Disclaimer: Someone pointed out that the original Dragonlance chronicles were also by Tracy Hickman. On the other hand, the foreword to Soulforge says Margaret made it clear that Raistlin was hers alone... although Terry Phillips was the one to play him. So, Raistlin is owned by... someone... not me... and Harry Potter of course belongs to JK Rowling.
Chapter 12: The Plan
Gryffindor tower was filled with the happy laughter of children, the clink of butterbeer bottles, and the occasional chant of "RAV-EN-CLAW! RAV-EN-CLAW!". Slytherin had lost, 210 to 70, and it seemed this was cause for celebration. In truth, it was a rare for a week to pass in which the Gryffindor's didn't find some excuse for a party. And so, the common room was filled once more with happiness and light.
At least, most of the room was.
There was one seat, near to the fire, that no one stood too close to. Within it lounged a small figure, an ordinary child, plain black robes bordered in Gryffindor scarlet, absorbed in his reading. And yet, whenever someone happened to glance his way, their smile faltered. Then they shifted their gaze, and laughter blared out again, harsh and jarring against the soft crackle of the flames.
Raistlin was used to this. Casually closing his book, he placed it on the table beside him and picked up another from the pile there, paging through it in search of some particular reference. He had long since grown used to ignoring the casual antics of his housemates, and it never occurred to him that someone might disturb his reading.
He counted without a certain Gryffindor second year, a large, wiry-haired youth who exemplified the Gryffindor ideal. That is to say, he was thoughtless, arrogant, and inclined to solve his problems through brute force and ignorance.
"'Ere mates, let's see what the bookworm is reading!" he called out, grabbing a book from the loose pile on the table. To his great misfortune, the book he grabbed was one of Raistlin's personal spellbooks – a spellbook, moreover, on which he had been practising the fine art of enchanting.
Raistlin barely noticed when the book was taken. The boy's screams, however, attracted his attention. Still, he finished reading the paragraph he was on, before delicately putting the book aside and looking up into the suddenly motionless room. In from of him, the boy lay on the floor, writhing in agony and grasping his wrist, as thin lines of purest white slowly crept up his arm.
With a flick of his wand, Raistlin sent out a wave of magic to muffle the boys cries of pain. Around them, the other students had formed a circle, staring in horror. "Well?" Raistlin asked, then sighed, and pointed to someone at random. "You! Take him to the infirmary."
"What? But it was your book-" the boy started to protest, before Raistlin cut him off. "Precisely. I have reading to do." Then, more sympathetically, "Look at the poor child. He's clearly in terrible pain. Don't you want to help him?"
"Well, of course, I mean-" the boy started, before Raistlin interrupted again. "Do you WANT him to suffer?"
"No, but, -"
"That's terrible!" Raistlin said, "You know for that, I really think you owe it to him to at least walk with him to see madam Pomfrey."
Seeing no help in the faces around him, the child Raistlin had indicated edged forward and helped the boy on the floor – now crying softly to himself – make his way out of the common room. Raistlin picked up his spellbook and replaced it on the table. Retrieving the book he had previously set aside, Raistlin resumed his reading, only glancing up long enough to say, clearly and precisely, "Don't touch my books".
The happiness and laughter of the party had been replaced with muted whispers and dark, sidelong glances, the atmosphere changed from celebration to wariness, and in a chair by the fire, his nose in a book, a young boy slowly smiled.
Time passed, as time does, and the days drifted into weeks as the first month of the new year slid by. Raistlin was enjoying himself. He was widely feared by his fellow students, while the teachers saw him as a prodigy. Although constrained by the lack of energy available in his still immature body, he had more than enough skill to make up for it, and even the seventh years were wary of him. Unfortunately for Raistlin, this tranquil existence was not to last.
The day began like any other. Raistlin strolled into the great hall for breakfast, his mind as usual fixed on some problem of magic, and took his seat at the table. This was not unusual. He glanced up, at the head table, simply to see who was and was not there. This, also, was not unusual.
