Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Forty Two Part Two

Harry was up with the dawn the next morning, pulling Alex out of bed with him to go watch the sunrise with him.

“Come on, love. I’ve had breakfast and coffee delivered. Let’s go,” he laughed as he dragged her, groaning and mumbling under her breath at the early hour.

“I’m on vacation, Wales,” she grumbled as he dragged her out of their room and into the kitchen. But the slight tilt on her lips told him she was giving him a hard time for the sake of it; Harry was excited, she could see that clearly, and in turn she was excited for anything he wanted to show her.
“Coffee,” he grinned as he poured and passed a mug to her.

“Mmmm. Thank you.” She held the warm mug in her hands and followed Harry as he led them out onto the back deck. He settled back onto the outdoor loveseat and she moved in next to him, curling up into his side. “Oh my god,” she groaned as she took her first sip of coffee. “I think this is best coffee I’ve ever had.”

Harry chuckled and tucked her closer to his side. “I’m glad you like it.”

“Love, Harry. I love this coffee. As a matter of fact, right now I think I love this coffee almost as much as I love you,” she teased, turning a side glance at him as she pulled the mug to her lips again.

He laughed, his eyes crinkling up at the corners. “It’s a special blend, native to the area.”

“Mmmm…” She smiled as she took another sip and then settled in next to him to watch the sunrise. It really was stunning as it rose above the hills in the distance, casting light on the gorgeous vista before them. “So, tell me about Lesotho,” she said softly. “We didn’t get a chance to talk about it last night.”

“That’s because you couldn’t keep your hands off of me long enough to have a conversation,” he grinned.

Alex shook her head and laughed. “I don’t seem to remember a single complaint from you, Wales.”

“No, you didn’t.” His smile was light and happy at the memory. He pulled her tighter against him and she could see the change in him as soon as it happened, as soon as his mind shifted from their passionate reunion the night before to the days he had spent in Lesotho. Something about his entire demeanor changed, moving from light and teasing to soft and thoughtful. “I’ve always loved going to Lesotho, you know that.”

“I do,” Alex nodded.

“I hadn’t seen Seeiso in so long, over a year. I felt bad for letting life get in the way. But when I got there, when I got to spend time with the kids….” A slow smile spread across his face and he turned to her, finding her eyes. “Alex, these kids, these tiny little innocent children have next to nothing. They live in a way that is incredibly foreign to everything you or I know but they are happy, in part because of what Sentebale has done and wants to keep doing for them.” He looked away from her for a moment and took a deep breath before turning back with a wide smile. “I had so much fun just having them teach me how to spell things in sign language. I even had a blast when Seeiso made me put on that terrible pink apron to make donuts.”

“Yes,” Alex giggled. “I saw the pictures.”

“Of course you did,” he nodded, his lips tipping up into a smirk. Her habit of looking up pictures of him at his engagements never failed to amuse him.

“I can’t help myself,” she shrugged, not embarrassed in the least.

“But you get to see the real thing,” he gestured to himself, a cocky smile on his face.

She lifted a brow to him. “How do you do that so early in the morning?”


“Turn on the…smarmy-ness.”

“Ha!” He laughed as he leaned over and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I love you, you know that?”

She smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder. “I do. I really, really do.”


Soon after the sun had raised their easy, quiet morning faded and, after waking Emma, they were on the move. Breakfast was delivered to the bungalow and after they all filled up on delicious pastries and fruit, they dressed and were off for their Safari.

Over the course of their relationship Alex had always been aware of the scope of the things Harry could do, the things he could make happen. He had given both Alex and Emma some amazing experiences, but Alex was sure that for a long time this trip, the amazing things they saw and did, would be at the top of the list.

It wasn’t just that she loved everything about the land, that she felt so at ease, so free here. It was that when she looked at Harry she could see that he felt the same; that he felt a pull to this place, something that called to him on the inside. And even more than that, she could see that Emma did too.

The first day they went out on the land, part of a convoy of open Jeeps on a private tour. Emma had wanted to see the wildlife and they did. They saw more forms of wildlife than either Alex or Emma would have imagined. And the animals seemed to move around them without paying any attention, just going about their business. It was amazing and the best way to observe, as if they weren’t even really there.

