Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Sixty Four

Two days before the wedding – May 13th, 2015

Harry shifted on the sofa, glancing from the TV and over to Alex for probably the twentieth time since they’d settled in there after sending Emma off with Alex’s parents for the night. The idea had been to give Alex and Harry a little bit of alone time before things got really crazy the next day, to give them a chance to take some peace and quiet and relaxation – the last they were going to get for a few days.

But Harry could tell that Alex wasn’t relaxing. The second she had sunk in next to him on the sofa, she had reached for her notebook and her iPod, popping in her headphones and flipping right to a page that she hadn’t turned from in the last half an hour. He didn’t know exactly what was running through her head, but he absolutely knew it was wedding related and that it was stressing her out.

“Okay,” he announced as he leaned over and snatched an earbud from her ear.

She turned toward him with wide, startled eyes. “What?”

“What are you doing?” He lifted an eyebrow and nodded to her notebook.

“Nothing.” She shook her head, though her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Just…going over some things.”

“Nothing? Looks pretty damn stressful to be nothing.”

Alex only held her ground for a few seconds before she sighed and pulled her other earbud out and turning slightly narrowed eyes to Harry. “Sometimes I hate that you know me so well.”

His lips twisted a bit. “Yeah?”

“No,” she sighed again as she tossed her notebook to the side. “Of course I don’t.”

He reached out to her, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “Wanna tell me what you’re worried about, love?”

“Don’t laugh,” Alex said pointedly.

Harry rolled his eyes playfully. “Just spit it out, Alexandra.”

Her bottom lip pulled between her teeth for a moment and then she took a deep breath turned, reaching for her notebook and then turning back and handing it to him. “It’s the schedule for the ceremony to the minute, including the timing of the music.”

He glanced over it quickly and then squinted when he looked back up at her. “And why are you studying this so hard?”

Alex couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous she was about to sound. “I’m counting it out in my head with the music.” She nodded towards her iPod. “Mostly the walk up the aisle; counting my steps and such.”

“Are you…counting how many steps it should take you to get up the aisle?” Harry bit his lip, trying to hide his amusement. He thought it was completely adorable but didn’t want her to mistake it for him making fun of her.

Alex groaned. “I know how stupid this sounds…”

“It doesn’t!” Harry protested. He dipped his head so his eyes were level with hers, open and honest as he met and held her gaze. “It doesn’t sound stupid at all, Alex. I just…why are you worried about this?”

“Okay,” Alex took a deep breath and, unable to keep sitting while she explained it, she stood and began to pace the room. “You know how I am about to? How I always like to be five minutes early or right on time and if I’m late it makes me crazy?”

“Yes,” Harry nodded with a smile. He was well aware, having been privy to her anxiety to get him out the door with her on time on more than one occasion. “Emma is like that too.”

“I’m sure she is, she’s been living with me doing it for eight years,” Alex smirked. “But, this timing is so exact and what if I’m early and we’re standing up there too long before the music ends? Or what if I walk too slow and I’m too late and by the time I get there the song is over? Or what if…”

“Okay, okay,” Harry stood and held up his hands, smiling sweetly as he moved towards her. “We’re going to fix this.”

“Fix this? That’s what I was just…”

Harry held up a finger, cutting her off as he pulled his phone from his pocket. His finger swiped across the screen, he punched in a number, and he pulled the phone to his ear. “Charlotte? Hey, I need to you see if you can do something for me.”

“What are you doing?” Alex whispered, confusion flashing across her face.

“Yeah, can you make some calls and see if you can get the Abbey opened for me and Alex tonight?” He continued on the phone, not answering Alex’s question. “No, just the two of us. We don’t need any assistance while we are there. We just want to run through some things just the two of us…Great. Call me and let me know when we can head up there. Thank you, Charlotte.”


