Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Fifty Four

When the first pictures and video started to filter out from the photocall at St. James Palace, they reaction was swift and Alex and Harry’s smiling faces were just everywhere.

The pictures were poured over, dissected, analyzed, and discussed. Alex’s choice of dress was mostly approved of and the fact that she went with a British designer appeased even the worst of critics. The ring was mooned over and it took zero time to figure out that the earrings she wore – earring she had worn publicly for quite a while – bore the same design and were obviously a matched set. And of course, many, many words were devoted to the fact that she wore Diana’s Cartier watch.

However, the piece of that day that would get the most attention, that would be watched millions and millions of times and talked about for years was still to come.

When Harry and Alex stepped from the room, away from the journalists with their recorders and flashing cameras, Alex was positively sure that she was going to have permanent white spots in her vision. But that didn’t dampen the smile on her face. And it certainly didn’t stop her from letting Harry pull her right to him as soon as the door closed firmly behind them, despite the fact that there were numerous staff moving busily around them as they kept up with the craziness of the day.

“You did amazing,” Harry whispered, his hands sliding to her face and tilting her head back for him.

Alex shrugged her shoulders and winked as she leaned into him. “I was alright.”

Harry’s lips twitched with humor and then he tilted his head over hers and pressed his lips to hers, soft and sweet and loving before he lifted just enough to look at her, his eyes searching hers. “You doing okay?”

She blinked several times, still seeing the white lights, and then she nodded. “Other than the fact that I may have permanent eye damage, I’m doing just fine.”

Harry chuckled and bent to kiss her one more time. “The flashes will fade shortly, love.”

“Sure,” she laughed as Harry pulled away, although he reached for his hand and tucked it into his, wanting to keep the connection with her. He turned towards Charlotte, who was waiting with her assistant and another staff member that Harry recognized from the Clarence House press office.

He lifted an eyebrow. “You’re being decided un-pushy today.”

Charlotte smirked and moved to them. “It’s because I work for Alex now too and I actually like her.” Harry rolled his eyes as Charlotte moved kiss Alex’s cheeks and give her a hug. “You look beautiful. And you did fantastic.”

“Thank you,” Alex beamed as she hugged her friend back.

“And what am I? Chopped liver?” Harry asked in mock offense.

“See,” Charlotte narrowed her eyes at him. “There is a reason I like Alex better.”

“Okay, okay.” Alex rolled her eyes at the two of them. “Charlotte, where do you need us to be right now?”

“Oh yes, I like your attitude,” Charlotte said with a pointed look to Harry. But before he could shoot back at her, she continued, going over the next step in their day. “Tom Bradby is waiting in the drawing room. They’ve got the cameras ready, so we just need to get microphones on both of you. Did you go over the list of potential questions?”

Alex blushed and a cheeky grin spread across Harry’s face.

“We started to…” Alex offered.

“And just when you were becoming my favorite,” Charlotte sighed. “I don’t even want to know what he did to distract you.” She jabbed her thumb in Harry’s direction. “Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be fine. You watched Will and Kate’s, right?”

Alex nodded. “I sure did.”

“Great; and you know it’s the same interviewer. Tom is great and you’ll feel at ease with him,” Charlotte assured her and Harry nodded his agreement. “So let’s go get you guys ready.”


Charlotte was right, Alex did feel at ease with Tom Bradby. He was friendly and warm and assured Alex that this was a ‘get to know you’ type of interview and his intent was not to make her or Harry uncomfortable in any way. And although Alex already knew those things, it was nice to hear it straight from Tom’s mouth, especially since this was her first personal interaction with someone from the media.

Harry and Alex were each outfitted with microphones and then were directed to one of sofas that had been arranged facing a single chair, a camera, and lights that weren’t turned on yet. They sat as Tom went over a few things with Charlotte and Alex turned wide eyes up to Harry.

“Just…pinch me if I start to say something ridiculous,” she whispered.

