Author's Notes: Just a reminder, this is AU after OotP. I'm not using ANYTHING from HBP or, when it comes out, DH. My version of what happened in sixth year is completely different, as is all portrayal of the twins' shop.
Lee Jordan stopped in front of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes; a large, hastily scribbled sign was propped up in the front door, saying "closed until further notice due to flying emergency." Wondering just what that meant, Lee pulled out the spare key the twins had given him and unlocked the door, pushed it open and stepped inside.
"Hello?" he called out.
"We're closed," George called back shortly. "Come back later."
Lee stepped around the shelves, following the slight grunting sounds he could hear from the back of the shop. He caught sight of the twins and blinked, startled; Fred and George were both busy trying to stuff a canary the size of a baby elephant into the fireplace.
"What the hell are you doing?" Lee demanded.
Fred and George looked up. "Oh, hey, Lee," Fred said. "Give us a hand, will you?" he added, as casually as if he wanted help restocking a shelf.
"What's going on?" Lee repeated, confused.
"We're trying to send Pig over to Hagrid," George said calmly, as though that made all the sense in the world.
"Guys, that's not a pig, that's a bird under an engorgement charm."
"Not A pig, Pig! Pigwidgeon. Ron's owl."
"Yeah, you know how we never tested the Canary Creams on animals?" Fred said.
"You fed Ron's owl a Canary Cream? The boy helped kill Voldemort, for crying out loud!"
"Of course we didn't. It fed itself a Canary Cream," George said, pushing his back against Pig, who was still quiet from the Stunning Charm. George used his legs to shove harder. Pig, however, was simply too big to fit in the fireplace.
"So you're trying to set it on fire, then?" Lee guessed. "Destroy the evidence?"
"We're not setting it on fire; we're trying to send it to Hagrid by Floo!" Fred exclaimed.
"Um… okay. Can it talk?"
"What? No. No, it can't talk. Of course not."
"Then how will you get it to say 'Hagrid's hut' once you've got it in the fireplace? And while I'm pointing out flaws in the plan here, even if you somehow managed to send it out, won't it get stuck in the Floo Network? The Network's not meant for something as big as that bird, and even if he makes it to Hagrid's, will he be able to get out of his fireplace? Not to mention what Hagrid might do to an enormous yellow beast that goes shooting into his cabin… how, precisely, will you explain it to him? Unless you're there when it happens, Hagrid might even attack Pig; I know I would."
Fred and George stared at him. They had been friends with Lee for over nine years now, and it had always been Lee's unofficial job to figure out where they could go wrong with one evil scheme or another, but it never ceased to amaze them when Lee found something, especially when it should have been completely obvious to the twins just how their plot could mess up.
"Right, then," Fred said as he and George stepped away from Pig, who promptly landed on the floor with a loud thud. "Time to come up with Plan B."
"For once, I don't see what we could do. What, are we going to teach him to Apparate?" George said.
"Well, maybe he can still fly."
"Yeah, Fred, we'll send him straight out the window. One of his feet just might be able to squeeze out."
Fred sighed and looked up at the roof appraisingly. Unfortunately, they couldn't really remove even part of the roof; their shop had an apartment over it, in which the twins currently lived. They wouldn't be able to get Pig out of the door, either; it was far too small, and would require getting Pig past the shelves to the front of the shop.
"Um, guys? Call me crazy, but I'd say your best bet would be a Portkey," Lee suggested.
"Of course!" George said, smacking his forehead. "Why didn't we think of that?"
"This job sucks," Beverly muttered as she picked up another Portkey application. What on Earth had possessed her to join the Department of Magical Law Enforcement?
"Hey, kid, be glad you're still a trainee," said her only co-worker on duty, Ryan. "Once you've got more experience, you'll have to fill out the paperwork for when you find a suspicious Portkey application. Talk about annoying."
"Mm," Beverly said, frowning down at the application that a redheaded guy had dropped off an hour ago.
