Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twenty One

Harry and Alex’s peaceful little world post-deployment lasted exactly forty eight hours. And Harry was pretty sure that had baby Henry not been born the day before he came home and the press had not been otherwise occupied, it wouldn’t even have lasted that long.

Two days after his return, the Ministry of Defense announced that he was home. The BBC immediately went to Harry’s office, wanting final approval on the interview they had done in Afghanistan.

It was up until then that Harry had managed to push his anxiety and guilt from Geoff’s death to the back of his mind. He had filled up his first two days home with Alex and Emma, his family, and his adorable brand new nephew. But when the BBC wanted to air footage that Geoff was in, that Harry had to face it for the first time. His Press Office was able to talk the BBC into cutting a lot of it. It wasn’t a necessity to the interview, to showing Harry’s life in Afghanistan. But, there were things - the video games, the shots of them in the mess hall – that they wanted to keep.

And so Harry had to place a call, a call he knew needed to happen but was dreading. He had to call Geoff’s wife and let her know, get her permission, express his sympathies. He had missed the funeral, as it happened before he got back, and she should have placed this call as soon as he stepped foot back on British soil.

Susanna Griffin was still a new widow, still very much in shock over her husband’s death. But, despite the initial shock of Prince Harry of Wales speaking through her phone, offering his deepest sympathies, and telling her how wonderful her husband had been, she was a practical woman. She agreed to let the footage air and she thanked Harry profusely for being such a great friend to Geoff.

Harry hung up the phone, hung his head, and hated himself even more for not being on that Apache; for leaving Susanna Griffin without her husband and her son without his father. Even though logically he understood that it wasn’t his fault, it didn’t help the extreme guilt when it pushed to the service.

He took several deep breaths, closing his eyes forcing his mind elsewhere. He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to remember those moments in Afghanistan when they pulled Geoff from that helicopter. He closed his mind off to it slowly, working hard to push it back into the recesses of his brain.

After several long minutes he finally got himself under control. He opened his eyes, blinking at the familiar walls of his office. He sat back in his chair, checking his watch.

The interview would be airing any time now. But the time Alex arrived at Kensington with Emma tonight the media would be aware that Harry was seeing someone and the guessing game would begin.

Harry had already called Chelsy and warned her, as she was always the first suspect. She had laughed, used to it, but she thanked him for the heads up and wished him the best. He thanked her and they exchanged few pleasantries before hanging up. Such was the way with them; they hadn’t worked out, but they still had respect for each other and wished each other the best.

Harry took another deep breath, running through the things in his mind that he needed to do. The first was deciding how he and Alex would go public. It would have to be soon. The press was going to start following him around. He wouldn’t avoid her so place forever so that the paparazzi wouldn’t spot him.

It really was amazing that not a single word had been breathed of their relationship to the press. He knew a lot of it had to be attributed to the amazing way his family had pulled her in, giving her a safe place to talk about him, be with him. Their relationship was isolating for her as it had been with previous women. They hadn’t been able to talk about him to anyone, not knowing who to trust. The result was frustration, anger, and inevitably it all ended.

But not with Alex. He had made sure with her. He made sure the support system was there. And, it just so happened that his family loved her and Emma.

Harry was lost in all of those thoughts when there was a knock at his doorway, startling him. He turned his head quickly to the door and grinned when he saw who was there.

“Charlotte,” he grinned, rising to greet her. She had been out of town when he came back so he hadn’t gotten to see her yet.

She smirked at him. “Captain Wales. Welcome home.”

He moved to her and enveloped her into a warm, brotherly hug. Even though they bantered, bickered, and she bossed him around constantly, Charlotte and Harry were still close friends, and had been for a very long time. So for once, she just hugged him back, not cracking any jokes or making any snarky comments.

“I’m glad you’re home safe,” she told him quietly.

“Me too,” his answer was gruff, not used to hearing emotion from her. They both held on for one more beat and then moved apart.

And then Charlotte was back to herself, making herself right at home in his office, not caring what Harry had going on.

“So, the announcement has been made. You’re officially home. You’re an uncle. What’s next?” Charlotte asked, getting straight to the point as always.

Harry grinned. “Girlfriend.”

“I’m sorry…don’t you already have one of those? Remember her? Petite blond thing? Sweet as pie? Goes by the name of Alex?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I meant going public with my girlfriend.”

“Ah. Yes,” Charlotte smiled. “How is that going to happen?”

Harry thought for a moment. “Actually, I could use your help on that.”

“You could always use my help.”

“For Heaven’s sake Charlotte, do you have an off switch?”

She snorted. “No.”

Harry sighed. “Anyway, the press is going to find out as soon as the BBC interview airs that I’m seeing someone. They won’t be able to figure it out right away, but eventually…”

“They’ll track you down and figure it out,” Charlotte finished for him.

He nodded.

“So you’re just going to jump in? Is Alex on board?”

