The group of eight young teenage witches and wizards known to their family and friends as the Pride were all sitting in the drawing room of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, London, in varying stages of boredom.
Draco Black had his head Luna Lovegood's lap, and she was running her fingers carefully through his hair. Draco's twin sister Hermione Granger-Lupin was attempting to read and drink lemonade at the same time. Their friend Neville Longbottom and their little sister Meghan Black were looking over a large book from the Black Family library.
Ron Weasley had stretched his not-inconsiderable length onto one of the couches and was probably asleep. Ginny Weasley was laying on the floor, half-in and half-out of the hallway, flicking buttons at the door of the meeting room.
But Harry Potter held the prize for being the most bored: he was just sitting there with his wand twirling idly in one hand and his dagger doing a counter-twirl in the other.
"Let's play Hell or Hex," he said finally. Most of the others in the room stirred to look at him.
Finally Ginny let loose a grin. "Sure, why not?"
They all abandoned their previous occupations with, if not enthusiasm, at least a little curiosity.
"But I was comfortable," Draco complained half-heartedly. Luna leaned over to whisper in his ear and he pinked slightly.
"What in the world is Hell or Hex?" Sirius Black asked from the doorway.
Harry looked up at his godfather. "It's a game we made up."
"I can see that," Sirius said blandly. "Does it have rules?"
"That depends. Do the rules have to make sense?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "It's like Truth or Dare, Padfoot. Except without the dare."
"It's the Gryffindorized version of Truth or Dare." Draco added, "So it's really more like Dare or Dare."
Sirius was beginning to look interested. He nudged Harry with his foot and settled into the little circle they had made. "Teach me."
"You ask someone 'Hell or Hex?', and if they say Hell then they have to do whatever dare you decide. Points if you do the dare. But the points don't matter." Meghan explained.
Draco put on a good announcer voice. "That's right, the points don't matter. Just the like the color of Malfoy's underwear. Doesn't matter a bit."
There were groans and Luna shut him up the time-honored way.
"If they pick hex you both have to have a…well more like a mini-duel. One hex each. Points to you if you block their hex and land one on them. Points to them if they block yours and land one." Neville added, a little loudly so as to break up Draco and Luna.
Ginny took up the explanation. "If you both land a hex a group of judges decides whose is better. Whosever is better gets the points. If they back out once they hear the dare they have to automatically do Hex."
Now Sirius was definitely interested. "How long have you eight been playing this?"
"Well, it's Harry's baby." Draco said. "We started playing after he got back from the Dursley's."
Harry shrugged. "I had to have something to do among the morons. Ginny, Hell or Hex?"
Ginny looked taken aback for a minute. "Hell."
"I dare you to run up and down the stairs," Harry said, grinning wolfishly.
She stood up and shrugged. "Fine."
She sat back down. "Not fine."
Harry quirked an eyebrow at her, "Are you refusing the Hell, Miss Ginevra?"
Ginny picked up the bait, "I believe I am Mr. Potter."
Draco got up and put on his best announcer voice again. "Ladies, Gentlemen, and Padfoot. I believe we have ourselves a Hexing! In one corner we have the beautiful and undefeated Ginevra "the Lynx" Weasley. In the other we have the…well, the also undefeated Harry "the Wolf" Potter." Draco lowered his voice and filled it with anticipation. "This is the first time these two have ever gone face to face. Who will win? Who will lose? Harry, can I have your Firebolt when she beats you?"
He ducked a barrage of rolled up paper and a chorus of "Boos", laughing all the while. Harry glared at him.
Hermione closed her eyes - probably to conceal rolling them - and said, "Wands ready."
Harry and Ginny pulled their wands.
They leveled their wands at their opponent.
A flash of pink light flew from Ginny's wand. A flash of blue flew from Harry's. When they both stood up it was discovered they had both been hit. This was mainly decided upon because Harry didn't normally wear a whipped cream bra with matching 60's hairdo and underwear, and Ginny wasn't bright blue.
Harry glanced at Ginny and started humming an old Muggle song they'd heard on the radio. She smacked him.
"What?" He asked her, completely deadpan, "It's not my fault he has a blue little window and everything is blue to him and himself and everybody around 'cause he ain't got nobody to listen…"
She smacked him again.
