Harry's mouth dropped open as he stepped into the Gryffindor common room for the first time. Scarlet and gold drapes hung over windows that overlooked the lake, and the wooden paneling – far cry from what Harry had grown accustomed to seeing beneath the Dursleys' staircase – gave the entire space an atmosphere of regality.
"Your bed's over here!" shouted Ron, pulling Harry's attention away from the finery. "Look, it's got your initials on it and everything!"
It wasn't nearly the most wondrous thing that Harry had seen that day, but the sight of the gently curling H and P brought tears to his eyes. He had only entered the room moments before, but already, he felt like he was home. It was unlike any...
"Um, excuse me!" came a nasal voice from behind. "It's impolite to assume that you are the only individual with those initials. That bed could very well belong to someone else."
A brief tremor of shock caused Harry's heart to jump as he turned and regarded the boy who had spoken. For a moment, he had been certain that Dudley had somehow managed to follow him: A rotund, almost spherical body gave way to a piggish face, and the sneer of superiority (glaring out from behind too-thick glasses) was one that Harry had seen almost daily. In stark contrast to everyone else, the young man was clad in a bright shirt emblazoned with some oddly designed cartoon characters, and an enormous pillow was held tightly against his body with one pudgy hand.
"Oh, hello, Kevin," Ron muttered, rolling his eyes. "I see you brought your... pillow."
An indignant snort preceded Kevin's next words. "Um, actually, she's my waifu. I wouldn't expect normies to understand."
"'Waifu?'" Harry repeated. "'Normies?'"
"No, don't..." Ron began, but he was interrupted by a long sigh from Kevin.
"Yes, my waifu!" The boy looked down at his pillow. "Asuna-chan, introduce yourself!"
Before Harry's eyes, the pillow suddenly came to be occupied by another cartoon character, this one female... and wearing very little clothing. Like the portraits Harry had encountered, the figure moved, blinked, appeared to breathe, and gave every indication of being alive. Her too-large eyes stared at Harry with an expression that almost seemed to reflect a kind of desperation.
"Please end my suffering," the pillow said.
"That means she's pleased to meet you," Kevin explained. "Of course, she's mostly happy to see me." "I don’t want to be here," continued the cartoon woman.
"Yes, well, nice to meet you, too," Harry replied. He was uncertain of how else to respond... and something about the figure's voice gave him the idea that she wasn't exactly thrilled by her lot in life. Ron stepped forward, putting himself between Harry and Kevin. "Leave it alone, Kevin!" he snarled. "Nobody wants to hear about your strange obsession with Japanese wizardry!"
"Um, actually," the boy answered, once again sneering, "the Japanese are far more advanced in culture than Britain could ever hope to be. I'm planning to transfer to Hontō no bashode wa arimasen as soon as possible."
"Please don’t leave me..." the pillow muttered. Kevin responded with something that sounded mispronounced, then waddled off to a bed at the far side of the room.
"Sorry about him," whispered Ron. "Just be glad you didn't get close enough to smell him."
Harry sighed to himself. He still had a lot to learn about the wizarding world.