Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Eighty Nine

A/N: Oh my gosh. It’s been awhile! I’ve missed this story and these characters and it was wonderful to channel them again. I really hope you enjoy this! Please let me know what you think!


He has insisted on driving them himself, of course. She had smiled at his insistence, though she had known it was exactly what he would do -- to try to find some way to make it more normal than it actually was. Nevermind the fact that unlike most people, they weren’t driving a moving van or even following one that they would help to unload and then spend the next few days or weeks unpacking. All of that was done. Their belongings were already there -- unpacked and organized into their proper places in Apartments 8 and 9 at Kensington Palace and waiting for the Sussex family to arrive. But it didn’t matter to Harry that it wasn’t exactly normal; he still wanted it to feel like they were going home. As a family. As normal as they possibly could.

Emma was the first to burst forth from the car, Gus bounding out close on her heels. Harry chuckled at their combined excitement as he stepped from the car, moving around to help Alex step out and onto the pristine gravel drive.

“You ready?” He asked, smiling down through his sunglasses at her as he kept ahold of her hand and shut the car door behind her.

“You know that I am,” she smiled back. “And you?” She squeezed his fingers, her eyes knowing with her words. “Are you ready? To go home?”

He took a deep breath and turned his head, his gaze falling on the old, stately dark red bricks rising in front of them, on the large, ornate black door that served as the main entrance to this section of the palace. This section of the palace that he had called this home once before. This section of the palace that held so many memories from his early life. This section of the palace that he knew was destined to hold so many more.

“You know that I am,” he finally replied with a soft smile, tugging on her hand and pulling her towards the door. He slid a set of keys from his pocket and jingled them in the air with an exaggerated wink.

“Come on, Dad!” Emma groaned, full of impatience. “I want to see my new room!”

“Of course,” Harry chuckled. He gave in, sliding the key into the lock, turning it with a click, and then pushing the heavy door open.

Emma rushed inside, not pausing to take in a single bit of her surroundings before hitting the stairs. Alex and Harry exchanged humored glances as she took them two at a time before disappearing on to the second floor.

“She’s been looking forward to her new room for a year,” Alex said with a smirk and shrug. A faint squeal of delight sounded out from above them, as if to confirm her observation.

“We won’t see her until supper,” Harry laughed, shaking his head in amusement. “At least Gus knows better than to abandon us right away.” He nodded at their dog, who chose that particular moment to break from his sniffing and tail wagging to turn and look right at them, lifting his leg towards the corner next to him...and promptly christened his brand new home.

“Gus!” they both cried in unison, startling their dog -- but not enough to stop him from marking his fresh new territory.

“I’ll get something to clean it up,” Harry sighed.

“No, I’ll get it,” Alex stopped him before beginning to move down the hall toward the back door of their new kitchen. “Will you take him out into the garden and show him where he’s actually supposed to do that?”

“Sure,” Harry chuckled softly as he reached over and wrapped his fingers around the collar of their puppy -- who now only looked mildly sheepish. “Come on Gus, you very bad dog.”

Alex found the cleaning supplies quickly. Their new housekeeper, Lucille, had been working incredibly hard to rid the apartment of dust and dirt from the renovation and had luckily stored everything in easily located place. Alex made a mental note to thank her when she came the next morning as she moved back down the hallway towards Gus’s mess. She knelt to the marble floor and began to spray and wipe up the mess. She was just thinking how thankful she wasn’t too pregnant to get down get up and down without struggling too much when suddenly a knock sounded out at the front door. She turned to look at it in slight confusion, but didn’t have time to stand up before the door pushed open and the Prince of Wales himself stepped into the foyer.

“Alexandra, dear...are you alright?” Charles looked a bit startled and concerned at the sight that greeted him -- his pregnant daughter-in-law kneeling on the floor with a dirty rag in one hand and a bottle of cleaning spray in the other.

Alex’s cheeks turned pink and she gave a laughing sort of sigh as struggled to stand, her embarrassment only rising when Charles stepped over to help her up. “I’m perfectly fine. Gus just got excited himself on the floor is all.”

Charles laughed, the warm, rich sound easing her embarrassment just a bit. “As long as it wasn’t Harry who did it, there’s no reason to be embarrassed I think. Now, shall I dispose of that for you?”

