finalized and pack for the weekend. He could barely contain his excitement as he contacted the necessary people to set everything up. They would be taking a private plane up to Scotland and then of course, the ever present Range Rovers would drive them up to Balmoral from the airport. The would be staying at the cottage that his grandmother had gifted to Will and Kate long ago and that Harry was known to use on occasion.

Having gotten everything taken care of, he made his way back to Alex’s to pick her up. She buzzed him in and he bounded up the stairs in excitement. When she opened the door he immediately swept her up in his arms, kissing her soundly over and over again before setting her back on her feet.

“Well, what was that for?” she asked when she had recovered herself. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright with love for him.

Harry shrugged, the smile never leaving his face. “I’m excited. Balmoral is one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t wait to share it with you.”

Alex grinned. “I’m excited too. I’ve been up to Edinburgh before, but never up to the Highlands, and especially never to Balmoral.”

Harry was about to rush her out of the door when the buzzer rang at the door.

“Expecting someone?” Harry asked her with a raised eyebrow.

She shook her head. “No one except you.”

She went over and hit the intercom.


“It’s Charlotte,” the feminine yet determined voice came crackling through.

Alex looked at Harry. “Did you invite Charlotte to join?” she asked, half joking.

He laughed and shook his head. “No way, Balmoral is way too peaceful for Charlotte. Buzz her in, see what she wants.”

“Come on up,” Alex said, opening the door. She shrugged her shoulders at Harry who was standing across the foyer from her looking at her quizzically.

A sharp knock rang out on the door and Alex opened it, standing back quickly as Charlotte came flying in, rounding on her. Her wild mahogany hair flew around her and her eyes were flashing.

“Charlotte, what…” Alex started before Charlotte completely cut her off.

“You,” Charlotte said, pointing a finger at Alex and narrowing her eyes. “You said you wouldn’t hurt him and at the first chance you had you ran.”

Alex’s mouth dropped open in shock. She quickly glanced at Harry who she was sure Charlotte hadn’t even noticed behind her and then back to Charlotte.

“Charlotte, hold on…”

“No, you hold on,” Charlotte interrupted Alex again. “I told you I would kick your ass if you hurt him and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Alex couldn’t help herself, and a giggle escaped her mouth before she could stop it. She clapped her hand over her mouth as Charlotte’s eyes got wide with disbelief.

“Why in the world are you laughing?” Charlotte demanded.

Harry cleared his throat. “Hello, Charlotte.”

Charlotte turned to him and said, “Hey Harry,” and then went to turn back to Alex; but before she could turn all the way back around she did a double take. “What are you doing here?” she said to him.

“I think the better question would be what are you doing here?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I…I was coming to kick Alex’s ass for leaving you. Although it looks like you haven’t been left anymore,” she said. “And I’m completely and utterly embarrassed.”

Oh my God,” Alex said, wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. “Have you been stewing over this since Tuesday night?”

Charlotte gulped and looked from Alex to Harry and then back again. “Yes.”

Harry chuckled and shook his head. He walked over and put his arm around Charlotte’s shoulders. “You’re right, I haven’t been left anymore. And while I appreciate you coming to my defense, it’s really not necessary, even I hadn’t come to Alex myself.”

Charlotte’s eyes went wide. “You came to her?”

Harry nodded. “I won’t go into the details, you and Alex can girl talk that to death later if you want, but Alex and I were both wrong and we both realized what we did. Now we are good and about to walk out the door to go to Scotland for the weekend. I’d love to invite you, but…”

Charlotte shook her head. “No, no you wouldn’t love to invite me.” She turned and looked sheepishly at Alex. “I’m sorry.”

Alex waved her hand. “It’s okay. Just…if anything happens in the future come talk to me first before you start throwing punches, okay?”

Charlotte nodded. “Can we hug it out, bitch?” she said, her lips twitching at the corners.

Alex laughed, already moving forward to do just that. “Yes, bitch, we can.”