Their first day ended late in the afternoon. They were all happy but tired and ready to relax. They ate a delicious dinner on the back deck and then let Emma have her obligatory swim. Then, seeing her daughter’s drooping eyelids, Alex pulled Emma from the water, wrapped her up snug in a towel, let Harry take her and tuck her into bed, and made her way into the bedroom she was sharing with Harry. She changed into her pajamas, slid into the soft cotton sheets, and was fast asleep before Harry even returned from tucking Emma in. She was just plain exhausted from their day.

Harry smiled when he stepped into the room, seeing her tucked up in the blankets, her breathing even, her hair spread out on the pillow behind her.

God, he loved her.

Bringing her here with Emma, to Africa, had long been something he had wanted to do and after watching them that day, he knew it was the right thing to do.

It was amazing to be in on this land he loved so much with them, he thought to himself as he dressed down to just his boxers and undershirt and moved into bed beside her. It was a place he had always felt at home in and from the moment he had met Alex and Emma, he had felt at home with them too. And as sappy as silly as he knew it sounded, having them there felt like completing some kind of circle in his life.

He smiled softly to himself as he pulled the blankets up around himself and then reached for her, tucking an arm around her and pulling her gently into his side. She shifted, her eyes fluttering open.

“Shhh. Go back to sleep. I love you,” he whispered, reaching over to brush a piece of hair from her face.

A sleepy, happy smile tilted her lips. “I love you too.”

She snuggled down into him and they both closed their eyes, letting sleep take over.


The next day was reserved for something very special for Emma, and Harry’s excitement for their outing made Alex smile wide, knowing just how happy Emma would be with the surprise Harry had for her.

“C’mon Harry! Please tell me,” Emma begged from where she sat in between Harry and Alex in the SUV taking them to their destination.

He chuckled. “Well, that would ruin the surprise now, wouldn’t it?”

Emma sighed dramatically. “Yes…”

“Don’t worry, kiddo,” he grinned. He reached over to ruffle her hair. “Your agony is almost over.”

“What’s agony?” Emma asked, tilting her head to the side, her focus on their destination derailed momentarily.

Harry blinked, not knowing quite what to say. Of course he knew what the word meant, but he wasn’t sure that he could explain it to an almost seven year old without raising more questions.

Alex caught his hesitation and she understood. She chuckled and stepped in to help. “Emma,” she called, drawing her daughter’s attention to her. “You know when you’re really excited about something and you feel like you’re going to burst if you don’t get to find out what that thing is or get to do whatever that thing is soon?”

“Oh yes,” Emma said, her eyes wide and serious. “That’s how I feel right now.”

Alex smiled. “Exactly. That’s what Harry meant when he said agony.”

“Ohhh…” Emma nodded, clearly turning over the new word in her head.

“And the good news, Emma,” Harry broke in. “Is that your agony is over. We’re here.”

Emma sat straight up in the seat and then leaned over Harry to peer out of the window, trying to figure it out. Her eyes scanned the compound they were pulling up to and the moment she realized what was there, her breath caught and her eyes flew to Harry.

“Elephants!” she cried. “Harry! There are elephants here.”

Alex couldn’t help the happy giggle that left her lips at Emma’s reaction, at her pure joy. She grinned and moved to smooth Emma’s hair as Harry looked at her with a wide smile before looking back down at Emma.

“I promised you at Thanksgiving, after we went to the zoo, that I would take you to Africa and you could…”

“Touch the elephants!” Emma finished, clapping her hands together with glee. “Are we really here to touch elephants?”

The car pulled to a stop and Harry’s PO moved from the front to open the door for them.

“Yes, we are,” Harry grinned as he stepped from the SUV and then turned to reach in, pulling Emma out and then offering Alex a helping hand out as well. “We are not only going to touch them, we are going to feed them and play with them some as well.”

Emma squinted up at him in the sunshine and she was just completely overcome. Her big blue eyes welled up with tears; tears born out of pure joy that had nowhere else to go, no other way to leave her body but through happy tears.

“Oh hey, Emma…” Harry said softly, startled at her tears. He very rarely saw her cry. He knelt down to her level and before he could say anything she threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. Harry’s eyes flew to Alex’s and she smiled softly, her fingers at her lips.

“She’s so happy,” Alex mouthed, moving to press her hand over her heart.

Harry nodded, pulling his eyes from Alex before he got emotional and he patted Emma on the back softly before pulling back from her. “You going to be okay?” he asked quietly. He reached up and brushed the few stray tears that had slipped from her eyes and she nodded quickly.

