Harry leaned heavily against the cold stone wall, his eyes stinging and his arm aching from the falling debris of the cave in. He was trapped, but even in the complete blackness he had to keep quiet and he placed a hand over his mouth to stifle his coughs against the chocking dust.
There was someone else in the blocked off tunnel with him, besides the woman who was now clinging painfully to his legs, and as the rumbling ceased Harry could make out the laboured breathing and the slow methodical approach of the man who'd chased them down here.
With no wand and no means of escape, Harry reached for the nearest and most jagged rock he could find and he held his breath as he waited.
A few days earlier...
The unmistakable shuffle of carpet slippers and the jingle of a laden tea tray heralded the arrival of as Mrs Figg as she made her way into the living room of her small house where Harry Potter stood impatiently by the window, plucking the evidence of his failed attempt to avoid her out of his unruly hair. He'd already made a mental note to check for walls first before diving into another hedgerow, and as he examined a small tear in his jeans he prayed that he wouldn't have to endure his batty neighbours' eccentricities for long.
Mrs Figg seemed unaware of her guests' lack of enthusiasm as she concentrated on the tea tray, muttering unconsciously about her unusually absent cats, but Harry did not want to remind her that it had been nearly seven years since she had last shown him her cat photo album, and he was in no mood to have to pretend like he cared.
"Well?" She said, suddenly. "You going to stand there all day, boy?"
Harry started, then he made a move to help her with the tray as Mrs Figg placed it on an old coffee table in the middle of the room.
"I meant for you to sit down, boy!" Mrs Figg scorned, "Lord knows you've been through a lot recently and the least I can do is make you a nice cup of tea."
She proceeded in pouring a measure of steaming tea into a small china cup.
Despite Harry's current mood he didn't have the heart to refuse the offer and she lifted the tea towards him. He surveyed the contents with apprehension having never really developed a taste for what she called tea
"Aren't you having a cup, Mrs Figg?" said Harry, noticing that she had not filled a cup for herself.
Mrs Figg screwed her face into a crooked grin and raised her hand, as though swotting at an invisible fly.
"I'll be back in a minute, have to check the, uh…" But then she looked puzzled, and she stared at the tea tray as though she'd never seen it there before. Then, as though remembering what she had to do, she began to pour a second cup for herself
"You've not tasted my tea since you started at Hogwarts, have you?" Mrs Figg asked as she shook her head, "This is my best tea, boy! Your aunt and uncle wouldn't have kept sending you here if you enjoyed my tea would they?" She rolled her eyes as though she's just explained a very simple point to a very simple child. Then she shuffled back towards the sofa and sat down, yanking a handful of Harry's jumper so that he was forced to sit next to her. He shook a drop of scalding tea from his hand and grimaced as another drop landed on his leg
"Dumbledore made it very clear that I was to look out for you, Harry, and to do that I had to make sure that your aunt and uncle didn't send you anywhere else but here and if that meant you had to endure terrible tea then…" She shrugged, and looked at him meaningfully as though this proved beyond a doubt the wisdom in her decision.
Harry looked back down at his cup. Then, cradling it in both hands, he put it to his lips and took a small sip. It certainly tasted different then it had before, but he couldn't decide whether it was for better or for worse. He forced himself to take another sip, and fought the sudden urge to spit it back out as his taste buds came to a sudden and definitive conclusion.
Harry smiled briefly in thanks for the drink, hoping this would trigger some sort of conversation and explain why she had really invited him here, but Mrs Figg did nothing but stare at him
"So, erm.. what's Mundungus up to now anyway?" Harry asked in an effort to break the uncomfortable silence
"Hmph" Huffed Mrs Figg, "The usual 'business' probably. Never around when you need him. I don't know why Dumbledore doesn't send someone more reliable."
That appeared to be all the conversation she cared for, and Mrs Figg placed her own cup next to the teapot on the table and lifted herself awkwardly out of the sofa.
"Well," She said, ignoring the alarmed look on Harry's face as she headed for the door, "Can't sit around here chatting all day when Mr Tibbles will be wanting his supper! Dear me, and it's already getting late…where is that cat? Mr Tibbles? Supper time!"
