Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Ninety One

A/N: Sorry for the Wait :) Enjoy!


Play. Watch. Cry. Repeat.

Hiding along in Harry’s dark, cold study, she watched the interview her husband daughter had given that morning for American television over and over again. It was the worst kind of purgatory, wondering if this was the last thing she would have of them; wondering if this was the last time she saw their faces or heard their voices. She played it over and over and over again; soaking in every moment of the two most important people in her life.

She could hear people in the house; was aware of the footsteps that shuffled past the door every so often as they looked on her. Kate had been the first one there. She had been staying at her and Will’s apartment at KP that night and had rushed over, leaving Henry and baby Charlotte with Nanny Maria in order to be with Alex and wait for news on Harry -- a sibling to her just as much as James and Pippa were. She was the first one to try and keep Alex from completely disintegrating after the two Scotland Yard agents had arrived in the middle of the night and delivered the blow to Alex’s world.

There had been an accident in Rio di Janeiro. An entire section of the stands at the aquatic venue had collapsed; the very section where her husband and daughter were supposed to be sitting.

The cause was yet unknown. The scene was still pure chaos.

And Harry and Emma were missing somewhere in the middle of all of it.

Her brother had arrived just after Kate -- he looked as panicked and scared as Alex felt and for or a few terrifying moments, Alex had been just as afraid for him as for herself. But then the secure land line had rung with a frantic -- but alive and well -- Charlotte, who hadn’t been with Harry and Emma when everything came down. She was trying to find out anything she could, and Alex could hear the phone ring every so often as her sister in law checked in.

And then her parents had arrived. Alex could feel herself start to crack as they took her in their arms, when she saw their tear filled eyes, full with the deepest kind of dread and worry. And she simply couldn’t take it. With a sob and mumbled apologies she had fled, retreating into Harry’s office and finding the only thing she could think of to focus on, to keep her from succumbing the tension and anxiety that radiated through her entire house.

“Alex?” Kate’s voice was timid as she knocked on the door and then pushed it open, moving to stand in the doorway. “William just arrived at King’s Cross. He should be here in a few minutes. And Charles is on the helicopter back from Wales…”

“Okay,” Alex whispered, not taking her eyes from the computer screen as she watched Emma giggling at something and Harry watching her adoringly.

Kate watched her, swallowing at her own emotions as she heard the faint voices play from the computer speakers.

“Alex? do you want to come out and...”

“I feel like I’ve had to ponder never seeing him again far too many times,” Alex interrupted, her large, tear filled eyes finally rising to Kate’s. “And God...Emma…” A sob escaped her lips and she pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes; whether to try and stem the flow of tears or to try and stop herself from picturing a life without either of them; she wasn’t quite sure.


“What if this is the last thing I have of them?” Alex pointed to the computer screen as her voice rose, though it wavered heavily. “What if that’s it? This routine interview for American TV that they did this morning? What if that’s the last time I see their faces or hear their voices or … What if I’m just cursed and meant to lose the people in my life this way? I mean, this shit just keeps on happening…”

Kate took a deep, steadying breath. She knew there was nothing she could say right then that would reassure her sister-in-law -- her friend. There were no words of comfort that would come anywhere close to bringing some calm to Alex’s emotions. The only thing that would do that would be to get some news; and unfortunately, she was waiting on that just as the rest of them were. So, she did the next best thing she could do, the next best thing she knew how to do. She moved closer, letting Alex see the tears that were falling from her own eyes. She moved behind the desk, knelt down, and wrapped the blonde into a tight, warm hug. When she pulled back she stood up, sniffed, wiped at her own wet eyes and then said, “Come on, your mum made some tea.”

Alex blinked and then let out a startled breath of a laugh. “Do you subscribe to the British notion that tea cures everything too?”

“Of course,” Kate nodded. “And apparently your mum does too now. Do you want to come in there? Or do you want me to have her bring it in here for you?”

Alex took a deep breath and, just as she was preparing to agree to join the family, the secure landline rang sharply and she gasped as her heart jumped into her throat. Kate’s wide eyes met hers and then before she could talk herself out of it, Alex reached for the receiver, her hands shaking as she brought it to her ear.


