Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Sixty One

“It’s bloody cold out here,” Will grumbled, a shiver running through him as he and Harry walked out on the snow covered grounds behind the main house at Sandringham on Christmas Eve.

“You’re such a wuss,” Harry chuckled, throwing a side glance at his brother.

“Is this part of a plan to take back your spot as third in line? Take me out here and make sure I freeze to death?” William deadpanned, bringing a shout of laughter from Harry.

“You know, if people heard us talking like that, they’d think we were nuts. Or disturbed.”

Will smirked and then shrugged. “We have to joke about it. Somehow it makes it…smaller. Although, I have to tell you, I hate those fucking Lion King internet things.”

“Memes?” Harry offered with a grin.

“Whatever,” William huffed.

“Only because they make fun of your hair…or lack of it.”

Will rolled his eyes and laughed, enjoyed the banter and good-natured ribbing between him and his brother. They didn’t get to see each other enough, but he always enjoyed when they did. “Alright, so if you’re not going to take me out of the line of succession, why do you have me out here?”

Harry’s smile grew soft and he slowed, Will matching his pace until they finally stopped walking altogether and Harry turned to face him. “I’ve been thinking about the treehouse at Highgrove.”

Will’s eyebrows lifted. “The treehouse? Shit. I haven’t been there in ages.”

“I took Alex up there last summer,” Harry admitted, his grin almost boyish. “I also had Smith pull down some of the old toys and Emma I played up there for a while one day.”

“Did you really?” Will asked, surprise flashing across his face. “That’s great. Did she enjoy it?”

“She loved it,” Harry nodded. “As did I. She’s…even then we had such a fun, easy way with each other.”

“She’s an outstanding kid,” Will offered, watching with a small smile as his brother spoke about the little girl who he now called his niece.

“Mhmm,” Harry nodded, his lips tugging up at the corners. “So listen,” he took a deep breath. “I’m going to ask Papa, but I’m checking with you first. I want to give Emma the treehouse for Christmas.”

Will’s smile pulled a bit wider and his head tipped slightly to the side. “Why would you have to ask me?”

“Come on,” Harry smirked. “That was – is – our treehouse. I thought maybe you might want it to be Henry’s one day.”

“Henry will have plenty,” Will said with a laugh. “Did you know they gave us a boat for him when we toured Australia? A boat. Lovely boat, but he was eight months old. Anyway, what I’m saying is that of course you can give Emma the treehouse and I’m sure Papa will be fine with it. Highgrove will be yours someday anyway.”

“Not for a long time,” Harry shrugged, not even thinking along those lines yet. “But thank you. That means a lot to me.”

William nodded and a moment of silence passed between the two of the before Will spoke, his voice lower and catching Harry’s full attention. “I don’t think it actually hit me until right now,” he said with a shake of his head. “That you’re a father.”

“Ahhh,” Harry smiled. “Is that strange for you?”

“Yes, but in a good way,” Will chuckled. He took a deep breath and his eyes tilted up to the night sky, watching the stars and his own breath in the cold air for a moment before his gaze slid back to Harry. “I’m proud of you, Harry.”

Harry blinked and his eyes narrowed. “Are you about to mess with me? Are Peter and Mike hiding around the corner with snowballs about to pelt my ass?”

“Ha!” Will’s head tipped back with laughter. “No. No, I’m not messing with you. I am proud of you. Look what you’ve done, how much has changed in your life. Less than three years ago you were naked on the front page of The Sun and now you’re about to be married to an amazing woman, you’ve got a daughter, and damn Harry, you love them beyond anything. Everyone can see it. I am proud. Father is proud. And you know…Mum would be just…” He stopped and swallowed at the emotion that bubbled up in his throat. “Mum would be incredibly proud.”

Harry bit his lip and blinked several times, shaking his head slightly as he pushed the tears back. “I hope so.”

Warm, comfortable silence fell between the two brothers and they started walking again, moving back towards the main house. There had been moments in their lives when they had dropped the ribbing and the snark and emotions had run high between them; those first few months after their mother died, William and Catherine’s wedding, the intervention for Harry’s PTSD, and when Henry was born stood out among them and now this one would too. It meant a great deal to both of them, more than they would ever admit to each other.