Harry smiled softly and leaned in closer. He covered her hand with his and ran his thumb slowly over the soft skin on the back of it. “Hey…you’ll be fine. I love you, Alexandra.”

“I love you too,” she responded, her lips tugging up at the corners.

“And…” he continued, leaning in even closer. “I promise to pinch you later anyway.”

Alex’s eyes flashed wide. “Shhhh…” She shook her head and because she knew if she kept looking at her handsome fiancé with that smirk of a smile on his face she was going to laugh, she turned her eyes from him and focused on Tom Bradby, who was just moving into his seat.

Tom turned a wide smile to them both. “I think we are ready to go.”

“Great,” Harry nodded. “I think we are ready as well.” He squeezed Alex’s hand once more and though she expected him to move his hand from hers, he stayed there, offering her his silent support and steadiness and Alex was so incredibly grateful.

Someone dimmed the lights in the room and the bright lights behind the camera came on. Both Harry and Alex blinked and adjusted to it. And then, with a nod from Tom and a deep breath from both Alex and Harry, the interview began.

“Well first,” Tom began, a smile on his face. “I’d like to say congratulations to you both.” He paused while Harry and Alex both smiled and thanked him before he moved into his first question. “Let’s start with the question everyone is bound to have. Harry when and where did you propose? How did you do it? And Alex, what did you say?”

Harry’s smile pulled wide and he glanced to Alex, their eyes meeting for a moment, a flash of excitement at being able to tell the story, to say the words without worrying about who could overhear them. “Well, it was about two weeks ago on Alex’s birthday. Along with some help from Emma, I planned a little something for her and I proposed at home, in private. It went really well…” Turns to Alex, lifts his eyebrows. “Right?”

Alex laughed and nodded. “I said yes, so of course it did. It was really very special…incredibly romantic and thoughtful.”

“So your daughter was involved then?” Tom asked, looking directly to Alex.

“Yes, she was. And very excited to be,” Alex confirmed with a smile, although she had to fight back the urge to not want to talk about her daughter on camera. She had built up that defense over the previous two years and now she had to make changes to the rules. But she pushed the urge to the side, knowing that she had to allow some information.

“And did Harry have a ring?”

“He did,” Alex grinned as Harry lifted his hand that covered hers and covered the ring, knowing that they would want a shot of it with the camera.

“Can you tell us a bit about it?” Tom asked, leaning in to look at Alex’s hand; even he couldn’t help himself.

Harry chuckled and reached for her hand, holding it up with his for Tom and for the camera. “Ah well, I’m not so great with the technical terms,” he joked. “But it’s something I had made especially for her. I’ve been told the stone is a diamond and let’s hope that it actually is or I’m bound to be in a ton of trouble.”

Alex turned her head to look at Harry, narrowed her eyes at him playfully, and then she couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s really so beautiful.” She smiled wide at Harry before turning back to Tom and to the cameras. “He did an excellent job.”

“Well, that’s certainly a ringing endorsement,” Tom quipped, bringing a laugh from both Harry and Alex at the pun. “Now tell us,” he continued. “Did you kind of always know you wanted to marry each other? Was it a recent decision? When did you both realize you wanted to spend your lives together?”

Harry’s eyes were bright as he turned to Alex, his brain working over how he wanted to answer the question. She gave him a soft, somewhat teasing smile and he grinned back at her.

“I think,” Harry began, turning back towards Tom. “We had a connection right away and as time moved on and she didn’t run away screaming with the circus that my life can be…” He stopped and chuckled when Alex clucked at him and shook her head. “We just knew very early on that we wanted to be together. Of course, we had our struggles as a couple and we worked hard to get through them, but we made it through and so…I mean, yes. We knew quite a while back we wanted to spend our lives together.” He lifted his eyebrows to Alex and she nodded her agreement.

“Alex,” Tom turned, addressing her. “Harry just mentioned, although in a joking manner, the ways in which being a royal can be somewhat…intense. I assume he meant in terms of the press and things like that. Did those things ever turn you away, especially when your face was splashed across the newspapers?”

