Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Sixty Seven

They had barely stepped from the car in front of their home at Kensington Palace before their front door opened and Emma came running out, her wild blonde hair flying behind her as she ran full speed towards Harry and Alex, beyond excited that they were finally home.

“Em!” Alex laughed as she opened her arms and caught her daughter. Emma wrapped her arms tightly around her mother’s waist and it made tears spring right to Alex’s eyes. “Oh, I missed you so much baby,” she whispered. She bent down to kiss the top of her daughter’s head as it hit her in the gut, at how much she had missed having Emma with them.

“I missed you too, Mummy,” Emma mumbled against Alex’s stomach as she squeezed her arms tighter for a moment and then stepped back, looking for Harry and finding him standing there with a gigantic smile, waiting his turn. Alex couldn’t help but laugh softly as Emma turned then and ran straight into Harry’s arms, hugging him just as tightly as she had hugged Alex.

“Oh I missed you, Princess,” Harry grinned as he squeezed her tight and lifted her off of the ground, making her giggle sweetly before he set her back down.

“I missed you too, Dad,” she said, looking up at him adoringly. “And I can’t wait to see what you brought me.”

“Of course,” Harry nodded with a laugh. “Before we get to that, are you by yourself here or…”

“We’re here! We’re here,” Charlotte’s voice called from the doorway as she stepped out, both Zuko and Gus bounding out in excitement and a smiling Matt stepping out behind her. “It just takes me a little longer to get up and around these days.” She waved her hands at her belly as they made their way towards them.

“Oh my!” Alex smiled wide as she reached down to pet an enthusiastic Gus and then, letting their dog move on to Harry, she turned her full attention to Charlotte. “You were nowhere near that big when we left.”

“Thanks,” Charlotte rolled her eyes with a chuckle as she stepped up to Alex.

“Oh, you know what I mean,” Alex laughed as they leaned in to kiss each other cheeks and then hugged each other. “You look amazing; like you’ve got a very healthy Emerson baby in there.”

“That’s what the doctor says,” Matt grinned as he shook Harry’s hand and then moved to hug Alex. “How was the honeymoon?”

“Amazing,” Alex sighed. “I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it. Where’s Mom and Dad?”

“They went out to Berkshire for the day,” Matt answered. “They made fast friends with the Middletons. But they should be back anytime now.”

“Excellent,” Harry smiled. “We can all have dinner together then? I’ll call Will and Kate and see if they can come over with Henry. Is that alright with you, love?” He lifted his eyebrows and he looked over at Alex.

“Sounds like a wonderful way to spend our first night at home,” she smiled back. “Now, let’s all go inside and relax. I’m dying to know everything about your time while we were gone,” she said to Emma as she pulled her daughter to her for another hug.

“Okay,” Emma nodded her head excitedly. “But presents first, Mum. Pleeease?”

“Of course,” Alex laughed. “Presents first, Em.”


“Need any help?”

Alex looked up at the familiar voice and her smile pulled wide. “Kate! No no,” she shook her head as she opened the oven, slid in the lasagna her mother had helped her whip up, and shut the door. “It’s all done. It just has to cook.” She leaned in to kiss her sister-in-law’s cheeks and then hugged her warmly.

“How was the honeymoon?” Kate asked with a knowing grin, moving further into the room and taking a seat at the breakfast bar.

“Wonderful,” Alex sighed and then winked at Kate, bringing both of them to a giggle. “Where’s Henry?”

“Harry got to him first,” Kate shrugged. “Sorry.”

“Ah, of course,” Alex laughed. “I never get my hands on him first.”

“I’ll commandeer him for you later,” Kate promised with a laugh. “So tell me about Greece, was it just gorgeous?”

“You’ve never been?” Alex lifted her eyebrows in surprise as she moved to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine, stopping by the cabinet for two glasses before moving back to the counter in front of Kate.

“No,” Kate shook her head with a smile. “I’d absolutely love to though.”

“You should,” Alex said brightly as she uncorked the wine bottle and moved to pour the glasses. “It was so gorgeous. The water is so clear and the scenery was amazing. It was a perfect place for us. And you know, a private yacht for ten days isn’t a bad deal.” She grinned at Kate as she finished pouring the glasses and lifted one to the brunette across the counter from her. “Here, we brought this back with us from Greece.”