“Absolutely not,” Alex laughed, shaking her head and not daring to hand over the dirty rag to Charles. “That would just send my mortification into the stratosphere.”

“Dad!” Harry’s arrival back into the room saved Alex from any further assistance from Charles and she gave an internal sigh of relief. “We didn’t forget we were expecting you today, did we?” Harry continued as he moved to kiss his father’s cheeks in greeting.

“No, no,” Charles waved his hand in the air and shook his head slightly. “But the meeting we had today was cancelled. Camilla decided to spend the afternoon with Laura and the children, so I thought you might not mind terribly if I called on you by myself to see the new apartment.” His eyes moved quickly over the foyer and Harry wasn’t the only one who caught the quick pass of something in his gaze; perhaps the flicker of a long ago memory of this very same space.

“Of course we don’t mind,” Alex insisted, flashing her father-in-law a bright smile. “Maybe Harry can show you around while I finish cleaning up and then make some tea?”

“Oh, that would be lovely,” Charles agreed. “I’m assuming you have Earl Grey?”

“Of course I do,” Alex nodded, a slight smirk curving her lips. “I was informed that I couldn’t be a member of the Royal Family unless I kept it stocked at all times.”

Charles laughed, his shoulders shaking with it in a way that reminded Alex so much of Harry that it made smile even wider. “Absolutely true, my dear. Absolutely true.”


While Alex prepared tea in the kitchen, Harry began to show Charles the apartment. They moved through the rooms slowly, allowing each of them to take in the details as they went. Though Harry had seen everything, it was the first time he really got to stop and appreciate them fully. And he was very much enjoying watching his father do the same.

They walked leisurely through the formal dining room and formal sitting rooms, both done in warm, neutral tones and a mix of stylish and timeless decor and furniture. Harry smiled as Charles stopped to look at the portraits on the walls -- a mix of current family portraits and beautiful paintings of past ancestors that had been selected carefully from the private collection of the Royal Family with the blessing of the the Queen.

Charles had smiled knowingly as they stepped into Harry’s office, appreciating and admiring the darker woods of the desk and bookshelves and the supple leather of the deep, comfortable chairs that sat in front of it. And Harry himself couldn’t help but stop and smile down at the three photos sitting in a place of pride on his desk. There was a candid snap of Alex on their wedding day; bright and so happy that it made his heart thump in his chest. There was one of Emma grinning up at the camera with her arms wrapped around Gus’s neck. And finally, there was the one of his mother; it was one of the famous Mario Testino portraits that were taken so close to the end of her life. Though it was a picture that he shared with the entire world, it had always been one of his favorites. She had looked happy and comfortable in her skin finally -- and he loved to see and think of her that way.

Charles chuckled when Harry showed him to the next room over, it’s bright colors and more modern design in direct contrast to Harry’s office -- but still flowing together in a way that made sense.

The wide mahogany staircase to the second floor was lined with various photos of the entire family and they took the steps slowly, taking time to look at them all. Then Harry quickly led his father through the rooms lining the long upstairs hallway; the pair of guest rooms, the still bare room that was going to be the nursery for the twins, Emma’s room (where they found her sprawled out on the large pink and white rug on her floor, a pile of books around her and one in her hand as some sort of pop music played from her iPod), and then Harry and Alex’s room.

The final stop on the tour before they went back down to the kitchen for tea was the library. It was bright, sunlight streaming through the windows, but also cozy and warm with it’s bookshelf lined walls and deep, plush couches situated facing each other in the middle of the room in front of the fireplace.

“We intentionally left a fair amount of space open on the shelves,” Harry explained, knowing that his father was used to the libraries at Highgrove and Clarence House, whose shelves had been full and creaking under the weight of heavy books for as long as Harry could remember. “We wanted to add more as we go along, not just put books up there just to have them.”

Charles smiled warmly and nodded in understanding. “You want to make it yours. And you have. You’ve put an incredible home together here, Henry.”

“Well, to be fair,” Harry chuckled. “Alex mostly did it. You know me, there would be one couch, a bed, and maybe a refrigerator if it had been left up to me.”