“Turn me away?” Alex repeated, a small smile on her face. “It’s not fun, the paparazzi and the articles and the way they go after you, but I mean…” She stopped for a moment, trying to think of how she wanted to phrase what she wanted to say. “I was aware from the beginning what they could and would do. I don’t read what they write about me or Harry, I make sure my daughter remains safe and nothing they print could put her into danger, and I surround myself with a really wonderful group of family and friends, both mine and Harry’s. It really helps to make the negative things smaller, to matter so much less. So, no…it never turned me away.”

“Obviously you do have a very close group of people around you, including you parents who still live in Texas. Let’s talk about them for a moment, or more specifically…Harry, did you ask Alex’s dad for permission before you proposed?” Tom asked, a bit of a grin on his face at moving the conversation to this topic.

Harry laughed, his eyes crinkling up at the sides, and he nodded. “I did speak to Mr. Emerson and Mrs. Emerson and asked for their blessing, which they gave. Much to my relief.” Harry wiped his brow and mock relief, blew out a gust of air from between his lips, and Alex’s lips twitched, her head shaking slightly as she tried not to give in to the giggles that were threatening.

Tom chuckled and pressed on, his gaze switching to Alex for the moment. “Alex, what did your mum say?”

She couldn’t help the wide, happy smile that spread across her face at the question, at the memory of her mother’s reaction. “When I talked to her and told her…she was just incredibly excited. They really think the world of Harry and they were both thrilled.”

“Thrilled and very clear that she expected me to help give her more grandchildren,” Harry added on, his eyes dancing and his grin as cheeky as could be.

And this time Alex couldn’t help it, a breath of laughter pushed through her lips and she turned wide eyes to Harry who – caught up in the spirit of everything – winked right at her, making her laugh even more.

“It’s very clear that you two are very in love and at ease with each other,” Tom said, his voice genuine as he broke away from interviewer mode for a moment before he continued, “And that’s actually a great segway into my next question. I think we’ve just gotten our answer, but would the two of you like to have children?”

Harry turned back to Alex, a moment of seriousness falling over them. Through all of their discussion the previous night over what they wanted, how many children they wanted to have, they had never actually discussed how to answer that question in the interview. But as his blue eyes met hers, when he saw the happiness that shined from them, he knew exactly how to answer. He took a deep breath and then turned to Tom and in the moment that would be talked about beyond all others, that would inspire the biggest reaction of any footage from that day; he reached for Alex’s hand again, squeezed it softly and said, “Well, we already have the one. But I think…” He glanced back to her with a soft smile. “We’d definitely like to expand our family.”

Alex held his eyes for a brief moment, a moment where she wanted nothing more to kiss the lips off of his face. But because she couldn’t do that right then, she turned back towards Tom and nodded, her lips twisting up a bit just before she spoke. “I think that’s probably a shock to no one, but yes, we would love more children.”

Tom couldn’t believe how amazing the interview was going. Harry was notoriously closed off about his personal life, and while he knew that this was the one time he would be more open than normal, he and Alex were really showing the world just exactly how in love they were. And although he may have been a friend to the prince, he was also a journalist, and as such he decided to take a risk and press a bit further.

“You just mentioned that together you have one child. Harry, you obviously have great affection for Alex’s daughter. People are bound to ask, are you planning to adopt her? Any plans for her to be a titled member of the Royal Family?”

Alex blinked, startled at the question and looked to Harry, who seemed to have a similar reaction. He glanced at her with a reassuring smile.

“I…” he halted for a moment and adjusted on the couch, sitting up straight and smoothing his tie, exuding just how serious he found the topic to be. “Alex, Emma, and I have discussed that privately and for right now, it will remain a private matter. The important thing I think right now is that I love Emma tremendously and she is a fantastic little girl.”

