Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Against the Odds - Chapter Twenty Eight Part One

“Are you going to be alright with all of this, Alexandra? I’m sure he’s going to put up quite a fight and it’s not going to be pretty.”

Charles had both of his hands placed on her upper arms as he looked down at her and asked his question softly. Charles and Alex, along with William, were in the sitting room of Will and Kate’s Kensington home and Harry was due to be there any minute. However, Harry thought he was coming to spend time with Henry, not to be forced into a sort of intervention with his father, brother, and Alex.

“I’m absolutely alright with this. I need to be here for this. I need him to know neither me nor his family are going to be dismissive of his problems. And despite how he treated me the last time I saw him…” Alex trailed off as the lump that had been there for a week swelled back up again.

A week.

It had been a week since she had left in the middle of the night, reeling from the unbelievably harsh things he had said to her. It had been a week since she had called Charles, seeking his assistance in finding out what was wrong with Harry. And in that week she had heard nothing from Harry. He hadn’t called, texted, or emailed. There was no attempt at contact. As each day had moved into the next, as she had discovered from Charles that Harry was supposed to be piloting that Apache that night, and then worked with both Charles and William to dig into Harry’s relationship with Geoff, she grew more and more despondent.

He had said he didn’t want to be with her anymore, didn’t want to marry her, and didn’t want to have children with her. By the time she made her way to Kensington Palace today to finally confront Harry with what they knew, she had almost convinced herself that he meant what he had said. In truth, she wasn’t sure she had enough energy or hope left to hold on to the sliver of doubt she had that he didn’t mean those things; that he wasn’t done with her.

“I could kill him for saying those things to you,” William chimed in from his place in one of the big chairs near the fireplace. He had been livid when Alex had repeated the things he’d said to her after she had already told Charles and Camilla the morning she went to Clarence House. William had been ready to find Harry and kick some sense into him right then, but Charles and Alex both convinced him they needed to have all of their ducks in a row before confronting Harry.

Alex smiled gratefully at William for being so protective of her, but she really wasn’t concerned with dealing with that today. She just wanted Harry to see that what happened with Geoff wasn’t his fault and that he needed to get help for what she was almost certain was PTSD.

“I appreciate that Will,” she said. “But let’s not kill him today. It’s not really our objective.”

Will grinned. “I’ll try.”

Charles mobile phone rang just then and he quickly pulled it from the inside pocket of his sports coat. “Yes?…Two minutes?…Okay…Thank you.” He ended the called and took a deep breath. “His protection officer just called. He will be here in two minutes.”

Alex’s heart slammed into her chest. She had prepared and prepared for this moment but now that it was here she couldn’t believe the nerves that were pumping through her. She smiled at Charles and nodded and then closed her eyes and took a deep breath, steadying herself. She opened her eyes and let the breath out before looking down to smooth her skirt and moving to the chair by William to sit and wait. They had all agreed to be sitting except for Charles. It would look less intimidating, but if he tried to bolt, they knew that only Charles would be best first line of defense in stopping him.

Charles squared his shoulders and moved to stand by the door that Harry would come through. Alex folded her hands in her lap and looked towards the door.

“Hey Alex,” Will whispered from beside her. She turned her head and looked at him. He gave her a small, encouraging smile. “You know that we will never forget that you put aside all of your embarrassment and personal feelings to come to us for help, right? Spilling out everything so honestly so that we can all push Harry to get better means more to our family than we can ever say.”

Alex blinked and tears popped into her eyes. “Will…”

He held up two hands. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that now. I just wanted to make sure you knew.”

She nodded and made a big effort to fight back the emotion. “Thank you,” she whispered simply.

Will nodded. She didn’t need to explain to any of them why she did it. They all knew it was because she loved Harry and wanted him to be better, even if meant that it hurt her to do it.

Alex turned back towards the door and waited. The next minute was one of the longest of her life. Her heart beat loudly in her chest and it took every ounce of willpower she had to stay still and not display how her body was simultaneously filled with debilitating nerves and an intense longing at the knowledge that she would be seeing him within seconds.

And then he walked through the door.

Alex fought a gasp at the sight of him. He looked terrible. He was unshaven, and not in the scruffy, sexy way she loved. His eyes were swollen and there were bags under them. His hair was wild, sticking in every different direction. He was pale and most definitely thinner than he had been a week ago. He looked sick and it made Alex sick that he was hurting so bad that he had gotten to this point. She saw Charles’ reaction to his son’s appearance and she heard William’s sharp intake of breath next to her. Her heart ached for the two of them as well.

Harry, in his exhausted state, was slower to react to the room. Of course, he saw his father first. A confused look slowly spread across his face. “What are you doing here, Dad?”

Will stood then; rising up and buttoning his coat as he did so. He folded his hands in front of him. Harry caught the movement from the corner of his eye and he turned towards William. His gaze rested on him for a brief second before he spotted Alex sitting in the chair next to William. His gaze fell on her and their eyes locked. Alex immediately rose. Harry’s eyes drew her upward, as if standing would bring her closer to him. It took everything she had not to go to him. It took all of the strength and composure she had to stay rooted to her spot and not run into his arms. She wanted to sooth him, to take away his pain; but she knew that without knowing she had been doing just that for two months, and she knew it was wrong. She knew he had to want to deal with his demons. She couldn’t just help him push them back.

