Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Thirty Eight Part Three

It was late afternoon when Harry arrived home. He shed his jacket as soon as he stepped through the door, laying it across the back of a chair before moving to the stairs and up to his bedroom where he knew Alex and Emma would be. His bedroom door was slightly open and he pushed it, stepping quietly into the room. His gaze hit the bed and despite the stress and the anger at the day, he couldn’t help the small smile that tilted his lips when he saw his girls, both tucked up under the covers in his bed, fast asleep. He had no doubt they were both emotionally exhausted and he was so glad that he had been able to provide his home as a refuge of sorts for them, even if what they were hiding from was a result of who he was.

He moved further into the room, removing his tie and toeing his shoes off as he went. He stepped to the side of the bed that Alex was sleeping on and looked down on her with warm, loving eyes. She was faced towards him, the blanket pulled up around her shoulders, her long hair spread out on the pillow behind her. She looked beautiful and peaceful and he almost didn’t want to wake her, but he knew that she would want him to.

“Alexandra…” he murmured as he placed a warm hand on her shoulder and rubbed gently. “Alex, I’m home.”
Her eyes fluttered open and she blinked a few times before she focused on him. “Hi…” she breathed, her voice low and hoarse from sleep.

“Hi…” he whispered, his voice a bit nervous. His eyes were full of worry and guilt as he looked down on her and Alex couldn’t take that. She knew he would feel that way and she hated it. Before Harry could process what she was doing, she quickly climbed out from under the covers and threw her arms around him, holding him tightly to her, burying her face in his neck.

“Hey…” Harry murmured, surprised by her intensity. His arms went around her and he pulled her tightly to him. “Are you okay love?”

“I love you,” she whispered fiercely into the crook of his neck as she tightened her arms around him.

“Oh Alex…I…”

“I love you,” she whispered again, interrupting him.

“I love you too, Alexandra,” Harry responded softly. He smoothed his hands up over her shoulders and to her neck. He moved to cup her face gently and pulled her back so he could look at her. Her eyes were determined and serious and it gave him pause. “What is it Alex?”

“I love you, Harry.” Her voice was firm and pointed.

His lips turned up a bit at the corners. “Baby, I know you do.”

“Do you?” Alex asked. “Because I know you’re feeling guilty and worried and I…I just want you to remember that no matter what this shitty day threw at us, I love you. None of this changes that. It doesn’t even make a dent in it.”

“I know you love me, Alex,” he said low, his eyes growing soft, some of the anxiety fading from them. “I do know that.”

“Good,” she smiled as she leaned in and pressed her lips softly to his.

“Nice pajamas,” Harry grinned, his gaze falling to her ensemble when she pulled her lips back from his.

Alex glanced down and laughed, remembering that she was wearing one of his soft white undershirts and pair of grey sweatpants that were entirely too big for her. “Sorry, we had no choice. Emma has on one of your long sleeved t-shirts, your blue Sentebale one. I think you might have lost it to her.”

“It’s all hers,” he chuckled. “How long have you two been asleep? Can we wake her? I have something for both of you…I thought it might make you feel better.”

“What time is it?”

“A little after four; it took me longer to get home than I anticipated. Drove me nuts,” Harry answered with a small smile.

“No, it’s fine,” Alex sighed. “We got here, scrounged around your kitchen for some cookies, then changed into these clothes and crawled into bed. We were both just worn out. I haven’t really even talked to her yet. We can wake her, I’m sure she’d be upset if we didn’t.”

“Was she…” He stopped, took a breath, and looked away for a beat before he turned his eyes back to Alex. “Was she scared?”

“Yes,” Alex nodded. “Scared and upset and sad.”

“God damn it…” Harry groaned, moving away from Alex. He ran his fingers through his hair and then turned sad eyes back to her. “I hate this.”

“I know. And we need to talk about it…but please, Harry…can we just wake her and go see or do whatever it is you’ve got for us? Then we can all cuddle up on the couch and watch movies and just let her have a peaceful evening with two people who love her very, very much.”

