Sequel: In Unexpected Places

Against the Odds

Chapter Seventy Two

A/N: As always, please feel free to let me know what you think. Your comments and thoughts are always welcomed and appreciated!


Alex couldn’t keep up with the crowd that had surrounded heras she was pulled from the track. She tripped on her feet each time she tried to pull away from the hands that held her, from the people that were taking her farther and farther away from her husband. Her eyes were frantic and scattered and scared as she looked around, trying to understand what was going on around her.

“Stop! Stop! Please...” Her broken words fell on deaf ears and tears fell from her eyes as she struggled harder. “Why are you doing this? Let me…”

“Alex! Stop pushing her for Christ’s sake!”

The hands that had been holding her loosened and Alex’s head snapped around at the familiar voice and she only began to cry harder as Mia ran up to her, the impact of what she had just seen slamming into her in a rush. “Mia! Mia, please! Tell them I have to go to Harry! I have to…”

“Listen to me, Alex” Mia said, swallowing back the lump that rose at the way Alex’s voice broke with her words. “We are going to get you to Harry, okay? He’s being taken by air ambulance to London,” Mia continued, keeping Alex’s focus on her. “And you’re going to go by car. They’re going to take you right to the hospital with a police escort. They’re going to get you there as fast as possible but we have to go now, Alex. We need to get out to the car and go, right now.”

“Okay,” Alex whispered, nodding her head, willing to go along with anything that got her to wherever Harry was going to be.

They were immediately moving again, though the hands that had previously been rough as they pulled her away from the scene had relaxed, now simply supporting her and guiding her through the building and back outside, where a car was ready and waiting. It was surrounded by police vehicles and though everything was mostly a blur as it passed by her, she was faintly aware of the presence of the press and the shouts of the security officers for them to get back as they did everything they could to protect the Duchess from the cameras in that moment.

She slid quickly into the open door of the car and was followed instantly by Mia and then Patrick, who shut the door behind them and immediately signaled for the driver to pull away.

Alex turned to Mia, her eyes wide and scattered and her voice tight as she voiced her only concern in that moment besides Harry. “Emma. Someone has to get Emma.”

“Her protection officers are pulling her from her classroom right now,” Patrick answered.

“Where are they taking her?” Alex demanded, her protective instincts flaring.

“Back to wait at KP.”

“No,” Alex shook her head. “She needs to go to my parents. Call her POs and have them bring her there. I’ll call my parents and…” She went to reach for her phone but her eyes swelled with tears of frustration when she realized that she didn’t have her phone. Of course she didn’t have it – she had been at an engagement. “God damn it!” she cried, tears spilling over her eyes. “I need my phone or any phone or…”

“Alex, I have your phone,” Mia reached out instantly, calm and steady. “I have your father’s number pulled up. Here, just hit ‘send’.”

“Thank you,” Alex sniffed as she reached for it, incredibly grateful for Mia in that moment. She pressed send and pulled her phone to her head, taking a deep breath as she did, praying she could get through the phone call without absolutely losing it.

“Dad?” Her voice cracked when Mike picked up, when she heard her father’s voice on the other end of the line. She hunched over, covering her open ear in an effort to block the wail of siren around her as the car blazed down the highway. “No…it’s not okay. Listen Dad, there’s been…Harry was in an accident…” She paused, closing her eyes tightly as mike responded, fighting off the surge of tears. “Daddy…I can’t…” She shook her head and a choking sob left her throat. “It’s really bad. He’s being flown by air ambulance to the hospital in London.” She took another deep breath, working to get the words out. “Emma’s protection officers are pulling her from school before the news breaks and she hears it from someone else. They’re going to bring her to you and Mom at Matt and Charlotte’s. She’ll be there in less than twenty minutes.” She paused to listen for a moment, able to breath just a bit better as her dad assured her that they were there and would make sure Emma was taken care of. “Thank you, Daddy,” she whispered. “And listen, you cannot let her watch regular TV. Nothing where she can she what happened on the news. And do not let her get online. The media was there and there is footage and….” Her head hung and tears pressed from her eyes as her resolve broke at the thought of Harry’s crash airing on TV again and again and again. “I don’t know what they’ll show and she can’t see that, Dad. She can’t. She would never get over it…Okay. Thank you so much. I promise I’ll call when I know something. “She stopped and sucked in a breath while she still had the strength to do so. “Please tell Emma I love her. Thank you, Daddy….I love you too…bye, Dad.”

