Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twenty Six

Harry woke up in a cold sweat.

He sat up quickly and looked over at Alex, making sure she was still asleep. She was, and he took a deep breath as he stared down at her, trying to get himself together; get his heart rate down and his anxiety under control.

He’d had yet another nightmare; his third one in the past week. The first month he had been home, had only had the one. However, in the past month, ever since the beginning of August, they had picked up frequency, and fast.

He swung his legs over the side of Alex’s bed and stood, wandering from the room and into the kitchen. The clock on the microwave read 3:21 AM. He sighed. Another middle of the night wake-up that he knew would never allow him to go back to sleep.

He opened Alex’s fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. He sat down at her kitchen table and drank it down slowly, working to push back the nightmare, the anxiety, and the guilt. He closed his eyes and tried to work his mind around it, tried to tell himself that he was being ridiculous and he shouldn’t be thinking about this at all. He was a strong, resilient individual. He had dealt with the stress of being a Royal his entire life. He had buried his mother when he was twelve. He had dealt with the press and the paparazzi and having no privacy for as long as he could remember. He could deal with this.

He finished his water and set the empty plastic bottle on the table and just stared at it for a moment. The dream and the thoughts that went with it were still present. He wasn’t shaking them no matter how hard he tried to force them back. There was only one thing that seemed to push them away these days; only one thing that could wipe his brain free of everything.

He stood then and threw his empty bottle of water into the trashcan before going back down to Alex’s bedroom. He shut the door quietly behind him and locked it before crawling back into bed with her. He immediately moved to her, feeling only the tiniest bit guilty that he was about to wake her up when he knew she had work in the morning and then class that evening. But she was the only thing that could make his hurt stop, and so he pressed on, wrapping his arms around her from behind and pulling him back against her.

“Harry?” she whispered as she drifted into consciousness.

“Baby…I want you…” he murmured into her ear. His hands moved under her nightshirt, moving up to stroke her breasts and caress her awake.

“Hmmmm…” she moaned. Her eyes fluttered open then and slid back to him. They were hazy from sleep and from her building arousal and Harry already felt better, felt the anxiety begin to fade. “Are you okay?” she murmured.

“Oh yes, Alexandra…” he sighed. Then he moved; his body covered hers and his mouth took possession of hers.

And he lost himself in her again.


“Are you sure you want to go to dinner at your brother’s tonight?” Alex asked Harry that Friday evening as she slipped on her heels in his living room. “You look really tired. We can always reschedule.”

Harry smiled at her from his place on the couch and shook his head. “No, no. I’m fine, love. I was just up early getting some work stuff done. I’m excited to go to Will’s and you know I love seeing Henry.”

Alex’s faced softened. Harry’s nephew was amazing. Alex adored him to pieces and was especially excited to go to Will and Kate’s tonight, as Emma would be meeting baby Henry for the first time.

“Of course you love seeing Henry. I swear Will is terrified that every time we go over there that you are going to try to smuggle that baby out,” she teased him.

He grinned. “I think he has extra POs assigned to Henry whenever I’m there.”

Alex laughed and then looked at her watch. “It’s about time to head over there. Let me get Emma. I swear she lives in your garden ever since you put that playhouse back there.”

Harry shrugged. “She liked the tree house so much and since I can’t really put one in out there…playhouse it was.”

Alex shook her head, not even bothering to protest about the extravagance of the playhouse and how much she knew it must have cost him. He hadn’t listened to her protests when he bought it and she was sure he wouldn’t listen to them now. Instead, she made her way to the back door and called Emma in so they could make their way to the Cambridge’s for dinner.


“Someone I know has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks,” Kate teased Harry later that evening as they all sat in Will and Kate’s living room.

Harry looked up from the cooing infant in his arms to his sister and gave a grin. “Already got my present picked out, have you?”

Kate rolled her eyes. “Greedy.”

“He is greedy,” Alex interjected from her spot beside Harry on the sofa. “He hasn’t given me a bit of time with Henry here.” She reached out then and lifted the baby into her arms before Harry could mount another protest. She nestled the two month old in the crook of her arm and smiled down at him, reaching up to run her finger down his soft cheek. “You are so soft and sweet little man,” she cooed. Baby Henry, clearly delighted and enamored with Alex, gurgled with delight as she spoke softly and sweetly to him.

“Mummy, can I hold him?” Emma asked quietly as she peered over Alex’s arms at Henry.

Alex smiled at her sweet daughter. “Ask Mr. Will and Miss Kate first, Em.”

Emma looked up at the couple, sitting on the opposite couch. “May I please hold Henry? I promise to be careful.”

“Of course you may, Emma. Thank you for asking,” Will said with a grin at the same time that Kate nodded in the affirmative. They both thought that it was truly lovely how well-mannered Alex’s daughter was.

“Okay, Emma,” Alex said. “Sit all the way back on the couch so your back is kind of in the corner right there.” When Emma had situated herself Alex explained to her how to hold her arms out and then she leaned over and carefully placed Henry in Emma’s arms, making sure he was supported in all of the right places. She propped up one of the throw pillows under the arm that Emma was supporting Henry’s head so that she would be comfortable. “Got him?” she asked Emma.

Emma nodded with a big smile as she looked down at the baby. “He’s so little,” she said in a whisper.