"Hmm…tough decision." Hermione went back to the group. "Team of impartial judges?"
Neville, Meghan, Luna, Draco, Ron, and Hermione huddled together for a moment of intense whispering as Harry and Ginny tried not to laugh at each other and Padfoot looked out-of-the-loop.
Finally Meghan emerged. "Speaking as a completely objective third party observer with absolutely no personal interest in the matter…Ginny wins."
Ginny whooped and punched the air while Hermione marked the points down on a chalkboard Padfoot had so thoughtfully provided. Draco grabbed her lemonade out from under her before she noticed.
"Okay, your turn to ask," she said as she settled back into the group.
Gin thought about it for a minute, then, "Luna. Hell or Hex?"
"Hell," Luna said promptly. Ginny looked crestfallen.
"Aww. I had a real good hex I wanted to use."
"Which is why I chose Hell," Luna replied.
Ginny thought for several long moments. "Can I get a two impromptu partners in planning?" She asked Hermione finally.
Hermione sent a questioning glance at Luna, who nodded. "Sure."
"Ron and Harry." The two chosen boys grouped around Ginny. After a minute or so there was a storm of laughter. Luna looked a little apprehensive. When Ginny finally pulled out of the group she looked so like the predator inside her that Luna seemed a little scared.
"I dare you, Luna, to change forms and seduce Morpheus."
Draco choked on his drink.
Ron shot a blue light upstairs and the chameleon owl flew down moments later to land on the back of a chair. He looked bored.
Ginny started snickering.
Luna heaved a great sigh and shifted. As a snowy owl she flapped her wings and landed next to him. Morpheus turned to look, interested. She batted her eyes as best she could as an owl, and moved closer, fluttering her wings. Morpheus puffed out his chest and visibly preened.
Harry was making odd choking sounds and then a second later fell apart, completely unable to control his laughter. The rest soon followed. About the time Morpheus started making hooting noises that sounded like owl pick-up lines and shuffling closer, Luna back-pedaled as much as an owl could and shifted back to land on the floor with a crash.
Afterwards a somewhat traumatized Luna stood up, grabbed Draco's hand, and started dragging him towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Ginny asked.
"To snog," Luna answered promptly, "because that was definitely traumatizing and I need to clear my mind. You are a sick, twisted little girl Ginny Weasley."
"Why, thank you."
"Be back in five minutes or we'll send Wolf after you," Hermione warned.
Luna waved a hand back in agreement. Two minutes later she stuck her head back through the door.
Suddenly Ron moaned and plunked his head down on a low table nearby. "We need her for the next dare."
Everyone groaned and waited. Hermione counted out the seconds on her watch. And then they waited. And waited. And waited.
"Oh, bloody hell! How long can they keep it up?" Meghan shrieked in frustration.
"12 minutes. That's two over." Hermione turned to Harry, a cat-and-canary look on her face. "Sic 'em, Kujo!"
Harry shifted into Wolf and opened his mouth, panting exaggeratedly. He ran out the door as a dark blur. There was silence except for the sound of his paws for several minutes as he searched until…
The dark blur shot back into the room and promptly hid behind Ginny. Seconds later Harry stood up from behind the redhead, grinning.
"Draco tastes better than his dad." He quipped.
"You bit him?" Hermione shrilled.
Harry blanked his face. "Of course not!"
An infuriated white fox slipped and skidded across the polished part of the floor and shifted into Draco, who promptly tackled Harry.
"Why did you bite him?" Luna asked as she side-stepped the pair rolling on the floor.
"Harry, you liar!" Hermione accused. Ginny was laughing too hard to comment. Padfoot had disappeared some time ago.
When the two brothers had finally called a truce (Draco had been allowed to sink his fox-teeth into Harry's ankle) and got fixed up (Meghan had to fix Harry's lip and Draco's nose), the game restarted.
"Luna, your dare," Hermione told the blonde girl. Draco leaned over to whisper something in Luna's ear, a wicked smile across his face.
Luna's eyes lit up. "Does anyone know who of the Order is downstairs?"
Ginny raised her hand like she was in class. "I do, I do!" When they all looked at her she shrugged, "What else have I got to do but spy on the Order? Moody, Tonks, Charlie, Bill, Dung, Snape -"
"Snape," Luna said, a tad evilly. "Harry, Hell or Hex?"