“How much money do I owe you for the ticket?” Alex asked Harry as they pulled up to the airport.

He shook his head at her. “I didn’t purchase you a ticket, Alex.” He had not let her in on his plans, wanting to surprise her every step of the way.

“What? What do you mean you didn’t buy me a ticket? Are we buying them here?” she asked, confused. She thought he said he took care of everything.

He smiled at her but kept silent, stroking the back of her hand with his thumb, as the Range Rover pulled past the normal departure zones and up to gates marked “Private Only”. Alex scrunched up her nose in confusion as they pulled through the gates were waved through by security.

“I don’t…ohhh…” she said, trailing off as they pulled up in front of the private plane. She turned to him, her fingers gripping his. “Private?” she whispered.

He nodded. He reached up and cupped her face with his free hand, his blue eyes staring into hers. “Yes just us. I wanted this whole weekend, everything to be just about us. No one else, save for my POs…” he stopped and waved his hand towards the one she had just learned was named Mark in the front seat, “will be with us from this moment until Monday evening when we get back. Is that okay with you?”

She beamed. “That is more than okay, Harry. Although…the expense…”

He shook his head slowly. “This is my expense. Don’t worry about it. I mean it, Alexandra. Do not even think about worrying how much any of this costs. I’ve paid for it all and you can’t change it, so don’t even try.”

She shook her head slowly, her lips curving up slowly into a smile. “Fine, I give up…give in…whatever,” she said, laughing. She leaned forward and kissed him solidly, her lips smacking as she pulled back. “Just take me to Scotland, baby.”

He grinned. “I can do that.”

They climbed quickly from the Range Rover, both with small carry-on bags aboard, as their main bags would be loaded separately. Harry motioned for her to climb up the steps in front of him and she did, stepping into the elegant cabin first.

Alex’s mouth dropped opened as she took it in the luxury. There was a small table with two plush chairs along one side of the cabin and a small couch built in along the other. At the far end of the couch was a fully stocked bar with a small sink. She didn’t even wait for Harry before tossing her bag onto the couch and moving further back into the plane to inspect. She passed a bathroom, unlike any other airplane bathroom she had ever seen – definitely larger and with dark wood cabinets, a porcelain sink, and granite counter tops.

She moved past the bathroom, pushing a door that was slightly ajar and stepping foot in a bedroom. She walked in, turning as she took in the room. There was a full size bed, low to the ground, a plush chair in the corner, and a small dresser built in to one of the cabin walls below the windows.

Harry walked in behind her, entering the room and shutting the door softly behind him and locking it with a click. She had just turned forward and he watched her as she took it all in, processed it. Then her eyes fell on his, her soft, languid, blue eyes, and he had to stop himself from lunging for her. She was here, all his for the next four days and he couldn’t wait to claim her in the most basic way he knew how.

“Harry?” she asked softly, her head tilted to the side.

“Yes?” He stepped closer to her.

“Do all private planes have bedrooms?”

He chuckled. He knew where she was going with this. “No,” he said, shaking his head slowly. “I usually only take planes that have bedrooms if I’m flying somewhere that takes longer than eight hours or so.”

“And how long does it take to get to Balmoral?” she asked softly, teasingly.

Harry smirked. “About two hours.”

“So I’m assuming this isn’t to sleep then?” She smiled up at him as he settled in front of her, their bodies almost touching, but not quite.

“No,” he murmured as he pushed his hands into her hair, tilting her head as he brought his lips close to hers. “This is most definitely not for sleeping.”

She licked her lips, her tongue brushing against his lips that were mere millimeters from hers, causing a groan to escape from Harry’s throat.

“Harry…” she murmured.

“Hmmmm?” He was done talking, but humored her anyway, loving that she didn’t just let him get have his way all the time.

“Are you about to induct me into the Mile High Club?”

He laughed quickly, loudly, before leaning down and finally capturing her mouth with his, his tongue thrusting into her mouth hotly, tangling with hers before he pulled back and winked down at her.

“Hell yes I am.”