I can’t believe you wanted to come up to the Abbey tonight,” Alex shook her head as he held her hand and escorted her through the Nave. They had been let in by a very kind older gentleman and been told to come find him in his office when they were done. The lighting was on but at a bare minimum, giving it a warm, intimate feel. And most of all, it was quiet and they were all alone – except for their RPOs who were there as always, although discreetly.

Harry chuckled as he led her to the Altar and up the steps to the spot that he would be waiting for her after she walked down the aisle to him in just two days. He turned then and moved his arms around her, pulling her close. “Here’s the thing, my love. You’re an amazingly low stress person. Sometimes I can’t believe how few things get to you. You’re without a doubt the most mentally strong person I’ve ever known, and I love you so much for that because lord knows it’s made me stronger too. But for some reason this little thing is stressing you out. And the last thing in the world I want is the thought of walking down that aisle stressing you out more than it excites you.”

“Harry,” Alex’s eyes widened. “It would never.”

“Well…” He leaned down, kissed her softly, and then smiled. “I think that it might. And I’m not mad or sad about it, please don’t think that. I understand and I know that when we’ve rehearsed it’s always been with our wedding planner and she’s drilling the importance of the walk and the timing and how it relates to the music into your head…and it’s gotten a little bigger in your mind than it actually needs to be.”

“But it’s important,” Alex insisted.

“Yes it is,” Harry agreed. “So, that’s why we’re going to go through it tonight – just the two of us – until you’re comfortable with it.

“You’re not going to just tell me to walk however fast or slow I want?”

Harry’s lips tipped up. “Absolutely not. Melanie would kill me.”

“Ha!” Alex laughed. “She would. So what exactly is the point to practicing tonight?”

“Well,” Harry’s voice dropped a bit, low and sweet as he leaned in closer to her. “It’s just us here. So when you walk down the aisle you’ll be walking only to me. There is no one but me here at the end; no one with instructions or reminders or opinions. Just me. The same person who will be here waiting for you on Friday morning.”

She smiled then, her entire body warming at the thought of him standing in the exact spot they were standing, in his uniform and undoubtedly handsome as her waiting for her to get there.

So that he could marry her.

“You’re incredibly sweet to me, you know that?” she sighed, leaning into him a bit.

He winked at her. “I’m hoping to get lucky later.”

“Henry!” she gasped, reaching up to slap his chest with her hand. “None of that talk in church. Especially this church.”

He laughed and then leaned down to kiss her once more before he stepped back and nodded his head towards the front of the Abbey. “Get your butt down there. I’m gonna plug in your iPod here…” He reached in his pocket and pulled it out to show her. “Into the speakers and we’ll get started.”

“Okay,” Alex laughed. She turned from him and moved down the steps and hurried through the Nave and towards the back of the Abbey, slowing as she moved around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then moved into the place she would be starting her walk down the aisle.

“Ready?!” Harry’s voice called out to her, echoing off the walls and high ceilings of the Abbey and making her giggle.


The music started up then, definitely not as loud as it would be on the day of, but more than enough for the sake of practice. She took a deep breath and waited for the cue in the music that would tell her exactly when she was supposed to start walking.

She started moving forward as soon as she heard it, her mind beginning to pull all its focus to counting each step to the beat of the music – making sure she didn’t move too fast or too show.

“Alexandra…” Harry’s voice called out to her, dragging out her name playfully.

“Shhh!” she called back, frowning at the interruption. “I’m concentrating!” She heard him laugh and then he was calling out to her again.

“Did you just tell me to shhh?”

“Harry! You’re supposed to be being helpful here!”

“And who says I’m not?”

“You’re making me lose count!”

His laughed trailed down the aisle to her, deep and rumbling, and it made her smile despite his interruptions. “Was I this bad with the music, Alexandra?”

She groaned into a laugh, her mind moving back to several months before when they had started picking out the music for the ceremony. “Oh God. Worse!”


“Alex…” Harry groaned as he laid back on the floor and shoved his fingers into his mess of red hair. “I cannot listen to another song. I can’t.”

