You are viewing a story from

Nakuru Batik by Brenhden

Format: Short story
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 6,105
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Mystery
Characters: Slughorn, Arthur, Pansy, OC
Pairings: Draco/OC

First Published: 01/13/2009
Last Chapter: 03/18/2009
Last Updated: 03/18/2009

Arthur Weasely must unlock a cursed painting which is stealing wizards power. He travels to the Rift Valley to find the witch who created it.

Chapter 1: Treat me fair
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Out of the main door, turn right, after three blocks turn right again past the muggle tailors and general store, then, on the left there is a tight alley of market stalls, at the back is a stall owned by a young witch called Joanne who has some very interesting articles.

James Parkinson was a tall, muscular, arrogant man who sooner bully people than make friends with them. His love of power had drawn him to the periphery of the dark arts but his lack of connections had prevented him from gaining much influence. He had trained as an Auror but never qualified and wouldn't want the job now anyway. He was in Kenya looking for new manufacturers who could make good quality cauldrons for a less money than his current suppliers.

Anyone could visit Kenya and return with a carved monkey that shelled nuts, or an Elephant with a raised leg which darned any sock put on it but for that extra something Joanne was who you had to see. James Parkinson wanted something for the house with a story to it, something you could impress friends with. Something little Pansy would ooh at and could tell her friends about too, maybe the Brat Draco would tell Lucius and this could get him an invite to dinner. This meant something dark, this meant Joanne's in the market.

The concierge had given James the directions (whilst eyeing him with fear and suspicion) but what he hadn't mentioned was the crazy hustle bustle of the streets, the three hundred yards of street between the hotel and the market turned out to take almost twenty minutes. James had twice had to curse pushy street hawkers with his wand tucked under his sweaty muggle jumper. No wonder the place smelled so bad, he thought, everyone wore long sleeves and trousers even though it was thirty degrees.

Once inside the market things calmed down a bit. It wasn't hidden like Diagon Alley where only the wizarding world could go, or his own family pile that was unmappable, but it was clear that muggles avoided the place unless absolutely necessary. The first few stalls were apothecaries with strange ingredients hanging down and bubbling cauldrons out front. James could see peasant muggles going in and out and he sneered to himself, why should they get the benefit of our medicine? Wealthier muggles visited their clinics with white coated doctors but the majority of Kenyans had little money so visited Witch Doctors and paid with whatever they had. James had no interest in what he considered to be dirty underlings and stalked off over the dirt to the end of the row where the stalls were a little less ragged and the sellers a little less hag like.

After wandering up and down for a few minutes James stopped and asked a friendly looking local who reminded him of a man called Kingsley he had started at the ministry on the same day as. The man laughed deeply when asked where Joanne's stall was and before James could show his offence at his impudence the man turned and pointed behind him to gap between a soapstone stall and a large unlit bonfire.

Hot, irritable and uncomfortable James passed between and saw the shabbiest and smallest stall yet, just four poles with a sackcloth sheet thrown over it with a pictogram and the words Luhya Balosi daubed at the front. Sweet smelling smoke was wisping out of the entrance which was just a rip in the fabric, James squared his broad shoulders went in.

It was smoky and dark inside, with the sweet scent of pineapple, it took a moment for James' eyes to adjust and when he did he gasped, he had walked into a large low tent filled with colourful silk drapes and cushions. Annoyed at himself for being impressed by the fact the inside was bigger than the outside, he walked across the tent looking at the ornaments on a long low wicker table at one side. There were orchids in a vase, three small golden lions and two wooden masks. James picked one of the Lions up and inspected it, it was detailed, heavy enough to be gold and small enough to slip in his pocket so he did.

There was a rustle in the corner and a Kenyan Girl appeared, she was dressed like a muggle in Jeans and a shirt and looked quite out of place in the Arabian styled tent but when she spoke in her high pitched and slightly maniacal voice there was no doubt who she was:

'So James Parkinson of Nympsfield way
You have travelled far to see me today
I am Joanne but known to many
as daughter of Mutonyi wa Nabukelembe
You want a show piece of gruesome glory
So you can brag and gloat and tell your story
a curséd item of darkest black
To impress your friends when you get back.'