“Ooooh…” Kate’s smiled as she reached for the glass. But as quick as she reached for the glass, she pulled her hand back. Her eyes flashed wide and then she blinked, all traces of any falter she’d had disappearing. “Sorry, Alex. I’d love to but I’ve had a bit of a headache today…”

Alex peered at Kate, having caught her moment, however small it might have been. “Okay…”

“I’m sorry,” Kate pulled a bright smile and apologetic eyes. “That was terribly rude of me.”

Alex chuckled and shook her head. “It wasn’t rude of you. You just seemed flustered that’s all.” Her eyes held her sister-in-law’s for a moment. And then she pulled in a deep breath, shrugged her shoulders, reached for one of the glasses she had just filled, and took a giant chance. “I just thought maybe you might be pregnant, that’s all.”

Kate’s lips parted in surprise and then she couldn’t help the smile that slowly tilted the corners of her mouth up. And Alex couldn’t help the squeal that left her lips at the revelation, at the fact that she had been right and that Kate had let her in on it.

“Shhhh!” Kate waved a hand and shook her head quickly, her eyes darting towards the kitchen door. “We just found out, like less than a week ago. It’s still so early.”

“Oh my God,” Alex whispered, her free hand coming up to cover her mouth as the happy news moved between the two friends; the two sisters. “Okay, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to push and I was about ninety percent sure you’d tell me I was nuts but…”

“It’s okay,” Kate laughed softly, the tension easing from her body now that Alex knew; now that she wasn’t keeping a giant secret. “It’s really fine, Alex.”

“And I promise I won’t breath a word; not even to Harry,” Alex rushed ahead, leaning a bit closer as both of their voices had dropped to a whisper.

“I hate to ask that…” Kate murmured. “But it won’t be very long until we let the families in.”

“Please,” Alex waved a hand, almost laughing at herself and the way she was almost bouncing on her feet. “It’s not my news to share. But congratulations!” She stepped around the counter to pull Kate into a tight hug. “Is Will excited? And how are you feeling?”

“So far, so good,” Kate said softly. “We’ll see. I felt fine with Henry until about week six, but hopefully this little one doesn’t give me so much trouble.”

“Little one,” Alex sighed. Her eyes went completely soft at the words and it made Kate giggle just as the door to the kitchen opened up, pulling them both from their secret conversation.

“Look who I found, Henry,” Harry grinned as he stepped into the room with his handsome, chubby, smiling nephew in his arms. “It’s your mum and your Aunt Alex.”

“Ooooo!” Alex’s smile pulled wide and happy as she turned towards her husband and her nephew. “Look how big you are, handsome man!” She moved over to Harry and plucked the giggling little boy from his arms, taking her opportunity to snuggle and kiss Henry’s cheeks while she could. She was grateful that the appearance of Henry allowed her secret conversation with Kate to be tucked aside without Harry noticing. “What do you say we go in the living room with everyone else? We can play with your toys?” she cooed to Henry, who immediately nodded quickly and clapped his hands together in excitement.

“Toys! Toys!”

“Ha!” Alex laughed as she nuzzled him again. “Toys it is.”


“I’m so sad that you’re leaving tomorrow,” Alex sighed later that night as she sat next to Donna on one of the couches in the living room. Will and Kate had left not long before to put Henry to bed, leaving the newly blended Emerson and Sussex families for some quality time together. They were all spread out, relaxing on the chairs and couches with the exception of Emma, who had taken Gus out back for a bit of playtime. “I hope you enjoyed your stay.”

“Oh honey, we did. Very much,” Donna smiled warmly at Alex as she reached over to pat her hand. Her gaze slid over to Mike’s, she lifted her eyebrows, and after a long moment, he chuckled and nodded at her.

“What’s going on?” Matt asked, watching the silent communication between his parents and knowing that meant something big was up.

Donna took a deep breath and her eyes traveled around her family sitting around the room. “When we went out to the Middleton’s today it wasn’t just to visit.”

“Okay…” Alex said, peering at Donna as she waited to be let in on whatever it was.