She pulled the phone from her ear, handing it back to Mia and then moving to wipe the tears from her face. “I don’t want any calls unless they’re from my parents, Matt or Charlotte, or Harry’s father.”

“Okay,” Mia nodded, her own heart breaking at the sound of Alex’s wavering voice. She slipped Alex’s phone into her bag and then pulled out a tissue to offer her friend and boss. “Here.”

“Thank you,” Alex whispered, taking the tissue and then sitting back in her seat, her eyes shifting towards the window. The scenery flew by – moving from the greenery of the country to the noise and busyness of the city. Cars moved out of there way as they sped down the highway, the sirens wailing from the police cars escorting them.

But Alex saw none of it. In the absence of the incredible chaos that had followed the crash, fear and uncertainty began to set in.

In reality it had only been less than half an hour since the crash. But that’s all it had taken for Alex’s world be on the precipice of falling down around her. And while she wasn’t quite sure that she could ever really process what she’d seen that day, the implications of it were very present in her mind.

In later times, when people would talk about the accident, they would nearly always make a remark to her about how it must have all seemed so familiar; her new husband involved in a crash that was nearly as dangerous and violent as the one that killed her first husband. They would say that they could imagine how her thoughts were filled of John and how he died and how it must have made the thought of losing Harry so much worse.

But the truth was that John never crossed her mind in that race from the track to the hospital. As she stared out of the window, not really seeing the city as it passed before her, her only thoughts were of Harry. It wasn’t the possibility of losing another husband in such a horrific way that made her entire world spin off its axis; it was the possibility of losing Harry. It was the possibility of a life that didn’t have him or his smile or the way he loved her. It was the possibility of having to tell Emma that her father was gone; of not knowing if she could ever deliver that kind of heartbreak without finding a way to be okay after it.

Alex had never really been a deeply spiritual person. She believed in God and being a good person, but she’d never been one to pray regularly – at least not in the conventional sense of the word. She preferred to do her best to make things happen and leave what she couldn’t control up to fate – whatever the form of fate there was that controlled those things. Maybe it was strange to be that way when your father-in-law was the future head of the Church of England, but it worked for her. But in that moment, because she couldn’t control anything about what was happening around her, she closed her eyes and silently she prayed. She prayed to whoever might be listening to just let her husband be okay, to let their family survive this, to not take him from her yet; she wasn’t strong enough to be without him by her side.


She blinked and then turned at the sound of her name. She was vaguely aware that the car was slowing as her eyes found Mia’s. “Are we…”

“We’re here,” Mia confirmed with a nod. Her voice was soft but firm, exactly what Alex needed from her friend right then. “We’re pulling around to a private entrance. The press can’t see you enter from here.”

Alex looked out of the window and nodded, swallowing back the building lump in her through. She’d been here before; when she’d come to visit Will and Kate right after little baby Henry was born all that time ago. She’d come through this very same private entrance then too.

She shook her head and pushed the memory back, unable to think of it right then without crying. She swiped at her wet eyes one more time as the car pulled to a stop and then everyone around her was in motion again. The door was swept open and Patrick and Mia climbed out. Alex followed, letting them lead her inside and down the corridors. She didn’t pay attention to where they were taking her; she simply didn’t have the brain power to care. She simply went along, keeping her head down as they walking briskly down a hallway to an elevator. They swept inside and the elevator doors closed almost immediately, lifting them up to the top floor. They exited and rounded a corner, walking quickly down one long corridor before they came upon a closed door with a gentleman posted outside who was no doubt a Royal Protection Officer.

“Alexandra,” came the gruff, deep voice as the PO opened the door for her.

And Alex couldn’t help the tears that came when she saw Harry’s father standing there; the same fear and uncertainty written on his face that she was sure was on hers. She stepped into the room on shaky legs and Charles stepped forward and opened his arms to her. She automatically moved forward and let him wrap her up in a warm, fatherly hug. It was the only warmth she’d felt since her entire world had flipped upside down at that racetrack and it only made her cry harder, her eyes closing as her tears fell in hot rivers down her cheeks.

“Charles, I’m sorry…I…” she sniffed as she pulled back from the hug, shaking her head and wiping at her wet eyes.

“It’s quite alright, Alexandra,” he murmured, his expression one of sympathy and concern as he looked at her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief to hand to her and if the situation would have been at all different, Alex might have smiled at the gesture; of course Harry’s father had cloth handkerchiefs. It was gentlemanly and debonair and completely Charles.

