I didn't wake up until noon. It was the first time I'd slept more than an hour or two at a time in the last six months, and I was honestly amazed at how much better I felt. I was still bone-weary, but my brain was more alert than it had been for weeks. I took a look at my foot, which was blistered from the burns and altogether the worse for wear. Taking care of it was going to be bloody awful.
My whole body felt stiff and sore as I pulled myself up out of bed and limped downstairs to the shop to look for a first aid kit. Angelina or Percy had opened up some of the shutters before leaving the night before, and bright sunlight filtered through the dust, shining on all sorts of boxes and displays. In the brightness, everything looked drab and dismal, and I frowned. It shouldn't be like this. The shop should be open already. I needed to get it together and hurry up the re-opening. The longer we sat dormant, the further behind we were getting.
I heard a noise in the kitchen and pulled out my wand to investigate. I was still in war mode, checking everything out with a caution that was foreign to my actual nature, and although I wondered when I would stop behaving this way, it didn't bother me too much. I was slipping into an apathetic rut, but it seemed better than so many of the alternatives.
The kitchen door opened as I was about to turn the handle, and Angelina laughed.
"You scared me," she said. "I was just about to go upstairs and check on you."
"I'm fine, Angie, really."
"How's the foot?" she asked pointedly, leaning over to get a glimpse. She flinched at the sight of the ugly blisters and peeling skin. "Sit down, you don't want it to get infected."
I obeyed, wondering when my life had taken a left turn into unrecognizability. "I really can take care of it myself," I said as she came back with the first aid kit and started sifting through the different healing potions in it.
"Right. Sorry." She handed me the box and took a step back. "I just thought you might want some help."
I shrugged, opening up a bottle of a burn healing potion. "I'm not really sure what I'm doing at any given moment. Kind of hard to need help if you don't even know what's coming up. And I don't want to keep you out of your way; you probably have to get to work and stuff at some point, right?"
Angelina shrugged, shifting her weight from foot to foot. "I actually had to quit my job six months ago. When You-Know-Who took over the Ministry and started going after Muggle-borns, it wasn't safe to be trackable. So I quit, and moved out of my flat."
I flinched, trying to conceal it as a reaction to the gruesome stinging of burn potion on my foot. "I'm glad they didn't find you."
"They nearly did. I found out a week later from Katie that my boss had gone missing. She still hasn't turned up. I'm certain that they were looking for me and took her to be questioned and..." She shivered. "I just keep thinking that it could have been me who disappeared."
I put the potion bottle down - my foot was decently healed now, covered in shiny, new piglet-pink skin that was dulling out and fading to normal color as we spoke - and held out a hand to her. She looked at me strangely, but took it, and I pulled her toward me and kicked the chair next to me out for her.
"Don't play the what if game, Angie," I said, squeezing her hand as she sat down.
"I could have kept her safe, if I'd told her to run-"
I shook my head. "If they wanted you that badly, they'd have found someone else to go after. If it wasn't your boss, it'd have been a coworker, a friend, your mum or Sophie or Gran."
She shrugged, but I could see in her face that she was struggling with the idea. I got up and started filling the kettle.
"Do you think we're ever going to stop living this war in our heads?" she asked suddenly. "Or do you think it's going to stay with us forever, like a ghost?"
I shook my head. "Who can say? But if it's going to haunt us, the least it could do is have the decency to be a poltergeist and keep things interesting."
Angelina laughed. "A poltergeist? What, do you want the world destroyed? Going to set up shop as the next Dark Lord to keep things interesting?"
I laughed. "But One-Eared George just doesn't sound all that threatening, and it's awfully difficult to get people to take you seriously as George the Terrible or Weasley the Heinous when you've only got one ear and everyone knows it got hexed off by a greasy git of a potionsmaster. I think I'll have to pass; my dignity wouldn't be able to sustain the mockery of anything less than a fabulous - and fitting - villain name."
