Neville’s gran was a very high, very narrow woman, and her house was just the same.
The tall dark roof seemed to stab the sky, and the stairs were steep and narrow. The third story, where Neville had his room, was drafty and the halls were dimly lit.
The sitting room on the ground floor was a large room..or it should have been. But even when Neville was very small it hadn’t seemed that way. It was cluttered with antique furniture and odds and ends that the woman had accumulated over the years, and to Neville it often seemed the walls were closing in around him.
He remembered taking tea with her in that stifling room, sweat running down his back beneath his itchy woolen jumpers, and how his hands would shake.
His gran, when she noticed, would think he was too cold and send him for another jumper.
In later years Neville would always feel slightly claustrophobic in sitting rooms, and he would always remember how very high and
narrow the house was.
The cupboard under the stairs in number four Privet Drive was small and dark. It was little more than four walls and a hard wood floor and a low slanted ceiling just high enough at it’s tallest point for someone to stand up in.
In the summer it was hot in the cupboard , and
Harry would lie down full-length on the floor and let the coolness retained by the wood seep into his skin through his clothes. As he lay there, he would close his eyes and feel the vibrations caused by his family against his cheek, and all through him.
He would listen to Dudley whining and his Aunt puttering around in the kitchen and just drift. Sometimes it seemed to him that he must have imagined the rest of the house, with it’s cheery kitchen and it’s faded, outdated furniture and the knick-knacks on the mantle.
The Dursleys house was about seemings, it was Petunia playing at being a normal housewife, it was Vernon pretending to be an ordinary businessman, and it was Dudley, a good son, but only in his parents eyes.
The house was an illusion, and in Harry’s later years the only part of it he remembered clearly was his cupboard under the stairs.
A small bit of truth buried in a lie.
Malfoy Manor is a big, sprawling place, surrounded by carefully tended gardens and manicured lawns.
Its rooms are large and its ceilings are high, and none of its rooms are ever warm enough no matter how many spells are cast or fires lit. An outsider, looking in, might tell you that it was the inhabitants, rather than the rooms, that were cold.
But such things are not said aloud, unless one is very rude.
Draco, as a child, did not know the house was cold. He was lord and master of his domain, there was not a place he feared to go, not a room he did not dominate with his tiny ferocious presence.
Even so, the silence and stillness of the house would sometimes prove too much for him, and he would run, barefoot, down the spacious halls shrieking like a small banshee until his mother or father caught him and informed him in their cold, imperious way, that such hollering was unbecoming of a Malfoy.
When he grew older, he learned caution and there were rooms in the manor he would no longer dare to visit, rooms steeped in old blood and dark magic. It was then, with ice already forming in his own heart, that he realized it was cold.
He no longer went barefoot in the halls, or raised his voice at all. In his own later years, wrapped in the agony and ache of Azkaban, he could remember only that the manor house was always as cold as ice.