“Yes,” she smiled, her moment of being overwhelmed quickly fading. Her hands moved to her shoulders and she bounced on her feet. “I’m so excited. Can we go in? I’m in agony!”

Harry and Alex both laughed loudly and Harry moved to his feet, completely reassured that Emma was okay.

“Well, we don’t want that,” he chuckled. “Let’s go in.”

Harry reached for Emma’s hand and then he reached for Alex as well. She took his free hand with a wide smile and together they walked into the front doors of the main building of the complex.

As it turned out, the complex was a veterinary hospital of sorts, except that the animals there didn’t belong to anyone – although some of them did come from the conservancy that Harry, Alex, and Emma were staying on. They were all animals that had been found sick, hurt, or even in some cases had been found in possession of people who had captured them illegally.

Harry had a long standing relationship with the center and its owner, a lovely American woman named Jo, who enveloped Harry into a huge hug the moment she saw him.

“Well, well. If it isn’t His Royal Highness. It’s been too long since you’ve come to see me, Wales,” she grinned, pushing a stray lock of hair from her forehead.

“Oh come on, Jo,” he grinned right back. “You know I’d come visit if I could.”

“Yeah, Yeah,” Jo laughed. “Now introduce me to your lovely ladies here, one of whom I hear can’t wait to meet the elephants.”

“That’s me,” Emma piped up, raising her hand up in the air excitedly.

“That’s you?” Jo pointed at the little blonde haired girl playfully. “Then you must be Emma, right?” Emma nodded and Jo grinned and then turned to Alex. “You must be Alexandra then.”

Alex smiled wide in greeting. “Yes, but please call me Alex. And thank you for letting us come in.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble,” Jo waved a hand in the air. “I’m happy to have you. She smiled warmly and then clapped her hands together, turning to Emma. “Are you ready then, Emma?”

“Oh yes, yes, yes,” Emma bounced up and down, unable to contain herself.

“Alright, follow me guys,” Jo said with a wide smile as she moved, taking them through the main building. They exited from the building and out into the hot sun again, Jo leading the way until they came to the huge area that the two elephants lived.

“Okay,” Jo addressed the group, her hand resting on the gate before she moved to open it. “The two elephants we have are a mother and her baby, although the baby is mostly grown now. They were captured illegally, but were brought here when they were rescued. Betsy is the mother and she would never be able to be re-introduced to the wild with Bruno and believe me, there is no way she would ever part with her baby. So we’ve worked with them both and they are amazing. Follow my instructions, be calm, be friendly, and most of all, have fun…they love fun.”

Emma giggled at that and Alex and Harry both smiled wide. Then Jo opened the gate and they all stepped in. The bigger of the two elephants, Betsy looked up from her spot about twenty yards away, and recognizing Jo she immediately began to amble over, wanting to say hi. Jo patted Betsy on her trunk when she came up next to her and said a few low words.

“That’s amazing,” Alex whispered to Harry. “That elephant understands everything she says.”

“Jo is incredible,” Harry agreed quietly.

Then Jo turned around and motioned for Emma to come forward. Emma stepped forward, her hands twisting in front of her, just the tiniest bit of nerves rising to the surface.

“Emma, meet Betsy,” Jo said. “You can come touch her trunk just like this.”

Emma stepped forward, and with what Alex would swear was the biggest smile she had ever seen on Emma’s face, her daughter reached forward and laid her hand on Betsy, stroking her rough skin softly, reverently.


“Mummy, remember when Betsy picked me up with her trunk?” Emma asked excitedly as they ate dinner that night in their bungalow.

“I do,” Alex smiled at Emma’s happiness, at her complete and utter delight at the afternoon they had spent at the complex. They had seen other animals; Emma had played with tiger cubs, she had petted a zebra, and she had squealed with delight at feeding a giraffe. But none of that had compared to the time they had spent with Betsy and Bruno.

“I still can’t believe I got to ride Bruno,” Emma sighed, her eyes getting a faraway look for a moment as the memory, still so fresh and new, washed over her. “I can’t wait to tell Simon.”

Alex bit her lip and glanced towards Harry, catching the furrow in his brow as he moved to focus all of his attention on Emma. Alex knew exactly who Simon was and was already fighting a giggle at Harry finding out.

Emma took a bite of food, chewed for a moment, and swallowed before turning to Harry and in a completely matter-of-fact tone of voice said, “He’s my boyfriend.”