“Alexandra…” Harry breathed. After refusing to say her name for a week it was heavenly to him as it tipped off of his tongue. He took a step, an involuntary step towards her. Alex’s hand immediately flew to her heart. Thinking that she was scared, Will stepped forward, as if to block her, and that’s when Harry’s brain clicked in. His gaze snapped away from Alex and snapped in succession to his brother and father before swinging back around to her. His eyes hardened into steel as he looked at her. She shifted uncomfortably.

He had figured it out.

“Fuck all of you,” Harry spat. His eyes were still trained on Alex even though his words were aimed at everyone in the room.

Alex flinched at his words and opened her mouth to speak, to try to make him understand.

“No!” He screamed at her. “Don’t you dare. I’ve already told you that you know nothing! I should have known you would push the issue; but to involve my family? Such a conniving little-”

“If I were you Harry, I’d stop right there,” Charles thundered in over Harry’s tirade. Harry’s head snapped towards his father. Charles moved in, stepping up close to Harry and leaning in so their faces were inches apart. “Don’t youdare. You have done enough to this young woman. You have no right to do anything but praise the ground she walks on after all that she’s put aside to try to help you.”

“What did she tell you? Did she tell you I was fucked up in the head? She’s lying,” Harry growled.

Alex watched their interaction and tried not to react to Harry’s words. He was mad and felt betrayed. She knew he would. She knew he would probably have a few choice words for her before this was all over. It still didn’t take away the sting and Alex fought hard to keep her reactions to it all at a minimum for right now. Her reacting would only spur him on further. He wanted her to react. He wanted her to hurt instead of trying to help himadmit that he was hurting.

“She’s not lying, son. You and I both know she isn’t. Why would she?” Charles asked. His voice was firm and he meant business, although he had lowered his volume in an effort to calm Harry down.

“Because…because…” Harry stuttered. He was trying to find any reason at all that would appease his father so he could just get the fuck out of the room. He wanted nothing to do with any of this. They didn’t understand him and he was certain that no one could. Finally, after his tired brain couldn’t come up with anything he threw up his hands. “I’m done with this.” He turned quickly on his heel and tried to walk away.

Charles clamped his hand down on Harry’s shoulder. “You’re not going anywhere, son.”

Harry whirled around, ready for a fight, but William was there in an instant, standing tall next to his father and glaring down on his brother. He grabbed Harry behind the neck and yanked him close, so that their faces were almost touching. William’s eyes bored into his brothers as he spoke low and fierce. “Enough of this, Harry. You’ve said your piece. We know you don’t want to talk about this. We get it. But, Alex deserves more than that. She deserves for you to sit down and listen to her and to us. Don’t you get it? You are hurting her and your family in an effort to only let yourself feel the pain.”

Harry struggled against his brother, but William held him solidly there. He wasn’t going to let go. He wasn’t going to let Harry ruin his life and lose out on everything that was waiting for him.

William spoke again, lower and stronger this time. “If you don’t stay and let us, let her try to help you, you are the biggest fool in the world. After everything she’s given up to be with you, after all of the faith she’s put into you, and after you treated her so badly last week and just now; she’s stillstanding over there with a heart full of pain for you. Not at you, Harry. For you.”

Harry tried to keep William’s words out. He wanted to shut his eyes and keep all of it away from him. But something inside him began to crack. He was exhausted and not sure if he had it in him anymore to fight, not against the three people in this room; three of the people who had been there for him more than anyone else in his entire life.

And so Harry, in the first step he had taken in the right direction in two months, dropped just a little bit of his fight.

“Okay,” he whispered in a hoarse voice.

“Okay?” William whispered back, just a little bit surprised.

Harry nodded as William searched his eyes to make sure Harry was really ready, or if he was just telling William that to get out of his hold. After several long seconds, William was satisfied and gently released his hold on Harry and stepped back. Harry immediately looked at father and moved to apologize, but Charles shook his head before Harry could get a word out.

“No need, son. Let’s just move forward from here and that’s all I will need from you,” Charles said gently.

“Okay, Dad,” Harry replied quietly.

Charles stood back then and gestured to the middle of the room; towards where Alex was sitting. Harry looked up and found her again. And now that the crack had started over his heart, seeing her standing there, so pale and sad widened it a little bit more. His breath caught as he saw the tear slip from her cheek. He found her gaze and his eyes locked on hers.

It was then that Alex realized that the silent communication she’d witnessed him have with people who had been in his life forever was now something she understood. His eyes widened fractionally, and she knew he was asking her permission to come over to her. She gave the smallest fraction of a nod and he moved instantly but slowly over to her. When he moved in front of her she tilted her head to look at him. His eyes were heavy, but clear. She saw a little bit of him in there. Just enough to know that the rest of him was in there somewhere. She just hoped it wasn’t too far below the surface.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered brokenly. He reached up and brushed a tear from her cheek and she closed her eyes at his touch.

“I know,” she whispered back. She opened her eyes again and reached up and grabbed the hand that was at her cheek. “We can deal with all of that later…with us. But please Harry, I need you to listen to us. I need you to hear what we have to say about what is going on with you. That’s first. I need you to do that first and take the steps to fix that before I can even begin to think about if we can fix us.”

Harry nodded. “I understand.”

“Are you ready to talk about this? To talk about what happened in Afghanistan?”

Harry took her hand that was still holding his and moved it, placing it over his heart and placing his hand over it, holding it there. He felt the warmth of her through his skin and it immediately opened the crack wider.

It was going to hurt like hell to do this, to talk about Geoff and how he had handled everything. But for Alex, for this woman who had loved him beyond reason and for some reason he couldn’t even father hadn’t kicked him straight to the curb for treating her in an unforgivable way, he would try.

“Yes. I’m ready.”