“Alex? It’s Charlotte,” the shaky voice came through the line. “He’s alive. I’ve...we located him. He’s alive and he’s okay.”

“Oh my god,” Alex gasped, her hand flying to her mouth and her eyes closed tight. “Does he have Emma?”

Her question was met by a beat of silence that was just a touch too long, that told Alex the answer before Charlotte ever spoke.

“He wasn’t with her when the stands collapsed, Alex...I’m so sorry. She went up with her PPO while he took a quick call and...she’s still missing.”


“Emma! EMMA!”

The noise was unbelievable. The screaming, the crying, the shouted orders coming from the first responders starting to flood the chaotic scene. Were it any other situation, Harry might have been the first one volunteering to help the first responders, he might have tried to jump in and save some of the people still trapped in the mess of concrete and metal and steel around them. But he couldn’t focus on that, he couldn’t stop and offer his help. Not until they found her. Not until he found Emma.

“Any word from her PPO?” Harry turned towards his own officer, panting with exertion as he asked the question.

“No, I still can’t get through to her,” Martin shouted his reply in order to be heard over the noise. “Her radio isn’t working or is jammed or…”

“Keep trying,” Harry barked the order, not wanting to hear the rest of that sentence. “I don’t care how long it takes.”

“Sir, I think we should get you somewhere safer.” He looked nervous as a woman, crying and covered in blood, nearly careened directly into his charge. “You and Ms. Blakely can coordinate the search for the Princess and you can update the Duchess...”

“You are out of your mind, Martin,” Harry’s eyes were wide and full of fear, anxiety, and a bit of determination as they flashed briefly towards his PPO. “Charlotte is letting Alex know that I’m okay, but I’m sure as fuck not leaving here without my daughter. Got it?”

“Yes, sir.” Even though Martin knew that he should have already pulled his charge from the scene, that he was breaking nearly every protocol there was by letting Harry stay on the scene, he knew that there was nothing he could do to make the Duke leave. Not when he didn’t know if the young Princess was still alive or…

Harry flinched and visibly paled as they heard a child cry out from somewhere in the vicinity around them. Before Martin had time to react himself, Harry had turned around and was pushing through the swarms of people as fast as he could, desperate to find the source of the cries.

His heart slammed into his chest over and over again as he got closer and closer. His eyes were frantic as they searched through the throng of chaos.

“Emma! Emma!” He screamed out, halting on his feet and then suddenly turning in a different direction, faintly hearing his PPO curse as he fought to keep up with him. He nearly stumbled as he finally found the source of the cries of anguish.

“Oh Jesus,” he gasped, closing his eyes against the sight of the child laid out on a makeshift stretcher, their dark hair matted with blood as a first responder worked to bandage up a rapidly bleeding leg wound. He breathed in hard and forced himself to turn away, struggling with not being able to help and with feeling both panic and relief at the fact that it wasn’t his daughter.

“It’s not her,” he shook his head as he turned towards his PPO. “It’s not…” He trailed off as he realized that Martin was holding out a mobile phone to Harry, a stunned look on his normally composed face.

“It’s Ms. Blakely,” he said. “She said your daughter…”

Harry snatched the phone and pulled it to his ear before Martin could finish. He clinched his eyes shut, pressed his hand over his other ear to block out what little noise he could, and tried as best he could to fight way his knees threatened to buckle against his will.


“She’s here, Harry!” Charlotte cried into the phone, stopping Harry short. “She’s here and she’s not hurt but she’s scared and…”

“Oh God,” Harry couldn’t help the sob that escaped with Charlotte’s words, and the intense relief that flooded through his entire body. “How did...nevermind. Just...tell her I’m coming right now. Tell her I’m on my way to her.”


It took nearly a week for Harry, Emma, and Charlotte to get home from Brazil. The government had shut down all flights while they figured out what caused the collapse of the stands at the venue, making it impossible to fly out for several days.

It was late at night when their plane finally flew safely into London; even later when the car carrying Emma and Harry pulled through the gates at Kensington Palace and rolled to a gentle stop in front of their apartment. But Alex was awake and waiting; she wouldn’t have been able to sleep if she tried. She came flying out of the front door, moving as fast as her pregnant frame could carry her. Emma stepped from the car and broke into a run as soon as she saw her Alex, nearly launching herself into her mother’s arms. Harry was right behind her, his arms wrapping his family into a crushing hug as they finally reunited.