'Actually, yes. I suppose you know the man who told me you were here.' James blustered, wondering if he had been tricked into walking down here. 'I not afraid of any of this Joanne, I was trained to be an Auror and can protect myself against anything Nakuru can throw at me.' James' temper was rising like it always did when he felt like he wasn't in control.

'There is nothing to fear Mr Parkinson,
in a few minutes time you will back in the sun,
if you treat me fair we will do a good deal,
but bad things will come if you cheat or steal,
here are my wares for you to peruse
most are my clan's, the proud Batilus
Some of them new but most of them old
Which do you want to exchange for your gold.'

And with that she reached into her jeans, pulled out a very short, thick wand and with a flourish a large table appeared, the legs were curved outward like elephant tusks and the surface was one large smooth piece of amber. On the table were several shoe box sized, acacia wood chests each with a different symbol above the lid. Joanne gestured James to sit on one of the bigger cushions and with another swish of her wand the first box opened wide and a odd looking harp rose out and rotated in mid air.

'This, Mr Parkinson, was my Father's Litungu,
it may not be pretty but does it impress you?
Each note that you play will beguile and please,
And what you want from others you will get with ease.'

A second later it dropped back into the chest and with a click the lid shut. The next chest opened, a long grey spiral horn accelerated out of the chest straight up.

'If bangs and destruction are what you require,
then this might be better than my fathers old lyre,
dangerous it may be but pretty in form,
be careful when touching the Erumpent horn.'

Like the Lyre the horn dropped back into its chest and James now recognised that the symbol on the front was an animal similar to a Rhino. The next chest had a scroll on it. And when it popped open a parchment unrolled from it showing an orange and black striped three headed snake.

'Perhaps protection you need from all magical beasts
Or to know what to hunt just before a great feast
This painting will show what monster is near
I present for inspection the Batik Nyeri.'

Now this was interesting, James looked round to attract the young witches attention but she had vanished. When he looked back the painting had gone and the final box had opened, slowly the small naked man only 18 inches tall climbed out he was a gruff looking figure who looked as if he had been carved from ebony.

'Finally we see turned to Blackwood and burned,
Our disgraced tribal leader with a fate he has earned,
Cursed into slavery by an old witch I know,
Our last item for sale was the last Nabungo.'

And with that he climbed back into box and it slammed showing a picture of a tree with a noose hanging from a low branch. A second later a tray of tea floated into the room and approached James, when it arrived at his side a head appeared from below which clearly belonged to a house elf.

'Greetings Mr Parkinson Sir', the Elf said whilst pouring tea and hot milk into a mug, he was dressed in a deep red horizontally striped tunic which came down to his knees.

'You have clothes on', James blurted out.

'Yes, Mr Parkinson Sir, not all cultures insist on enslaving there elves, I am Kuku, I am Joanne's assistant.'

'Whatever. Is she coming back?'

'You can conclude you business with me Sir, which of those items would like to purchase?'

'Well the Litungu was a dreadful looking thing although its affect sounded useful. I think, though, once word had spread about its power I wouldn't see many guests or business associates at the front gate. Its a shame really as its practically the imperious curse but I wouldn't have cast it.'

'The Erumpent horn is nice to look at but with kids in the house I would worry about it.' I do know people who might be interested in it though.

'You have children Sir.'

'Only one.' Said James, wondering why he was talking to someone else's house elf.
'Tell me, was that a Runespoor in the Batik? I thought they only lived in Burkina Faso.'

'It was and they do Sir, but one of the Apothecaries in the market keeps one for its eggs.' said Kuku.

'I suppose they are quite valuable.'

'Ah, she doesn't sell them sir, she keeps them for herself, she has never been a good potion maker and the eggs help her concentrate sir.'

'Well that is interesting to know... That settles it I will take the Batik. That shrunken fool is of no interest to me as I already have a house elf.' Kuku looked up at that but James in his arrogance showed no sign of shame. 'What do you want for it? Does it come in the box?'

'No Sir,' Kuku stared at him trying not to show his annoyance, 'I'm afraid those boxes have been attached to that table for 400 hundred years, Sir. I will wrap it and put it in a carry tube for you. It will be 200 galleons.'