“We went to meet with a realtor they recommended and to view a property that has just come on the market in Berkshire,” Donna said, her eyes dancing with excitement.

“You’re buying a house in England?” Charlotte called out from the couch across from Donna, her lips already curling into a smile at the idea of it.

“We are,” Mike confirmed with a wink and a smile at his wife.

“Wait,” Alex held up a hand, trying to tamper her excitement for the moment until she was clear on exactly what was happening. “Like, a vacation home or…”

“We’re moving to England, Boot,” Mike said, bringing Alex’s gaze swinging to his, her eyes wide and filling with tears. “I’m retiring; it’s time. And we’re going to move to England where you and Matt and Harry and Charlotte and our grandkids are.”

“That’s amazing,” Harry grinned wide as his gaze shifted to his wife. Her fingers flew up and pressed against her lips and her eyes filled with tears as she took in the news.

“I can’t believe it…I mean…” Matt grinned and shook his head as tears pricked his own eyes. “You guys are just going to leave Texas? You love it there.”

Mike peered at his son, his lips twitching. “So does Alex. So do you. But you also have people here that you love more. And so do we…unless you’d rather we didn’t move…”

“Of course we want you here!” Charlotte broke in, a wide smile on her face as she pushed at her husband’s shoulder. “What is wrong with you guys? Your parents are moving here and you act like you’re worried they’re being too impulsive or something.”

Donna laughed and winked at Charlotte. “I promise we’re not being impulsive. We’ve actually given it a lot of thought, even before we came out for the wedding. Mike wants to retire; he doesn’t need the stress and we’re more than financially set. And we’re about to have a new grandchild,” her eyes filled with moisture as she smiled at Matt and Charlotte and then turned toward Alex and Harry. “And hopefully soon there will be more grandkids on the way.”

Harry grinned and turned to Alex. “Hopefully.”

“Easy,” Alex laughed, narrowing her eyes playfully before she turned back to look at Donna, tears rising in her own eyes. “You’re really moving here? I’ll get to see you all the time?”

“Anytime you’d like,” Donna nodded.

Alex squealed as the news finally sank in, as she allowed it hit her that it was real. She leaned forward and pulled Donna into a tight hug before moving from the couch and going over to hug Mike as well.

“What’s happening?” Emma asked, appearing back in the room with a tired out Gus, confused by the excitement unfolding before her.

“Your Mimi and I are moving to England in about a month,” Mike called out, watching as Emma’s eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open.

“Really?!” she squeaked, looking around the room for confirmation.

“Really, bug,” Mike nodded, laughing as Emma immediately ran from the doorway, launching herself at her Poppy, jumping right into the middle as everyone celebrated the amazing new development in their lives.


“Knock, Knock! Is everyone decent in here?” Harry called out as he cracked open the door to the spare bedroom. Alex was in the room with Anna and Mia, the former putting the final touches on her hair and make-up while the latter ran over last minute items for her very first public engagement as royal that morning.

“You can come in,” Alex called out with a laugh.

The door pushed all the way open and he stepped into the room. He was already dressed in his suit and tie, ready to go. “Good morning, ladies,” he grinned, nodding to Mia and Anna before his gaze settled on Alex and his smile widened even further. “You look beautiful, love.”

“Thank you,” she smiled, her cheeks flushed a bit as he stepped a bit closer, his gaze unabashedly appreciative as it moved over her. “Not so bad yourself there, Sussex.”

“And on that note…” Mia snapped her file shut and shared a small, humored look with Anna. “I’m going to go check in with Charlotte and make sure everything is in order.”

“And I’m going to go get Emma in her shoes and make sure she hasn’t gotten dog hair all over her dress,” Anna said, her lips twitching up into a smirk of a smile as she followed Mia from the room and shut the door behind her, leaving Alex and Harry alone.

Alex snickered at Harry as he moved closer, a smug smile on his face. “You ran my staff away.”

He shrugged in that rakish yet charming way that was completely him and stepped up to her, his hands moving right to her waist. “If it means that I get to kiss my wife…”

She rolled her eyes at him but the truth was that as soon as his bent his head towards her, she couldn’t help but tip up on her toes to meet him, almost sighing as his lips moved hotly over hers.