Alex could help the sobs that shook her shoulders she hugged her daughter as tightly as she could, kissing the top of her blond head, even as Harry pressed his lips to the side of hers. “Oh Harry...Em...are you okay?”

“We’re okay, Mummy,” Emma whispered as she sniffed and wiped her nose on her sleeve. “I missed you so much.”

Oh baby, I missed you too,” Alex sniffed. Harry’s arms relaxed a bit and Alex pulled back just enough to look down on her daughter, who wasn’t really that much shorter than her anymore. “I missed you both so much. I’m so glad you’re home.”

“You have no idea, Alexandra. idea, love,” Harry said gruffly, kissing the side of Alex’s head once more and rubbing a warm hand down her back. “Come on, my darling girls. Let’s go inside.”


Harry ran his hand through his hair as he slowly climbed towards the top of the stairs. He was exhausted down to the deepest part of his bones, but the anxiety and uncertainty of the past week had finally settled a bit once they’d gotten back to Kensington, once him and Emma had gotten to reunite with Alex.

He took a deep breath when he reached the top of the stairs and then shuffled down the hallway, the dim lights making it feel warm and cozy and home. He stopped when he came to the doorway to Emma’s room and leaned against the doorway, his entire heart lifting at the sight that greeted him.

They were both fast asleep. Emma was tucked up under her covers, her head tucked into Alex’s shoulder. Alex was slightly propped up against the headboard, a fluffy pillow behind her head and her legs stretched out in front of her. Harry figured she had probably fallen into a decent sleep for the first time in days and days, the relief of having them home letting her finally get some rest. And as much he wanted to curl up in their own bed with her, he would let her have this time with Emma before he would ask for any of his own.

He stepped quietly into the room and grabbed the fuzzy blanket from the end of Emma’s bed. He gently spread it out over Alex, kissed the top of her head, and then stepped from the room. Leaving them be for the moment, knowing that his own time to reunite with his wife could wait for the time being.

It was close to dawn when he woke to the feel of the bed dipping slightly. His eyes blinked open into the dark room and he saw her sitting there. She had changed out of her clothes and into one of his big t-shirts to sleep in. Without words, he lifted the covers and she crawled in next to him, immediately laying on her side so she could snuggle back into him.

“You have no idea how good it feels to have you here,” he finally whispered, his lips kissing her shoulder as he moved a hand to her stomach. She felt him smile against her skin as he felt a sharp kick against his hand.

“Good as in...good? Or as in...gooood?” she murmured, wiggling her hips back against him.

“Both,” he murmured, wrapping his arm tighter around her. “Though I think...maybe I’m too exhausted to properly do anything about it right now.”

“Thank God. Me too,” she sighed, making him chuckle behind her.

Several long minutes passed and then Harry heard her take a deep breath. “How has she been?” she finally asked, her voice quiet and unsure.

“Better than I have been, I think,” Harry said after a moment’s pause. “Or better than I would think any nine year old would be. But I think she didn’t really see the worst of it first hand. She was in the loo when...when the stand collapsed…” he continued, his voice growing slightly hoarse and shaky. “And her PPO whisked her away really quickly. But all the radio communications had gone down and and I thought they’d gone to sit already when I went to take that call and...”

“I know,” Alex whispered, her hand moving to his on her stomach. She’d heard the account of what happened more than once. She knew the lucky circumstances that had assured that she didn’t lose either of them when the stands had collapsed from a combination of poor engineering and construction. “I just...I wanted to make sure she’s really okay.”

Harry yawned and then settled in deeper against his warm, sweet wife. “I think she’s getting better now that we’re home. I know I am.”

“God, Harry,” Alex sighed, closing her eyes and savoring the moment with him. “Me too.”


“You were much more okay than I thought you’d be with Emma leaving the house this afternoon.”

“Well…” Alex sighed and leaned back into the headboard of their bed, enjoying the feel of the late afternoon sun as it streamed through their windows. “I wasn’t really. But I know going out riding with Zara is good for her. It’ll help clear her mind. And she’ll be back tonight so...I decided I should probably suck it up.”