Feeling slightly put out, but for the most part relieved, Harry watched Mrs Figg exit though the living room door, her carpet slippers slapping the floor on their way to the kitchen as she yelled after her cats. Harry couldn't shake the creeping doubts that something was off with Mrs Figg, she was acting strangely even by her own usual standards.
Unconsciously, Harry took another gulp of tea and he coughed at the bitter taste, his eyes watering as he forced himself to swallow the hot liquid. Wiping his chin with the back of his hand he looked around for somewhere he could dispose of the remaining contents. Grateful he was still alone in the room, he quickly poured the last of his tea into a plant pot containing a very parched looking aspidistra near the sofa.
Harry then made to put his empty cup on the coffee table, but stopped as he looked at the tea tray and noticed that Mrs Figg hadn't drank any of the tea she'd poured for herself. He also realised that her home was uncharacteristically free of cats, especially for the usually riotous feeding time. Perhaps the last five years had made him paranoid, but the feeling that something was wrong just wouldn't go away.
"Finished that tea already, boy?" Mrs Figgs called suddenly from the doorway
Harry jumped, a moment earlier she had been reciting her cat itinerary and hadn't sounded like she was anywhere near the living room.
"What? Oh.. yeah…" Harry said, shifting his weight uncomfortably "It was er.. lovely, thanks…"
Mrs Figg considered him carefully,
"Well that was probably the first cup of real tea you've had in ages so you just help yourself to another."
Harry's heart sank as she hobbled towards the tea tray and proceeded in refilling his cup. He cast a guilty glance towards the old aspidistra plant and wondered if it could withstand another cup load.
"There you are now…" Said Mrs Figg quickly before hurrying towards the kitchen again.
Harry's paranoia increased. He decided to go and see exactly what she was doing, but as he stood up his eyes began to lose focus and a sudden wave of nausea swept over him. For a moment he lost his balance and the teacup slipped from his hands and smashed on the floor. He heard a bang from the kitchen, soon followed by the hurried shuffle of Mrs Figg as she re-entered the living room holding a dented can of cat food.
"Honestly Harry!" Mrs Figg exclaimed, bustling over to the broken china cup in the floor, "They're my best cups! What happened? You alright?"
"I, er, don't feel very well Mrs Figg ...and I need to get back before it gets dark."
She looked up at him and eyed him carefully as she busied herself with the mess left by the broken tea-cup on the floor
"No, I don't think that's a good idea" Said Mrs Figg as she stood up again, "Sit yourself down. Have you got a headache? Dumbledore told me you get those from time to time. I've got some cures right here, don't you move. I'll be right back…."
Before Harry could say anything in protest, she disappeared into the kitchen again.
Harry lowered himself into an armchair in the opposite corner of the room, feeling the dizziness fade away slowly.
He could almost hear Mad-eye's lecture in his ears already, he should have realised as soon as he noticed she was not drinking any tea herself.
He decided that he would just leave anyway, but as he stood up Mrs Figg re-appeared through the door, this time holding a glass of water in one hand and two white tablets in the other.
"Here you go" she said, holding them out towards Harry "I find these muggle sweets can be good for headaches sometimes, no harm in trying. Just swallow these down and you'll be fine I'm sure"
Harry stood very still, or as still as he could while he willed his jelly legs to support him. With his right hand, he reached for his wand behind his back.
"I need to get my own stuff from home" He said stubbornly
"Well now how do you know these won't do the trick if you've never even tried?"
Then, as though she had only just noticed the look on his face she added "Fine, if they don't work, then I'll take you straight back and you can get your 'special tablets' all right? Anyone would think I was trying to poison you, boy!"
Harry's head was swimming, he was finding it hard to focus.
Leaving his wand in his back pocket, he took the pills in his right hand and the glass in the other. With no intention to swallow the tablets, he only pretended to put them in his mouth. Aware that he was being closely watched, he took a gulp of water.
Immediately he realised his mistake and he closed his eyes as the nausea returned stronger, and more insistent than before. His knees finally buckled and he fell against the arm of the chair dropping both the glass and the harmless tablets to the floor. Above him, growing fainter all the time he heard a deep, unintelligible voice that could not have belonged to Mrs Figg, but then he couldn't see anymore, and with a sudden gush of silence he fell into blackness.