“And a huge flat screen television with some sort of video game thing hooked up to it,” Charles teased, making Harry roll his eyes and laugh at his father’s words. He looked at his son for a long moment before his gaze traveled around the room once more, taking it in for a long moment as he tried to figure out exactly how to articulate what he wanted to say next.

“She loved it here, you know…” He finally managed, turning his eyes back to Harry, who looked slightly startled at the words.

“Mummy, you mean?” Harry asked. When Charles nodded Harry took a deep breath, letting a soft smile pull at his lips. “I know she did.”


Harry wasn’t really surprised to wake up in the middle of the night to find his wife not in bed with him. Since moving into their new apartment nearly two months before, she had increasingly been up at all time of the night, especially since she had moved into the third trimester of her pregnancy a few weeks before. He sighed and let his eyes slide closed again, but within moments they blinked back open into the dark room and to the empty spot beside him. He chuckled to himself and shook his head; after all this time, he still had it bad for his wife: if she wasn’t in bed with him, he didn’t want to be in bed himself. He just wanted to be where she was.

He pushed back the covers, stepped from the bed, and reached for his robe. He tied the robe, ran a hand through his messy red hair, and then quietly stepped from their room to go find his wife. He padded down the long hall of their new apartment, stopping to peek into Emma’s room, grinning at the sight of his daughter, fast asleep with her arms thrown haphazardly above her head; totally and completely content. He continued quietly down the hall, passing the closed door of the nursery as he made he way to the stairs. He made his way quickly down the wide, ornate staircase, stopping first in Alex’s office and then poking his head into the library, but she wasn’t in either place. He continued on down the darkened hallway to the door that led into their large, open kitchen. He paused in the doorway as he spotted Alex, his eyes widening slightly. She seated on the dark wood floor in front of an open cabinet, with what he was sure was their entire collection of pots and pans spread out around her.


She started slightly, her gaze wide as it swung towards his voice. “Jesus,” she breathed, pressing a hand to her chest. “Don’t scare a pregnant woman like that. It’s a miracle I didn’t just pee my pants.”

Harry snickered and then moved a few steps closer to her. “Sorry, weren’t in bed so…”

“It’s okay,” Alex waved a hand in the air, letting out a breath before turning back to the task in front of her. “I was just...focused.”

“On the exciting world of pots and pans?”

Alex smirked and rolled her eyes. “Don’t think I don’t hear the sarcasm in your tone.”

Harry chuckled and then crossed the rest of the distance between them. He stepped over a saucepan and then lowered himself to the floor next to her. His smirky smile turned sweet as he leaned in closer to her, reaching up to tuck an errant piece of blonde hair back behind her ear. “Are you doing alright, love?”

She leaned into his hand, her eyes growing soft. “I'm fine, Harry.”

His thumb stroked soft over her cheek. “You know...I’m not sure I really believe that.”

“Come on, Harry…”

“No, you come on,’re in the kitchen rearranging pots and pans at three in the morning. You’ve rearranged the files in my office at least three times this week. Who knows how many times you’ve done the ones in your office and…”

“There’s no need to rearrange my files,” she interrupted primly. “But yours needed some serious…”

“Alexandra,” Harry interrupted with a brief laugh and a shake of the head. “My files were fine. Just like the pots and pans and every linen closet in this apartment was fine.” His smile slipped a bit and his voice lowered slightly. “Darling, you're barely sleeping.”

“Well, you try sleeping with two babies pressing themselves into all of your major internal organs,” she snapped as she looked away from him. She snatched a sauce pan from the floor and shoved it inside the cabinet before snapping the door shut, the sound reverberating in the quiet of the very early morning.

“Oh baby...I’m sorry,” Harry murmured. His hand reached out and smoothed over her shoulder to her back. His fingers were warm and soothing through the cotton of her t-shirt and her shoulders slumped a bit, the fight leaving her as fast as it had appeared.

“You know that you don’t have to apologize, Harry,” she shook her head and sniffed, her emotions bubbling to the surface before she could stop them -- which wasn’t unusual these days. “I’m just generally...uncomfortable. They take up a LOT of space. And even if I can find a comfortable position, as soon as I settle in, they start up a WWE wrestling match in there.”

“You know, you can always wake me up when you’re up,” he offered. The sincerity that shone from his eyes as he spoke the words only made her tears fall faster. “I’ll get up with you...rub your back, make you tea and chocolate biscuits…”

“Chocolate cookies,” Alex interrupted with a slight smirk.

