A/N: WARNING: This story contains spoilers for the 7th Harry Potter Book, The Deathly Hallows. If you haven't finished the book, I suggest that you don't read any further.

This story is dedicated to my own twin, who has been there for me through thick and thin.

One Less Than Two

The jingle of bells on the door that lead into the joke shop, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, announced the entrance of a costumer when it rang. Or rather, the jingle of bells normally indicated that a costumer had entered the store, but the bells had not done so for almost a year. In fact, no one had entered the store looking for pranking materials for quite a time. The last people who had entered the store had done so with the intention of trashing the place—and they had succeeded, as indicated by the smashed boxes full of joke wands, and the stacks of products that had been smashed beyond repair. It had probably been Death Eaters, but there wasn't any way of knowing for sure really…

But after a year of being silent, the bell on the door was ringing again, announcing the entrance of not a customer, but one of the store's owners. This in itself was a rarity too, since one Weasley brother never went to work without the other in tow; when one brother was sick, they'd close the shop down. But there was no Fred accompanying George this time, and there never would be again. There was only George; there never again would be two Weasley twins. Never again would George be able to pull one over on his parents, and convince them that yes, he was Fred, and Fred was George; never again would the pair of them pull a prank together, or talk together, and never, ever again would George get to see his brother's smile. George felt lopsided; and it wasn't because of the missing ear either. He was so used to his brother filling up the space to his left, that it felt odd to not have anyone flanking him. It felt odd to be walking alone, and especially knowing that he'd always be walking alone, from then on. Sure, sometimes others walked beside him, but none of them walked as perfectly in tune with him as Fred had, and no one ever would again.

George whispered "Lumos", and sighed as he inspected the damage done to the shop, and winced, imagining the work it would take to fix it all up. Fred had always been better with household-y charms, and with arranging the store so that it looked more pleasing. He also had been better with making up advertisements and slogans to attract costumers. George had been good with managing their money, and keeping track of finances, so really, they'd been a perfect match as business partners. But there no longer was a Fred to make colorful witty banners, and arrange shelves; he'd have to do all of that himself.

His father and mother had offered to come with him to the shop to help get it up and running again…really, everyone close to him had, heck, even Percy had offered to come! But he had turned them all down; this was something he had to do himself.

A part of him wished he had let someone come with him though, since everything in the store seemed to remind him of Fred, and the good times they had had there. Every broken shard of glass, and piece of shattered debris was like a broken memory to him, that never would shine quite like it once had. He wanted desperately to make a joke and laugh about the entire ordeal, and for it all to be o.k., but no amount of laughter or jokes was going to fill the gap that Fred had once filled. Only time would tell if he was going to be o.k.

George made his way quietly down the isles, casting a spell here and there, fixing what could be fixed, and vanishing what could not. And then all of a sudden, something crunched loudly under George's foot, and when he looked down, he saw a rather mangled Skiving Snackbox. Right then he found himself recalling that that particular product had been all Fred's idea originally, and before he knew it he was crying, sobbing on the ground, mourning the loss of his best friend and brother who had always understood him when no one else had, and had always comforted him when he was sad or afraid. Fred who had always told George jokes late at night when he had been afraid that vampires were going to bite him in the middle of the night when they were little; Fred who always took part of the blame for a prank, even when it had been all George's idea; Fred who had supported him when he had lost his ear; Fred who had kept his spirits up when he was down; Fred who had always been there, but would never be again. Fred had been the greatest, most understanding, and wonderful friend and twin George could have ever asked for—even during the rare times they fought—and no one would, and could ever replace him.

"Why are you crying George?"

"B-Because I'm afraid." George had whispered, tears glittering in the moonlight. "Tomorrow everything changes; we go to Hogwarts and as much as I'm excited, and sure that I'll be o.k.…. I'm scared. I'm scared that things will change. What if—?"

"Don't be silly George!" Fred had laughed, his eleven-year-old face smiling and boyish, "Everything changes, and life moves on. And we just have to go with it, and make what we're given work. And we will make this work George; I know we will. As long as we keep moving on in spite of everything, we'll be o.k." he told his brother, being strangely profound for an eleven year old at the time, "We're gonna' take them by surprise, and we're going to rock Hogwarts to it's very core!" Fred declared, his eyes shining with anticipation, "We'll be the greatest prankers in the history of Hogwarts! You'll see; it'll all be o.k…"

George sniffed, and wiped away his tears with the corner of his sleeve.

"As long as we keep moving on in spite of everything, we'll be o.k."

Slowly, shakily, George rose from where he had fallen to his knees, and picked up his wand again. It wasn't going to all be o.k. all at once, and it would take time to start living normally again, and he'd probably never really get over Fred's death, but… if he kept moving, kept living, and improvising with what he had, he'd be o.k. in the end. And besides, Fred would want him to keep the store running, and to keep living, and maybe, just maybe to find a special lady to share his life with.

Fred wouldn't want him to give up, and spend the rest of his life as a sniveling mourning mound of flesh. He would've wanted George to go on.

And really, for the moment, knowing that would be enough to give him reason to wake up in the morning.

And with a soft grunt, George picked himself off the floor, and began working on returning Weasley's Wizard Wheezes to its former glory, and he didn't leave the shop that day until it shone and gleamed in a way that would have made his brother proud.

A/N: Fred's death really struck me for some reason, and I was upset that J.K. didn't resolve it more, or talk about how George was in the Epilogue; it's probably because I'm a twin myself and if I were to loose my twin sister I would be devastated. We've spent literally our entire lives growing up together…and as far as I can tell, while twins are very much just like regular siblings, it appears to me from observing my friend's with their brothers and sisters, that twins inevitably share a closer bond then regular old siblings. According to my mother, my sister and I sometimes have entire conversations in the car where we end up finishing each others sentences, or just speaking in incomplete sentences, because we get what the other's saying, and don't need to communicate as people nomrally do. XD (I'm not sure if this is true or not though. I've never really noticed myself do this, but my mother insists that she's seen, and heard, us do it. ) So I really sympathize with George, and what he must have gone through and felt after witnessing his brother's death.

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