“Fair enough,” Tom nodded and wisely, knowing he had pulled more from Harry than he ever thought he would be lucky enough to get, he moved away from that line of questioning. “Let’s move back to beginning of your relationship for a moment. When did you first set eyes on each other and what did you think?”

And just like that, the interview moved from serious to light and easy again as both of their minds drifted back to the beginning, to their instant attraction and the way they couldn’t have resisted it even if they had tried. Harry turned towards Alex, lifting his eyebrows and smirking a bit, motioning for her to take the question first. Her lips quirked up, knowing he was absolutely dying to see what she would say.

“Well, the first time we met was when he first came to visit Healing Families Through Friends and get a feel for the organization,” she began, her voice soft as she ran over it in her mind, remembered what it was like to connect with Harry that day, how it had completely taken her by surprise. “It was definitely a business meeting. But…” she glanced at him and her eyes danced a bit. “I found that he was so friendly and attentive to those he talked to. He really cared what everyone had to say. I thought he was an extremely genuine person.”

Harry grinned at her answer and he winked at her before turning towards Tom, his tone light and humorous as he added, “And devastatingly handsome of course.”

Alex rolled her eyes slightly and chuckled. “Well, that goes without saying.”

Tom laughed lightly and then turned to Harry. “And Harry, what did you think of Alex?”

And in a moment that showed the world exactly how Harry felt about Alex, where he showed the way he had reacted to her from the very beginning, his face completely lit up. “I just…liked her immediately. She had – and still does – this calm sort of air about her. I automatically felt relaxed in her presence. And for me, that’s something that doesn’t happen often, if ever.” He glanced to Alex and his heart swelled with the way she looked at him, as if she saw herself through his eyes. It made him want to cry and laugh at the same time.

Tom smiled, warmed by Harry’s response. “And did you start seeing each other right away?”

Alex and Harry looked at each other laughed a little bit, almost like a private joke was passing between them.

“It wasn’t very long after that, no,” Harry answered with a chuckle.

“So you’re seeing each other for a short time, privately, and Harry famously gets deployed. How did that affect your relationship?”

Alex took in a deep breath; she had known this question would be coming and she knew where it would lead. She looked to Harry and he nodded at her, letting her know he was okay if she took the question. “Well, as you know, Emma’s father – my husband – was an Apache helicopter pilot who died in combat. So when Harry got deployed, it brought a lot of memories back for me; things that I thought I would never have to go through again. It was really very difficult.”

“If I can add to that,” Harry said once he was sure Alex was done. “I think…I was told I would probably never get deployed again and then I did. Our relationship was still new but moving towards serious and we were faced with not only being apart for quite a while, but also Alex had to go through something all over again that ended tragically for her previously. But, I have to tell you that she was an incredible support system for me. She’s incredibly strong, much stronger than I.”

“I don’t know about that,” Alex said with a soft laugh and a shake of her head.

“I do,” Harry said firmly. His hand closed over hers again and he squeezed her fingers gently, silently telling her how great she was doing.

“It’s very obvious that you think the world of each other,” Tom commented. “However, if we could, let’s take this opportunity to address the fact that Alex…you were married previously and have a child from that relationship. Of course you know there are those who find that to be a negative thing. What do you have to say about that?”

Harry’s eyes swung to her, ready to come on the defensive if she wanted him to. But she wasn’t at all afraid of the question. It had made her nervous when she contemplated how to answer it ahead of time, but once the moment came, she found she had no qualms regarding the subject. She sat up straight and smiled, ready to take on the question.

“I’m going to be honest here. I just don’t know how anyone can view a happy marriage and the wonderful child that came from it to be negative. I understand that people will judge me given the family I am marrying into, but really, I did love my husband and so much good came from our marriage, including my daughter. I will never apologize or for that.”

A look of pride that couldn’t be missed by anyone flashed onto Harry’s face. He loved how she addressed the question head on and didn’t try to appeal to those who may not agree with her marrying Harry because of her previous marital status and the fact that she was a single mother. She was proud of who she was and Harry had never been more proud of her.

