Chapter Eighty-Six

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Meredith didn't like the time difference of Minnesota to Scotland, and she most certainly hated the time difference between Minnesota and Australia. While Scotland had been a stopping point, she hadn't spent enough time in that zone to get used to it. Now, she hopped all the way around the world, reaching Sydney, Australia. The flight was at least twenty-two hours, and Meredith hated being cooped up for so long. She bounced up and down in her seat, before just standing and moving around in the cabin.

Closing her eyes, Meredith felt like she was about to fall off the edge of the earth. Her whole body buzzed. The airplane shifted, and Meredith was ready to let out a scream. Harry had gone a few days before, heading to Sydney before the Invictus Games properly started. Meredith had been let loose on London, and she barely spent any time inside Kensington Palace.

Landing in Sydney, Meredith was drenched in warmth. It was technically winter in the southern hemisphere, yet it was so hot. Meredith wanted to pull off her clothes right then and there. The smell of the sea hit her, and she saw it. Her heartbeat became faster. She wanted to jump in. Sadly a sign read "Sharks in the waters."

Lovely, she thought. Though, she knew it wasn't going to stop her.

"Ms. Rogue," said a male voice behind her, and she sighed. Turning around, there stood Bodyguard Bill.

"Shouldn't you be protecting Harry?"

"He has the police for that."

Meredith raised an eyebrow.

"Not like that, ma'am," Bill continued, "but he's in public. There is not much that only one man can do. He has meetings today and going around, and there are enough coopers around. He sent me to come and get you. I'll take you to the hotel." He showed her the way to the car.

"Didn't the games already start?"

"Yes, ma'am. Last night."

"Let's go there."

"Don't you want to get prepped?"

"I need coffee." Meredith stepped into the car. "I'm sure we can find a Starbucks along the way."

While Bodyguard Bill may not have liked it or went against his orders, he took her to the complex anywhere. Harry had spoken with Meredith repeatedly about the details surrounding the games. His attention was going to be on the survivors and families, like it should be, and Meredith was fine with that. This was the closest she had ever been to the Olympics, and she enjoyed all the pomp and flare. She knew the cameras were to be on him and her, specifically waiting to catch a moment of them together. Yet, Meredith was focused on cameras staying on Harry.

"Are you ready, ma'am?" Bodyguard Bill asked after she had changed and applied makeup in the back of the car. Perhaps prep time had been necessary, but now that she had caffeine, she was ready to go.

Hopping out of the car, at least Meredith was happy in her choice of clothing. People moved toward the complex, if not already inside, and they wore their country's colors. Panic peaked in her, and she tried to calm herself. They probably should have started somewhere softer, but it was too late now.

"Ma'am?"

"Let's go." Squaring her shoulders and throwing her hair back, Meredith walked forward.

Upon entering the sports complex, cooler air settles over her, and she managed to relax. Bill kept a watchful eye. She heard before she saw: cameramen all focused Harry. Meredith pulled herself off to the side, and Bill watched the crowds. Meredith kept a careful eye on Harry as he passed, and like he felt her, he looked her direction, pulling his head up and toward her direction. She cocked her head back and smiled. Harry let out a chuckle.

"It's Meredith Rogue!" yelled one of the paparazzi, torn between who to follow.

"Ma'am," Bill warned.

"One more minute." Her eyes were kept even on Harry as photos were snapped of her. It was well worth it because Harry blew her a kiss, and Meredith blushed at the open love. Unlike most royals, Harry had no problem openly showing affection. Peeling herself off the wall, Meredith smiled as she walked away. Some of the paparazzi followed her, and she was proud to help Harry be free.

Meredith walked the opposite direction of Harry, while everyone moved to the same place. Harry gave his large speech last night to open the Invictus Games, which he had been worried about for a long time. Meredith knew the words with how many times he practiced it. Now he had time to have fun.

Stationed across the stadium as sitting volleyball, eyes were focused on the players of Great Britain versus against the United States. Bill handed an American flag to Meredith, and she arched an eyebrow.

"He didn't mention this bit?" Harry's bodyguard asked.

Sighing, Meredith threw it around her, knowing this was about to get competitive. Whether or not she wanted either team to win, by placing an American flag on her, it was like she stated something. Meredith thought she was supposed to stay out of the way, to be quiet and collected, to be neutral. This was how she was going to impress people. Harry had other plans.

"I guess I should act like an American then."

"I don't--"

Too late, Meredith said while she stood. "Americans are going to beat the British. It's the usual."

Standing, Bill watched the game, and he almost regretted the decision as Meredith got into the game. In truth, it was the United States who did better, but the Brits fought back. Meredith cheered for both sides, just cheering for the U.S. a bit more. In between sets, Meredith felt cameras flicker back and forth between Harry and her, yet she paid no attention.

"Ma'am," Bodyguard Bill stated, and she followed him out the back.

For the next days, she knew her days would be spent going to different sporting events, not seeing a lot of Harry, but it was perfectly fine to her. This was his baby. The sun had gone down as Meredith exited the complex.

"Where to next, Bill?"

"To the hotel, ma'am. You've had a long day."

She leaned back in the seat and watched as lights flashed by the window. It all zoomed past. The hotel wasn't too far away, resting along the beach, like Harry knew Meredith liked. Exiting the car, Meredith didn't even wait for a response as she walked toward the ocean. Bill didn't say anything, even as she went knee-deep into the cool water. The wind threatened to knock her back. Pacing along the shore, Meredith wasn't sure how long she was there until she heard Harry behind her.

"I thought I might find you out here."

Meredith came closer to the shoreline.

"You did really good today."

She blushed.

"Come on. Let's go inside."

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