“Thank you,” she sniffed as she took the handkerchief and wiped her tears. “I don’t…I don’t even know where to start. Is he in surgery? Have you talked to the doctors? Do they know…” She trailed off as the emotions made her throat tighten and she couldn’t seem to get any more words to leave her mouth.

“He’s in surgery,” Charles confirmed quietly. “I spoke to the chief surgeon briefly and…Alexandra, he’s critically injured.”

“Oh God,” she sobbed as her hand moved up to cover her mouth. She felt like she was going to be sick. “How critical?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that,” Charles shook his head, his own emotion evident in his voice. “They’ve been in surgery for just under twenty minutes. We just have to wait for an update from the doctor.”

Alex nodded, unable to do anything but accept that answer from Charles. She knew he was being as honest and as forthcoming as he possibly could be; he wasn’t one to sugar coat something. Especially when it had to do with his son. “Okay,” she murmured, wiping her damp eyes again with his handkerchief and then moving to sit beside him in one of the chair against the wall of the private waiting room. “Then…we wait.”


The next few hours of Alex’s life felt like days. It felt like a space of never-ending time that she wasn’t sure she would ever emerge from. She felt cold – like all of the warmth that had been in her life for the past two and a half years had been sucked away from her and she wasn’t sure if she would ever be warm again.

With the arrival of William and Kate and then of Camilla, the tension and anxiety in the room only grew worse. With each tick of the clock that seemed to be moving in incredibly slow motion, with every opening of the door in which someone other than Harry’s surgeon appeared, the desperation for news – any news – rose within Alex, threatening to suffocate her and end her desperate struggle to remain somewhat calm.

And though it was his precious son who was in the middle of all of their thoughts and prayers in those hours, Charles was absolutely the strength that kept them all from going crazy as they waited. Alex knew he was beyond terrified at the possible outcome of everything; his normal polished look was gone – replaced by disheveled hair, a wrinkled shirt, and the constant wringing of his hands together in front of him. But still, he was the one who took a deep breath and handed out instructions to the various assistants, POs, and hospital staff who – even in that incredibly sad and tense time – still had jobs to do. A statement had to be released, instructions had to be given to their PR people; it was their life and the way things had to be done and Charles handled all of it with a strength that Alex wished she could grasp onto in that moment.

But she couldn’t.

All she could do was sit there and wait and try not to completely lose her mind.


Alex looked over to the soft voice to her left and blinked at the tears that were a constant presence since she’d stepped into that waiting room.

“Kate,” she whispered, sniffing and wiping her eyes with Charles’ handkerchief.

“I know that there is nothing that will help but…I don’t know…” Kate shrugged, her green eyes filling up with tears as well. “I just wanted to give you a shoulder if you needed one.”

“Thank you,” Alex whispered, her lips trembling with the words, grateful for her sister-in-law’s unassuming show of support, especially since Kate’s own husband was hurting as well. Alex’s face twisted and a small sob slipped from her lips and she felt the thin strand of control she’d had snap completely.

It was all too much; the scene of the crash, the drive to the hospital, and the four hours that she’d been in an unbelievable sort of purgatory were finally going to break her. And just as she felt Kate’s arms move around her, just as she was letting go the first of the sobs that had been building inside of her, the door to the room opened once again and this time, Harry’s doctor stepped into the room.

When her eyes turned to the door, when she saw the exhausted looking doctor with the serious expression on her face, Alex had never wanted to run and hide more in her life.

She knew it was ridiculous. She knew that this was the very moment she’d been silently begging to happen for the last four hours. But as Charles, Camilla, William, and Kate rose from their chairs, thoughts that she could be about to experience the worst moment of her entire life kept her planted in her chair, almost paralyzing her. She was caught in this place where she didn’t know if it was better to not know rather than face the fact that she might have lost the love of her life.

But when Charles turned around to her, holding his hand out to help her up, Alex took a deep breath and from somewhere she pulled up the courage to stand up, moving on shaky legs to stand next to Charles and to face the surgeon who held Alex’s future in her next words.

“Your Royal Highnesses,” the surgeon murmured, doing a slight curtsy in a show of respect for those in the room with her and Alex very nearly let out a hysterical laugh at the absolute absurdity of it. The woman had just spent four hours operating on her husband but still held on to tradition and formality before her job. “I’m Dr. Gupta. I was the lead surgeon today working on the Duke.”

