Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Fifty Eight

Harry wasn’t entirely sure how he ended up at Matt and Charlotte’s front door. He knew he must have directed his driver there, he knew that the London streets between Kensington Palace and the familiar townhouse that Charlotte had lived in for years must have passed through the windows of the Range Rover, but he really didn’t remember any of it. But even with his exhaustion and the haze that he was in, when he walked up the front steps and pressed the doorbell, he knew exactly why he was there.

He needed to talk to Matt. He needed to understand some things about who Alex had been before she met him, when she was John’s wife. He had questions that only someone who knew them together could answer and apart from Molly, Matt was the only person in the city of London who could answer those questions.

The doorbell had rung out inside of the house, followed by a few loud barks from Zuko – Matt’s dog who he had brought with him from Texas. Just a few moments later Harry heard shuffling and then the click of the lock as it slid open.

“Harry,” Matt said, surprise written all over his face to see his future brother-in-law there.

“Hey…sorry. Am I…is this a bad time?” Harry asked quietly, shoving his hands in his front pockets.

“Naw,” Matt shook his head and stood back, holding the door open. “Come on in.”

“Can my guy look around first?” Harry nodded his head toward Mark, his Protection Officer. Matt nodded and Mark swept in, doing a quick check of the house before moving back into the foyer and nodding to Harry, giving him the all clear. “Is Charlotte here?” Harry asked as he stepped inside the door.

“She’s just wrapping things up at work,” Matt replied. He shut the door behind Harry and then turned to him. “She was about to issue a press release when I last talked to her…”

“Ah,” Harry nodded. “So you’ve heard that it’s not John.”

“Yeah, she called me the moment she heard. Although, that makes me wonder a bit why you’re here…looking like shit…and not at home with my sister,” Matt said, his eyebrows raised in question.

Harry shuffled on his feet, his eyes casting down to the floor for a brief moment before he cleared his throat and swung his gaze back up to Matt’s. “I need some answers, Matt. And I think you’re the only person I can get them from.”

Matt crinkled his forehead in confusion. “Answers?”

“Can we…” Harry took a deep breath. “Can we maybe sit somewhere and talk about this?”

“Sure,” Matt nodded, curious and a little worried about what was going on. “We can use my office. It’s not fully set up – but I’ve got two comfortable chairs and whiskey.”

“Sounds good,” Harry agreed, moving to follow Matt up the stairs. Zuko bounded up after them, his favorite tennis ball in his mouth as he trotted in front of them down the hall to Matt’s office.

“What happened to the floors?” Harry asked, peering down at the scratches that lined the long hallway.

“That,” Matt laughed. “Is from this…” He plucked the tennis ball from Zuko’s mouth and chunked it through the open door to the office, sending Zuko flying and skidding down the hall, his nails dragging along the floor as her went.

“Oh shit,” Harry chuckled with a shake of his head as he watched Zuko bound back over with the ball. “And Charlotte hasn’t killed you yet?”

Matt grinned as he moved to pull out two glasses and the whiskey. He poured them each a glass and then, moving around the few boxes that were still waiting to be unpacked, he handed Harry one of the glasses. “Who do you think started throwing that fucking ball for him?” he chuckled as they settled back into the large, comfortable leather chairs across from each other.

“Of course,” Harry nodded and smirked, pulling his glass of whiskey to his lips for a drink.

Matt watched him, observing Harry growing solemn. It was like watching a dark cloud settle over him; the little humor he’d had moments before completely disappearing.

“What’s going on, Wales?”

“I need to know about Alex’s relationship with John,” Harry said quietly.

Matt’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Her relationship with John? Any reason you can’t ask her yourself?”

Harry bit his lip and his forehead furrowed in thought before he finally sighed back into his chair. “When my father told us yesterday about the news story, Alex just…lost it. She was beside herself.”

“I know,” Matt nodded. “I talked to her.”