Angelina grinned at me, the first time I'd seen her smile without reservation since Hogwarts. "I don't know, it's really just a small group that knows what happened to the ear. I'm sure you could put it about that it got bitten off by a troll in Moldova, whom you subsequently killed with your bare hands."
"Hm, Moldova. Does have a certain ring to it, if I can figure out what I was doing there. I'll have to remember that one to tell Bill and Fleur's kid when it's old enough to ask questions."
Angelina's eyebrows shot up. "Fleur's not already-"
"No, no, not yet, but she's already picking out names for when the time comes. You should see the look on old Billy's face when she does it, too. Absolute comedy gold. Especially when Mum chimes in with suggestions."
"Bet he wishes he hadn't given up the goblins and curse-breaking now," Angelina said.
I shook my head as the tea kettle whistled. "Nah. Bill's a braver man than that, and he's always wanted to have little ankle-biters. I just don't think he thought it'd happen so soon after tying the knot. But Fleur's all gung-ho about the idea, and with Mum encouraging her, it can't be long now before we all get a happy announcement."
"Won't that be special."
I poured two mugs of tea and sat back down next to Angelina, passing her one of the cups. She summoned a package of biscuits from across the kitchen and we snickered together over our teacups for a few minutes.
"I've missed you," Angelina whispered after we had both contained our giggles.
I nodded. "I've missed you, too."
Her smile was sad. "I keep wondering how everyone can pick up and move forward. After something so terrible, how does the world keep spinning?"
This line of conversation made me uncomfortable, but unlike when Mum veered off like this, I was pretty sure that Angie wasn't doing it to try to get me to talk about my feelings, so I handed her another biscuit. "Because it has to."
"So," she said, sitting back and forcing her tone lighter, "when's the date for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes's Grand Re-Opening?"
"Haven't set one."
"Not even a target?"
"Nope. Still too much to do, and no idea how long it'll take me to do it. What about you, what are your plans now that the battles are over?"
Angelina shrugged. "Find a new job, I guess, and move off of Sophie's couch. I'm sure she'd really like to be able to have her boyfriend sleep over again without worrying what I'll overhear. He's been noticeably absent lately." She made a face and I laughed.
"I can't believe she's old enough to be living on her own now," I mumbled. "I'll never forget the last time I saw her, she looked so young."
Angelina nodded. "She's still young."
"You know what I mean. I still can't believe Ginny's going to be in her last year at Hogwarts, either."
"Time marches on."
"The earth keeps spinning."
"Because it has to." She made a sad little noise in the back of her throat, then tossed back the last of her tea. "I can't believe we're already a pair of old people and we're only twenty."
I laughed, but there wasn't much humor in it. We were a pair of old people; we'd seen far more than what anyone should have to see by our time. "What better time to become a pair of old people? Leaves us plenty of time for chasing kids off our lawns and reminiscing about when we were their age. How glorious things were and how we really thought we'd live forever."
"Okay, we're going to need to be a whole lot drunker for that conversation," Angelina said loudly, patting my shoulder. "I, for one, am not yet ready to give up the ghost, declare Hogwarts my glory days, and consign myself to a slow decay into the grave. I suggest you find the will and the courage to do the same, Mister Weasley."
"Oh, don't call me that," I groaned. "It makes me feel like I'm either really old or really young and about to be in serious trouble."
"I'll make a deal with you."
"What deal?" I had learned from a lifetime with Fred that you never blindly agree to anything, even (and especially) if it's the person you trust most asking.
"I won't call you Mister Weasley, and I'll help you get the shop ready for re-opening. In exchange, you let me crash on your sofa until I find a job and my own place. I can't live with Sophie anymore, or I'm going to kill her."
I wasn't entirely certain I liked this plan; I wasn't sure I could handle having another person in our flat and our shop, messing up things that we had done together and chasing away the last of the tangible memories of Fred here in this place that was completely and totally ours, but I had to do something. I couldn't preserve the shop like a museum and still be true to what we had dreamed together, to what I had promised him. And besides, I was already nodding.
"Deal," I said, and we shook on it.