“Just out of curiosity, what would have done had I said no?” William asked with a sly quirk to his lips.

And without missing a beat Harry grinned and replied, “Left your ass out here to freeze and overtaken the throne.”

“Nice,” William chuckled, bumping his shoulder into Harry’s. “And to think I almost considered going through this entire holiday without mentioned how thin your hair is getting…”

“Of course,” Harry groaned with a shake of his head.


“There’s Harry!” Donna called out, pointing to the flat screen television on the wall as they watched the Royal Family on their annual walk to church on Christmas Day.

Alex’s smile pulled wide as she watched her fiancé move past the crowds, waving and smiling at them as he went. “He looks handsome,” she commented, taking in the shock of bright red hair and his rosy cheeks.

“And cold,” Emma added, bringing a laugh from the group gathered in the living room.

“Well,” he not lucky enough to be snuggled up inside like you are,” Mike teased Emma with a pinch to her nose.

“Alexandra, will you be walking like that next year?” Donna asked, turning to look at Alex.

“Of course,” she nodded with a smile. “Emma and I both will walk with Harry.”

Emma perked up at that. “I’ll go too?”

“Absolutely,” Alex replied. “Technically, since Harry legally adopted you, you could have gone this year. But I wanted you to stay with me and spend time with Mimi and Poppy and Granny. After this year, we will be spending Christmas day at Sandringham with Harry’s family every year.”

“Every year?” Emma’s eyebrows lifted, a worried look crossing her face. “We won’t see Mimi and Poppy and Granny at Christmas anymore?”

“Of course you’ll still see us,” Molly said with a wink in Emma’s direction. “It’ll just be a day or two after actual Christmas day. So really, Emma, Christmas will last extra-long for you.”

“Well,” Emma sighed dramatically and sat back into the sofa, picking up the iPad that Alex’s parents had given her for Christmas and resuming whatever she had been doing before Harry came on TV. “You just can’t beat an extra-long Christmas.”


They were about forty five minutes into A Christmas Story when Alex’s phone rang out, startling her and momentarily diverting the attention of the people in the room to her from the movie.

“Sorry,” she shrugged, although her lips were already curling up into a smile as she listened to the ringtone she knew so well. “It’s Harry.”

“Oooooo!” Emma scrambled out from under her blanket on the couch next to Alex and her eyes were big and excited. She held her little hand out and asked, “Mummy, can I answer it please?”

Alex couldn’t help but hand the phone right over, her heart melting at the pure excitement and love on her daughter’s face. “Make sure to tell him Merry Christmas,” she said as Emma swiped her finger across the screen.

“Merry Christmas, Daddy!” Emma sang out as she bounced on her knees with the words. “We saw you on TV!”

“Merry Christmas, Emma,” Harry chuckled into the phone. “You did?”

“Uh huh,” she nodded. “Mummy said you looked handsome.”

“Well, your mummy is an incredibly smart lady. And what did you think?”

“I thought you looked cold,” she answered, the cutest little bit of sympathy in her voice, bringing laughter not only from Harry, but from the people in the room with her.

“Ha! Well, I was cold. So tell me Princess, how has your Christmas been?”

“It’s been good,” Emma answered and he could hear the smile in her voice. “We opened presents earlier and then we ate a big dinner and now we’re watching A Christmas Story.”

“Sounds like an amazing day, kiddo. I miss you,” Harry said softly.

“I miss you too! And Mummy misses you too,” she said with a sly giggle and Harry heard faint laughter in the background – obviously Alex’s family was getting a kick out of their conversation.

“Does she now?” He couldn’t help but grin. “Does your mummy happen to be right there with you?”

“Yeeeees,” Emma snickered, drawing the word out and turning her eyes to look up to Alex. “Do you want to talk to her?”

“Would you mind if I did?” Harry chuckled. He couldn’t help but get a kick out of his daughter.

“Nope,” Emma answered, her lips popping with the word. “She definitely wants to talk to you too. Love you, Dad! Merry Christmas! See you in a couple days!”