James cocked an eyebrow, 'We may be richer in England than you are in Kenya bit if you think I'm paying that...'

They eventually settled on 220 galleons. Kuku went over to the long side table and installed the Batik into an old leather tube with a shoulder strap and James got up to leave.

'Do you remember my mistresses warning Sir?' asked the elf?

'Yes something along the lines of “Bad things if I cheat”

“Or steal, Sir.” Finished the elf.

“Well, so what?' The elf and the man held eye contact for a moment before James turned towards the door and left without another word.

Chapter 2: Let's see what it can see.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Whilst James was a little unnerved by his shopping trip he wasn't the sort of man to show it. He stomped back to his hotel and, as it was clear by the look on his face that he was in no mood for business, he received relatively little hassle on the way back. The hotel was a grand affair with bell hops and a concierge at the front, a large atrium and a glass roof in the centre and floors six and seven reserved for the wizarding world at the top. He tapped impatiently on the marble reception counter.

'About time, prepare a portkey for the ministry in London, I'm sick of this place.' He snapped.

The plump lady behind the counter smiled and spoke quietly with a strongly accented singsong voice. 'Please sir, there are muggles nearby, we would not want them to overhear.'

James deflated a little, the cool marble under his hand was calming him, 'look... sorry, Chebet isn't it, yes I forgot about them, my business is completed here so I would like to check out, please arrange my transport as soon as possible'.

'Certainly sir, please sign here.' Chebet proffered a parchment receipt, James signed it and passed it back. Chebet then licked a large red stamp with a zebra on it, put it on top of James' signature, the words J. Parkinson magically appeared on the stamp in gold and looked as though it had always been there. 'Thank you sir, I will send a bell boy up with it in 5 minutes.'

Kuku inspected the table looking for the missing golden lion, it wasn't there, he checked behind the flowers and under the masks. When his mistress came back in a few minutes later Kuku gave her the money and told her Mr Parkinson had taken a golden Lion, Joanne walked across to the table and inspected the gap.

'So James took one of the three soul parts,
Not the brain of my father nor the heart,
He took the patronus, the magical core,
Without a thought of my warning, straight out the door.'

With that she walked out after him, Kuku scurried along behind, half hoping they would find the man stood out there so he could watch James get his comeuppance. Through the opening and Kuku nearly walked straight into the back of his mistress, she was scowling and looking at the sky, her tiny wand in her hand.

'What you take must you pay for, what you sow shall you reap,
I will take all your power, for so long as you keep,
The Leo patronus of Mutonyi the Seer,
And you'll leave something for me in Batik Nyeri'

And with a crack of Joanne's wand the bonfire in front of the tent burst into life, 'Bukundu bwenya beene .' She muttered up at the sky, and suddenly the red flames of the fire moved like a mane in the wind, ''INGOKHO YIYECHELA MUNWA' this she had screamed and two white eye-like lights were suddenly in the heart of the blaze. There was a deafening roar that seemed to come from every direction at once and then all was still. The fire that was so menacing a second ago now looked like a jolly bar-b-que.

'What have you done, my mistress?' Kuku asked as the witch as she panted.

'Oufwa afwa lulwe' She retorted turning back towards the tent.

'Everyone dies of his own disease? Poor fool. I suppose its time for dinner mistress, will Nyama choma and Ugali be OK?' but he was talking to himself.

A little later James clambered out of the fire place in his own front room. It was an Inglenook and his Tudor house in the village of Owlpen was a welcome relief. As it was July there was the quick patter of feet and a second later Pansy was hugging him, it felt as if she had grown again. 'You're home early Daddy!' she said squeezing him. 'Have you brought me something?' James had noticed that since Pansy turned ten a few months ago she had begun thinking like her mother.

'Hello Pan, where's your mother, is that lamb I can smell? PHAEDRA, are you here?' James walked into the hallway dragging Pansy along with him.  A tall, slender Mediterranean woman came out of the dining room,  her long, black hair shone and complimented the flowing, green silk dress she wore.

'James, so good you are back' she purred kissing him on the cheek, 'and in time for dinner.  We have guests.'

