The first thing Harry noticed when he stepped up into Jezbet's house was the books, even before the design of the entryway was noticed.
"Shoes in the shoe cabinet," Jezbet said, standing on one foot while she unlaced her boot, quick pulls loosening them over her ankles, and she grabbed the toes while she pulled her foot out. The boot was set in an open compartment of a low cabinet with many deep rectangular cubbies, and she pulled that sock off, setting her bare foot on the floor to repeat the process with the other boot.
Harry untied his trainers and set them in an open compartment, then took his socks off and held them while he stepped up into the rest of the house.
Jezbet slid open a door, "Laundry room," she dropped her socks in a basket.
Harry did the same at her gesture.
She slid the door opposite the washer and dryer open, "Bathroom." There's a tiled area with a shower, and a sunken tub with a cover, "Wash first, then soak."
There are no bookshelves in the laundry room or bathroom.
Out into he hall again, then a door on the other side, "Water closet."
There's a sink, a toilet, and bookshelves starting at a little higher than Harry's head on the walls and around the mirror over the sink.
Jezbet led the way down the hall a bit further, "Parlor," she said, opening a door. There was a sofa, a couple chairs, and a huge, unusually flat, maybe set into the wall or an alcove? TV. This room, too, was lined in books.
The door across the hall, with a time clock next to it, and a set of hooks to hang time cards on. She pulled a blank card out, and wrote Harry's name on it, then handed it to him. "This is the library, it is rather large, so be sure to clock in and out so someone will know to come looking for you." She punched her card, and put it on the "In" hook.
Harry, feeling strangely grown-up, did the same.
"Leave your bag, we'll be back in a bit."
Harry set it down.
Harry entered the room, and Jezbet closed the door behind them. The first room wasn't that big, about two stories tall, with ladders and a catwalk, and a card catalog by the door. It looked like it would fit in the house. The windows into the next room, however . . .
Jezbet flipped through the card catalog a moment, then led the way into the next room, down a flight of stairs, up a different flight, down a dark hallway, and over a catwalk between cavernous aisles of bookshelves, at least ten stories up, and then through low-ceilinged dark rooms, floor to ceiling bookshelves crowded so tightly together that they had to walk single-file, and Uncle Vernon would not have fit.
They walked down a half story worth of stairs, and onto another level, and Jezbet stopped to talk to an old man covered in orange fur, "This is my godson, Harry. He is allowed to check out three books at a time. Please send him home at dinnertime if he forgets."
The old man nodded, "Oook," he said, and nodded.
"Harry, this is the Librarian of the Unseen University, one of several libraries which have an interlibrary loan agreement with Miriam and I,"
"Nice to meet you," Harry said. He held out a hand for a shake.
The Librarian smiled, nodded, and shook Harry's in his own rather worn and callused hand.
Jezbet came back with a thick, dusty book, which she handed to Harry, "The checkout counter for the Unseen University is over here," she said before she led the way.
Harry looked at the cover, which had probably had something on it once, but was just battered now, then the spine, which had a gilt decoration, a letter H, and gilt that was probably letters once. He set the book on the counter, and looked inside, "Hogwarts, A Hystory" said the title page.
Harry signed the ledger where the young man behind the counter indicated, and the young man tucked a bookmark with a strange date on it inside, "This will be due back in two weeks. If you'd like to keep it longer, come back to renew it before the due date."
"Thank you," Harry told him.
Jezbet led him back a different way, through rooms full of little round cubbyholes with scrolls in them, down a huge spiral ramp with books on one side, and a railing overlooking the center atrium, which had a glassed-over fishpond at the bottom. He paused for a bit at the bottom, as he realized the goldfish, long, slender ones in a variety of shades and colors, orange, gold, calico like a cat, white, were bigger than he was.
"Yeah, she has some nice koi," Jezbet said. She ruffled his hair, "You can come back to look at them later, we have a walk ahead of us, and I don't want to keep you up all night."
"OK," Harry nodded, and with a last glance back stepped through the next door.
The next room was vast, sunlight streaming in the windows, low shelves dotting the space, and full of chairs, tables, and people reading or researching.
The room after was similar, but empty, and lit by moonlight through the windows. Another door, a short hallway, and Harry could see where they started.
Jezbet punched her card, and hung it on the "Out" hook.
Harry clocked out, too, "How would you find me? Even if you knew I was missing?"
"Magic, but it would take time, so try not to get too distracted."
Harry nodded, "OK."
The next room seemed to share space with the library, a large, open-plan dinning room and kitchen, with counters noticeably lower than the ones at Number 4, Privet Drive. The space is at least as large as the living room, dining room, and kitchen of his aunt's house.
"Help yourself to anything," Jezbet said, "The cookbooks are spillproofed, but don't catch them on fire, and clean up after yourself. If you finish something off, write it on the chalkboard so we know to get more."
"Bedrooms are up the stairs," Jezbet indicated.
Harry led the way, "Miriam and I's room is here, and the guest rooms are on this side. There's a shared western-style bath between them. Feel free to read any of the books in either room, whichever you choose."
The first room is in pale wood and hunter green covers, and the second is in dark wood and a reddish purple.
Harry set his bag down in the room with green covers and set "Hogwarts, A Hystory" on the desk.
Jezbet smiled at him, "Get settled, have a bath if you'd like, and we'll be back to tuck you in in a bit," she snorted, "Unless you're too old for that already?"
Harry shrugged, "I don't know," he said, "My aunt doesn't tuck us in."
Jezbet nodded, "Then lights out at 22, and we'll tuck you in and see how much fuss you like."
"Two hours before midnight?"
Harry nodded, looked at the analog clock on the wall again, and realized the hour hand was between 20 and 21, "It's earlier than I thought," he said.
"Get ready for bed, anyway."
After his bath, Harry looked over the shelves in his new room, pulled a few books down, read the blurbs, then looked at the books lined up on the back of the desk, a mix of hardbacks and paperbacks, some old and battered, some shiny and new, "1990 FAR AIM," "The Dragonriders of Pern," "Sassinak," "Trash: Short Stories by Dorothy Allison," "The Sunless World," "Cold War in a Country Garden," "Annie on my Mind," "My Side of the Mountain," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Sad Sack," "On the Front," "The Devil's Dictionary," "Sword and Sorceress III," "For love of Mother-Not," "Have Spaceship, Will Travel," "Five-twelfths of Heaven," and a dozen or so others.
He set Sassinak and Annie on my Mind on the little table at the side of his bed, climbed in, and started to read Sassinak. He stopped at the end of the first chapter, closed the book, and swapped it for Annie. He was still reading it when Miriam knocked.
"Still awake?" she asked.
She opened the door, and stepped in, followed by Jezbet. Miriam was in black plaid flannel pajamas, and Jezbet in a teal flannel nightgown. Miriam tucked a bookmark in Annie, and set it on the table before pulling the covers up under Harry's chin, "Sleep tight, little one," she said, and kissed him on the forehead.
"I'm almost as tall as you are," Harry complained, smiling anyway.
"OK," Miriam laughed, "Young one, then."
"That's better," Harry agreed.
"Good night," Jezbet told him, pet his hair, pressed her forehead to his, "We'll see you in the morning."
"Good night!" Harry told them.
They turned off the light and shut the door. Harry lay back on his soft, not-too-fluffy pillow, and smiled at the ceiling.