“I know.” Harry took another sip of his drink and then continued. “I wasn’t…let’s just say I didn’t take it well either. She was so upset and I was trying to comfort her, to assure her that we would figure it out. She just had so many what-ifs running through her mind; including the thought that if it were actually John, she might still be legally married to him.”

Matt swallowed hard, feeling the emotional punch of that in his gut and know it must have hit both Harry and Alex a hundred times as hard as it hit him. “Well…I’m sure you could have found a way to take care of that if it were the case.”

“Sure,” Harry nodded. “That was my immediate thought. But Alex…her conviction wasn’t so strong. She said she didn’t know if she would stay with me or go back to John if it were truly him.”

Matt’s eyes widened a bit and he took a deep breath, trying to absorb Harry’s words. “I…I’m sorry, Harry,” he shook his head. “But that’s honestly really hard for me to believe. She actually said she would consider going back to John?”

“She said she didn’t know what she would do if she were still married to him. I asked her if that meant that she didn’t know who she would choose to be with…and the only answer she could come up with was ‘I don’t know.’”

There was a few beats of silence before Matt responded. He set his drink on the low table in front of him and leaned forward, pressing his hands together and meeting Harry’s gaze. “Listen, Harry,” he began in a quiet voice. “I…almost lost out on the woman I love because I got my head so caught up in something she did to actually stop and think about the reasons why she did it. I refused to listen to her, to talk to her…and I almost fucked it all up.”

“But I did listen,” Harry insisted. “She said…”

“You’ve got to stop harping on that one sentence she said in the middle of all of that,” Matt interrupted, his voice firm and bringing every single bit of Harry’s attention snapping to him. “You wanted to know about her relationship with John? He continued, raising an eyebrow. “What do you want to know?”

“I…did she love him?”

“Of course she did,” Matt nodded, his eyes open wide and honest. “And she always will; he gave her Emma. But they were young and…”

Harry groaned as he leaned back in his chair, scrubbing his hand over his face. “Jesus. What the hell am I doing? Am I really so spoiled that I…”



“The question you aren’t asking,” Matt clarified. “She loves you more.”

“That’s not…”

“Yes, it is,” Matt cut him off. “Look man, she’s my sister. I know her better than almost anyone. She loves you more. He may have given her Emma, but she gave you Emma. She didn’t have to do that and she wouldn’t have for anyone else. And Harry, listen to me when I say this…”

“Okay…” Harry nodded for him to keep going.

“The way they loved each other, it was young and sweet and it was real. But the way you and Alex love each other is just…there is an intensity there that was never there with her and John. She was devastated when she lost him because she loved him and the time they had together was so short and that was hard for her to take, especially since she was pregnant. But if she ever lost you, I’m not sure she’d be able to move on like she did from him. I think a part of her would go with you; that’s how connected you two are. So don’t get caught up on what she said in those frantic moments. It’s not worth it, man.”

“Damn it,” Harry groaned. His eyes slid closed and he leaned his head back against the leather of the chair. He rubbed his hands over his face and then and set his drink on the table. “God, I…I’ve got to go home. Sorry to drink and run, Matt. But…”

“Nah,” Matt shook his head. He tossed back the rest of his drink and stood. “In this case, I’m absolutely okay with that.”

“Thanks man,” Harry smiled and reached out to shake Matt’s hand. “You’re a great friend.”

“I know,” Matt grinned.

Harry laughed, shook Matt’s hand one more time, and then took his leave.

He wanted – needed – to get home.

He just prayed Alex would still be there.


It was quiet when he opened the door to his home – to their home. God he hoped he hadn’t ruined that; that this was still their home. He needed it to be. He needed her and he needed Emma and he couldn’t believe that he was so incredibly stupid.