Raistlin noted the presence of Sybil Trelawney, the divinations teacher, who rarely attended meals in the great hall. Still, she did appear from time to time, so this, also, was not unusual. Raistlin's eyes briefly met her. Suddenly, she jerked upright, standing ramrod straight, and her voice echoed through the hall like the tolling of a great and terrible bell. "The darkness rises. Master of past and present-" she was able to say, before Dumbledore leapt to his feet, dashed across the intervening space to wrap her in his arms, and they both disappeared in a flash of fire.
This was unusual.
The students chattered among themselves excitedly, discussing what had happened as they ate their breakfast. Raistlin did not. He sat, motionless and pale, all thought of food forgotten. Someone knew far too much; it was clear he would have to accelerate his plans, or risk interference from Dumbledore.
That evening, Draco Malfoy walked, alone, to the second highest room of the second tallest tower (the highest room of the tallest tower being the obvious place to hide a clandestine meeting, and therefore typically crowded). The dim light of the moon the only illumination, as he slowly pushed the door open. Sliding through, he suddenly felt himself pinned roughly against the wall, his wand flashing through the air to be neatly caught by Raistlin.
"Draco Malfoy", Raistlin hissed sibilantly, "it is time to declare your loyalty."
Draco's heart was pounding in his chest, his senses clouded by fear. Was this it? Did he know he was a spy? Was he really the Dark Lord?
Raistlin's eyes narrowed, as if he could read his thoughts. "Of course I know." he hissed, "I don't care. I don't have time for these games any more. Dumbledore knows too much. So, you are going to take your wand, and you are going to swear to serve me and only me for all the days of your life."
Draco would have shaken, if he had been free to do so. He knew such a vow was not to be taken lightly. "Or?" he managed to ask, his mouth dry, "I-if I don't?"
Raistlin's eyes flashed, the pale light giving them an ethereal quality. Slowly he glided forward, gently placing the tips of his fingers against Draco's chest.
Draco glanced down at Raistlin's hand, corpselike in the chill moonlight, but still undeniably a child's hand. His brief curiosity was interrupted by a tremendous jolt of energy running through him, followed by a excruciating agony. It radiated out from his chest, as if Raistlin's fingers were points of ice in a raging inferno. Draco felt as if he was adrift in an ocean of pain, no sight nor sound nor sensation penetrating his thought, only agony. The pain permeated his being, surrounding him, until his whole world was fire, until there was nothing left but an endless, eternal torment.
All at once, the pain ended. He became aware of a scream, abruptly cut off. His scream, he realized. His breath coming in ragged pants, Draco felt the world falling back into place. Slowly, his vision returned, and he looked up, into – he had no doubts of it now – the cold, hard gaze of the Dark Lord himself.
"I need you, Draco," that soft voice whispered, "and I need your father."
Draco stared up at him, transfixed by his gaze.
It seemed this was not the answer Raistlin was looking for.
The screams began again.
Fred and George were busy. Since they were in a transfiguration lesson, this was to be expected; as it happened, in this instance, what they were busy with was even transfiguration, if not the precise transfiguration they were supposed to be working on. "...see, we need to make them resistant to vanishing..." one of the twins muttered to the other, before being interrupted by a harsh "Fred! George!" from the professor. "Well? Are you going to answer the question, or will that be another detention for the infamous Gryffindor duo?"
Luckily for the twins, who had no idea what they had just been asked, they were saved by a knock at the door, which swung open to reveal a nervous Harry Potter in the doorway.
"Er, Professor McGonagall?"
"Yes, Harry, what is it? You are interrupting my lesson."
"I'm sorry, but Professor Flitwick asked me to get Fred and George right away, he said it couldn't wait, something about a prank gone wrong..."
Professor McGonagall sighed. "5 points from Gryffindor for not paying attention. Go and see what Flitwick wants, I trust he will assign you an appropriate punishment for whatever it is."
Fred and George glanced at each other as they left, silently asking whether the other had done anything to warrant being called out of class.
Raistlin led them, not to Professor Flitwick's, but rather to an unoccupied classroom. He quickly put up a series of privacy wards, before turning to the twins. "As you can guess, Flitwick didn't send me. I need your help. Think of this, as the biggest prank you have ever done – so big, before I explain the plan, I'm going to need a magical vow from both of you not to speak of it to anyone else. Now, are you in?"