“We appreciate your service, Dr. Gupta,” Charles said, ever the diplomat. “We’re incredibly anxious to hear about Harry’s condition. Is he…”

“The Duke…Harry…” Dr. Gupta said, her eyes darting around the group as she took a deep breath, and Alex’s heart started pounding so hard in her chest that she was sure everyone in the room could hear it. “Is alive and stable.”

“Oh thank God,” Alex breathed, her shoulders slumping slightly as some of the incredibly tension left her body. Tears pushed from her eyes as Harry’s family took turns pulling her into hugs, their relief just as intense as her in that moment.

“Thank you so much, Dr. Gupta,” Will said, reaching out to shake the surgeon’s hand.

“Yes, thank you,” Alex said, her eyes wide as she turned towards the doctor. “Is he…awake? Can I see him? I…”

“He’s not awake quite yet,” Dr. Gupta shook her head, offering Alex a small, comforting smile. “He’s still serious and we will keep him asleep at least for the next twelve hours or so, until the swelling in his brain recedes a bit more.”

“Swelling in his brain?” Alex whispered, fear flaring up inside her again.

“Just as a precaution,” Dr. Gupta clarified. “The swelling in his brain was slight, but has gone down fairly quickly. He’s got a broken collarbone, a broken arm, several cracked ribs, and a broken leg.

“Oh my,” Charles murmured, his face twisting with worry.

“But when he came in,” Dr. Gupta continued. “He had some internal bleeding and that’s why his condition was listed as critical. But we did manage to stop the bleeding and we anticipate he will recover – though, it will be a long road for him.”

“But he’ll be okay?” Alex whispered, hope evident in her eyes.

“In my professional opinion?” Dr. Gupta lifted her eyebrows. “Yes, he will. And they’re getting him into his room right now and settled and once they do – you’ll be able to go in and see him. He won’t be awake, but…”

“I want to see him,” Alex nodded, a ghost of a smile gracing her face for the first time in hours and hours. “I…as soon as I can, I want to see my husband.”


Despite the surgeon’s assurance that Harry was stable, when Alex was finally left in the hospital room alone with Harry several hours after his surgery had been completed, the moment was one that nearly brought her to her knees.

The constant beep, beep, beep of the machines that were attached to her husband’s body, the tubes that were connected to him in various places, the casts on his leg and his arm, and the bruises and cuts on his swollen face were overwhelming in that moment. They were all visual and audible reminders of just how close Harry had come to…

“Oh God…I can’t,” she whispered, a sob catching in her throat as the thought of losing Harry passed through her mind. She wrapped her arms around her middle and sank into the chair next to his bed. Her eyes welled up as she looked at his face.

“Isn’t it funny?” she muttered, a bitter laugh leaving her lips as she swiped at her wet eyes. “You told me just the other day how strong I am, and yet here I am, wishing more than anything that you could just open your eyes and look at me or even just say a few words to me – anything to help me get through this. You always think I’m so strong but…” She shook her head, her fingers pressed against her lips as she fought the same battle she’d been fighting all day; trying not to completely lose it. “Damn it, Harry…you better stay stable. I swear to you, if you’re listening to me, you better keep getting better. You hear me? You have to get better. We’ve only been married two months. That’s just not long enough, Henry Charles. We have babies to make; you promised me that. You can’t leave me without making good on that promise. And while we’re at it, you can’t leave me without raising those children with me – without helping me to raise Emma. You’ve got a good fifty years before it’s even remotely acceptable to think about leaving this life you promised me.” She stopped and the tears began in earnest, falling down her cheeks in fast rivers as her shoulders shook with sobs. “Because I don’t know if I can live a life without you in it, Harry. That’s the truth. So don’t you even think about not getting better.”

Her forehead fell to the side of his bed as she cried, as she let go of all the crazy emotions. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there and cried it all out, but it didn’t matter to her. She’d been through the worst day of her life and come out of the other side without losing everything. She knew that there was still a long road of recovery ahead of them, but she would gladly take that over having no rad to take with him at all.

When she finally lifted her head, she sniffed and wiped at her red, swollen eyes. She took a deep breath and let it out, finding that she felt a bit more at ease now that she’d been able to speak the thoughts that had tormented her all day, now that she’d been able to get it out.

