This one-shot story started out as an entry in a recent challenge on a Harry Potter forum. While it didn't fare so well as a role-playing piece, people seemed to agree that it would be a better fit as a fan-fiction story, so here we are. A Night in Detention Her name was Hesmerelda Meriphibosheth, so she could be forgiven her insistence that everyone, even her professors, call her by her middle name, Anne. Anne was a kind girl, much kinder than most in Slytherin House. In truth, though in her fifth year now, Anne still saw herself more as a Ravenclaw than a Slytherin; the former was the House she had always wanted as a child, with half her family having been Ravenclaws. When the Sorting Hat had been on her head only ten seconds before happily exclaiming, "SLYTHERIN!" she felt as if she'd been branded with what Muggles call a "scarlet letter." What had she done wrong to be condemned to the most unsavory House at Hogwarts? Fortunately, one of her earliest friends, a fellow Slytherin boy in her year, had helped her see things differently. To him, Slytherin wasn't the "evil" House. It was a House of destiny, he had said, a place for those who would be significant to the wizarding world. She took to this boy quickly, and she considered him her best friend over the intervening five years. It was no surprise, to her or anyone else, when the boy became a Prefect this year. What was a surprise, however, was when she landed in detention one spring day. It was the first time that she'd ever been in trouble the whole time she'd been at Hogwarts. Little did she expect that it was her own Prefect and best friend who had set her up! "You!" she exclaimed, upon seeing him strolling in her direction on the grounds as dusk fell. "Don't tell me you were behind this, were you?" He merely quirks his mouth with that confident grin of his. "Not to worry. It will all work out in the end, I assure you. I have plans for tonight, you see." Anne, tucking her hands inside the sleeves of her robe, wrapped her arms around her chest to ward off the chill of the unseasonably cool evening. "I hope you know what you're doing." He gave her a piercing look. "Don't I always?" Setting his bag down, he stretched out upon the grass and directed her to do the same. "Still have another hour or so before the detention. We might as well relax while we're waiting." Anne complied but still felt grumpy. "Easy for you to relax. It's not your good name being sullied." "I never really cared much for my name, to be honest," he said. She snorted. "Try having mine, Tom! Hesmerelda Meriphibosheth. No professor ever gets it right. Even Headmaster Dippet stumbles over it." Anne looked over at him. "No, I wish I had a simple name like yours. Tom Riddle. Easy and straightforward." A faraway look came to Tom Riddle's eyes. "Easy, yes," he said after a time. "But altogether very... common. Just imagine for a moment, Anne. Do you think it'd be possible to have a name so... so magnificent that it would transcend the common? What if you could have a name held in such reverence that no one in the wizarding world would dare even speak it?" Anne shrugged. "Be a pretty useless name if no one can be bothered to call you by it, wouldn't it?" She rolled over on the grass to face him. "So who else is going to be joining us in detention tonight?" "Hagrid," he answered. "Rubeus Hagrid, a third-year." "Isn't he that tall, hairy boy from Gryffindor?" Anne couldn't help wrinkling her nose. "The same. He's also a half-giant, but I suspect you're clever enough to have figured that out on your own." "And where're we going?" she asked, unable to keep the slight trepidation out of her voice. "Why, that forest, straight ahead." "The Forbidden Forest?!" she exclaimed, bolting upright. Tom looked unconcerned. "Do try to compose yourself, Anne. I'm on pace to get twelve O.W.L.s this year. Don't you think I might just be skilled enough to protect you from a few woodland creatures?" She smiled at that. "You are brilliant, and there's no denying it. Honestly I'd sooner trust you in there than half the professors at Hogwarts!" The next hour passed quickly. In time, the professor supervising the detention, Hufflepuff Head of House Professor Bones, marched down the slope, a downtrodden Hagrid in his wake. "Everything in order here, Tom?" he asked crisply. "Are you ready, Mr. Hagrid? Miss Mephiboseth?" "It's Meriphibosheth actually, sir, but really just Anne will do." "Ye gotta understand, Professor," Hagrid blubbered. "I didn't mean nothin'. It wasn't even like that, promise!" "Off we go then," he announced as if Anne and Hagrid had said nothing. It was a cheerless trudge into the woods that gray spring night. "Please do keep up!" Professor Bones called over his shoulder after a while. "Ah, here's the place. Sato! If you would please?" At this, a centaur emerged from a thicket, covered in a mane of fiery red hair. He stiffened immediately upon entering the clearing. "There is great evil here," Sato declared, raking over each of the humans with keen, dark eyes. Anne moved instinctively away from Hagrid. "I don't know about this place, Tom," she whispered to her friend. "Even the centaurs give me the creeps!" Meanwhile Professor Bones waved a hand in dismissal. "Yes, yes, Sato. We get it. We humans are overconfident, always overstepping our bounds, we're going to get what's coming to us, so on and so forth, ad infinitum..." "Be glad that I do not subject you to centaur justice for your insolence, human!" Sato boomed. "If I may?" Tom stepped in, keeping a questioning eye on Bones until the latter nodded his permission to speak. Tom then addressed the centaur. "Sato, it speaks well of you and your people that you have extended your hospitality to us this night. We would not impose on you any further than we have, so if you will allow my friend Anne and myself leave, we have further work to do in this forest." The Prefect locked eyes with the centaur. "See, there is a mystery here to be unraveled. And I daresay it just might have something to do with this premonition of evil that you have so wisely sensed." Anne noticed Tom try--and fail--to keep from making a surreptitious glance at Hagrid when he came to the word "evil." Sato did not move. "We do not give you leave to trespass upon our realm of the forest," he declared. The smile that Tom Riddle gave him was smooth and genuine. "Not to worry. It is a part of the forest far from the centaurs' home where we intend to travel tonight." Anne saw something like alarm flicker across Hagrid's face before Tom took her arm. Off in the distance, she noticed webbing hanging from trees far ahead. Rather large webbing. "Come along now, Anne. The nest may be a long journey from here, but don't fret. You'll be safe with me." Author's note: I have in mind a possible ongoing fanfic series exploring Tom Riddle's years at Hogwarts, concurrent with the wizarding war against Gellert Grendelwald going on at that time. If I do pursue such a project, this piece would be just a small snippet from around the middle of that time-frame (and would probably be considerably reworked, in all honesty). Feedback and constructive criticisms welcome!