“He was even smaller when he was born,” Harry spoke up, having been watching with wonder and a little bit of a racing heart as first Alex had cuddled and loved on his nephew, and now Emma. It certainly wasn’t the first time he had seen Alex hold Henry, but it never failed to affect him like it was. She was so at ease and at peace with the baby in her arms; and Harry would be lying if he said he didn’t get visions of her cuddling up a baby of their own one day.

“He was smaller than this?” Emma squeaked. “I don’t think that’s possible.” Her eyes were wide at the possibility.

The room tinkered with laughter. “It certainly is possible,” Alex told her daughter. “You were actually smaller than he was when he was born.”

Emma peered at her mother. “Mummy, are you making that up?” Harry and Will both snickered and Kate smiled at Emma’s sass.

Alex laughed. “I am telling you the truth. You were small because you came just a bit early.”

“How early?” Emma asked immediately, clearly enthralled with this information that she has never heard before.

“About five weeks…so, a little over a month.”

Emma mulled over that information for a moment. “I must have been just too excited to come out and meet you then, Mummy,” she finally said. And then, having decided for herself the reason she must have been early, she was done with the conversation and moved her attention back to Henry.

It never failed to touch Alex’s heart when her daughter said things like that. Emma was so sassy and independent that those types of statements were not something that happened too often; but when they did they meant the world to Alex. She quickly blinked away the mist in her eyes before turning back to the others in the room. “So what shall we do for Harry’s birthday?” she asked excitedly, needing the conversation to move in a different direction. It worked, and they all began to toss out ideas, making for a lively game that that really got them nowhere towards a solid idea.

Eventually it got to be Henry’s bed time and Harry and Alex decided to let the new parents put their baby down and get some rest. They all shared hugs and kisses, even Emma, and then made their way from Will and Kate’s Kensington apartment across the grounds to Harry’s cottage.

“Mummy, can I please go play in the playhouse for a bit before bed?” Emma asked when they made their way into the foyer.

Alex checked her watched. “Okay, but you have thirty minutes, then it is bed time.”

Emma squealed, startling Alex, who should have been more than used to it by now, before tearing out of the room. Alex sighed as she heard the back door open and then slam.

“She’s got to work on the door slamming,” she said, turning to look at Harry apologetically.

He laughed. “It’s fine,” he said as he took her hand and tugged her toward the living room and leading her to the sofa. She sat and watched him as he moved around, turning off the bright overhead lights and flipping on the lamps so that there was a soft glow through the room. Then he sat, gracefully as ever, tucking her up under his arm like he always did.

“I didn’t know that Emma was premature,” he said quietly, stroking Alex’s arm softly.

Alex nodded against Harry’s shoulder. “She was. Her birth was…difficult. She came early but I guess she felt like she had to make a statement doing it. She was turned the wrong way and nothing they could do could get her to turn. I just got too exhausted with all of it and in the end they had to do an emergency c-section.”

He nodded. Of course he knew she’d had a c-section. He had seen the tiny scar she had on her lower abdomen. He’d kissed it many times on his way down her body, but it wasn’t something he dwelled on or thought about. It was just another part of her that he loved.

They sat in silence for a few moments, letting the tick of the grandfather clock lull them in relaxtion.

“That baby Henry sure is something,” Alex sighed as she turned her eyes up to his. She saw the flash in his eyes and saw his lips start to move before closing shut again. “What is it?” she asked him softly.

He shook his head, chuckling a little at himself. “It just…” He trailed off, not even knowing how to say what he was feeling; what he felt when he watched her with his nephew.

“So shy all of the sudden?” she teased. Her hand moved to rest on his flat stomach and he immediately picked it up, keeping eye contact with her while he pressed a warm kiss to her palm before setting her hand back down.

“Not shy, Alex,” he took a deep breath. “You know that I see a future that includes you and Emma, right?”

Alex nodded slowly. Her lips curved into a smile at the thought.

Harry reached up and brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead before he looked back down and caught her gaze again. “I’ve always wanted children, Alexandra. Always. And it’s not that I don’t love Emma. I do. I love her so much I can’t stand it sometimes. I would consider her my own if I were ever lucky enough to get that opportunity, so it’s not about having children that are mine. I do want more though. And I’m just…I guess I’m just making sure that Emma isn’t the end of the line for you.”

Alex was sure her heart stopped beating. He was asking her if she wanted more children…more children with him. Of course she wanted more children, she always had. She was just never sure that it would happen for her. She never really thought she would even get married again until she fell in love with Harry and opened herself to the idea. But now, here was this amazing, wonderful, sweet man telling her he wanted children with her. Her brain stalled in that moment, not knowing how to find the words to answer his question. She could see the worry creep into his eyes when she just sat there dumbfounded. He shifted slightly, pulling away, even if it was so minimal that no one could have ever picked up on it but her.

“No, Harry…don’t pull away,” she called softly to him. Her fingers tugged at his shirt and then moved up to his face, cradling it gently. “You just surprised me, that’s all.”

His eyebrows lifted and a small smile appeared on his lips. “Surprised? Not scared?”

Alex shook her head. Her eyes were open and honest and searching his. “Not scared. I…I want - ”

Alex’s words were cut off by a shriek followed by a loud cry coming from Harry’s backyard. Her eyes immediately went wide and she was pushing off of Harry and off of the couch in less than half a second with Harry right behind her.

She burst through the back door and looked frantically around for her daughter, finally spotting her sprawled out on the ground on her back.