'Anyone special?' James couldn't help but feel a little disappointed.  He had been looking forward to some time alone.

'One of my cousins Dionysius Belby and his son Marcus. They are in the dining room.' Phaedra turned to the kitchen to the left, 'Oenone?'. The door slowly opened revealing a wrinkly, grey haired house elf dressed in an old piece of tasseled velvet curtain, tied at the waist with a matching pull chord.

'Yes, Mistress Parkinson' She squeaked looking up whilst keeping her head facing the floor.

'Your master is home, set his place at the table at once.' Phaedra snapped and looked back to her husband. 'Now clean yourself up dear, we will eat in a few minutes'.  Turning on her heal she strode back into the dining room. James knelt down so he was face to face with his daughter.

'I've got you this,' he whispered reaching into his pocket and taking out the golden Lion.

'I knew you would get me something, Daddy' She said, she snatched the Lion out of his hand and inspected it gladly. 'Is it magical? What does it do?'

'It came from a famous witch in Kenya, you'll have to work out what it does yourself as she didn't tell me. Now, put in your room and go and sit with our guests, I'll be in a moment.'

James quickly washed, found some pressed black robes and, picking up the leather tube up as he left, strolled into the dining room. The dimly candlelit room had paneled walls which, although jinxed as directed by Gilderoy Lockhart's Guide to Household Pests, were still suffering wood worm. The Ancient cracked oak table was laid with the best family silver  the centerpiece of which was an ornate soup tureen that Phaedra was serving from. James sat at the head of the table and accepted his soup.

'Of course one thing a House Elf cannot do is serve food', she was saying to Dionysius, 'The last thing anyone would want is an Elf stood on the table.'

'I suppose,'  Dionysius was a overly tall, dark haired man with flared nostrils and a pot belly, he always sounded put out when he spoke, regardless of the topic. 'Thank you for the invitation, James; Phaedra,' he nodded to both of them, 'I hear you have been on your travels again.'

'Yes, Africa this time, its interesting but unpleasant.' James was still annoyed at having to share his home with near strangers after being away but at the same time looking forward to showing off his new purchase, 'Business was good and, of course, you do get access to things that tourists miss out on.'

'Are you talking about the case you brought in, is it some sort of telescope?' Clearly  Dionysius was the only one who had spotted it as bot the children and Phaedra looked around as he said it.

'You will see after we've eaten.' James spent the meal wondering who he would receive dinner invites from once word had spread of his excellent painting. Certainly Damocles Belby would find out and he was a most promising and respected potioneer, with influence in the ministry.  There was little conversation over the roast pork diner, the children had both been brought up in strict houses so were quiet and didn't fidget. Dionysius was an uninteresting guest whose only topic was his son's first year at school.

'We were most disappointed when we heard he had only made it into Ravenclaw.' He said. At this Marcus turned pink and stared at his plate.

'Little Pansy will be starting in a few weeks.' Phaedra enthused. 'What house will you be in, do you think?'

She had aimed the question at her daughter but James cut across, 'Slytherin of course, won't you Pansy.' He said smugly. 'All us Parkinsons have been since William Perkynsone in the the thirteen nineties.'

'Did he build this... ' Dionysius looked round searching for a word, with a look of distaste on his face, 'Pile?' It was one thing for him to be disappointed in his son, but quite another for James to infer Pansy's superiority over Marcus.

'No, William Perkynsone lived from Warwickshire and besides this house is clearly Tudor so you are wrong by at least one hundred years.' James was enjoying the discomfort he could see in his guests. 

The dessert of forest fruits and biscuits was served and eaten in near silence with Phaedra the only one trying to exchange family news with her cousion. All the same there was a feeling of anticipation and all at the table were surreptitiously glancing around wondering when the unveiling of whatever the tube held would happen.

'Well then,' said James after the coffee. 'I am sure you are all wondering what delights I have in here.' holding up the box he pulled his wand out 'Expecto Replum.' A glass fronted, carved picture frame appeared on the wall behind him and swung open. It was currently empty. James stood, turned his back to the table and walked to the frame opening the clasp and flap at the top of the tube as he went.