“Alex?” he called out into the foyer, waiting for a moment to hear her shuffle in from the kitchen, or to hear her feet on the landing at the top of the stairs. But he didn’t, there was nothing. “Shit,” he breathed, his throat tightening and his eyes growing wet. “Please be here,” he whispered as he peeled his coat off and tossed his keys down haphazardly on the table in the foyer. He moved to the stairs, taking them two at a time. He moved quickly down the hall and pushed open the door to their room. She wasn’t there. The bed was still made and he knew she hadn’t even come in there. His panic rose and he had to force himself to take a deep breath as he turned and moved down to Emma’s room, pushing open her door on the off chance that Alex had decided to take refuge in there. “Damn it,” he swore when the room proved to be just as dark and empty as theirs had been.

He turned frantically and rushed back down the hall and down the stairs, swinging around as soon as he hit the marble of the entryway and going down the hallway towards his office. He pushed open the door and his entire body flooded with the most intense form of relief.

She was there. She was still there. She was curled up on the soft, leather sofa in his office, a throw blanket wrapped around her.

“You’re still here…” he breathed, his eyes wide and waiting as she turned her eyes up to his.

And his intense relief was quickly replaced by an intense, gut-wrenching form of heartbreak.

Her eyes were puffy and red, along with her nose and she looked…she looked so incredibly sad that it almost sent him to his knees.

And it was all his fault.

His own tears immediately burned his eyes and his throat got so tight that he wasn’t sure he could even take a breath as he looked down on her. He gulped for air and then he finally found the ability to choke out words.

"Oh God, Alex. I’m a fucking idiot."

She stared at him for just a moment, a moment where she blinked a few times and tried to decide which way she wanted to go. She could go for yelling and screaming. She could go for silence and shut him out. But in the end, she knew neither of those things were who she was; who they were. And so she sat up, she smudged at her eyes with the blanket, she sniffled, and then she nodded. “Yeah. You are.”

He took a step forward, his eyes never leaving hers, praying that she kept talking to him, that she wouldn’t just stand up and walk past him. Lord knows he deserved it. “Do you want to kick my ass? I’ll let you.”

"No," she said softly with a shake of her head. “I just…” She trailed off and let out a large rush of air. “Okay. I want to kick your ass a little bit.”

And then…and then he saw that the corners of her lips tipped up just slightly. No one else would have seen it but him; but it was enough to tell him that she at least wasn’t going to walk out. She was still mad but in that way she had, she had slipped just enough humor in to the situation to diffuse it a bit, to calm them both down enough to think rationally. She was presenting him an opportunity, an opportunity to apologize, to try as best as he could to explain what the hell had happened a few hours before, and he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. Not for anything.

He took a deep breath, ran his hands through his hair, and then he moved in. He slid in next to her on the couch and when his eyes met hers, there was no way he was going to be able to keep the tears away. He had hurt her; he could see it in her eyes. He had hurt her at a time when she all she needed from him was love.

“Alexandra, I’m…” He shook his head and reached for her face, wiping away a tear that was sliding slowly down her cheek. “Sorry doesn’t even begin to cover it. But, I am. I am so incredibly sorry, my darling. I am so sorry.”

“Why did you do that, Harry?” she whispered, her lips pulling in between her teeth as her eyes searched his. “Why did you say those things? You know that’s not true. You know there was never really any choice for me.”

“I was…I spent two days thinking my family was going to fall apart. I was going crazy thinking that if it was John, you were going to have to choose between him – between your husband, Emma’s father – and me. I was terrified you would leave and take our family with you.”

“You’re so stupid,” Alex shook her head, her eyes closing briefly before they flashed up to his again. “And I mean that in the most loving way possible, Henry. But if you really think…” She turned her body in and more towards his and sat up a bit straighter. “Listen to me. When your father told us, I was in shock.”

“I know, Alex. I…”

She held up a hand and shook her head, cutting him off. “Just listen. I was in shock. I couldn’t form a coherent thought. My entire brain was just…chaos. There were so many questions I instantly had for myself; if it was John, was I still married? How would I tell Emma? How was I going to tell Molly? Why the fuck was he going to thepress? So when you asked me that question, when you asked me what I would do…” She swiped at the tears that spilled as she spoke. “I don’t know didn’t mean that I didn’t know, it was just the answer to every other question that was spinning around me at that moment. And I hate that you didn’t stop to consider that. Because come on, Harry. You know the answer to that. The answer is you, Harry. Without question.”