“Regardless,” Harry chuckled. “I’ll make them for you at two in the morning if it will make you feel better. Hell, I’d even help you organize a linen closet or two if that helped.”

“And what about when you’re not here?” The words came out in a near whisper, ask if she were nervous to speak them as much as she were nervous for him to hear them.

“When I’m not here?”

Alex took a deep breath and then let it out in a rush. “You’re going to the Olympics for a week and a half. Both you and Emma. And then when you come back you’re home for less than a week before you’re off to the Walk of Britain for two weeks. I’m barely going to see you for a month...a month where I’m really, really pregnant and...and I…” She broke off and pressed her fingers to her eyes as her emotions got the best of her. Her fast, shallow breaths hitched in her chest with the effort of trying to keep it together. But when Harry reached for her, when his arms moved around her and he pulled her into his chest, tucking her head underneath his chin as his hands rubbed her back soothingly, she began to cry in earnest, having held it in for entirely too long.

“Oh my love,” Harry murmured, turning to kiss the top of her head. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea that you were so anxious about the time I’d be away.”

“It’s not your fault,” Alex hiccuped. She used his shirt to wipe her eyes, making him smile slightly at the sweet, intimate action. “I didn’t tell you. I don’t even really think I wanted to admit it to myself. You know, we’re supposed to Keep Calm and Carry On and all that.”

“Oh Alex, really?” Harry chuckled, shaking his head as he pulled back to look at her. “Not about this you don’t. At least not privately. Do you not want me to go?”

“Oh Harry, really?” she mimicked him, making him laugh. “Of course I want you to go. I want you and Emma to go to Brazil -- it’s such a great opportunity for her to travel there and see new things. And I’m so proud of you for wanting to do the Walk and I want more than anything for you to be able to do it. I’m just...going to really fucking miss you is all.”

“Well, I’m going to really fucking miss you too,” he smiled down at her and reached up to swipe away a stray tear. “I hate when you’re sad, baby. And I hate that I didn’t know you are so stressed out about all of this.”

“I know…” she sighed and bit her bottom lip slightly. “There’s just nothing you can really do about it.”

“Other than to spend as much time with you as I can before we leave next week.”

Alex’s lips curved up at the corners and she tilted her chin up, brushing her lips lightly against his. “Like this?”

“Mhmmm…if you’re offereing...” Harry’s arms tightened around her, his mouth searching for more of hers.

“I’m offering,” she giggled and then pulled back to look at him, her big blue eyes turning slightly sheepish. “But…”

He peered back at her. “You want to finish the pots and pans first, don’t you?”

She grinned. “I really, really do.”

He let out a playfully large sigh, kissed her once more, and then loosened his hold on her so they could turn to the task at hand. “Alright Sussex, let’s do this.”


Alex was glad that the day that Harry and Emma left for the Summer Olympics in Brazil dawned bright and sunny and warm. She might not have been able to keep it together on a cloudy, rainy day; not when she was dreading more than anything the moment where they left. Sure, she would have things to keep her busy while they were gone -- she had a handful of engagements line up and of course, she and Matt would be devoted two whole days to decorating the nursery. But having projects to accomplish didn’t mean she was at all looking forward to sending the two people she loved more than anything halfway across the world for the next ten days.

“Alright, Emma, you’ve got everything you need, right?” Alex asked, glancing over at Emma’s suitcases that were being loaded into the SUV that would take her and Harry to the airport for their flight out. “A jacket just in case it gets cool at night? A few pairs of tennis shoes?”

“Trainers,” both Harry and Emma corrected in unison. They both laughed together as Alex rolled her eyes. Both her daughter and her husband took every opportunity to correct her on the very American terms that wouldn’t leave her vocabulary, despite living in the UK for nearly a decade.

“Fine. Do you have a few pairs of trainers?”

“Yes Mum,” Emma’s said, amusement written

all over her cute little face. “You packed my suitcase, remember?”

“I know, I know,” Alex sighed. She reached out and ran a soft hand over her daughter’s blond hair; so much like her own. “I just want to make sure you have everything you need.”