He sighed, trying to pull his warring emotions together. All day he had done nothing but alternate between being so fucking pissed he couldn’t even see straight and incredibly sad; sad for Emma, sad for Alex, sad that it was his name and his life that did this to them. In truth Harry knew that eventually it was going to happen, but he hadn’t foreseen the absolute crush and disregard for Emma and Alex’s privacy.

And Alex was right. What Emma needed right now was love from him and her mother. Emma was just six and a half years old and she was dealing with the repercussions of suddenly being one of the most famous children in the world.

“Yes, of course love,” he finally said softly. “We can absolutely do that.”

“Great,” Alex smiled as she climbed down from the bed and leaned up to place another quick kiss on Harry’s lips. “Let’s get her up.”

His lips tilted slightly. “Actually, you get her up. I’m going to run downstairs and get everything ready for you two. I had it delivered to the kitchen by the staff; I just need to set it up.”

Alex’s lips twitched. “Set it up?”

“You’ll see,” he winked. “See you two beautiful ladies in a few minutes.”

Alex watched him as he left the room quietly and she shook her head lightly. He was such a mix of emotions, and she knew that it was only going to get worse later, once it was just the two of them and they talked about what was going on and what to do about it. But for right now, she was glad that he could put that aside for a bit for Emma.

Alex moved to Emma’s side of the bed and gently shook her awake, pulling her up and into her arms when her daughter blinked several times and then held out her arms to her. Alex was more than happy to provide Emma any and all of the comfort she needed and frankly, she enjoyed all the cuddling she and Emma had done today. It almost made the stress worth it.

“Harry is home,” Alex said softly. “He’s got a surprise downstairs for us. You want to go see what it is?”

“A surprise?” Emma said, her voice catching some excitement and happiness for the first time all day. “Do you know what it is?”

“Nope, I’m just as in the dark as you, kiddo. Let’s go check it out though.”

“Okay,” Emma nodded, her lips pulling up in a smile. “Let’s go.”

Alex put Emma down and then giggled to herself as she watched her little girl pick up the bottom of Harry’s huge t-shirt like a long dress so that she could walk and not trip over it. They made their way downstairs and Emma led them down the hallway and into Harry’s kitchen.

“Oh goodness!” Alex cried, laughter bubbling up from her lips when she saw Harry’s ‘surprise.’

There were at least four different kinds of ice cream lined up on Harry’s breakfast bar along with bowl after bowl of every single topping that could possibly be thought of to put on ice cream. It put the spread that they had enjoyed when making sundaes at Kate’s months ago to shame.

“Wow…” Emma breathed, her eyes growing wide as she took in the sugary feast laid out for them. “That’s a lot of ice cream stuff.”

“Well, considering this is our dinner tonight, I figured I better make it as filling as possible,” Harry said with a wink in Emma’s direction.

“Ice cream for dinner?” Emma asked in disbelief, her eyes turning to Harry. He nodded and smiled softly at her and she squealed before rushing over to him, almost tripping on the long shirt she was wearing. Harry chuckled and knelt down to meet her as she wrapped her little arms around his neck. “Thank you Harry!” Emma sang out.

“Oh you’re so welcome, Em. I love you,” he said quietly as he squeezed her tight. “Now, go help yourself…whatever you want.”

Emma moved excitedly from his arms and towards the spread of ice cream and toppings and Alex took her chance and moved to Harry, leaning in to wrap her arms around him as Emma went about making her sundae. He smiled down at her and leaned close.

"I know it’s not Blue Bell, but it was short notice and…"

"No…" Alex shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. “It’s perfect. Thank you."


The ice cream smorgasbord that Harry surprised them with served its purpose and served it well. Emma’s smile at the special treat was big and bright and helped to bring smiles forth from Harry and Alex too.

They ate until they were full to bursting and then they moved to the living room. Harry got out a bunch of soft, cozy blankets, and they all cuddled up on the couch together to watch The Sword in the Stone, which was of course, Emma’s choice. Emma laughed and commented several times on how much she loved the sassy owl in the movie, and in return Harry commented on how much he loved sassy Emma, which brought a big, delighted smile to her face each time.