“Fair enough.” Harry chuckled and moved to the bed, stretching out next to her and leaning down to press a kiss against her belly. “It seems the boys have grown a bit since I last saw them.”

“You mean I’ve grown a bit since you last saw me,” Alex snickered, narrowing her eyes playfully down at her husband.

“Hey, you know I like it,” Harry grinned. He pressed another kiss to her stomach and then rose up. He leaned over her, his lips dropping her hers as his hand pushed at the hem of her shirt, moving it up over her belly. “I really, really like it.”

“Not feeling so exhausted anymore?” Alex giggled and then moaned as his hands moved higher, exploring her growing curves.

“Well…” Harry sucked in a breath and then kissed her again, groaning as her mouth opened willingly under his. “I figure I should take advantage of every moment in bed with you before I have to leave again in a couple of days.”

It took a minute for Alex to realize what he’d just said, for it to work its way through the passion that was quickly growing between them. But when she did, when the meaning of his words clicked in her brain, her eyes flew open and her hands moved to grip at his arms, stalling him on his journey up her body.

He pulled back, his eyes curious as he looked down at her. “What?”

“Leaving?” she asked quietly, her eyes narrowing at him. “You can’t possibly mean…”

“The Walk of Britain starts in a few days, Alex. I have to…”

Alex sucked in a breath and shook her head, as if she weren’t quite sure she’d really heard what she just did. “You’re still going?!”

Harry paused, looking at her carefully. “Of course I am, Alex. Did you really think I was going to back out of the Walk?”

“Yes!” she yelled the word, unable to help the emotion that burst forth from her. She pushed from the bed, angrily yanking her shirt back down over her belly.

“What is going on, Alex?” He shook his head, bewildered. “You were okay with Emma leaving earlier…”

“For a few hours! Not for two fucking weeks, Harry! just got home from Rio where…” she broke off, choking back the sob that caught in her throat.

“And I’m fine, love,” he countered, softening his tone a bit. “I’m fine and Emma’s fine and…”

“And what about me?!” she shouted, startling him and making him take a step back in surprise. “What about the fact that you’re just...leaving me here again? Right after…”

“Alexandra, this about those soldiers! They’ve worked and trained so hard for this. I can’t just let them down by backing out. Especially when I’m not injured or ill. This is about them, it isn’t about you.”

Alex’s lips tightened and she crossed her arms over her chest. “Yeah, well. Maybe this once, just this one time, it should be.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It means that our entire life revolves around making sure we do everything the way everyone else expects us to,” Alex cried, throwing her hands up in the air. “Just once I’d love it if…”

“Don’t you dare tell me that I don’t put you and Emma above all of that shit,” Harry bit out.

“You aren’t right now,” she countered, not backing down.

His eyes narrowed. “Don’t put your selfishness on me, Alex.”

“Are you kidding me, Wales?” she asked, pressing her hand to her chest as tears rose in her eyes. “It’s selfish that I want my husband at home with me right now? Harry, in the last year I’ve dealt with the thought of losing you three times. And my God, the fact that Emma was there this last time too…” She paused, taking a hitching breath as she wiped at her wet eyes. “And I’m so close to the end of my pregnancy and I just…”

“I am in no danger on this Walk, Alex,” he tried. “And I’m only a few hours away at most and…”

“You’re going to go, no matter what I say, aren’t you?”

He took a deep breath and stood tall as he looked down on his very upset, very pregnant wife. He hated that she was mad, that she felt like he was choosing this commitment he made over her and their children. And he hated that in the end, he couldn’t give her what she wanted.

“Yes. I’m going.”

“Yeah, I thought so,” Alex whispered, shaking her head in sadness and anger. Part of her knew she was being unreasonable. Part of her knew that this commitment of his was to big to be pushed to the side. But that part was being overruled by her heightened emotions and pregnancy hormones and she simply couldn’t be okay with him going away for two more weeks right then. Tears pooled in her eyes and she moved, brushing past him towards the door of their bedroom. “See you in two weeks, Harry.”

And before he could go after her, before he could call out her name and make her turn around and listen to reason, she slammed the door, the sound of it echoing painfully in the room around him.