“You do look beautiful,” he murmured against her lips. His eyes opened to meet hers and his lips tipped up. “Are you nervous?”

“No,” she shook her head and smiled up at him. Her hands moved to rest on his chest, her fingers tracing the tiny turtles on his tie. “I’m excited that Emma and I are able to go support you – as a family.”

“Ah love, you have no idea,” he grinned as he tugged her a bit closer. He was just leaning down to kiss her again when his phone buzzed from his pants pocket, pulling a groan of irritation from him. “Sorry,” he huffed in disappointment and regretfully stepped back from her. He reached into his pocket and pulled his phone out, his disappointment easing just a bit when he saw the name on the caller ID. He swiped his finger across the screen and pulled it to his ear. “William, I hope you know that you just interrupted something incredibly important and I am absolutely going to pay you back for that later.” He chuckled at his own humor and then Alex watched as his express changed from playful to concern, his eyebrows pulling together and his lips turning down. “You’re not coming? Is everything alright?”

Alex’s eyes widened slightly with his words. But when she saw his lips pull back up at the corners and his eyes flashed up to hers, wide and bright with excitement, she knew. Will was telling him Kate was pregnant, that he was going to be an uncle again.

“Will!” He laughed and shook his head. “That’s fantastic! Congratulations to both you and Kate. And I’m so sorry she’s sick again this time around.” He paused for a moment to listen and he reached out to Alex, pulling his hand into hers and toying with her fingers. “No, don’t worry about it. Take care of your wife,” he assured, his voice firm but gently. “Please tell her that Alex, Emma, and I all send our love. Okay. Okay…bye.”

“He told you?” Alex asked the moment Harry pulled the phone from her ear, her eyes shining with excitement.

“He did!” Harry nodded, his grin spreading from ear to ear as he slid his phone back into his pocket. He went to step to her and then suddenly halted. His eyes narrowed and he pointed at her as realization washed over him. “Wait. How did…did you know already that Kate is pregnant?”

“Oops!” She clapped a hand over her mouth and her eyes went wide as she realized her mistake.

“You did know!” He crossed his arms over his chest and peered at her, though truth be told, he was struggling to keep a straight face as he looked down at her.

“I’m so sorry!” She groaned, rolling her eyes at herself for slipping up. “She turned down wine the night we came back from the honeymoon and I…I accidentally guessed. But she made me swear not to tell anyone, even you. I promised her. I’m so sorry.”

He only managed to hold his stern face for a few more seconds before he laughed and uncrossed his arms, reached out to pull her to him. “I’m not mad, Alex,” he smiled. “Amused a bit that you outed yourself like that, but I’m glad you kept your word to Kate.”


“Of course.”

She grinned up at him. “Well, it was the least I could do. Anyway, they’re not coming?”

“No,” he said as he took a deep breath and shook his head. “Kate has HG again. Her doctors are monitoring her at their place though, so no need for the hospital this time. It still puts them in a bit of a spot though; they were scheduled to come to the Sentebale Garden today and if they pull out, people are going to start speculating and…” He waved his hand in the air and she nodded in response, understanding exactly what the press would do. “So, they’re announcing within the hour.”

“Oh wow,” Alex breathed, concern flashing on her face. “I really hate that they have to tell the whole world so early. She’s just barely past six weeks along.”

“I know,” he nodded and then, deciding that they didn’t really need to delve into how unfair it all was, that they both knew and understood that sometimes they had to swallow it and move on, he straightened his shoulders, reached for her hand, and smiled. “Alright love, let’s go downstairs and get info from Charlotte on how the press office is handling it. Chances are we will get some baby questions today from reporters so we need to see exactly what info they’re releasing.”

“Baby questions,” Alex sighed as she took his hand and let him lead her from the room. “It’s going to take everything I have not to gush about how excited I am.”

“Ha!” Harry laughed and turned to her with a wink. “Just do what I do, baby.”

“And what’s that?”

“Make jokes about William. The press eats that shit up.”


Alex and Emma’s first official engagement as members of the royal family went amazingly well. Because of the announcement of a new royal baby that morning and because there were quite a few members of Harry’s family that came by to look around the garden, the attention on the two newest royals was considerably less intense than it could have been. Even with the flashes and the whir of the snapping cameras and the going off around them, Alex felt at ease and comfortable as Susan, the woman who had headed up the design team and worked with Harry in designing the garden, toured them around.