Alex sighed and pressed the pause button on the iPod. The beautiful song filling the room immediately died out and left them in silence. “I don’t know what to tell you, Harry. We have to choose music for the wedding.”

“I know we do. But here’s the thing; I know my life is steeped in all this crazy tradition and that I should be used to this by now, but this music…is fucking boring.”

Alex rolled her eyes. “This music is beautiful.”

“It is!” Harry agreed as he sat back up, his eyes wide as he looked to her. “It’s beautiful, timeless music. The artistic level of this music is incredibly. But if I’m being brutally honest, it just all sounds exactly the same after a while. Can’t we just…I don’t know, flip a coin?”

“Harry, this is not that hard,” she groaned as she rubbed at her tired eyes with her fingertips. They had been at this for the better part of two hours and it was late. “I honestly thought this would be one of the easiest parts.”

Harry’s shoulders slumped a bit. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be difficult here.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she replied as she reached over and turned off the iPod dock. “Let’s just…go to bed. We’re both tired and this isn’t going to get solved tonight. We will pick it up tomorrow.”


The next day when Harry walked in the door to their home in the early evening, home after a long day in the office doing plans for that years Trooping the Colour, he heard their voices drifting out from the living room immediately.

His father was there. And although he was curious as to why, he was glad that he was, that he could hear him talking and laughing with Alex and Emma comfortably in their home.

“Good Evening,” Harry announced with a wide smile as he stepped into the living room, indeed finding the three of them there, along with Camilla.

“Hi Daddy!” Emma exclaimed, moving from her place between Charles and Camilla on the sofa to go hug and kiss him hello.

“Hi Princess,” he chuckled as he leaned in to hug his daughter. “What are all of you up to?”

“Well, I called Charles to get some advice on the wedding music,” Alex smiled, throwing Harry her ‘please don’t be mad at me’ eyes when he moved to kiss her hello.

He smirked and then shook his head in amusement before he turned to greet his father and Camilla. “I’m sure Alex told you that I was not particularly helpful with this last night. Hopefully you were able to be more useful than I am.”

“Well, you know how I feel about choir music,” Charles chuckled, standing and kissing his sons cheeks. “I was delighted when Alexandra called and more than happy to come listen to the options and offer some advice.”

“And I was delighted to get to come along,” Camilla added as she stood and received kisses from Harry in greeting. “Miss Emma and I spent some time here reading.”

“Granny Milla gave me a copy of Charlotte’s Web that she used to read her daughter when she was little,” Emma said excitedly, running to pick up the book from the coffee table to show to Harry.

“Oh wow,” Harry smiled wide at Emma as he took the book and looked at it. “That’s incredibly sweet of her. Did you say thank you?”

“Yes,” Emma sighed with a playful roll of her eyes. “I’m eight years old now, Dad. I know my manners.”

“She was exceptionally grateful,” Camilla assured with a warm smile and a chuckle.

Harry nodded and winked at Emma before turning back to Alex. “So Papa gave you some suggestions?”

“More than that, really,” Alex answered, turning a grateful smile to her future father-in-law. “We sat and listened to everything and I think – as long as you agree with all of it – that we’ve come up with a final selection.”

“Really?” Harry’s eyebrows lifted and then his lips twisted into a playful smirk. “And if I don’t agree?”

“Then we’ll probably use them all anyway,” Alex answered right away, meeting his banter with her own and bringing a laugh from around the room.

“Ha!” Harry’s head tossed back. “Then it’s decided then.”

“It is,” she winked at him and then turned to Charles and Camilla. “Now, tell me. Will you stay for dinner? We’re having Emma’s favorite.”

“I think we can absolutely do that,” Camilla answered immediately. “What is Emma favorite?”

“Macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs!” Emma sang out, her grin ear to ear with excitement.

Charles blinked and then a warm chuckle fell from his lips. “I don’t believe I’ve ever had that.”