When the movie was over, and when Emma had finally come down from her sugar high and her eyes were drooping closed, Alex gently suggested an early bed time for her daughter, and for once, Emma was completely okay with that, although she did have one small request in exchange for getting to bed early.

“Can Harry tuck me in?”

“Of course, baby,” Alex said as she reached over to cup her daughter’s cheek lovingly. “I think Harry would love to tuck you in.”

“He absolutely would,” Harry grinned. “Come on, Em. Let’s go.” He rose from the couch and then plucked Emma into his arms, loving her little squeal of delight.

Alex watched with soft eyes as they left the room and she could hear them both joking and laughing with each other as they moved up the stairs to Harry’s guest bedroom, which had pretty much unofficially become Emma’s room. With a sigh she settled back into the couch and let her eyes drift closed, trying to think about everything that had happened that day and everything she knew she would have to discuss with Harry when he came back down to her.


Harry tucked Emma under the big, comfortable comforter, kissed her good night, and gave her hair a playful ruffle before turning around to make his way from the room. But before he even got to the door Emma’s voice called out to him with words that made him stop dead in his tracks.

“Harry…I’m sad…”

His heart slammed in his chest and he whirled around, going right back to her side. “Oh Emma…I don’t want you to be sad.”

“I am though,” she sniffled, the day hitting her again now that things were quiet and her brain wasn’t being occupied.

Harry couldn’t just stand there while she was feeling like she was. With a heavy heart, he climbed up on the bed and moved next to her. He reached for her and pulled her into his side, tucking her under his arm, wanting her to feel loved and protected while she talked to him. “Em, don’t be sad. Please don’t be sad. You’ll make new friends at new school. And you can always still talk to your friends at your old school.”

“No Harry,” she shook her head against him. “I’m not sad about that. I’m sad…Harry I don’t know what I did wrong.”

Harry was stunned. For a moment, what seemed like a very long, heartbreaking moment, he couldn’t find his words or his voice. When he finally could speak again his voice was hoarse. “What you did wrong? Emma honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“But the picture people were at my school for me.”

Harry closed his eyes against the rush of guilt. He took a deep breath, willing it back. It was absolutely not the right time. Snapping his eyes open, he looked down at Emma and reached and used his thumb to brush away the fat tears that were sliding down her cheeks. “But that’s not your fault sweet girl. That’s my fault. They were there because you know me. No one blames you or is mad at you. And certainly no one expects or wants you to be sad about that.”

“Are you sad?” Emma asked quietly.

“Yes,” Harry nodded slowly. “But not because I think I did anything wrong, but because I can’t fix this for you or your mum.”

Emma fell silent. Her little bottom lip pulled between her teeth and Harry could tell she was deep in thought, trying to process the whole thing, trying to come to terms with it. It was a move that was so much like something her mother would do that Harry couldn’t help the smile that pulled at his lips. Finally though, her lip pulled from her teeth at she turned her eyes back to him and he almost sighed with relief at the new resolution he saw there, at how much the sadness that was there moments before had faded.

“Harry, if I give you a hug, will that make you feel better?”

A lump immediately formed in his throat. God, her small voice and big heart were absolutely going to take him down tonight. Swallowing back the surging emotions, he let out a breath and gave her a nod and a soft smile. “Absolutely, Emma. How about three hugs though? Can I have three?”

Emma giggled and reached up to throw her arms around his neck. She squeezed and released him three times and then pressed a sweet kiss to his cheek. “I love you, Harry.”

“I love you too, Emma,” he murmured, blinking back the tears that sprung to his eyes. She pulled back from him with a grin and he grinned right back at her. “Ready for bed now?”


Harry chuckled and slid from the bed. He reached up and adjusted the covers around her again and pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. “Goodnight, Emma.”

“Goodnight, Harry.”

Harry flipped on the nightlight, flipped off the overhead light, and then turned gave Emma one last smile and a small wave before stepping from the room, leaving the door partially open like she liked it. He made his way back down the stairs and found Alex curled up on the couch, right where he had left her. Her eyes were focused of in the distance and her bottom lip was pulled in between her teeth, exactly like Emma had done not ten minutes before.