'What is it Daddy, a painting?' Squeaked Pansy.

'A very special one, dear, its called the Nyeri Batik and I have never seen one like it. All gather round.'

'Wax painting? You are making a bit of a fuss of that James.' Chimed Dionysius getting up with the others. 'I've a framed piece of tattooed Rhino skin in my den at home. Far better than any peasant art.' 

James stood back having attached it to the frame and closed its glass front. 'There, now let's see what it can see.' They all peered closely.

'And what do you mean by that exactly?' Dionysius sounded indignant, as if he was worried the painting might reveal something he was keeping a secret.

'Well James?' Phaedra sounded intrigued, 'What have brought home this...' But then a loud roar rushed through the house and a hot moist gust of air blew all the candles in the room out.  Pansy screamed and Marcus whimpered.

'Th-there was no need for that.' Stammered Dionysius, 'Lumos' he muttered but his hastily retrieved wand did nothing, 'LUMOS! Well what the hell's going on here? If you've broken my wand James...'

'L-l-l-umos', this time it was Marcus and I little dim light peeked out of the end of his wand.

'OENONE', yelled James, trying to maintain his cool whilst being completely shaken, 'Get in here and light these candles.' He smoothed his hair and looked up at the worried crowd. 'Wasn't expecting that I must say, and I've done nothing to your wand either.'

The door opened and they heard Oenone, scampering in, a small cracking sound and all the candles came back to life.

'So what do we see? James felt some of his bluff composure come back and they all once again looked at the painting.  Inside it were three creatures, a Minotaur, a Black Sea bird and a Fox, they were on a background which looked just as if the painting was a window looking into the garden.

'And what, James, do they indicate?' Dionysius could tell that James was not the cocksure man he was a few moments ago.

'Well, in Kenya the painting showed the nearest magical creature, but these...'

'If you expect me to believe for one second that there is a minotaur within a thousand miles, or a thousand years for that matter, of this house, you are sadly mistaken. Marcus, it is time you were in bed so we should head home.' He turned to Phaedra,' Thank you for a lovely meal dear cousin, I wonder if Oenone could arrange your floo for us?'

'Yes of course Dion. Its been lovely to see you and Marcus. You must come again.'

'Of course I will maybe the next time James returns home, I look forward to inspecting whatever over priced junk he picks up in the future. So long James.'

James offered his farewells through gritted teeth and with clenched fists. After the guests had gone and the table was cleared James stoked the fire, pulled up a chair and sat it in front of the painting. The Bird looked very familiar to him, when he was training to be an Auror he had had tried to master Patronus Charm with some success he was sure the bird was the Parkinson's Petrel Patronus. His favorite relative, whom James had been named after, had discovered it whilst travelling.  James pulled out his wand and tried to summon his patronus, after a few attempts he gave up even more frustrated and angry than before and went to bed.

Chapter 3: United in grief?
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

'Come!' Boomed Rufus Scrimgeour at the door to his mahogany office. It creaked open and Arthur Weasley entered, half curious, half nervous. His heart had jumped a little when a flustered Perkins told Arthur he was to report to the Office of the Head Auror upon arrival to work. Scrimgeour was sat behind his desk with one hand pressed palm down on each side of him, this, together with his tawny mane made him look like Lion ready to pounce and did nothing to relax Arthur.

'Sit down Arthur.' Scrimgeour opened a leather bound box and pulled a Calabash pipe out which he filled and lit with the end of his wand.

'I suppose you are wondering what why I called you here so urgently?' The head Auror was looking suspiciously at his face, Arthur supposed that after twenty years in his job Scrimgeour would be wary of anyone, he was wondering if the ministry had found out about the Ford Anglia he had improved...

'Well yes actually, I've not even had a cup of tea yet today.' Arthur hoped that Rufus would see the funny side of what he had just blurted out.

'Hmm quite, well it seems we have a bit of problem with a cursed article, an African painting, and whilst it falls somewhere between your jurisdiction and ours we are frankly too busy to look into it so we need your lot to get it fixed.' As Scrimgeour spoke he toked on his pipe and billowed the port scented smoke about the room.