“Love you too Em,” he smiled wide. He heard the phone being shuffled around and then Alex’s voice came on the line, and he swore his heart beat just a little bit faster.

“Merry Christmas, Harry.”

“Ah, my love. Merry Christmas,” he replied softly.

“How is it up there? How is everyone?” Alex asked.

“All very good. We’re having fun. I’ve spent most of my time trying to convince Henry to say ‘Uncle Harry.’”

Alex laughed, picturing it in her head. “And how is that going?”

“He’s stubborn, but we’ll get there,” he chuckled. “How is it going there? How is your family?”

“It’s wonderful,” she said with a wide smile as she glanced around the room at everyone gathered there. “Want to say hello to everyone? I’ll put it on speaker phone.”

“Absolutely,” Harry agreed happily.

Alex pulled the phone from her ear and pushed the speaker icon. The next few minutes were spent in good natured conversation and ribbing between Harry and Alex’s family. It was clear how close they really were, how much they considered Harry one of them how much he really felt like one of them.

“Alright,” Harry announced with a bit of laughter after a bit of going back and forth with Matt about the new FIFA came Charlotte had bought him for Christmas. “Speaking of presents. Alex, you there?”

“I’m here!” she called out.

“Okay, I know we said we weren’t going to do our presents until Highgrove but…”

Surprise moved through the room as the doorbell rang out through the house, sending both Gus and Matt’s dog Zuko flying into the foyer towards the front door.

“What did you do?” Alex narrowed her eyes at her phone although her lips were smiling.

“Just go to the door love,” Harry chuckled through the phone.

“Okay…” she giggled, snatching her phone from the coffee table and standing from the couch. Matt moved from his spot beside Charlotte to go help control the dogs and Emma followed Alex into the foyer, naturally curious. Alex handed her phone off to Emma when she pulled open the door and she couldn’t help but grin when she saw the tall, rectangular present sitting there on the step by itself. It was beautifully wrapped in red and gold Christmas paper and Alex wasted no time in stepping out to lift it from the step and into the house.

“What is it?” Emma asked with wide eyes as Alex shut the door behind her.

“Well…” Alex drawled with a wink. “It’s not terribly heavy. I don’t know. Should I shake it and try to guess?”

“No!” Harry called through the phone, drawing a giggle from both Alex and Emma as they moved back into the living room with Matt and the dogs close behind.

“Of course he sent a big ass…” Charlotte’s eyes widened and her lips twitched as she glanced at Emma. “Sorry. Of course he went over the top and sent a big ol present.”

“I heard the bad word, Aunt Charlotte,” Emma sassed as she jumped back onto the couch, Alex’s phone still firmly in her hand while Harry waited on the other end.

“I did too,” Harry joked on the phone. “Now listen, this present is kind of both for Alex and Emma. It really has a lot to do with both of you.”

Alex shared an excited glance with her daughter and suddenly she couldn’t wait another second to open it. “Come on Em, help me,” she encouraged.

Emma immediately set down the phone onto the coffee table and her fingers went to work with Alex’s, tearing at the pretty wrapping paper. It took several big rips of paper to fully expose the front of the gift, for Alex to realize what it was, but when she did she couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her mouth or the tears that filled her eyes. Her fingers flew to her lips and she shook her head as she stared at it.

Right there in front of her, mounted in a tall sort of frame, was a portion of the door frame from Emma’s old room at their apartment – the door frame that Alex had used to mark Emma’s height each year as she grew. And they were all there – each little line marking the seven years that they had been there together.

“That’s from my door!” Emma squealed as she pointed at it. “That’s how tall I used to be every year!”

“Harry…” Alex breathed, her heart thundering in her chest. Everyone in the room moved from their seats to come look at Harry’s gift but Alex didn’t see them, didn’t notice them. She could only stare at the amazing gift in front of her. “Oh my God. How did you even…”

“Do you like it?” His voice was soft through the speaker on the phone.

She reached for her phone, pulled it off speaker, and pressed it to her ear wanting him to herself for just a moment. “Like it? Harry, I love it. I…this is so amazing.”