“We talked about it before I was deployed. I gave her the options and this is what she wanted. It makes the most sense for us. Neither of us wants to wait around for the other shoe to drop,” Harry said, his voice taking on a softer tone when speaking about Alex.

Charlotte regarded Harry for a moment. She would never tell a soul this, but it really was something the way Harry’s face transformed when he talked about Alex. Everything about him softened, lightened. Even talking about the press wasn’t causing the irritation it always had with him.

“Well, alright. What do you need my help with?” Charlotte asked, her brain switching to work mode.

“I need an event. It’s the London Social Season, Charlotte, but I’ve only been home two days and I haven’t even begun to process what is coming up. I pay you to schmooze up the rich people at all those events so now you get to brainstorm with me.”

Charlotte sat for a second, just staring at Harry as she thought. That particular habit of hers unnerved people, but Harry was used to it, so he just sat there and stared back until she grinned at him.

He raised his eyebrows. “That was fast.”

“I’m good at what I do.”

“No argument there. Whatcha got for me?”

“How about taking her to Wimbledon? The ladies final is next Saturday, a week from tomorrow.”

Harry smiled. “Royal box?”

Charlotte shrugged. “That part, my friend, is entirely up to you. But…I can’t imagine that you would sit anywhere else.”

Harry nodded, mulling the thought over. “I need to talk it over with Alex and check and see who else from the family is going then. If my Dad and Camilla are going I would be hesitant to do that, it would cause a frenzy.”

Charlotte nodded. “That’s smart. See if Bea or Eugenie will be going. She likes them, and they like her. It would be good to show some support from your family.”

“I like it,” he murmured, his mouth pulling up at the corners. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Now, if you will excuse me, I have actual work to do. You know, kissing rich people’s asses is hard work. I deserve a raise,” Charlotte said, raising an eyebrow.

“Ha! I already pay you too much. Now get out of my office. I’m leaving. I’m not even supposed to be back here yet and I have a date tonight,” Harry said, standing and ushering Charlotte from his office, already looking forward to sharing his plan with Alex.


“Harry, please can we go swimming? Please?” Emma begged as she sat on one of the barstools in the kitchen as Harry and Alex finished cleaning up the dinner dishes.

“Emma, who told you that I have a swimming pool?” Harry teased her as he lifted her off the barstool and set her on the ground.

She immediately put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes at him. “You did!”

Harry put a hand to his chest, acting shocked. “Me? I would never say such a thing. Emma, I think you need your little ears checked.”

Alex laughed as she watched them from a few feet away, leaning up against the kitchen counter by the sink.

“Uhhhh…no. I heard you say it. My ears are perfect,” Emma sassed back, her blonde head bobbing, punctuating her words.

Harry finally gave in, laughing. “I know they are, princess. If your mum says it’s okay, it’s okay with me.”

Emma looked at her mum, her eyes wide and hopeful.

“Emma, I wouldn’t have packed our swimsuits if I wasn’t going to let you swim. Go change and meet us back in the living room,” Alex told her daughter with a smile.

“Thank you, Mummy!” Emma squealed before making a beeline out of the room. They heard her footsteps pound up the stairs and into the guest bedroom. Alex winced when she heard the heavy wood door slam above them.

“Sorry,” she said to Harry apologetically.

He laughed. “I’m sure she didn’t hurt the door.”

“She may have knocked all the pictures off the walls,” Alex joked as Harry moved in front of her. He leaned forward, resting his palms on the counter on either side of her hips. She tilted her head, looking up and him, loving how it felt to be surrounded by him. She reached up and rested her arms on his shoulder, pulling him a touch closer.

It was like this with them. When they were alone they automatically moved into each other, filling each other’s space, even if it were just for a few moments as it would be now.

“I love you,” he murmured as he lowered his lips close to hers. “And I love that you and Emma are here…even if she does knock a bunch of priceless pictures off the walls.”

Alex’s laugh was cut off by Harry’s lips covering hers. Her eyes slid closed and her mind crashed to a halt, focusing solely on him.

He kissed her slowly, sweetly. His lips pressed softly, his tongue smooth and gently as it tangled lazily with hers. She sighed into him, her fingers moving into the mess of red hair on his head. She loved his body around hers, his mouth over hers.

When he pulled back from her she smiled softly up at him. “I should go get my suit on.”

His eyes flashed.

She laughed, pushing against his chest, moving him away from her. “Don’t you even think about it. We promised to take Emma swimming, not to leave her in the living room while you try to convince me I need help getting my suit on.”

Harry’s shout of laughter filled the room. He held his palms in the air in surrender. “I wouldn’t dream of such a thing.”

She shook her head at him. “You are a bad, bad liar, Wales.”


The indoor swimming pool at Kensington was huge. Harry, Alex and Emma spent an hour inside the warm room, playing and splashing each other.

Alex and Emma taught Harry to play Marco Polo and then subsequently made Harry swear he would never, ever play with them again when they teamed up against him, leaving them both with stitches in their sides from laughing so hard at his level of frustration at not being able to catch them.