"Does the Hell involve Snape?" Harry asked.
"Hell." He said promptly.
"I dare you to set Snape on fire."
"Yes! Luna you come up with the greatest dares!" Harry leapt up onto the small table. Ginny punched his leg and he fell in mock pain to the floor, clutching it. She rolled her eyes.
"Just go do it, Harry!" Ginny said exasperatedly.
Harry grinned evilly and Summoned his invisibility cloak. The Pride watched from the top of the stairs as a not-quite-there bit of air made its way down (careful of the squeaking step two up from the bottom) and into the front room. There was a small flash of light, a moment of silence, and then a howl.
The patch of air whipped past them and they hurried back into the room. Like a cartoon they all stuck their heads out above each other and watched the scene unfold.
Snape came darting out of the front room. The fire that had caught on the bottom was making its way up. His normally expressionless face was twisted in humiliation as he ripped off his robe and stomped on it repeatedly, shrieking in a rather girly fashion.
They retreated into the drawing room again. Neville locked and put a silencing charm on the door. Draco very promptly kissed Luna and told her that he knew there was a reason he loved her before talking was no longer necessary. Mostly because the would-be talkers were too busy laughing their evil little hearts out.
Remus appeared silently in the door, his fire easily melting through Neville's locking charm. He surveyed the group of teenagers in front of him.
Red, flushed faces. Out of breath. Determinedly not looking at each other…
Either they had something to do with Snape's spontaneous combustion or he had just walked in on something that would have a very embarrassing explanation.
He prayed to Merlin it was the former. Finally he sighed.
"I neither know, nor care, what you're doing to entertain yourselves up here. Keep in mind, the next time, before you set fire to someone, that that person is most likely to blame the closest person with control over fire…"
"Sorry, Moony." Hermione said, then clapped her hands over her mouth.
"Hermione!" the other seven groaned in not-quite unison.
Remus just raised an eyebrow, smirked, and left.
"That was smooth, Hermione," Ron smirked, "Next time I'll just hand you the wand and you can AK us all!"
Hermione glared and swung her hand up and around to smack him hard between the shoulder blades.
Ron grinned and squirmed. "Ooh. That felt good! Do it again."
This time, she connected with the back of his head.
"Anyway," Harry said loudly, to fend off further violence, "It's my turn to dare. Hey Captain! Hell or Hex?"
Neville groaned and rolled his eyes. "Hell!"
"Sneak up into Charlie and Tonks' room and steal a pair of her underwear."
Neville smirked slightly.
"No magic," Harry added.
Neville's smirk only lessoned slightly.
"No animagus form."
Neville's smirk disappeared and his eyes widened. "She'll kill me! He'll kill me! They'll both kill me, then bring me back to clean up the mess."
"Are you refusing the dare, Captain?" Harry's smirk turned decidedly predatory and he tapped his fingers on his wand.
"No. Because I value my life and, frankly, you're better at hexing than I am."
Draco whistled the funeral march as Neville walked past him towards the door. Neville sent a kick into his shin, making him yelp satisfactorily. Then he disappeared out the door.
"Think he'll make it?" Ginny asked after a moment.
"Hopefully. Or I'm going to have a very pissed off sister." Harry answered.
Suddenly, from the vague vicinity of upstairs, there was a loud crash, a yell, a shriek, and a thud.
Meghan's glare turned murderous as she spun on her older brother. Harry squeaked, shifted into Wolf, and promptly hid behind Ginny.
The redhead twisted her torso to look at the cowering form of the black wolf taking refuge behind her.
"What're you doing back there? I'm going to be no help when she decides to kill you."
Wolves had very impressive glares, when they wanted.
Meghan went down on her knees and snapped her fingers with little "tsk" noises, like she was trying to coax out a stray pup.
"Come on out. I won't hurt you." She said gently, her face carefully neutral.
Wolf made a snorting sound that seemed to be his opinion of the truthfulness of that particular statement. Finally, cautiously, Wolf crept out from behind Ginny. Meghan grabbed a rolled up magazine and bopped him soundly on the head. Repeatedly.