“But he was your husband. He’s Emma’s father…” Harry whispered, trying to make her understand why he had been so scared.

“You’re right,” she nodded. She reached up for him, pulling his face in between her hands and his eyes closed at the feeling of her skin on his. “He was my husband. And he is Emma’s father. But Harry…look at me,” she commanded and he eyes pulled open to hers. “You are Emma’s father too. You know that. Come on, she calls you Daddy. She’s never addressed anyone like that personally. That’s so big I can’t even…”

“Alex…” he whispered, his lips tilting up in a soft smile.

“And you’re going to be my husband, Harry,” she continued. “You’re going to marry me in just a few short months and you better believe that nothing in this world can fucking stop that.”

Harry’s eyes held hers and he let it sink in. He let it sink in and he felt relief wash over his entire body. “Oh my God,” he breathed as his hands moved to her, running up her sides to her shoulders and then down her arms to her wrists, holding her as she held him. “I’m so sorry Alex. What can I do? What can I do to even attempt to make this up to you?”

Her voice was soft when she spoke. “Can you hold me?”

He blinked. “Hold you?”

“You know, wrap your arms around me and let me snuggle into you?” Alex said with a small smile, her lips pulling up at the corners. “I really, really need that. After all of this…I just need you to wrap yourself around me Harry.”

“I don’t deserve you sometimes,” he said, his voice full of so much love and warmth that she already felt better, she already felt herself relaxing a bit. And when he moved to her, when he pulled her into him and wrapped her arms around her she felt warmth seep back into her, all the way down into her bones.

“Where did you go?” she asked quietly as she nuzzled her head under his chin, loving the feel and smell of him after such a roller coaster couple of days.

Harry pulled her tighter and kissed the top of her head. “I went to Matt and Charlotte’s.”

“Really?” she pulled back to look up at him.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “You look surprised.”

“That you went to Charlotte for advice? Not at all,” she shook her head. “That she didn’t kick your ass all the way back over here…maybe a little bit.”

“Ha!” Harry shook his head. “I’m sure she would have, but I actually went to see Matt.”

Her lips tilted up into a smile. “You did?”

He shrugged. “He knows you better than anyone. He knew John.”

“Ahhh…” Alex nodded as understanding washed over her. “And he knew me and John together.”

“It helped, Alex.” His voice was quiet, but not apologetic. “It helped to see it from his point of view.”

“Hey…” Her eyes widened and she shook her head. “I’m not mad. Matt’s really great at that stuff. And you guys get along really well. I’m not happy you left, but I’m glad that’s where you went…if that makes any sense. And I’m glad it helped”

“Me too,” he smiled. He reached up, moving a hand to her face and brushing a piece of hair from her face. His other arm tightened around her and he pulled her closer, his intent clear. He wanted to kiss her. He really wanted to kiss her.

And Alex really, really wanted that. She did. But just as he tilted his head over hers, just before his lips covered hers, her eyes flashed wide and her hand moved to his chest, halting him.

"Oh my god. I can’t believe I almost forgot!” she exclaimed as she suddenly moved to untangle herself from his arms.

Harry blinked a couple of times, the surprise evident on his face. “What did you forget?” he chuckled.

“Look at what got delivered while you were out,” Alex said softly. She sat forward and her fingers reached out for a large manila envelope on the low table in front of the couch. She turned to Harry and held the envelope out for him with a small smile and a bite to her lip.

"From the lawyers?" he asked with a chuckle, recognizing the familiar logo in the upper left hand corner. "What would they be sending over this late…" He trailed off and his eyes widened as realization dawned. There was only one thing that he had given instructions to be delivered the moment they were ready. His eyes flashed up to her. "The adoption papers?"