She scooted her chair a bit closer and reached her hand out to his, her fingers curling gently around them, careful of the IV inserted in his hand. She stayed quiet for a moment, her mind working over what she wanted to say, what she wanted him know – though the probability was that he couldn’t hear her.

“While we were waiting to be able to see you, Mia briefed me on the public reaction to all of this.” She smiled slightly as her mind worked over the stuff that Mia had shown her. “I have to tell you Harry, the people…they love you. They’re so worried about you. Social media has just…blown up with messages of hope that you’d be okay.” She fell silent for a moment, her eyes moving over his face. Though there were cuts and bruises and his face was swollen, it was still him – her Harry. “There were lots of mentions of your mother, of the way she died. It really just…I think people’s hearts were broken at the thought of losing you in such a similar way.” She bit her lip and smiled a bit wider as she leaned a bit closer. “I think you’d probably hate that comparison. But it’s really because you have so much of her, Harry. You’re in their hearts like she was. I hope you know that. And…” She took a deep breath and leaned onto the bed, resting her head on her hand as she looked up at him. “It’s just another reason for you to keep getting better.”



Alex’s eyes blinked open at the small, shaky voice that called out to her. She blinked several more times before her eyes found focus and she saw her beautiful eight year old daughter standing hesitantly in the doorway to the private waiting room, a wide eyed Charlotte right behind her and her heart clenched in her chest.

“Emma Rose,” she murmured as she sat up straight in the chair she’d fallen asleep in. She held out her arms and her eyes filled with tears as her daughter started towards her and then ran straight into her arms. She folded her arms around Emma, holding her as close and tight as she could. Emma buried her head in her mother’s neck and her arms wrapped tightly around her and Alex could feel the tension in her tiny body. “Oh Emma…my sweet baby, it’s okay,” Alex whispered, trying to comfort her daughter the best she knew how to do.

Alex wasn’t sure how long she’d been asleep in that chair, though she knew it was morning – that’s when she’d asked Charlotte to bring Emma up to the hospital, wanting Emma to see for herself that Harry was going to be okay. She’d gone in there while others in Harry’s family had spent their private time with him, and evidently she’d been more tired than she thought. She mouthed a silent thank you to Charlotte who nodded and then silently stepped from the room, wanting to give Alex and Emma the moment alone.

“Emma,” Alex murmured, reaching up to stroke her daughter’s soft blond hair. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“I was really scared to come,” Emma whispered into Alex’s neck. “Mimi and Poppy told me Daddy was going to be okay but…I’m still scared.”

“Me too,” Alex said softly, pulling back to look at her daughter. “But he is going to be okay. He’s hurt but he’s going to be okay.”

“How do you know?” Emma pressed, her eyes wide and filled with worry.

“Because the doctor told me so,” Alex replied, tucking a piece of hair behind Emma’s ear. “And because your dad is a very strong man.”

Emma nodded and her eyes dropped down, focusing on where her little fingers worried together in front of her. “I know but…”

“Would you like to go in and see him? He’s not awake quite yet, but he should be soon…”

“Okay,” Emma nodded, her eyes widening a touch as they swung back up to Alex’s.

“Okay,” Alex smiled and nodded. She kissed Emma’s cheek and then stood, holding out her hand to her daughter and then moving from the private room. There were POs waiting, of course – one of hers and one of Emma’s – and they immediately fell into step behind them as they walked the short distance to Harry’s room. “Okay, Emma,” she said softly as they stopped in front of the door. “Your dad was pretty banged up in the car accident. He has a couple of casts on and some scratches and bruises. I just want you to know that before you see him. But the worst stuff was on the inside and the doctor’s fixed it, okay?”

“Okay,” Emma said, even as her bottom moved between her teeth, showing her slight nerves about stepping into the room.

But she held tight to Alex’s hand as they moved inside and let the door close behind them. Alex pulled her over to the chair in front of Harry’s bed and she sat, pulling Emma onto her lap and letting her little girl look over Harry, watching as she took it all in.

“He looks hurt,” Emma whispered. “But he still looks like my daddy.”

“Oh my love, of course he does,” Alex nodded, unable to help the sting of tears in her eyes.

Emma fell quiet for a moment, her eyes trained on Harry as her brain worked to make sense of it all. “Is there anything we can do? To help him wake up?”

“We can sit right here and wait,” Alex said softly, hugging her arms around her daughter. “That’s all we can do, Em. We just have to wait.”

To be continued…