Harry couldn’t help the shout of laughter that left his lips – at his father’s reaction and at the fact that his fiancée had zero qualms about inviting his father and Camilla over for macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs, treating them just as she would treat any normal set of in-laws.

“Well Papa,” Harry grinned. “You’re in for a treat.”


“Oh my goodness,” Alex giggled, her mind still imagining the look on Charles’ face when she’d served him the macaroni and cheese and he’d taken a bite. “And then when he asked for the recipe so that his chef could make it.”

Harry’s laughter burst from his lips, startling Alex who realized with a start just how close she was to him.

“Hey!” she called out, her own lips pulling into a smile. “You distracted me the entire way down the aisle, Wales.”

Harry grinned as she made her way up the steps to him, reaching the top steps a little after the climax of the song playing out through the speakers. “Did I now?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Did you purposely do that?”

He shrugged. “Maybe. But you should have seen how relaxed and happy you looked when you came through into the Nave. And look…you were just about right on time.”

“Hmmm,” she pressed her lips together with the sound. “I was a little late.”

“My love, I promise you that no one is going to give two shits if you hit the altar in time with music, as long as your face looks half as happy as it did a minute ago.”

Alex couldn’t help but flush a bit at his words before she straightened her shoulders and looked at him pointedly. “Don’t curse in church, Harry.”

He chuckled and then pointed towards the front of the Abbey. “Get your butt back down the aisle and let’s do this again.”

She laughed and shook her head as she turned from him, hurrying back to the front of the Abbey to start again. She knew what he was doing. She knew he was trying to distract her from counting and show her that she would do just fine without being so exact.

And she knew he was right.

But she also knew that this was the most relaxed she had felt in days. Just that one walk up the aisle to him while they reminisced about Harry’s semi-meltdown over choosing the wedding music had calmed her, relaxed her. It had taken her mind away from being weirdly obsessive about being exactly on time. It had reminded her that Harry had had some rather frustrating moment in this entire process as well.

“I’m ready!” she called out as she reached her starting point again and turned back towards the Altar, towards Harry. Within seconds the music began to play softly through the church again.

She began to walk, keeping the correct time and pace and before long, he was calling out to her again, just like she knew he would.

“So, my lovely bride to be, which was worse: the music meltdown or the guest list freak-out?”


“Jesus, Charlotte,” Harry barked as he read through the pages she had handed him. “This is fucking ridiculous.”

“Don’t act like I put that list together. It was sent to me to make sure it got to you and not lost in your mess of an email inbox.”

He peered at her over the top of the papers, his eyes narrowing. “I do not lose things in my email inbox.”

She lifted an eyebrow and her lips twisted. “This is the fight you want to pick right now?”

He opened his mouth, ready to retort to her out of habit more than anything, but he closed it quickly, wisely deciding she was right, although he would never tell her that. “Regardless Charlotte, do they honestly expect me to try and fit our friends and family around this list? There is what…a thousand names here?”

“A thousand names where?” Alex asked as she breezed into Harry’s office. She had been down the hall setting up her own staff office but it was lunch time and she was hoping Harry would join her for a bite to eat.

Harry stood to kiss her hello and then held the list out to her. “Buckhouse sent over names that they want on the guest list for the wedding.”

“I take it that there is just a bunch of people we don’t know on here?” Alex asked as she looked it over.

“It’s all people who have ties to the monarchy in some way and of course, foreign diplomats and the like,” Charlotte offered.

Alex nodded. “And is this required? All of these people? Or is this just a preliminary list that needs to be pared down?”

Charlotte cleared her throat and raised her eyebrows. “That is the pared down list.”

Alex’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Harry muttered, pulling the list from Alex’s hands and tossing it down on the desk.

“So, let’s do something about it,” she replied with a shrug of her shoulders.

“Like what?” Harry’s forehead wrinkled with the words.

Alex squinted, peering at him with just a hint of amusement on her lips. “What is wrong with you today? Are you ill? Should I be worried?” she asked, bringing a snort of a laugh from Charlotte.