“Emma does that too,” he remarked with a smile as he came around the sofa and into her line of vision.

She blinked, startled, before she looked up and met his eyes as he moved next to her on the couch. “Emma does what?”

“Contemplates things like you do…far off look, lip between your teeth.”

“Yeah?” Alex’s lips tugged up at the corners. “She’s definitely my kid.”

“She absolutely is,” Harry nodded. His eyes drifted over her face and his fingers came up to gently brush a lock of hair back from her face. “She thought the paparazzi presence at her school was her fault. She didn’t know what she did wrong.”

“I thought she might…” Alex breathed, tears welling up in her eyes. “She gave me that impression when she got upset when I said I was pulling her out of the school. I should have talked to her tonight. I should have calmed those fears in her. I can’t believe I just…”

“Hey…” Harry called out gently, bringing her attention back to him. “Listen, you came home, you were both exhausted and mentally drained and you went to sleep. I woke you up, we did ice cream and the movie; there wasn’t really any time in there. Besides, we were both trying to keep her mind off of it. I think once she got quiet and her brain moved from fun back to reality, it hit her again.”

“I still…”

“No, Alex. Please don’t blame yourself or…fuck. Alex, you did everything exactly right today. From calling Charlotte when you couldn’t get in touch with me to pulling her from the school and not letting them get a picture of her face when you left. You did everything right.”

Alex held his eyes for a long moment, willing herself to believe his answer, wanting to believe she had handled everything to the best of her ability. “Okay…” she finally sighed. “So today I did the right thing. But now…moving forward, I have decisions to make about Emma’s future. And…God Harry, this so weird…”

“What’s weird?” he asked gently, his head tilting to the side.

Alex rolled her eyes but took a deep breath and sat up tall, regarding him with a seriousness that snapped him to complete attention. “Emma and I are…well, I’m your girlfriend and she’s my daughter. Technically, in the big picture of the Royal Family, we aren’t important.”

“Now, hold on…”

She held a hand up. “No. Listen. You need to hear where I’m going with this.”

His jaw clenched but he backed down, finally sighing and motioning for her to continue.

“I want to enroll Emma in private school.”

Harry took a deep breath and nodded. “I thought you might. I think it’s an excellent idea.”

“And you can’t pay for it.”

His eyes widened and he leaned forward. “No, Alex. This whole situation is because of me. If she’s going into a private school, then I’m paying.

Alex shook her head firmly. “Absolutely not.”

Harry stood from the couch, walking away and shoving his hands through his hair. All day he had wanted to tell her that if she wanted to put Emma into private school that he would pay for it. He wanted to be able to do this for them. He wanted to help fix this fucking problem that his life had caused.

He turned back and faced her, keeping himself calm, wanting to talk to her rationally and have her accept this from him. “Alex, these schools are expensive.”

“I wasn’t born yesterday,” she responded with a groan and a roll of her eyes. “I’m aware that these schools are expensive. And I can afford to send her.”

His eyebrows lifted. “I don’t want you to have to take out a loan.”

Alex rose to her feet, her face flushing with anger. “Excuse you. I didn’t say a word about a loan. I said I can afford to send her, I don’t know what is so hard for you to understand about that.”

Harry’s eyes went wide. “Shit. Alex, that’s not…that came out all wrong. That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean, Harry?” She stood in front of him, her arms crossed over her chest, clearly waiting for him to wade out of the mess of shit he had jumped into.

“Okay, all I’m saying is that these schools are really expensive, especially the ones with the security needed to keep the paps away from Emma. I’m not trying to put you down Alex, I swear. I know you’re not hurting for money…”

“Do you?” Her voice was taught with frustration.

He threw his hands in the hair. “Of course I do! Jesus Alex, I’m just trying to offer to cover this expense because you are in this situation because of me! And the types of schools that you’re thinking of…the expense is enormous. We are talking thousands and thousands of dollars per term.”