Alex couldn’t help the intense warmth that settled inside of her as they moved around the beautiful garden. She was so incredibly proud to be there as a family. She was insanely proud of her husband, of the work her did and how he was so involved and it meant so much to him. She was proud of her daughter; the way Emma took it all in stride that so much attention was focused on her, the way she shook hands firmly with everyone she was introduced to. And Alex would be lying if she didn’t think it was the cutest thing in the world when someone said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Princess Emma,” and Emma giggled and said, “You can just call me Emma, I’m much more used to that.”

And she was proud of the way Harry and Emma were together. She loved that Harry knelt down to show Emma things and to explain them to her, the way her got her involved and listen and took to heart what she thought about what he was showing her. She felt so lucky to have them both and even more so, that they had each other as well.

The mood was light and relaxed when Charles and Camilla made their appearance, smiles on their faces as they moved in to greet everyone and then look around. To the delight of the onlookers and the reporters present, Harry jokingly offered a discount to Charles on some of the flowers and plants if he wanted to use them at Highgrove, bringing a round of laughter from the group.

The only time Alex felt the smallest flutter of nerves was when Harry’s grandparents arrived, looking as regal and as elegant as ever. She wasn’t a stranger to his grandparents in any way, nor was she intimidated or worried about what they might think of her. Her nerves didn’t have anything to do with that. It was simply an effect of who they were, of how the importance of their lives and how much wisdom and experience they carried around with them.

But the nerves faded almost as fast as they came and after Harry had greeted them, bowing his head to his grandmother and then moving in to her cheeks before turning to Philip, Alex stepped up and with a smile on her face she curtsied quickly and then greeted them both with kisses on their cheeks. She turned and her smile pulled even wider when she saw Emma drop into her small, sweet curtsy that clearly delighted Harry’s grandparents, not because she followed protocol, but because she was incredibly cute as she did so.

“This is wonderful, Harry,” Elizabeth said as she looked around at the beautiful flowers and greenery.

“Thank you, Gran,” he nodded, a look of pride flashing across his face. “That means a lot. What do you think grandfather?” he asked, turning with a grin to Philip.

“Lovely,” Philip answered immediately. “Did you choose the flowers yourself, Harry?”

“Some,” Harry nodded. “Would you like me to show you which ones?”

“I can show you,” Emma said brightly, walking right up to Philip and reaching for his hand.

“Ah, my favorite little sassy one,” Philip chuckled, stooping a bit to talk to Emma. “You know all about the flowers?”

“Yes, of course,” she nodded quickly. “Daddy told me the flowers earlier and I know all about them now,” she said, very matter of fact as she tugged on his hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

Philip, clearly delighted and amused with his newest great-grandchild, chuckled as he let her lead him off from the group, listening intently as she launched into telling him some of the knowledge Harry had given her earlier.

They were there for well over an hour, not only enjoying the garden but spending time with Harry’s family as well. Though there were reporters there who were anxious to be able to speak with the family, Harry had instructed Charlotte to hold them off until the very end, ensuring that they got full coverage of the presentation of the garden.

But as Charles and Camilla and then Harry’s grandparents began to take their leave, Harry finally nodded to Charlotte, ready to go over and talk to the reporters that had gathered. He put a hand at Alex’s back and led her over to the cameras with him, leaving with Charlotte; deciding it best not to put the spotlight on her with any questions the reporters might ask.

The reporters – most of whom knew and respected Harry and how he felt about his work – were careful to ask about the garden, about his input and what it meant to him. But after a few rounds of questions regarding the event, it was one of the reporters from The Express who went first, clearing his throat and then grinning as he asked his next question.

“Are you excited for the news that your brother and sister-in-law are expecting another baby?”

“Yes, of course,” Harry chuckled.

“And you, ma’am?” The reported turned towards Alex.

“Very much,” she nodded with a smile. “They’re wonderful parents and of course, now Harry and I can charge double for our babysitting fees.”

Harry’s shoulders shook with laughter next to her and she turned a glance at him, smiling wide up at him as the reporters in front of them laughed at her joke.