Harry’s eyes went wide, he slowly lowered his fork to his plate, and Alex fought the urge to laugh even harder.

“You’re seven,” Harry said pointedly to Emma.

“No, I’m almost seven,” she corrected as Alex lost the battle with her giggles.

Harry’s eyes slid to hers. “Why are you laughing?”

Alex grinned. “Because you are freaking out, just like I knew you would.”

Harry blinked at her. “What? Why aren’t YOU freaking out? Your daughter has a…” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Boyfriend.”

"Simon," Emma corrected as she reached for her glass of water.

"Yes, Simon…no wait," Harry shook his head. "NOT Simon. No boyfriends allowed."

"Mummy said it was fine. She said he’s cute."

Harry’s eyes shifted to Alex and he lifted a brow. “You knew about this? You’ve met this…Simon?”

“Of course,” Alex laughed. “He is in Emma’s class. He’s a cute little brown haired boy with impeccable manners and…he’s about four inches shorter than Emma.”

Harry blinked and Alex saw it hit him; she saw the realization wash over him that he was being absolutely ridiculous. He grinned and shook his head, laughing at himself while Alex watched him with dancing eyes.

“He’s shorter than you, Em?” Harry asked, his tone noticeably softer.

Emma wrinkled her nose and shrugged. “Yeah, but a lot of the boys are. My teacher says that’s normal and they will catch up someday.” And then, dismissing the topic of Simon from her mind, she swung her gaze to her mother. “Mummy, can I go download the pictures from the camera so that we can send them to Granny and Mimi and Poppy and Uncle Matt?”

“You, you may,” Alex nodded. “Take your plate to the sink first.”

“Okay,” Emma said as she hopped down from the table and grabbed her plate. She moved to the kitchen and Alex watched her go before turning to Harry with a smirk of a smile on her lips.

“So, Harry. How exactly did you picture Simon? About six foot two, two hundred pounds?”

He couldn’t help the shout of laughter that left his lips. “Something like that.”

Alex chuckled and moved from her chair and over to Harry, sliding into his lap. “You know, it’s not like Emma saying she has a boyfriend means she wants to go on dates and make out in the backseat of a car.”

“Oh God, just hearing that makes me nervous,” Harry grimaced, bringing a giggle from Alex.

“It means that Simon is probably her best friend that is a boy,” Alex continued. She moved her arms around his neck and leaned into him. “He’s a sweet little thing that Emma bosses around and he lets her and so she calls him her boyfriend. That’s all there is to it.”

Harry sighed and moved his arms around her, pulling her close. “I let you boss me around,” he teased.

“And you like it,” she smirked.

“I do. You can boss me around later if you like,” he teased with a waggle of his eyebrows.

“Oh Captain, you’ve got a deal.”

“Ha!” he laughed before leaning forward and pressing a warm kiss to her lips. “I can’t wait.”

“Me either,” she winked at him with a wide, playful smile. “But first we need to go help Emma download the pictures so we can send them over.”

“We can do that,” he nodded. “Can we send some to my dad and Camilla and Will and Kate? I got an email earlier and they asked for some.”

A slow smile tilted Alex’s lips. “They want to see pictures?”

“Of course,” Harry shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they?”

“I don’t know…” Alex said slowly. “I just wouldn’t think that…”

“Well, you should you know,” Harry said softly. “You should.”

Alex sighed, her eyes soft as she looked into his. “Are you ever going to stop trying to make me cry?”

He grinned. “Never.”


Their days in Africa had flown by and before any of them knew it, it was their final evening and none of them were quite ready to let it go.

They had a private dinner booked in the restaurant of the resort for the three of them to celebrate their successful trip, and Harry was really looking forward to treating his girls to a wonderful meal after the amazing week they had spent with him.

But when he stepped from the shower and into the bedroom he was sharing with Alex, he could tell instantly that something wasn’t quite right with her. She stood at the closet, pulling a dress from a hangar, but her movements were slow; tired.


She turned around towards him, pulling a smile into place. “Hmmm?”

“Hey…” He moved towards her, running a hand down her back when he reached her. “Are you okay baby?”

She sighed and leaned into him, into his warmth. “Harry, I don’t feel so great. I don’t know if I’m coming down with something or…I’m just achy and tired and…”

“Oh love,” he murmured. “I’m so sorry. Listen, I’ll cancel dinner. I can order something to be delivered and…”

“No no,” she interrupted with a slight wave of her hand. “I’ll pull it together.”