He adjusted slightly and cleared his throat. “And I’d like to say…personally, it has never been an issue that Alex was married. It has never been an issue for me or anyone within my family. Part of who she is comes from that part of her past. I respect and admire that she came out of it so strong and that she created something so positive from it. And I think…” he looked over at her smiled softly. “I think that’s all either of us really have to say on that issue.”

Tom nodded, knowing that was his cue to not press further on the issue and he respected that. “I think we can all take something important away from that. Now, moving on to lighter topics. During William and Kate’s interview, he famously talked about trying to impress Kate with his cooking. Alex, did Harry do the same for you?”

Alex couldn’t help the burst of laughter that pushed through her lips, and it only got worse when Harry turned to her, his eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face. He shook his head as she fought to get her giggles under control.

Tom laughed at the silent banter between the two of them. “Really now? That bad?”

Alex shook her head, her smile wide but her laughter under control. “Aw no. Harry is generally so busy that stopping to cook a big meal isn’t really something he does, or has ever really had time to learn. Of course he always wants to help if I do cook at home and so I’ll trust him with boiling the water or…”

Harry groaned. “Okay, okay we get it. No, I’m a terrible cook. Alex is wonderful though and she does let me help out without too much angst involved.”

“Brave woman,” Tom quipped, bringing and chuckle from the lovely couple on the couch in front of him. “Now I suppose a lot of people are going to wonder, the first meeting with the families, again, not necessarily your average meeting. Alex, what was your first impression of the family?”

Alex smiled wide. “So very accepting and warm. I was nervous to meet Harry’s father but he’s really the kindest man. And the rest of his family too; they are incredibly lovely people.”

“And meeting the grandmother, the Queen, again not like your average meeting with a grandmother, when did you meet her were you nervous about that too?”

“I think…” Alex began, turning to look at Harry as she considered how to answer the question. He smiled encouragingly and she turned back to tome. “I think we will keep the details of when and where private as it is a very special moment for me, but she is lovely. It was very easy and relaxed and I was incredibly grateful.”

“And Emma has met them too?” Tom pressed on.

Harry nodded, his smile pulling wide. “Yes, of course. They all adore her.”

“I’m sure they do,” Tom smiled and glanced down at his notes before continuing. “Alex, you are obviously going to enter this family, the most famous royal family in the world. Harry’s mother was this massive iconic figure. The most famous figure of our age, is that worrying? Is that intimidating? Do you think about that a lot both of you, you particularly Alex, obviously?”

Alex sucked in a breath and adjusted in her seat, sitting up a bit straighter to take on the question. “I look forward to my work as a royal, to paving my own path and a path with Harry. I wouldn’t say it’s worrying, although the thought of constant comparisons can be concerning. I just…would hope that – not only with myself but with Catherine as well – people can look past the obvious comparisons. I don’t think the legacy Diana left was to emulate her, I think the legacy she left was to make your own way, to create your own legacy. And that’s what I would love to be able to do.”

Harry nodded his agreement and smiled at her, warm and proud, before turning to Tom. “And Alex has already done amazing work with families of soldiers killed in action. I think she’ll do wonderful as she continues to support that cause as well as others. And she’s absolutely right…my mother didn’t want people to necessarily emulate her, she just wanted them to realize their own importance, to follow their own path. I can honestly say that Alex has done both of those things already with great strength, and will continue to do so.”

Alex’s eyes slid to his and a fleet, although noticeable moment passed between them, soft and sweet, before Tom moved forward.

“Tell us, Alex. How are you feeling about leaving your organization? Was it a hard decision for you?” He was almost gentle with the question, as though he knew how much HFTF meant to her.