Name: Fred Weasley
Occupation: Co-owner of the best damned joke shop the world has ever seen
Is this your first time applying for a Portkey? Yeah
Requested Starting Point: Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, Number 93, Diagon Alley
Requested Destination: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as close as possible to the gamekeeper's hut
How many will be utilizing this Portkey? Three: me, my brother, and a huge-ass bird
Beverly shook her head; the entire application was bizarre. "Speaking of suspicious apps," Beverly said slowly, "listen to this… 'Reason for Traveling by Portkey: We can think of no other way to get a seven-foot-tall canary to Hogwarts.' That can't be right…"
"A seven-foot-tall what?"
"Canary," Beverly repeated, confused. "Maybe they just can't spell…"
"I can't think of what they'd be trying to spell that they would put 'canary.' Hmm…"
"Definitely a suspicious application… although usually people are much better at their excuses, you know…"
"Smart people aren't the only ones who apply for an authorized Portkey for something illegal," Ryan said with a shrug. "I once had an application from an Azkaban inmate. As if we were actually going to send a prisoner a Portkey to the Three Broomsticks."
Beverly smiled absently but continued staring at the application thoughtfully. "Fred Weasley… that rings a bell…"
"Oh, Fred and George? Their older brother works here. Percy. You met him at the Christmas party last year, remember? And their dad's in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. They're those twins who own that joke shop, and their brother Ron helped defeat You-Know-Who."
"Oh, yes, I think I remember them from Hogwarts… they were about four years younger than me, though. Anyway… who do we send this to? The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?"
"Hard to say… tell you what, give it here, and I'll send a copy of it up to them, and then we'll make two more copies and send one to the Improper Use of Magic Office and one to Magical Accidents and Catastrophes."
When Fred returned from the Ministry, where he'd applied for an authorized Portkey, he found that George and Lee had gone and tied Pig up to the fireplace. "Hey, I thought you two were going to put him in the storeroom!" Fred said.
"We were, until the Stunner wore off and he tried to flap his wings," George said irritably. "He set off a box of fireworks, but we got the flames put out."
"That's good to know," Fred said wearily. "Well, I applied for the Portkey; they said to check back at five o'clock to see if my request was approved."
"Whew," George said. "Then it should all be over soon. Well, I reckon we can reopen now."
Fred went and took down the "closed" sign; within minutes, six or seven people were in the shop.
"I told you, Mummy, it's Big Bird!"
Fred turned to look; the kid brother of the girl from earlier had returned, this time (Fred was sad to note) with his mother. "Big Bird, how… original," Fred muttered.
"It's a television character… Muggle thing," Lee explained.
"Um, you might not want to get too close," George said hastily—but unfortunately, the second Stunner wore off just then.
Pig let out a happy squawk right in the kid's face and began twittering madly, flapping around. The kid's mother screamed and grabbed her son, dragging him away and out the door.
"Okay, let's just cross that entire family off the 'potential customer' list," George said as Lee renewed the Stunning Spell.
"What the hell is that thing?" asked a curious witch.
"It's… um… it's… well, it's a very large canary, can't you tell?" George said.
"How'd you get it so large?" the witch asked.
"We… overfed it," Fred told her lamely.
"Right," the witch said, shaking her head.
A wizard in a very nice cape with a fur-trimmed hood looked at it speculatively. "How much would it go for?"
"Beg pardon?" George said, startled.
"That bird. I'd like to buy it. It would have possibilities, you know, a seven-foot-tall canary…"
Fred looked hopefully at George, who shook his head. Fred sighed. "Sorry, it's not for sale. It's our brother's owl."
"It doesn't look much like an owl to me."
"Well, see, he accidentally ingested one of these," Fred explained, gesturing to the Canary Creams.
The man looked at the Canary Creams speculatively. "All right, then. I'll take the lot."
"Sold!" George said quickly. Conscience only went so far, after all.
"You guys are so going to hell," Lee said conversationally as the man left.
"What?" George asked innocently. "It says right on the package that they're meant for humans only. We've done our civic duty."