Harry picked Emma up and threw her in the air and into the water more times than he could count. He finally had to beg off when his arms started to feel like jelly, even though he could have listened to Emma’s delightful squeal and giggle every time she went airborne.

Finally though, they had to call it a night. It was past Emma’s bedtime and Alex could tell her daughter was tired. It had been a long, emotional week for all of them.

Once Alex got Emma dried off, into pajamas, and into bed in the guest bedroom she went looking for Harry in his room, but he wasn’t there. She went ahead and changed while she was there, peeling her wet swimsuit off, hanging it up in his bathroom, and putting on her night shirt and a pair of socks. She tied her wet hair back and then padded downstairs, finding Harry sitting the couch, waiting for her.

He had changed as well, into sweatpants and a t-shirt. He had his laptop open and resting on the arm of the couch and a glass of wine in his hand. She saw that one was waiting for her on the coffee table. She picked it up on her way over to him, taking a sip as she sat, cuddling up to his side.

“You found me,” he murmured, his lips pulling up at the sides as he looked down at her.

“I did, though I expected you to be in the bedroom,” she said, her cheeks growing flush.

He smirked. “Well, we will get there. But, I wanted to talk to you first.”

“Oh?” She took a sip of wine while she waited for him to talk.

He took a deep breath. “The interview has aired, you know that.”

“Really? Was that tonight?” she teased.

He chuckled. “Yes, it was tonight,” he stopped and nodded at his computer screen. “I’ve got it pulled up. Want to see it?”

Alex’s eyes danced. “I really do.”

“I thought you might.”

He pressed play on the video he had pulled up. He had it cued to the part where the reporter asked the first question.

Her face was one big smile as she watched, listening to the words that he said. When that small portion of the video was over he stopped the video and snapped his laptop shut.

“What? Wait…I want to watch the rest.” She pouted playfully.

He leaned forward to put his laptop on the table and then he was back to her, pulling her to his side. “We can watch later. First, I need to know how you feel about what I said.”

Her eyes softened. “I love what you said. You know that already though.”

“True.” He smiled and then pressed further on. “How do you feel about the entire world having seen that video by now?”

She took a deep breath. “Honestly?”

“Of course.”

“It’s a little…weird.”

“Just a little?”

“Okay…maybe a lot weird. Why are you asking me this? You knew this was going to happen, I knew this was going to happen. I’m not surprised by it.” Her eyes were wide, questioning.

He reached over to the side table, setting his glass of wine on it before taking hers and doing the same. Then he slid both arms around her and pulled her closer.

“Alex, I’m need sure you’re still on board before we make the decision to do this. It’s going to insane at first. I mean it, insane. I know I can handle it, and I know you are strong enough to handle it, but you have to want to handle it,” Harry explained gently. His eyes were heavy, searching, as they looked down into hers.

She reached up and cupped his face in her hands. Her lips formed a soft smile. “I love you, Harry,” she said simply.

“I know. But…”

“No. No buts. Everything you need to know is in those three words. You can ask me a million questions about whether I am ready, or whether I want to ‘handle’ it, but it will always come back to those three words. I love you…so yes, I am ready for it. I’m ready to be with you.”

Harry opened his mouth but closed it quickly. She watched him swallow the lump in throat, watched him blink in quick succession. “I love you too,” he finally whispered.

“Good. Now tell me your plan,” she grinned.

“How do you know I have a plan?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow.

She laughed and dropped her hands from his face. They both remembered the night he left, having this same exchange, only other way around.

“Because I know you, and I know you have a plan,” she said, loving this moment with him.

“Whatever we do, we need to do it soon. The paparazzi are going to start following me around. I refuse to stay away from you, to stay away from your flat, to avoid them,” Harry said, his demeanor sliding over to slightly matter-of-fact.

Alex nodded in agreement.

“So, what do you think about me taking you to the Ladies Finals at Wimbledon next weekend?”

“Next weekend…” Alex took a deep breath, letting the moment settle around her, doing a mental shake that this moment was finally here.

“If it’s too soon…”

“No, no. It’s not that. It’s just strange that we are finally here, at this moment,” she laughed lightly and then leaned into him a little bit more, she looked up at him. “Next weekend sounds good.”

“Fantastic!” he exclaimed, leaning down to kiss her soundly. Then he reached for their wine glasses, handing hers back over and offering his up for a toast. She clinked his glass with a smile and took a sip from her own.

She settled into him then, leaning against his chest, letting the quietness of the house settle over them. Then suddenly she had a thought.



“You’re going to laugh.”

“I won’t.”

“You will.”


She sighed. “Harry. I don’t know shit about tennis.”

She was right. He laughed.

He laughed as he leaned over and captured her mouth with his.

He laughed as she squealed when he picked her up to take her up the stairs, clapping her hand over her mouth when she remembered Emma was sleeping.

And when, after they had made love, she tried to make him stay awake and explain the rules of tennis to her, he laughed softly, pulled her tight against his side, and firmly told her to go to sleep.