Alex blinked a couple of times and her fingers tightened on Harry’s. For a brief moment she wasn’t sure she could talk about it without tearing up, but because this was a happy occasion, and because she didn’t want anyone to think she wasn’t doing exactly what she wanted to do, she pulled a smile, blinked back the tears, and said, “I knew…through conversations Harry and I have had, we decided that when we got engaged, I would leave HFTF. The truth is that I cannot work as a royal and continue to lead Healing Families Through Friends, but that doesn’t mean my involvement with the program will end. A very dear friend of mine is taking over the organization for me, and she’s terribly brilliant, so I’m excited to see where she takes it.”

“Excellent,” Tom said, nodding his head. “Well, I can say that I definitely see the love and affection between the two of you. You look very happy and excited; ready to take this next step. I do have one more question for Harry before we’re done here…” He turned to Harry and leaned in a bit. “You’ve taken on some images from the press that weren’t always flattering, but now this…engaged, family man, and looking very thrilled about it. Was this the true Harry all along?”

“Ha!” Harry laughed, his head tipping back slightly. He turned to look at Alex, his lips twitching as he took in her amused expression as she waited for him to speak. He squeezed her hand and then pulled it over to him, resting their hands on his leg and toying with her fingers as he looked back towards Tom. “I mean, there was a time in my life where getting married and having children seemed far away and I certainly had my fun, with not so great results sometimes. But…having Alex and Emma and our slightly crazy dog Gus feels like where I’m supposed to be. I don’t know if that means that’s the true mean, but it is absolutely the happiest me there has been.”

Tom grinned, knowing Harry had nailed the final question and that this interview was going to go on the books as one of the top moments of his career. He almost couldn’t wait to get the footage edited and aired. The world was going to be captured by these two and he knew it. “Well,” he spoke, sitting up straight and folding his notes in half, ready to close out the interview. “Thank you very much for talking to us. You two look very happy and in love and excited. Good luck.”

“Thank you,” Alex and Harry both said in unison, bright smiles on their faces.

And then the light behind the camera flashed off and the softer lights of the room came back on. Suddenly everything was moving around them again. Tom bid them good-bye and the cameraman quickly went to work taking the camera down while Charlotte went over some quick things with Tom on the other side of the room.

“Whew…” Alex breathed, her eyes flashing wide as she sat back, relaxing back into the couch.

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” Harry grinned. He pulled her hand up to his lips for a kiss, smiling against her skin. His eyes flashed love and a little bit of heat and Alex couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’ve got hours before we can do that, Wales,” She said in a low voice, making sure no one could hear her.

“I can make a little time,” he countered, moving just a touch closer to her on the couch.

Her lips twisted. “Not as much time as I want,” Alex countered, bringing a laughing groan from him.

“That’s it,” he announced with a laugh just as everyone but Charlotte stepped from the room. “Charlotte, the rest of our afternoon can be re-arranged right?”

“You’re insane,” she snorted, scrolling through something on her phone before she looked back at them. “You’re having dinner with Charles, Camilla, Kate, and Will in a little over an hour…”

“See,” Harry lifted an eyebrow to Alex who could only shake her head, knowing Harry was going to get nowhere. “Over an hour. That’s enough time.”

“Oh Jesus,” Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Maybe you could not try to plan out sex when I’m in the room. Besides, that’s not a free hour. Matt’s on his way up with Emma.”

“For what?” Alex asked. “I thought she was staying the night with you guys. She was so excited.”

“She is,” Charlotte nodded with a smile; she was actually excited herself. She adored Emma and she adored Matt even more when she watched him with his niece. “But the engagement is official now so…”

“Security,” Harry finished, the realization dawning on him.

“Do you not read anything I give you?” Charlotte huffed. “This was on the itinerary. Matt’s on his way up with Emma because both her and Alex have been assigned security, effective now.”

Harry turned to Alex with a crooked smile and a shrug. “You’ve got protection officers now.”

Alex shook her head and chuckled. “That’s so weird.”

“Yes well…” Harry laughed as he leaned to kiss her. “Welcome to royal life, darling.”