Harry looked back and forth between them, completely confused. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Alex reached around him to pick up the list and held it up. “Tell me, what was your reaction when you were told way back when that you would probably never get to be deployed?”

“Fuck that,” he said instantly, remembering the way he’d vowed to never accept that he would have to stay behind while his men went off to fight.

“Thought so,” Alex nodded. “And that was huge; the third in line to the British throne being allowed to go to war. And this…” She waved the list in his face. “Is just a list of names. Call Will and see if he went through something similar with his wedding. Call your father and ask his advice. Hell, go straight to the top and call your Gran and see what she says. Come on, Harry. Do something about it.”

“She’s right, Wales,” Charlotte said with a smirk of a smile. “Grow a pair.”

“Jesus,” he groaned, running a hand through his hair. “You’re right. What the hell is wrong with me? I just got so irritated by the whole thing and then…” He trailed off and turned towards Charlotte, his eyes narrowing as he pointed a finger at her. “How come you didn’t tell me initially do something about it? That’s pretty much what you do all the time about everything. It’s your job at this point.”

Charlotte grinned and ran her hand over her baby bump. “I’m pregnant and full of sweet, lovey dovey hormones.”

“You just told me to grow a pair of…” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You know what? Never mind. You two should not be friends and I’ll never in my life understand the twist of fate that made Charlotte end up as my sister in law,” Harry shook his head. He took the list from Alex’s hands and tossed it on his desk, done with it for the time being.

Alex giggled and Charlotte’s smile pulled even wider. “I’ll remember that when this little one is born and Uncle Harry is chomping at the bit to spend time with baby Emerson.”

“You’re using my niece or nephew as leverage against me? Nice,” Harry laughed with a roll of his eyes.

“Okay, okay,” Alex giggled, stopping them before they really got started. “It’s lunchtime and I’m starving and have no time to listen to you two bicker. Now that we have a plan on this crazy guest list and my fiancé is no longer on the brink of losing it, how about you take us out to lunch, Wales?”

Harry grinned and smoothed down his tie. “Absolutely.”


“I still don’t know what was wrong with me,” Harry laughed as he watched her move through the nave towards him, her eyes dancing and her own lips curved with laughter.

“Well, we got it all worked out in the end, didn’t we?” Alex winked as she reached the steps up to the Altar. She moved up them to stand in front of him, just about in time with the climax of the music playing out around them.

“We sure did, with only a few grumbles from the senior staff at Buckhouse.”

“It’s a good thing your Granny is in charge,” Alex grinned up at him.

“Ha! It is,” he laughed. “And look at you…right on time.”

“Is this where I have to say you were right?” Alex smirked.

“That depends. Would you actually say that?”

“Not if I’m given the option.”

Harry’s shout of laughter echoed off the walls, making Alex giggle. “Alright sassypants, back up the aisle,” he finally managed to get out, pointing back the way she came. “Let’s do this again.”


“Okay,” Alex yawned after her fourth trip down the aisle. “I think I’ve got it, Harry.”

“Yeah?” He chuckled and turned his wrist to look at his watch. His eyes widened a bit when he saw the time. “Shit. I didn’t realize it was this late. It’s after midnight.”

“Hmmm. Stop cursing in church,” Alex murmured as she moved into him, wrapping her arms around him and nuzzling her head against his chest, suddenly finding that staying away was increasingly more difficult. “After midnight…that means that technically, we’re getting married tomorrow.”

Harry’s heart thumped in his chest and his arms tightened around her. Alex caught the change in him and lifted her head to look at him, finding him smiling down on her with so much warmth and tenderness that it made her flush.

“What’s that look for?” she whispered.

“Tomorrow,” Harry said simply, his lips curving up and his heart beating even faster as he said it.

And with a thump of her own heart, she understood.

They had fought long and hard and jumped over ridiculous obstacles to get to where there were.

Together and more in love that either of them ever thought possible.

Ready to pledge their entire lives to each other.