She nodded, her smile widening as he slid the envelope from her hands. “Ready to be signed.”

"Wow," Harry shook his head, blinking a few times as he slid the stack of papers from the envelope. His eyes scanned through quickly, making sure all if the important points he and Alex had wanted were covered. "It’s all here," he said with a nod. "So, once we sign and they file…"

"Emma will be your daughter," Alex said softly, her voice full of emotion.

"Our daughter," he corrected. Setting the papers to the side for the moment, his hands moved right to her, sliding up her arms, over her shoulders to her neck, cupping her face in his hands. "Our daughter, Alexandra."

"Our daughter," Alex echoed, blinking at the tears in her eyes. And for the first time in two days her tears weren’t from fear or sadness or shock; they were from happiness and love.

“I’m so sorry that I almost fucked this all up,” Harry apologized again. His thumbs ran softly over her cheeks, moving to brush the few tears that slipped from the corners of her eyes.

She rolled her eyes slightly and a small laugh pushed from her lips. “You’re so dramatic, Wales.”

His lips twitched. “Dramatic?”

"Come on, you didn’t almost fuck everything up. Don’t you get it? I love you. Even when you do stupid shit, I still love you."

"One of these days I’m going to realize that," he said, a soft smile forming on his lips.

"You really should," she nodded. "Because we’re going to have fights, Harry."

"I know…"

"We’re going to have fights because we’re both emotional and stubborn and you mightbe a little bit spoiled…”

"Easy…" He chuckled, narrowing his eyes playfully.

"So just…" she continued. “Don’t walk out like that. I realize that this was different than a regular fight; but just please don’t do that again. Okay?”

His eyes grew solemn, taking in the seriousness in her words. “Okay, I won’t. I promise, Alex.”

"Okay," she sighed, relaxing a bit. She turned her head and pressed a kiss into his palm and then her eyes turned back to his, her lips curled and she leaned forward, pressing her lips right to his.

"Mmmm…" Harry’s lips smiled against hers and his hands slid into her hair, pulling her closer, so incredibly happy to finally be kissing her.

"I’m afraid you have a decision to make, Harry," she whispered against his lips, her eyes dancing as she opened them to his.

"A decision?" he chuckled even as he tried to pull her lips back to his.

"Mhhmm…" she nodded. “Do we sign the papers and then make love…or do we make love and then sign the papers?”

He grinned, loving the way she teased him, the way he knew that she already knew what would say. “I think we should sign the papers, Alexandra. So I can officially make love to the mother of my child.”

"Oh! Smooth, Wales," she giggled as her eyes widened at her words.

"So much sass," he chuckled. He pressed his lips to hers once more and then stood, moving over to his desk to grab them each a pen. He handed one to her when he came back and then sat, reaching to pick up the envelope from the table. He slid the papers out and laid them out on the table in front of them.

"You ready?" He asked, his gaze finding hers as he took a deep breath.

She laughed and shook her head at him. “See what I mean? Dramatic.”

"Of course," he chuckled, his lips twitching at her humor but her eyes watching her with all the love in the world as she bent forward and signed the first page and then pushed it over to him.

They moved through them all just like that, until all of the pages where sighed where the lawyers had marked for them to do so. And when they finished, the very first thing Harry did was to pull her into his arms and pull her mouth to his, kissing her deeply and passionately. His arms wrapped around her tightly and when he moved them back onto the couch, when he pulled her body beneath his and the lovemaking began, it wasn’t about apologies or making up.

When he held her as close as he possibly could while he pushed himself slowly into her over and over again, it was about surviving a difficult test to their relationship and coming out stronger and with more understanding of each other on the other side.

When they both came apart together, moaning and groaning each other’s names in that hazy, sticky way that comes with a drive and passion like theirs, it was about knowing that they shared a love that many people weren’t as lucky as them to have; that neither of them had ever really thought could be theirs.

But it was theirs.

It always had been and it always would be.