"Bad Wolf. Bad, bad Wolf." She took a page out of her mother's book and said spitefully, "You do that again and I'll have you neutered!"
Wolf whined. Ginny laughed. Neville reappeared, his hair completely gone, his eyebrows bright green, and with a triumphant smile as he held up a pair of bright pink underwear.
Meghan gaped at his head. He sighed and ran his hand over the baldness.
"Tonks says it'll grow back in a few minutes. She also says the next time we play Hell or Hex to leave her underwear alone and that she wants in." He took a long moment to survey his girlfriend holding a magazine and his Alpha in wolf form. "Why is Harry, Wolf?"
"Meghan was beating him up with the magazine." Hermione answered nonchalantly.
"Ah." Neville shook his head and took his place in the circle again.
"Ron, Hell or Hex?"
Ron considered this. "Hell."
"Fleur's downstairs. Go kiss her."
The redhead boy immediately turned bright red from his neck up to his hairline. It was impossible to tell where his forehead ended and his hair began.
"Can I possibly change my answer?" He asked tentatively.
"Are you willing to do a Hexing with Harry?" Neville asked, nodding at the raven-haired boy still in Wolf form. Wolf lifted his head from his paws in interest.
"Damn." Very slowly, Ron stood up. "Just because Harry made you almost get killed by one of my brothers doesn't mean you must make me almost get killed by another. And my mum. My dad…Fred and George, probably, just for fun…"
The rest of the Pride followed quickly and quietly towards the kitchen where everyone was sitting and talking. They hung back while Ron went forward, even Hermione whose mood had steadily brightened at Ron's obvious reluctance.
Everyone held their breath as Ron tapped Fleur's shoulder, and as she turned around he dipped her theatrically and dramatically kissed her. The twins hooted and hollered and Bill looked murderousThat is, until he saw seven vibrating lumps of bodies that was all that remained of the Pride after they had collapsed in laughter. He caught on quickly as his youngest brother released his fiancée.
"Truth or Dare?" He asked sympathetically.
"Hell or Hex," Ron corrected, his ears flaming. Then he ran from the room and dashed back up the stairs.
When the rest of the Pride, having been delayed by laughing, got up to the drawing room all they saw was a rather miffed hawk perched as high as possible.
"You have to dare someone," Harry called to the hawk.
It changed back into Ron and spat out, "Hermione. Hell or Hex?"
"Good. Go propose to Moody. Make it convincing." He shifted promptly back in hawk form.
For the next several minutes the rest of the Pride was vaguely entertained by Neenie trying to desperately climb her cat-way up the bookcase Hawk was taking refuge on.
Finally Hermione shifted back. "I'm not doing it."
"Well, I'm not hexing you." Ron said as he dangled his feet from the top of the bookcase. "So - I assume - you're doing it."
Again the Pride made it's silent way (helped by Neville) down to the basement kitchen. Moody was there, having an in depth conversation with Padfoot.
Sirius Black turned at a little noise from the kitchen doorway to see Hermione, completely white, standing there. His Pack-daughter suddenly stumbled forward like someone had pushed her and there was a whispered "Do it!".
Hermione walked forward like someone awaiting their death. Indeed, someone seemed to be humming a funeral march in that odd not-there patch of air by the door. Neenie shot the air a hand signal that, while he hadn't seen it enough to make it out, he could only guess was not in the least bit flattering. Someone hissed "You first". Hermione scowled.
Sirius blanched as he remembered the reason he had stolen out of the drawing room when he could. These kids were crazy.
Hermione, half the Order in here, and a sniggering batch of "Neville-made-us-invisible" people who are probably more than half done with a game of the Gryffindorized version of Truth or Dare…
Oh. We are so going to die.
To his ultimate surprise Hermione gulped and stopped dead.
In front of Moody.
Suffice to say, the wooden-legged crazy-blue-eyed ex-Auror looked more confused than anyone.
"Professor Moody…Alastor. I have something to confess." Hermione started.
Sirius groaned and placed his head in his heads. Oh, this was not going to end up good at all.
"I just - I just can't fight these feelings anymore." Hermione said.
Moody blanched even as Sirius started to laugh helplessly into his hands. Most of the people who had seen Ron kiss Fleur had at least some idea what was going on; the rest look confused and vaguely disgusted.