'Well I'm sure I can look into it, what are the details?' Scrimgeour tossed a lilac dossier over this desk, the curled end of a scroll hanging out the bottom. Arthur sat and scanned through the contents. 'So James Parkinson...'

'Friend of your's is he?' Scrimgeour interrupted, clearly a lot more used to interrogating than chit chat.

'I wouldn't say friend, no. We were in the same year at Hogwarts, different Houses though. So he's a squib now is he?' Arthur suppressed a slightly evil smile, James had been captain of the dueling club at Hogwarts and a bully, Arthur had been on the receiving end of his spitefulness for a full two years before he had fought back.

'Well, he's in a terrible state as you can probably imagine. He was sent to St Mungo's along with his Wife and Marcus Belby but there was nothing they could do for them. Until the four patronuses are released from the painting they are all, as you say, Squibs.' Scrimgeour knocked the ash his pipe into the box it came from, replaced it and shut the lid. A small hole opened in the top of the box and, with a whistling noise like a boiling kettle, it sucked all the smoke out of the room.

'Four patronuses? You only mentioned three names.'

'Yes, three are from the people I just mentioned and the fourth belongs to an Auror called Williamson. Bit of an embarrassment really, and I would appreciate it if you didn't mention it. The fact that he blundered in there without any protective charms makes me question his suitability to the job. There could be an opening in the Auror office, if you take my meaning.' Scrimgeour gave a small nod.

'Well, I'll get right to it then.' Arthur's mind was suddenly racing, did he want to be a Auror?

The blinding sunlight scorched the scrub land all around the sedan chair but inside the silk hangings it was cool and pleasant. Joanne and Kuku were being propelled across the landscape by four Inferi (corpses that been reanimated). They had already passed though Sudan and were now somewhere in the Sahel of Chad. Kuku was gazing out of the window as bushes and Gazelles flashed past.

'We should always travel like this mistress, they run so fast and there is no bumping, we will be at the souk in no time.'

'Bukundu bwenya beene.' Joanne was dreamily staring at an identical but smaller version of the painting she had sold to James. It had the same for images: a black bird, a minotaur, a fox and an Eagle.

'Thats very funny mistress, but I don't think that is what “staying united in a time of grief” means'.

'Twenty eight years am I, yet that day was the first,
That I have thrown to a stranger, such a powerful curse,
We have not heard the last of that thief, or his sort,
They will send us a dealer, and we must be caught,
And in exchange for our cure, their's will have to help me,
Remove the Dark Lord's Curse, I have had since fifteen.'

Now it was Joannes turn to look out of the window. Kuku, who had been employed as Joannes servant since she was born knew not to talk for a few minutes so went back to watching the the scenery. He remember the day when the foreign man dressed in black had arrived at Mutonyi's camp, he had been looking for special items too.

'How did my nose end up like this?' The gruff voice issued from behind a large reinforced front door.

'Um, It was whilst you were capturing Rosier, wasn't it?' Arthur was caught out by the unexpected question. Meeting two Aurors in one day was not what he had expected when he woke up this morning, and he still hadn't managed a cup of tea.

'I suppose you'd better come in.' The door opened and Arthur stepped carefully into house, he hadn't been there before but knew Moody well enough to know not to touch anything.

'Hello Alastor, I've not heard anyone else use the old 'question at the door' routine for eleven years. Why now?'

'Haven't you heard? They're pulling every Auror in to do double shifts. Even looking for old fighters like me to come back. Seems to me Dark Magic is on the rise again, I take it you know who and what is going to Hogwarts this year?' Moody had led Arthur into a small dimly lit sitting room with a Foe glass above the fireplace and Sneakoscope on the mantle piece. The maroon velvet curtains were drawn stopping the bright summers day from coming in. He clunked across the threadbare carpet to an cheap dining table with peeling veneer and sat on one side.

'Hogwarts? Well my son Ron, who else?' Arthur sat opposite..

Moody's magic eye suddenly ceased its continuous sweeping search and swiveled up to face Arthur. 'Think about it man, who else is eleven years old this year? Harry Potter. Combine that with the recent attacks on Nicholas Flamel, did you know he's given the Philosopher's Stone to Albus for protection. Seems to me we're putting all our eggs in one basket.'

