Patty drowns on Thursday, her funeral is Saturday, and today it's Thursday again, and the Halliwells are trying hard to keep it together.
Prue wakes precisely on time for school and gets ready without a word that anything has changed. She gives Penny a kiss on the cheek before she climbs out of the car and clambers to join the little brown-haired neighbor boy - Penny never can remember his name.
Phoebe's exuberant giggles fill the car; as they make their way to breakfast she laughs wildly at the sight of a costumed cartoon character on the side of the street, flailing her chubby little hands against the window.
Out of all three, only Piper seems to notice anything is different. She trails behind Penny as they walk into the diner, eyes darting around as though she is looking for something, tugging on one dark pigtail.
Piper has always been the sensitive one, preferring to mediate between her sisters than join either side to fight. Before her mother died, her cheerful babble usually filled the silences; as Penny helps Piper slide into the booth, she is silent.
"Bacon or sausage, Piper?"
The little girl's troubled eyes, which have been unfocused all day long, settle on Penny's, and for the first time she realizes that her granddaughter has been crying.
"Grams...I can't find Leo."
He makes sure Prue is seated and buried in her copy of Black Beauty before he orbs to the diner.
It's a greasy little place, the kind of place he used to go with Nathan and Rick whenever they could convince him to skip school, where the smell of salty french fries is thick in the air, even at nine o'clock in the morning. Penny takes the girls there on special occasions and hard days - it's Friday, and they've been here every day this week since the funeral on Saturday of last week.
The dark-skinned waitress flashes him a toothy grin - her name is Raven, about twenty-three, struggling to finish college. She's got a cousin who's a witch on her father's side, and a brother who's going to be a whitelighter someday. Neither of them are his charges but fate still conspires to cross his path with hers from time to time, and she's the closest thing in San Francisco he has to a friend.
He offers her a smile and starts to nod, but then his eyes find the Halliwells in a booth across the diner. Phoebe is blowing bubbles in her chocolate milk, and Penny is talking quietly to Piper - Piper, who is curled into the orange plastic booth, sniffling up at her grandmother, looking miserable. A sharp ache rises in Leo's stomach - he has always had a soft spot for Piper, and seeing her so distraught always leaves him itching with the need to do something.
"That poor little girl," says Raven, setting a plate of hot french fries in front of him. "Grams over there says she hasn't said a word since her Mom died last week. I hope she feels better soon," she shakes her head. "I'll be right back with your milkshake, Leo."
Leo has been around since forever.
The first time she met him, he rescued her balloon at the circus. She'd let Phoebe hold it, only Prue had poked Phoebe in the shoulder, which had got them all in trouble, because Prue was being pokey and Phoebe was being bitey and Piper was crying because Phoebe let go of her balloon. It didn't get far, though, because the nice man jumped up and caught the ribbon just as it was about to slip away.
Grams hadn't like it much, though. She'd told him to go away after he tied the ribbon to Piper's wrist. He hadn't looked mad though, only ruffled all of their hair and winked at Piper as he left, disappearing behind the caramel apple stand.
"Where did he go, Grams? He said he'd always be my friend. He said."
Usually, Piper saw Leo everywhere. He fixed things a lot where she and Prue went to school, at the house next door where she and Phoebe and Prue got babysat, and once he had even shown up to fix something at camp. She just knew that if he'd just visit her now, he could fix everything.
Grams opened her mouth like she was about to talk, but then Phoebe spilled her grape juice everywhere, and Grams said a word she'd made Prue wash her mouth out for, once.
"We talked about this, Piper," as she rummaged through Phoebe's Barbie backpack for an extra shirt.
"But Leo ISN'T imaginary! He isn't! He isn't!"
Grams doesn't look at Piper. Her lips get very thin; she looks at a booth across the diner and takes Phoebe to the bathroom to change her clothes.