“Oh baby, I’m so glad you love it. I’m sorry I did it this way, but I really wanted you to get it when you were in our home. Though I wish I could see your face right now.”

She shook her head, a soft laugh escaping as she swiped at her eyes. “Well, it’s all red and splotchy because you went and made me cry.”

He couldn’t help but tear up a bit himself, sniffing at the image of her so happy. “Good tears though?”

“Of course, yes,” she sighed. “I just…I can’t believe this. It’s so wonderful. I’m going to end up carrying it from room to room with me because I don’t know that I’ll be able to decide where to put it.”

“Ha!” Harry laughed, his head tipping back into the cushion of the chair he was in. “Well, we’ll narrow down a list after we get back from Highgrove.”

“Okay,” she laughed softly.

“Okay,” he nodded and then glancing up and seeing his father standing in the doorway of the room he sighed. “Okay my love, I have to go. It’s time to go get changed for supper. I’ll call you later tonight, okay?”

“Okay,” she smiled. “Harry…thank you. And I love you.”

“I love you too, Alexandra. Give Emma a kiss for me.”

“I absolutely will,” she replied and then after they said their good-byes, she finally pulled the phone from her ear and glanced around, noticing everyone looking at her. “What?” she laughed.

“That man…” Donna shook her head, a slight sheen of tears in her own eyes. “Is incredibly smooth.”

And Alex couldn’t help but burst into laughter, along with the rest of the room. “He really, really is.”


It was much later, after dinner with the entire family, complete with the usual tales of hilarity and back and forth banter between them all that Harry and Charles sat down for a drink alone in one of the parlors. A fire roared in the fireplace and they each sat in high backed but comfortable chair near it and sipped scotch.

“Did Alexandra like her gift, son?” Charles asked, his eyes trained on Harry’s face, more content and happy than he had ever seen it.

“She really did. I’m glad I could give that to her. It’s important that she have those pieces of Emma’s life.”

“Absolutely,” Charles agreed. “And what did you get Emma for Christmas?”

“Actually,” he said as he took a sip of his scotch and then sat forward a bit. “I wanted to ask you for something.”

Charles brows lifted. “Something for Emma?”

“Yes,” Harry smiled. “I’ve already spoken to Will and made sure it was okay with him. I want to make the treehouse at Highgrove Emma’s.”

“You want to give her the treehouse for Christmas?” Charles head tilted to the side and his lips moved into a warm smile.

“I really do,” Harry nodded and then shrugged. “I don’t know. She loves it and I wanted her to have something that used to be one of my favorite things when I was her age.”

“Well then it’s hers,” Charles nodded and then took a sip of his drink. “I’m more than happy to let her get use out of it.”

“Thanks Dad,” Harry said, his smile pulling wide, already picturing the excitement on Emma’s face when he gave it to her.

“Of course,” Charles said with a wave of his hand.

Both of the men sat back in their chairs then, letting the moment settle and both of them letting their minds wander a bit. It was several moments before either of them spoke, but when the silence was broken, it was Charles’ voice that filled the space between them, a bit deeper and more serious than it had been moments before.

“Son,” he cleared his throat. “I was originally going to wait until closer to the wedding to give you this, but I think now might be the right time.”

Harry’s brow furrowed together as he watched his father reach inside the picket of his blazer. “Another gag gift?” he joked, the hilarious annual gift exchange within his family still fresh on his mind from the evening before.

“No,” Charles shook his head and smirked before his hand pulled from his blazer and his face moved towards serious again. “Your grandfather – my father – gave this to me before I married your mother,” he said softly, emotion evident in his voice.

“Your pocket watch?” Harry’s eyes flashed surprise when he saw the familiar object in his father’s hand. “I never knew that.”

“There are a few things I’ve kept to myself over the years,” Charles smiled. “And this…” he turned the watch over in his fingers and looked down at it. “You know that your grandfather and I had a bit of a turbulent relationship when I was younger.”

“Sure,” Harry said slowly, unsure where his father was going with his speech.