'Merlin's beard, I'm sending Ron into a potential war zone, Molly won't like that.'

'Why are you here anyway, come to spy on me? Looking for any bewitched muggle stuff I might have.' Arthur thought he could see a small smile on Moody's slashed face as he said this.

'Actually, I'm looking for advice...' Arthur quickly explained about James, the cursed painting and what Scrimgeour had said, when he finished Moody looked at him piercingly with both eyes.

'Well, you're brave enough for the job, Arthur, I've always thought so. I was surprised you weren't more involved with the order at the time. But then you had a young family I suppose and considering what happened to the Potters and the Longbottoms I can hardly blame you for that.' He considered Arthur a bit more. 'Look at my face Arthur and tell me what you see.'

Arthur stared at the ravaged face before him, even in the dim light of the room he could see the lattice work of scars, gouged nose and ripped mouth. 'I see a man who has done a lot of good in the world.'

'What rubbish, you see a man who looks like he's been eaten by a dragon. Arthur, I was one of the best Aurors we had in the first war, even if I do say so myself, and look at me. One leg, one real eye and I was lucky, a lot of us didn't make it. Its not something I would recommend rushing into. Think very carefully.'

'Thanks for the advice, I doubt I will take it up anyway, I've always been happy where I am.'

'So what are you going to do about this Batik? I spent a few years in Africa, they have some very different ways of dealing with muggles out there, they all live alongside each other out in the sticks.' A wistful look crept over the Moody's face as he thought back. 'Sometimes I wonder if its us that have it wrong.'

'You know, I been wanting to visit Africa my whole life, I mean, its one thing for European muggles to live without magic, with all their eclectrics and things, but from what I've heard of African muggles they seen to get by with nothing at all.'

'What?' Moody's own reverie was derailed by Arthur's.

'Oh nothing, I suppose I will have to visit Parkinson first though.'

They both sat thinking and talking of the tasks ahead. Moody had much advice on questioning Parkinson, the ways of Kenyan Wizards and the best way to approach someone as powerful as this Joanne clearly was.

'There is a good chance, Arthur, that this Joanne character is using the power that the Batik has taken. And what makes that so bad is that when you combine two wizards power it isn't just added together its... well, its more like its squared! With her obvious magical power and the magic from the four fools she has stolen she will be quite formidable.'

Arthur thought about this for a moment. 'Well I'm not going there to fight her Alastor, only to talk, maybe I can negotiate with her. I mean, having a powerful magical painting is not illegal in Kenya, I checked this morning, neither is selling one. Bringing one to England without having it checked at the ministry is, of course, but that was Parkinson, not her.'

'If you are heading out there to bargain with her then maybe one of these could help...' Moody limped up again and wandered over to a large Dark Brown trunk with seven key holes, fishing a key from a chain round his neck he opened the third lock from the left, the chest opened to reveal a compartmentalised tray full of seeds, amulets and all sorts of other things. He selected a grubby looking nut about the size of a nutmeg, closed the chest and locked it and then passed it over to Arthur.

'That, is Rafflesia Arnoldii heart, and yes they all smell that bad, keep it wrapped. They are very rare and have an few tricks up their sleeves. Eat it just before you meet Joanne and you will both be on an equal footing.' Moody would say no more on the subject and after a few more tips about Africa Arthur left.

Arthur apparated just outside his garden gate stood staring at the Burrow for a few seconds. He needed to think of a way to explain todays events to Molly without making her anxious about what he would be doing tomorrow, he mentally rotated the facts and arranged them to look harmless. Yes, Arthur was off to deal with a witch who had cost an Auror his magic, but wasn't it funny that Parkinson was a squib. They were pulling Aurors in to deal with a big problem but wasn't it lovely that Ron would be studying with Harry Potter. With all this in his head Arthur wandered into the house.

It didn't work. Molly saw straight threw all the good bits and was distressed, to say the least, about four of her children and her husband walking into dark wizard traps. The following morning when Arthur left Molly via the fireplace in the kitchen there was an atmosphere of fear and anger which seemed to permeate ever the jolly dappled sunlight playing through the summer window.