Her lips turned down slightly and she pulled her eyes to his. “No?”

Harry smiled softly. “I’m not going to drag you to dinner if you aren’t feeling well, Alexandra. I want you to rest. We will stay here and just relax tonight.”

“But Emma is really looking forward to this dinner,” Alex attempted again, not wanting to ruin the plans Harry had set in place.

“I’m sure she’ll be okay if…”

“Wait,” Alex interrupted with a smile. “What if you just took Emma?”

A small smile tipped at Harry’s lips. “Really? You’d be okay with that?”

Alex laughed. “Of course. I think Emma would love it as well.”

“I would love to take Emma, but really Alex…I don’t want to leave you here if you’re sick and…”

Alex rolled her eyes and clapped her hand over his mouth. “Stop. I’m a big girl. I’ll be fine. I’ll order up some soup and make some tea and sleep. Hopefully I’ll feel better in the morning.”

Harry peered at her one more time, wanting to make sure she was okay with staying at the house by herself. She shot him a look in return and he gave in with a laugh, raising his hands in defeat. “Okay, I’ll take Emma. Now get into your pajamas,” he ordered in a warm voice. “I’m going to go let Emma know it’s just us, order you up some light food, and then we’ll go.”


Harry and Emma’s dinner “date” was wonderful. It really was something, having Emma to himself sometimes, listening to her talk and asking her questions and generally just getting to spoil her rotten, which spoiled him rotten as well.

He adored her.

He ate up her sass with and laughed at her silly jokes and giggled when he told her stories from his childhood, about all of the hijinks he got up to with William. And when dinner was over, as much as he wanted to get back to Alex, Harry wasn’t quite ready to give up his time with Emma yet so he suggested to her that they walk back to the bungalow instead of being driven and Emma agreed with a wide smile.

They stepped from restaurant and into the warm African night and Emma immediately reached for Harry’s hand, wrapping her tiny hand inside of his big one. Harry’s heart swelled and he swallowed the lump in his throat at the action, that she did it without any thought; it was natural to her at this point.

“Harry?” she called his name out a few minutes into their walk.

“Yes Em?”

“Mummy said you were in Africa before you met us here, but in another part of Africa. What part were you in?”

Harry smiled and turned sweet eyes down to Emma. “I was in a country called Lesotho. A very good friend of mine is a Prince there and we run a charity organization that benefits children in his country.”

“Really?” She was immediately fascinated. “Did you see your friend and the kids while you were there?”

“I did,” he nodded. “I visited a lot with the kids. Some of them taught me a little bit of sign language, some of them taught me how to make these special donuts, and then they even got me to do a dance with them.”

“A dance?” Emma giggled. “I wish I would have seen that.”

“Yeah?” Harry chuckled. “I think there is video of it online. We can look it up when we get back to the bungalow.”

“Oh I can’t wait!” she squealed and Harry laughed loudly. Emma seemed to get the urge to make fun of his ridiculous moments straight from her mother, but he didn’t mind one little bit.

“Okay, we will do that then.”

They were silent for a few moments as they moved over the terrain, their joined hands swinging between them, and then Emma spoke up again. “When are you going to go back to Les…” she trailed off, not quite remembering how to say the name.

“Lesotho,” Harry provided gently and Emma nodded. “I don’t know. Hopefully not too long, why?”

“Cause I think I’d like to go someday,” she said firmly and he was a little taken aback at the conviction in her voice. “I’d like to meet your friend and have the kids teach me things and help them too.”

Harry couldn’t help the tears that welled in his eyes and he was glad it was dark, that Emma couldn’t see them and wonder if anything was wrong. “You would, Emma?”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I like to learn new things. And I love Africa.”

“Me too,” Harry said quietly, not sure he could convey any other words in that moment.

“Mummy loves it here too,” Emma continued on, oblivious to the emotions hitting Harry from all angles. “And I think she’d like to go to…Lesotho too.”

He swallowed at the lump in his throat, blinked at the tears, and focused on her words, on giving her an answer.

“Yeah?” he finally said, his voice hoarse.

“Yeah,” Emma said with a firm nod. “She would.”

And as they continued their walk, Harry’s mind drifted and he knew Emma was right.

And he couldn’t wait until the day that he could bring both Emma and Alex to Lesotho with him, when he could bring them into that part of his life.

He was closer than he’d ever been in his life to all of his dreams coming true.