“When he gave this to me was a bit of a turning point in our relationship. He said he respected the man I had become and was proud of me,” Charles said. He took a deep breath and his eyes moved back up to Harry’s. “I know I’ve said those things to you before, I always made sure that you and your brother knew how proud I was of you both, how you’ve both grown into amazing men. But right now, watching you since Alexandra and Emma came into your life, the way you’ve loved and protected them both,” he took a deep breath and nodded towards his son. “You deserve every bit of respect and pride I have, Henry Charles.”

“Papa,” Harry whispered, unsure if the lump of emotion in his throat would even allow his voice to go higher than that. “It’s really…I just love them both.”

“Listen to me,” Charles sat forward and met and held Harry’s eyes with his. “I loved your mother. You know that. But I didn’t love her like I should have. I didn’t support her like I should have. I didn’t do everything I could to make sure she was happy and comfortable. I was too selfish and too caught up in the fact that if I’d had a choice, I would have chosen differently. But the thing is son, I did have a choice. I could have gone another way and married someone else who I knew was better for me, but I chose to not make waves and to do what everyone else thought was best. And you know what? I was happy until the first sign on trouble and then all I could feel was resentment.”

“Dad,” Harry tried to interrupt, wanting to assure his father that he didn’t have to do this, that these things had already been laid out a hundred times between them.

“Hold on,” Charles held up a hand. “Let me finish. My point is that you and your brother didn’t sit there and accept what others wanted in regards to the way you live your lives and in the women you are bringing into this family. You have each carved your own path and found partners with whom you’ve forged these incredible support systems. That’s so important, Harry – I know from experience how incredibly important that is. And you did that with a single mother. You forged that relationship not only with her, but with her child and you never cared once what anyone had to say about it. Come on, Henry. You’ve done more than just love them.”

“I…I don’t know what to say,” Harry mumbled, swallowing and blinking several times to try and keep his emotions in check. “Just…thank you, Papa.”

Charles smiled warmly and nodded his head. He reached forward and patted Harry’s cheek, before moving to hand the pocket watch over to him, watching as Harry’s fingers closed tightly around the incredibly meaningful gift.

“You’re welcome, my son.”


Both Harry and Alex both enjoyed Christmas with their respective families immensely; although they missed each other terribly. Being apart over a holiday that was meant to be spent with the ones that you love the most was hard on them both, but they each made it a point to make to make the most of the time.

But soon enough, the days apart had passed. Two days after Christmas, Harry, Charles and Camilla, and William, Kate, and Henry travelled from Sandringham to Highgrove, arriving early in the morning to open the place up and make sure it was prepared for the arrival of Alex and her family.

Of course, there was one place that Harry was keen to make sure was cleaned up and prepared for the arrival of its newest inhabitant – the Treehouse. His father and William offered their assistance and the three of them went to work cleaning it out, even in the cold, snowy morning; sweeping and clearing out the dirt, dust, and cobwebs that had formed over the months that it had gone unused.

“Bloody hell,” William grumbled. “If I run into another spider web…” He looked up distastefully at a corner of the inside of the treehouse, wary of the potential spider whose home he may have just gotten caught up in.

“Relax Will,” Harry chuckled from where he stood at the door, working away with a hammer and nails at hanging something above the doorway. “It’s the dead of winter. Whatever spider was living in that web is long gone. You probably swept him out with all the dust and dirt.”

“I don’t take chances,” Will shook his head as his lifted his broom to knock down the rest of the web and sweep it into the pile of dirt on the floor.

Harry laughed again and then stepped back from the doorway, his eyes narrowing as his admired his handiwork. A smile tipped his lips when he was satisfied that it was straight and level.

Will stepped out of the doorway, swept the final pile of dirt off the side of the small deck and then turned toward the doorway. “Emma’s Treehouse,” he said, reading out the sign that Harry had hung with such care. He grinned as he set the broom against the side of the treehouse and then reached in his pocket for his gloves. “How times have changed.”

Harry returned Will’s grin and slid his own hands into his pockets, warming them a bit. “I know. It wasn’t that long ago that I was kicking your ass playing soldiers up here.”

William snorted and shook his head. “You never kicked my ass at anything.”