The twins looked at each other. There was obviously more going on here he was saying, and they really shouldn't just agree to something like that. Still, it wouldn't hurt to hear what he had to say...
With identical grins, the twins drew their wands and swore not to tell anyone of their plans, and Raistlin began to explain what he wanted.
"As you know, next weekend is the quidditch match between Hufflepuff and Gryuffindor. If we're going to win the house cup, we need to win this match, so here's what I need you to do..."
"Ron is looking awfully lonely over there, playing chess with himself. Why is that, do you think?"
"Well, he's kind of a -"
"Neville." Raistlin interrupted, "Your good friend Ron over there is looking lonely."
"What?" Neville said, surprised, "Ron's not my friend! Have you seen how he eats?"
Raistlin sighed. "Neville. He is your friend. Your very close friend. Your friend, whom you talk with. Whom you spend time with. Who you have plans with, this saturday."
"Oh!" Neville said, his face brightening with understanding, "that friend. Right, I better go talk with him."
"Ok" Hermione said, sitting next to Raistlin and piling food on her plate. "Susan said she'll do it, but you owe her big for this. Why is Neville sitting next to Ron?"
"She need have no fear, I always pay my debts" Raistlin said, "and Neville is sitting next to Ron because they are friends."
"Seriously? The boy's an idiot. He can do better then that."
"Now now," Raistlin said, "let us not malign our soon-to-be mutual friend."
"Oooh-kay" Hermione said, before pushing the question aside. Raistlin never answered them anyway. "So, this have something to do with the big you-know-what?"
"Indeed. I still have to do something about Quirrell. But, this is not the place to discuss such things. We have two days remaining."
A dim green light shone from a small stone in the centre of the room, largely occluded by the small form of a boy standing behind it. Around him stood a circle of eight figures, seven in black robes trimmed with green, one with blue.
The figure at the head of the circle, directly facing the boy in the centre, spoke. "Next meeting isn't for two weeks. This had better be good."
His voice muffled by the usual distortion charm, the sigh came out as more of a dry rasp, and the figure spoke softly, tiredly. "He's back." The silence was deafening.
"What do you mean, he's back? Who's back?" the boy at the head of the circle asked.
"The Dark Lord. Harry Potter is obviously being possessed by him, you just have to look in his eyes to see it. We have to do something, I'm sure he won't stay in the school long – I don't even know why he's here now – but we need to show him we're on his side!"
There was much shuffling of feet and sidelong glances between the members of the circle. "We don't know it's him," one of them finally said. "He could just be Dark, and you know what HE would say if he came back and found we had given our loyalty to someone else."
"Besides" another shadow commented, "it would be a risk, showing ourselves now. We've done alright without him so far, we can afford to wait a little longer."
"Have you reported this to Taipan?" the blue-trimmed figure asked.
"No," the boy in the centre replied, "I'm not convinced Taipan is still loyal. Besides, he doesn't head the circle. Runespoor? You know what he does to traitors."
"Yes, yes, of course, you're right." muttered the rough voice of the boy called Runespoor. Then, more strongly, "Still, we don't have any real proof, do we? I'm sure Taipan would tell us if he was really back, and until then, well, no reason to go breaking the circle, is there?"
"By-law 13, subsection 8 states that we must inform Taipan immediately of any suspicions regarding the status or location of the Dark Lord." the blue-trimmed figure interjected.
"Hold on," another shadow said, "Before we go getting up in arms about it, let's take a vote. Who here agrees that we have a suspicion about the location of the Dark Lord?"
Two hands were raised, from among the eight in the outer circle, as well as the boy in the middle.
"Right then, it's decided. Krait, I think you're getting too close, but we don't have anyone else in good position to take over. You'll need to stay near him, find out what he's planning, and if you do find any evidence, we'll consider it. Understood?"
Slowly, Krait nodded. "I'll do it. I know he's got something big planned for this weekend, and that gives us an opportunity. Here's what I know..."