“She’s got everything,” Harry said, smiling at his very nervous looking wife. “And if she didn’t...I’m fairly certain I could scrounge up some cash to buy it for her.”

“I’ll bet you could,” Alex laughed.

“Can we go now?” Emma asked, the excitement for the trip clearly written all over her face.

“We have to wait for Aunt Charlotte to get here. We can’t leave without her,” Harry replied. The trip was an official one and as his private secretary, Charlotte had a big role to play in coordinating and running their days in Rio. He knew that like Alex, she wasn’t looking forward to leaving Matt and Cooper behind in Britain, but she had a job to do and she was going to make sure it got done.

As if on cue, another SUV pulled around the corner and slowed to a stop in front of their door. Charlotte stepped out immediately, looking comfortable in jeans and a casual blouse, but wearing the same slightly nervous looking facial expression that Alex was. The reason for that exited the Range Rover from the other side and then turned to pull the adorable little blonde haired boy from the car seat before hoisting him into his arms.

“I know how you feel,” Alex said, giving Charlotte a small smile as she watch Matt and Cooper walk around the car. “Being away from them is hard. Thinking about being away from them might even be worse.”

“Whoever would have thought that I'd be so damn mushy about something like this?” Charlotte muttered, shaking her head at herself.

“I did,” Matt grinned and lifted his fingers to tickle his son’s belly. “Didn't I, Coop?”

“Shut up, you don't count,” Charlotte rolled her eyes, though when they returned back to their husband, they were full of love and a bit of sadness. Matt laughed good naturedly and then leaned in, shifting his son in his arms so that he could hand Cooper to Charlotte to say good-bye. Alex watched the little family and their sweet little moment for a long beat, and then she turned back to her own.

“Alright you two,” she took a deep breath, blinking back the tears that welled in her eyes. She stepped towards Emma and smoothed wispy strands of blond away from her daughter’s face. “I want you to have so much fun and be good, okay?”

“I will, I promise,” Emma grinned up at her mother, bringing Alex’s nearly identical grin to the surface to brighten her face. “I’ll miss you, Mummy.”

“I’ll miss you too, baby. I love you,” Alex murmured. She bent down to kiss Emma’s forehead, and then hugged her close, laughing softly when Emma rubbed her stomach and told the babies good-bye too. And then she was turning to Harry, letting him pull her into his arms, relishing the feeling of his arms around her and the smell of him as she nuzzled her nose into his chest.

“It’ll go by so quickly, you won’t even notice,” Harry whispered into her hair.

“No, it won’t,” Alex whispered back, but when she looked back up at him she was smiling.

“It will. You’ll get to hang out with your brother and have unlimited Cooper time. You’ll be in heaven, love. Now, I want you to have fun,” Harry commanded playfully. “And be good, okay?”

Alex snickered and then nodded before tilting her lips up to his for a kiss. He took the opportunity and kissed her soft and slow, knowing it had to last him nearly two weeks.

“Come on,” Emma groaned in the background. “Can we go, please? The Olympics are going to be over before all of this kissing stops!”

Amused laughter followed her words and Harry kissed his wife once more, bent down to kiss her swollen belly that carried his children, and then took a deep breath and stepped back. Matt was doing the same with Charlotte, sharing a sweet goodbye before lifting Cooper back in his arms and stepping back -- moving closer to where his sister stood.

“Yes! Emma, we can go now,” Harry said, clapping his hands together. “Matt, take care of my family while I’m gone.”

“And you take care of mine,” Matt grinned, shaking hands with his brother-in-law.

“Deal,” Harry nodded and then, because they simply couldn’t delay it any longer, Harry, Emma, and Charlotte began to load up into the cars, ready to take on their week abroad.

“Don’t judge me if I cry,” Alex warned Matt in a shaky voice.

“I think I would judge you if you didn’t cry,” Matt chuckled. Cooper bounced in his father’s arms, his chubby little arm waving crazily in the air as he spotted his mother waving to him through the window as the cars began to pull away. Matt stepped to her side and his arm dropped around her shoulders. “Come on, Boot. Let’s go inside. I’ll even let you change Cooper’s diaper if it would make you feel better.”

And Alex couldn’t help but laugh, even as the cars pulled around the corner and Harry and Emma disappeared from view; off to their adventure in Brazil.