Seven years of thought habits don't just go away. There isn't the painful hope anymore; there isn't the smugly contented expectation either. The numbness has worn off, and I'm back holding those whispered half-conversations with the avatar of my best friend in my head again, and by habit using an endearment as a direct form of address.
There's some wistfulness, but mostly it's just quiet. At the end of the day, I have a best friend. The eye of the storm has passed, the worst of the storm has passed, and it's settling down into a given, like the weather. Do I love him? Of course I love him. He's been my best friend for too many years to not love him. There was some underlying expectation before. Now there's resignation, loyalty, and an eerie calm belief that no, it probably won't get better than this, so I might as well enjoy it for all it's worth enjoying.