“And I have thousands and thousands of dollars Harry!” Alex cried, stepping closer to him. She took a deep breath and worked to calm herself. “Look, when John’s dad died he left him a significant amount of money, which in turn got left to me. I’ve kept all of it in savings and it has built interest. I also got benefits from the Army after John died. Some of it I’ve used to supplement my income along the way, but that hasn’t been so necessary in recent years, so it has also been in savings, building interest. I’m good with money, Harry and I can afford this. I won’t let you pay for it. I won’t let the press rip you apart for this. I also don’t want anyone to think I depend on you for anything. I’m with you because I love you, not because I want anything from you.”

“I fucking know that, Alex,” he bit out, probably more harshly than he intended.

“Yeah? Well, they don’t, Harry.”


“The press, the public, everyone outside of the people who actually know us,” Alex said, her voice softening as they came around to point of all of this.

“I don’t care about them,” Harry murmured with a shake of his head. “They don’t matter.”

“Yes,” Alex nodded. She stepped close to him and laid her hands on his chest, her wide eyes turning up to his. “Yes, they do. You know why?”

“Why?” he whispered. It didn’t escape his notice that instead of moving further away from him, or even leaving him as she had done during their previous two fights, she was moving closer and closer to him. And even though they were having an argument, and a pretty serious one, it made his heart swell that she was doing that.

“Because one day Wales, you’re going to marry me. And when that happens…”

“Alexandra…” Harry breathed, his eyes growing wide and his lips curving up at her words.

“Wait,” she interrupted, trying not to smile herself. “Let me finish. When that happens, when you marry me, I don’t want any questions from anyone as to why. I know you don’t care what they think, but I’ve been strong and independent for a very long time and it’s very much a part of who I am and how I present myself. It’s important to me that other people see that. That being said, I will pay for Emma’s school until the day comes along that we are a family and then we will pay for her school.”

“Alex…” Harry murmured as his big hands came up and curled around her biceps. “Are you done now?”

She threw up a pointed look even as he pulled her tighter into him. “Are you going to drop trying to pay for her school?”

“Yes,” Harry nodded, his eyes dancing.

“And why is that?”

“Why am I dropping the issue?” he asked, surprised. When she nodded he chuckled lightly and leaned down close to her. “Because you are right. It would look bad if I paid for her school.”

Alex’s lips pulled into a wide smile. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He leaned down and pressed a warm, soft kiss to her lips. “I love you, Alexandra,” he whispered against her lips.

“I love you too,” she giggled as he deepened the kiss, pulling her tighter against him, his tongue teasing at her lips. She wound her arms around his neck and kissed him back, needing what he was offering her badly after the day she’d going through. “Harry?”

His lips moved to her jaw, pressing warm kisses along it. “Hmmm?”

“Ohhhh…” She moaned. She took a breath, trying to remember her words as his mouth hit her neck in a move that always rendered her speechless. “We just had our first successful fight…”

He chuckled against the soft skin of her neck as his hands spread over her back, pushing her even tighter against him. “I guess we did.”

“You know what that means, right?” Her fingers threaded into his hair and she tugged his gaze to hers. He smirked up at her and she couldn’t help the grin that pulled at her lips.

“We are progressing and becoming closer and better as a couple?”

“Ha! Oh god. Okay. Yeah, your answer is way better than mine,” she laughed.

“Why? What was yours?” His grin was smug as his head dipped again and pressed between her collar bones.”

“We fought…” She gasped as his hands moved up under her t-shirt, his fingers hot against the skin of her stomach. “And now we get to make up.”

His tilted his head back to hers, pressing a hot kiss against her mouth, swollen from his earlier kisses. “Make-up sex?”


A rumbling chuckle left his lips. “Oh no, that’s an excellent answer…”

She cocked eyebrow at him. “Then what are you waiting for…Cowboy?”

“Absolutely nothing, Alexandra,” he breathed right before his lips captured hers again, right before he lifted her in his arms, and right before he moved them from the room and up the stairs to his room where they left the worry of the day far, far behind them.