The day Harriet realized the hard, plain, awful truth, it hit her like a truck.
It happened one – previously completely normal – Thursday evening. She had driven Michael back home after they had finally fried (Harriet) and blessed away (Knigh of the Cross) the ghost they had been hunting for three days. Once the swarm of Carpenter kids stopped screaming "Hello, Aunt Harriet !", "Why Uncle John and Uncle Nathan and Uncle Thomas aren't here too?!" and got all the hugs they wanted (which was a lot), Charity asked if she wanted to stay for dinner. Harriet thanked her but turned down the invitation, despite the mouth-watering smell coming from the kitchen.
She explained to the Carpenters John would be home early today - between his bi-annual board of directors and her ghost, they didn't really have any time together this week and it would be nice to finally have dinner and enjoy one evening with her...her...
Oh Hells FUCKING Bells!
Harriet's face must have gone completely white in horrified realization because Charity actually looked worried and Michael caught her arm to stop her from tripping:
"God! Harriet, you... Are you alright ? Here, sit down for a moment..."
"NO ! No," Harriet weakly stammered, "I'm fine. Really fine. Totally FINE. I'm just going to go home and to talk to..."
On her way back home, Harriet frantically tried to stop panicking and to re-organize her thoughts. She was a PI, dammit, and she actually had a perfectly functional brain, thanks you – no matter what Hendricks, after one decade of bickering friendship with her, still muttered desperately about John and her being bat-shit crazy, utterly non-sense fairy tales and this supernatural shit not being in his job-description.
So, while she broke every existing highway rule (just great – now, the money green-eyed scumbag will smirk at her, make some smart-ass jokes about bribing her fines away and isn't an alternative view of the Law sometimes useful, sweetheart?, which will make him the biggest asshole she knew but also - Alas - the sexiest), she listed with growing dread the quickly-piling up evidences of her current predicament.
There were their two names on the title of property of their Gold Coast house, the beautiful one they brought when John made his (their, he always insisted) first million. Apparently, not only did Harriet somehow miss the living together thing, she also missed the owning a gorgeous, Old-money, so-big-John-and-she-could-have-their-own-office-and-even-guestrooms house together thing.
They wore matching talismans – shit, that was so obvious - Harriet's bracelet and John's pendant, both powerful enough to stop bullets, cars, fire and (hopefully) Lea when the fairy was angry against them because they wouldn't give her grand-godchildren yet - and Stars and Stones, Lea wanted her to have kids with John !
They had pets together. There was the mountain of temple dog that Harriet fed and petted but that John walked when he jogged. There was also a monstrous part-cat part-cougar she had found in a trash can, but with whom John had made up some sophisticated language based on tail movements and food-bribes only the two of them understood.
They always tried to come back home early, after work, to drink a beer together – or a glass of wine when John had his way, and how didn't Harriet realize before that was the sappiest thing ever?
They had a threshold. In fact, there had been a threshold at their door since the first flat they had shared - the tiny, shitty one, back when she had just arrived in Chicago and John was still Vargassi's minion – by Belzebuth, they had somehow managed a threshold before they were even shagging. Which meant it wasn’t a simple house but a home, which meant she had a home - she has built a home with John fucking Marcone, which meant...
Harriet’s feet almost crushed the gas pedal.
John was already home. When Harriet burst in their living room, he was sitting on the couch (the one they have chosen together four months ago! More evidence!), without a jacket or a tie, going idly through the Chicago Tribune, looking a bit tired but impossibly relaxed.
“Hey,” he greeted her, looking up and smiling – and Harriet suddenly couldn’t remember if she wanted to hit him with her staff or to curl up against his side and read the paper with him. “How was your day? Did you get the ghost?”
Years had actually taught Harriet some restraint (true story). She knew screaming “My day sucked because I finally got a clue and realized you’ve become my husband without my realizing, you manipulating scumbag!” wasn’t a good idea. That would probably degenerate into an awful discussion about faeries-deals-induced madness, interrogations whether she met any Red-Court vampire today and Hendricks having to check for demonic possessions.
On the other hand, standing like an idiot in the middle of her- their living room and gaping at John as if it was the first time she saw him would doubtlessly arouse suspicion, too.
"You okay, sweetheart?" John frowned, already alarmed.
Intuitive paranoid bastard, she thought warmly in spite of her panic.
Harriet took a deep breath, and finally, finally calmed down.
Maybe it wasn't that bad.
"Yeah, I'm cool," she murmured while grabbing the still-closed beer on the coffee table - Mac's ale, her favorite - and sit close to him. "Michael and I sent the ectoplam in Hell like real Ghostbusters. It made a great explosion. What about your day?"
John laughed as he put an arm around her, pulling her closer. Harriet let him – the scumbag had a nice laugh when they were together, the one that showed off white teeth and made his eyes shine a deeper green. And he smelled good, like expensive cologne and masculine scent that...
"Nowhere as fun as yours, I'm afraid. Nathan nearly fell asleep during the lawyers’ power point presentation. Then the accountant insisted to give us a painfully detailed analysis of every financial transaction, which took more than three hours and five cups of coffee.”
“And you didn’t stab his gut?”, Harriet teased him. “I’m so proud.”
“Mmh.” John tilted his head on the side and rubbed his cheek, unshaven since this morning, against Harriet’s neck. The burn of the stubble on her skin made her shiver. “We could show how proud we are of each other later.”
Yeah, she will work out her terrible situation (being almost married to the filthy rich, handsome mafia king of Chicago who bought her beers and cuddled her up on their sofa) after diner.