“Please,” Harry groaned, the brotherly competitiveness between them amping up instantly. “I did too. And I still could.”

“Are you two done yet?” Charles called up from below where he had been clearing snow from around the bottom of the treehouse. “Because I’m fairly certain I just heard a car pull up out front, but I don’t really want to explain to Alexandra and Emma that you two couldn’t come greet them because you were having a pissing match in the treehouse.”

“They’re here?” Harry’s entire face lit up and he immediately moved to the small ladder that led back down to solid ground, totally forgetting about the conversation he was having with his brother. He was down the ladder within second and without stopping to wait for his father or Will, he took off through the garden. He moved through them quickly and towards the path that led around the side of the house to the front, his smile pulling wider with each step he took.

He rounded the corner of the house just in time to see Alex step from the car and turn to help Emma out. Molly was getting out of the car on the other side and Mike and Donna were stepping from a second car that was pulled in right behind Alex, Emma, and Molly’s. His steps became even faster and before he knew it, he found himself calling out to them.

“I see you made it!”

Alex and Emma both swung around at the sound of the voice and their faces both lit up in almost identical wide, bright smiles and suddenly everything in Harry felt complete again.

They were there. His family was there.

“Daddy!” Emma called out as she broke away from Alex and into a full run towards Harry.

“My princess!” Harry laughed as he opened his arms and let her fly right into them. “Oh, I missed you little girl,” he murmured as he lifted her from her feet and into his arms.

Her arms squeezed around his neck and she giggled. “I missed you more!”

Harry chuckled, squeezed her tight one more, and turned to kiss her cheek. “I’m going to say hello to your mum now,” he whispered, his eyes already lifting to find Alex walking towards them, her eyes bright and her lips curved into the most adorable smile.

“Are you going to kiss her?” Emma asked, her nose scrunching up at the thought.

“Absolutely,” Harry nodded, his eyes crinkling up with the smile the spread across his face as he set Emma down.

“Ugh,” Emma groaned, already turning around to head back towards the cars and her grandparents. “Always with the kissing.”

Harry laughed at her sass and then his eyes settled on Alex, his heart beating harder in his chest. His lips quirked up in anticipation. “Come here,” he said, nodding his head to the side and opening his arms to her.

And after four days away from him, Alex could do nothing but exactly that – step right into Harry’s arms and relish the feeling as they closed tightly around her.

“Damn Alexandra, I missed you,” Harry murmured into her hair as she nuzzled her face into his chest for a moment, taking in his smell before turning her face up to his.

“Well then you better kiss me like you told Emma you were going to,” she said, her eyes dancing with the words.

“Mmmm,” Harry dipped his head and his arms tightened around her as he pressed a warm, full kiss to her lips, soaking in every single second he could of the kiss that wasn’t anywhere near a long or as deep or as passionate as they both wished it could be. All too soon it had to be over. Much too quickly Harry heard his father and Will coming around the corner and he knew any moment Camilla and probably Kate would be stepping out of the front door to greet everyone. With a sigh he pulled back, his eyes holding hers for a brief, want filled moment before they had to step away from each other.

But in the end, ending their embrace was for something they both wanted, something that had been a long time in the making.

It was time to introduce their families.


Charles and Camilla were warm and welcoming to Alex’s family, just as she assured them that they would be. They felt at ease in their presence, as well as that of Will and Kate, and the relaxed nature of Harry’s family meshed well with the relaxed nature of Alex’s.

There were small things that highlighted their differences, of course, but no one in Alex’s life was a stranger to the parts of royal life that made it different than normal life. Security and staff members around them – while not something they were used to on a daily basis – were part of Alex’s life and had been for quite a while, so they weren’t very surprised by those things at Highgrove.

Their bags were unloaded and taken up to their rooms, where they were allowed a bit to get settled, and then because Harry simply couldn’t wait any longer, they leaded back out into the cold so that everyone could watch as Harry gave Emma the Treehouse.

To say that Emma loved her gift was an understatement. She was almost beside herself with excitement at having her very own treehouse – taking particular delight that there was a sign right above the door declaring that it was her domain. She hugged and kissed Harry, thanking him over and over again and, Harry made sure that she knew that both his father and William had helped to clean it out and spruce it up for her. She wasted no time in running over to hug her Papa Charles and her Uncle Will and to thank them as well.

