He was a broken man. And everyone within viewing distance of him knew this. He had nothing left, or so he felt. He was no longer whole inside. Or out for that matter, thanks to a misdirected Sectumsempra. Even beyond that, George Weasley was a broken man. He could understand why his family had been avoiding looking at him. It was the same reason he avoided looking in the mirror. Fred was gone. They were identical. His face was a painful reminder that he had lost his other half.

Sometimes, George would cross his eyes in the morning while shaving. It blurred his vision just enough to not realize that one ear was missing. It blurred his vision just enough to make him see double. And when he did that, he always managed to slice up his face. Thus, bringing him back to reality. Forcing him to stare at the single reflection in the mirror. Forcing him to get over his delusions that Fred was over his shoulder laughing at him and joking.

George Weasley would still try to make jokes in the Burrow. The only one who ever laughed was Percy. Percy hadn't been around for a while. He was the only member of the family that wasn't waiting for Fred to make a counter-pun on George's words. He was the only one who could still look at him without sorrow and regret. George didn't remind Percy of Fred, of his dead brother like he did for his parents.

Percy had helped George the first few months. Being there when Fred died, Percy thought it was his fault for distracting Fred with his single joke. If Percy had been uptight as usual, he thought, his younger brother wouldn't be missing a twin. The guilt on Percy's shoulders caused him to mellow out a bit. And with no job to speak of in the ministy, Percy could be around as much as George needed him. George Weasley needed him very much.

George was broken. Through and through.

Especially his speech. George seemed to have developed a stutter, but that was the cure to the first one. At first, he would only speak in incomplete sentences. He was not able to form a whole one. George had relied on Fred to be able to think exactly the same as him. The spoke as one entity. So, when there was no longer a Fred, George could no longer communicate with him family. Which, of course, hurt them even more becuase they knew why he had the problem and stayed away to keep from the sorrow.

Percy, however, tried. He tried to finish George's thoughts. He attempted to complete his younger brother's sentence. Without much luck for George only got more frustrated when Percy got it wrong. Percy didn't use the right tone. He didn't use the right pun. He didn't say precisely the right wording. Percy wasn't Fred. Percy hadn't spent every waking moment with George. He hadn't invented joke products with him. He hadn't pulled pranks with him. Normally, George could appreciate the effort Percy put out, no matter how frustrating. But, poor broken George couldn't handle it anymore.

It was one day, 5 months after the battle at Hogwarts, that George developed his strutter. He had been so angry at Percy for using the wrong words that he began throwing things in his and Percy's bedroom. Percy sat on his bed, once Fred's, and watched it all happen. He even took the blows that George sent his way without question. It wasn't until Harry came in the room, holding baby Teddy in his arms, that George stopped. The former twin had sent a book in the way of the door and hit Harry between the eyes, in the process, he dropped baby Teddy. Percy's quickness made sure that a cushioning charm prevented injury to the infant, but George was still devastated that he let himself nearly injure him and hurt Harry who had done nothing against him.

The first full sentence George had spoken since Fred's death came out half in his own voice and half stuttered, trying to make up for Fred's absence.

"I'm so sorry, H-harry. I-I d-didn't mean it. Are you a-alright? Please forgive me. I n-need t-to control myself. It really w-won't h-happen again. I promise."

Percy had winced at the sound of his brother's voice. Suspecting a split personality disorder developing in him to compensate for his lack of identical twin. Percy had been wrong. And Harry had forgiven him without much thought, though, leaving with his godson in his arms very quickly.

Percy had insisted they re-open Weasley Wizarding Wheezes. He insisted that a whole new line of products be developed. In Fred's honor. Percy manned the store, as he really did need a job. And George hid out in the back room for the most part. Many explosions could be heard. Occasionally, he'd yell and scream at Fred's absence because he couldn't figure out what was wrong and knew that Fred would have been able to see it right away. It took George twice as long to develope a whole new line, testing it on Harry and Ron as much as he could before releasing it.

He finished on the one-year anniversary of Fred's death. The line was successful, needless to say. It was much celebrated. The whole family came to the release party. And his mother finally looked at him. She looked and she didn't have tears in her eyes. She didn't see Fred in his broken face. She saw an accomplised man who through it all, had succeeded. He had picked up the pieces and continued. She held him tightly to her bosom for what seemed like hours that night, and George didn't pull away. Both had cried a little, both asked for some sort of forgiveness, and neither one denied forgiveness. For that was the Weasley Way. Percy himself had experienced that same forgiveness for his pompous ways and abandoning his family for the ministry.

From behind the counter, Percy smirked at him and continued collecting money from sales.

Percy knew that his little brother would be alright soon enough, even maybe a little broken for the rest of his life. But he knew that George was strong and brave. George would make it and that's all that mattered.