“Any preference for a boy or a girl?” a reporter from The Sun joined in.

“Oh, with any luck it will be a girl,” Harry smirked. “I would love to watch my brother suffer every day like I do, knowing that one day she’s going to grow up and think she can start dating.”

Another round of laughter went through the reporters gathered and Alex shook her head, unable to help but laugh along with them.

“Alright, thank you guys,” Harry said with a chuckle and a nod, ending the interview. His hand moved to Alex’s back and they moved back to Emma and Charlotte. “Okay now listen, love,” he leaned down close to her ear as they walked. “I said make jokes; I didn’t say make jokes funnier than mine.”

Alex laughed and threw him a smug smile. “I’m always funnier than you. You really shouldn’t be surprised.”


“You know, I feel ridiculous for being so tired,” Alex said as she walked into their living room later that evening. She had shed her dress and heels in favor of a pair pajama pants and a t-shirt and was looking forward to a relaxing evening. Matt and Charlotte were staying for dinner, wanting to celebrate their milestone of a day with them. She sank into one of the comfortable chairs and smiled as she saw Emma crashed out on the sofa, her head on a pillow and her feet on Harry’s lap. “I see Emma was exhausted too. All we did was smile and stand there for the most part.”

“Don’t knock that,” Charlotte said from the couch opposite of Harry and Emma. “You basically had to be ‘on’ for hours. That’s hard. And tiring.”

Matt chuckled next to her. “You’re ‘on’ all the time,” he shook his head. “Yet you’re never exhausted. Even pregnant.”

“Because I’m a freak of nature,” Charlotte grinned up at her husband.

“That’s true,” Harry smiled. “No one would ever accuse you of being normal.”

“Listen, Wales…” Charlotte narrowed her eyes. She opened her mouth to snark right back at him, but her phone buzzed where it sat on the coffee table and rolled her eyes as she reached to answer it, hating that it pulled her from dressing down Harry. “Charlotte Emerson,” she said into the phone, snapping right into business mode.

“She’ll have forgotten what she was going to say when she gets off the phone,” Harry teased, earning a glare from Charlotte and making Matt and Alex laugh.

“Okay, thank you. I’ll check and call you right back,” Charlotte said as she pulled the phone from her ear. “That was the press office,” she informed Harry. “The Daily Mail called to get a comment on the talk that you’re upset with Will and Kate for making the announcement today and ‘stealing your thunder.’”

“Stealing your thunder?” Alex couldn’t help but laugh as she turned to Harry. “Do people really think that?”

“Yes,” Harry rolled his eyes and turned his gaze back to Charlotte. “You can tell the Daily Mail that I think that’s the most ridiculous fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”

Charlotte smirked and then nodded as picked up her phone to dial. “Right. So no comment?”

Harry sighed. “Of course. No comment.”

“I can’t believe people would think you would be mad about that,” Matt said with a shake of his head.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. “People love to create rivalry. I don’t know why, but they do. It’s irritating but you know…everyone who matters knows it’s crap.”

“Remember when that story came out that suggested Charlotte was jealous of me and trying to get you to dump me so she could have you for herself?” Alex giggled.

Harry’s head tipped back against the couch with his laughter as he remembered the ridiculous story that had run towards the beginning of their relationship. “And then when it kind of became public knowledge that she was seeing Matt, they tried to say that you had gotten your brother to distract her so she’d stop trying to sabotage us?”

“People are crazy,” Charlotte joined in as she hung up the phone with the press office. “But just so you know Alex, if that was your intention…well played.”

“Ha!” Alex laughed and then covered her mouth when Emma stirred on the couch from the noise. “Sorry,” she whispered when Emma’s eyes slid open to her, slightly glaring from being woken up. It only lasted for a moment though, and soon her daughter’s eyes were sliding back closed.

“What do you say we let her sleep and move into the kitchen?” Alex suggested quietly. “Charlotte can help me whip up something for dinner.”

Charlotte snorted. “It’s like you don’t know me at all.”

Laughter moved through them again as the four of them stood, leaving Emma to sleep and moving into the kitchen, eager to continue to relaxed, easy conversation they all had together.

It was absolutely the best way to end their amazing day.