Harry and Will stayed outside with Emma to play with what little daylight was left while the rest of the group went inside. Charles was more than happy to give a tour of Highgrove to Alex’s parents and Molly, regaling them with hilarious tales of William and Harry when they were children there and sharing small anecdotes as they passed certain pictures or knickknacks that held memories for him.

It wasn’t until later on in the evening after dinner that things settled down a bit. Alex was curled up on one of the comfortable couches in the library with Emma, who was reading a book that Camilla had given her, telling her it was one of her daughter’s favorites when she was Emma’s age. Molly – recognizing a fellow book lover when she saw one – had struck up a conversation about literature with Camilla and they were engrossed in conversation near one of the many shelves of books in the room. Donna seemed to have really taken to Kate and was quite enamored with little Henry as well, spending quite a bit of time crossed legged on the floor of the library playing with him and discussing her job as a special education teacher to Kate as assisting special needs children was a cause very close to her heart.

“Your father and mine seem to have hit it off,” Harry remarked quietly as he slid onto the couch next to Alex. “They’ve been in Dad’s office for the better part of an hour discussing clean energy practices. I had to take my leave, but Will seems to be hanging in there with the discussion,” he chuckled.

“Mmmm,” Alex sighed, turning her eyes up to his. “It’s nice having our families together.”

“It’s wonderful,” Harry nodded, his eyes filled with love and contentment as they met hers. “And look at her,” he nodded towards Emma. “She must have been worn out.”

Alex turned her head down to look at her daughter, smiling as she found her fast asleep, the book Camilla gave her still clenched in her little hand.

“Completely worn out,” Alex laughed. “I should probably take her up to bed.”

“Want me to take her?” Harry asked softly.

“Hmmm,” Alex smiled, turning her eyes back to his. “Why don’t we both take her?”

Harry’s lips curved up. “We could tuck her into her room and then maybe retire to ours?”

Alex worked hard to keep the flush from her cheeks and the dance from her eyes, not wanting to give herself away to the entire room. “I think that’s a wonderful idea, Captain.”

Harry wasted no time in rising to his feet and Alex had to bit her lip in order not to giggle at his eagerness. He hugged and kissed everyone in the room goodnight before turning and lifting Emma from Alex’s lap so she could do the same.

They moved from the room and up the stairs to Emma’s room where Alex quickly got their sleepy little girl changed into a pair of pajamas before they tucked her into the bed, Emma’s eyes barely staying open long enough for both of them to kiss her goodnight. Then, stepping from the room and closing the door softly behind them, Harry followed Alex into their room, right next door to Emma’s.

The door was barely shut and locked before Alex flung herself at Harry, her arms wrapping around his neck and her mouth finding his as he pulled her hard and tight against him.

Their clothes came off in a hurry, flying wildly around the room as giggles and soft moans and groans passed between them. It had been hard being apart from each other over the holiday and the want, the absolute need, between them to reconnect was powerful and undeniable.

They barely made it to the bed before they were joined together. It was hot and fast and breathless; the passion filling the air between them as they both pushed each other to that place that was only reserved for the other, a place that made them moan each other’s name over and over again as their bodies pulsed with pleasure.

After it all settled, after their breathing had returned, Harry left her side only to clean up and then h returned and pulled her right into his side, wanting her as close as possible.

“Alex?” he whispered, turning to kiss her forehead and then dropping his gaze to hers.


“Thank you for the best Christmas present I’ve ever had.”

Alex’s brows furrowed in confusion. “I haven’t given you your present yet.”

He leaned down and pressed a warm kiss to her lips. “This was the last Christmas I’ll ever have to spend without you and Emma, without my family. Thank you for giving me that. Best present ever.”

“Harry…” she breathed, her lips forming a happy smile as she looked up into his wonderfully expressive blue eyes. “You’re about to get so lucky.”

“Again?” he grinned, his eyebrows lifting.

Alex laughed and nodded as she rose and moved over him. “Always.”