"You're so roguishly handsome." Fits of laughter from the Neville-space. "And I know you must feel the same way. Alastor Moody…" Hermione paused.
Another "Do it!" was hissed.
Hermione dropped to one knee. "Will you marry me?"
The Neville-space exploded. Neville's concentration must have broke because seven teenagers nearly crying with laughter were suddenly revealed, holding onto each other for support.
Hermione, extremely red-faced, got up and hurried out of the kitchen, followed slowly by the Pride who were in varying degrees of stability.
Moody was left behind looking like he'd been slapped, dunked in water, and hit over the head with a newspaper. He turned to Sirius, for the first time both eyes focused.
"Black. That was without a doubt the strangest and most mildly disgusting thing I've ever experienced. Were it not the fact I've known you for years, I would immediately question the sanity of your children. However, I have to say. The girl's got guts."
Sirius couldn't answer. He was laughing too hard.
Back in the drawing room, Hermione was picking her victim. Her only choices were her twin or her sister. Who to choose, who to choose…
"Draco…" Hermione said finally.
"Yes, O' Darling and Wonderful twin of mine?" Draco simpered.
"Flattery will get you nowhere. Hell or Hex?"
"I dare you to climb the big tree in the back all the way to the top and hang your boxers at the top like a flag."
Draco actually looked a little relieved. "That's it?" He immediately winced as Hermione smirked evilly. Of course that wasn't it!
"No. You have to make the climb in your boxers." She finished.
"But that would mean I would be…" He trailed off.
Minutes later found the Pride standing beneath the large oak tree outside. Hermione had an extremely smug look on her face.
Reluctantly the pale-blonde boy stripped off his robes, his sneakers and socks, his shirt, and finally his trousers. Someone wolf-whistled. Others beat-boxed music with their hands. Draco just threw an ugly glare at them.
Finally he was clad in nothing but green boxers with round and yellow smiley faces on them. Neville (whose hair had finally grown back and whose eyebrows had returned to normal color) closed his eyes for a moment and muttered "I will not ask, I will not ask…"
Draco just focused his general glare on Neville and then turned to survey the best way to climb. Hermione gave him a bit of rope to secure the boxers up at the top and a small nudge.
"Get to climbing, Draco-dear." She said sweetly.
Draco walked himself up to the first branch and from then on it was rather easy scaling. When he got to the highest branch he could reach he steadied himself against the trunk and took off his boxers. More wolf-whistles.
He looped the rope through the hole in them and then tied them to the branch. The wind caught them and unfurled them in all their green-yellow-smiley-face glory.
The climb down was significantly more difficult. He leapt lightly to the bottom and immediately scrambled to put his trousers on. Frankly he was amazed his clothes were even still there, considering who he was dealing with.
"You know, Fox, sometimes it's good to keep a little mystery. Don't give it all away on the first date." Harry quipped.
Now fully clothed (sans underwear), Draco tackled him. A moment of good-natured scuffling later and they were headed back to the drawing room.
As they all arranged themselves again, both Meghan and Draco were shifting uncomfortably.
Draco for obviously different reasons than Meghan.
"Meg, Hell or Hex?" Draco asked finally.
"Was that really a question?" She asked back.
"Yes. Answer it."
"Alright. Go down to the kitchen…" Even before he finished, Meg groaned. "Jump up on the table, and start singing that Muggle song you, Gin, and Neenie just had to sing when we first got here. Do it now."
Meghan (Neville-invisibled Pride following her) walked with her back straight and her head held high. Everyone in the kitchen turned to look, fully bracing themselves.
Meg climbed onto the table as primly as if she were climbing stairs. Very abruptly she began to dance around ridiculously.
"My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they're like 'It's better than yours'…"
When they did finally make it back to the drawing room everyone was too tired from laughing for the last hour to do anything besides resume the positions they had once been in. They just sprawled, exhausted.
Ginny expressed their mutual opinion of the game in one, short, well-worded sentence.
"We need a new hobby."
THE END! The characters belong to JKR and Anne, respectively. Also the little snippets of songs (they're not really lyrics) are from "Milkshake" and "I'm Blue". And we're just running on the assumption here that they have all completed their Animagus transformations. (Not again with the -ations!)