This story encompasses the third year of Harry at Hogwarts (The Prisoner of Azkaban). I'll introduce an additional character (Piotr Iljitsch Kamenew, the name originates from the film "The shoes of the Fisherman"). The story will be written mostly from his point of view, even if I don't write in first person. He isn't thought as "the hero" of the story but as a catalyst, an additional factor that changes the behavior of some other persons thru his words. So this story will be slightly AU, especially the later part.
Chapter 1: From Russia with Claws
Diagon Alley – Leaky Cauldron – August 27th 1993
The day had been a bit boring. To go shopping in the Diagon Alley wasn't that chequered after nine days of living in the Leaky Cauldron with nothing else to do than going around, admiring the new broomstick Firebolt and eating ice at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. At least he had enough money to spend thanks to his safe at Gringotts.
Fife-hundred galleons, that was the purchase price of the Firebolt. The price was mind-boggling, especially as Harry thought about the journey to Egypt the Weasleys had done this summer, all eight of them visiting Bill Weasley who was working there for Gringotts. Arthur Weasley had won a prize contest of the Daily Prophet and most of the prize money, a sum around the price of a single Firebolt, had allowed all eight Weasleys to stay in Egypt for a full three weeks.
Deep in his thoughts he neared the Leaky Cauldron and crashed against another boy as both of them started for the door in the same moment. With arms and legs helplessly flailing around both went to the ground, Harry's head banging hurtfully against the doorframe. Holding his aching head with the left, his right hand assured his spectacles back in place as something jumped on his legs. Tiny claws pricked thru his pants and Harry gave a little yell from pain and surprise as he realized that a large cat was sitting there.
It wasn't a real cat, but resembled more a lynx. It looked to be quite wild and livid in the moment, hissing at Harry and baring dangerous sharp looking teeth. "Tasha Yar, that's nat very nice fram you. I'm sure it wasn't deliberately. Dan't you see, he's hurt too."
The large boy in front of him – Harry assumed him to be around the age and height of Fred and George, but looking taller from the ground – reached down and pulled the cat from Harry's legs. Causing another yelp from the boy as the claws left the skin. The foreign boy with the silly accent pressed the cat against his breast and snogged; something the cat obviously didn't like very much but amused its master nonetheless. Embarrassed the lynx wriggled out of his arms and jumped on a wooden case nearby, showing an expression of disgust.
Her master giggled shortly before he turned to the still amazedly watching Harry and reaching out a shovel-like hand. "Sarry, wasn't looking. Hope you didn't hurt too much."
For some long moments Harry stared at him, inhaled the picture of this boy. Around fifteen, as large as Fred and George but certainly twenty pounds heavier, the additional mass not stemming from fat but muscles. He had dark-blonde hair and warm brown eyes with a hint of sadness therein. Accepting the hand Harry felt himself lifted from the ground with ease. "No … all good … nothing happened," he assured.
A small smile crossed the face of the boy and he shortly nodded before he went to gather the bags that had fallen to the ground on the impact. Plastic bags, books … muggle books, Harry pondered. He saw a travel guide to Scotland and some hiking maps vanishing in one of the books before he started to help. Novels from English authors constituted the largest part, the other being scientific books, especially about biology, chemistry and medicine.
"Fundamentals of Natural Medicine," he read aloud.
"It is a good book, very helpful," the boy stated as he gently grabbed the book from Harry's grasp and put it into one of the bags. Harry realized that the plastic bags belonged to the book shop that flanked the Leaky Cauldron on the Muggle side. Raising from the ground the boy silently waited for Harry to open the door, went in and strode to an empty table, shortly nodding to the landlord. "Tom, I really could use some strong tea."
Harry silently watched as the boy started to empty the bags, laid the books orderly on the table and cleaned them carefully before he started to write the names into a list. The number of books, the care and this behavior … it all reminded him much of someone, someone he missed deeply. "Your surname isn't coincidentally 'Granger'," he asked with a broad smile, causing the other boy to look up with a confused expression.
"Granger, why should …"
Harry stopped him with a wave of his hand. "It was only a joke. You remind me of a very good friend of mine and her name is Hermione Granger." He pointed towards the books. "You seem to share her love for books."
It was amusing to watch the large hand to lovingly stroke the books. "Yes, I love books. You can never have enough of them. They give you company in dark hours and never betray you." He pondered for a minute. "This Germeene Granger, is she your girlfriend?"
"Oh no," Harry hastily declined. "She and Ron are my very best friends." After a small pause he added, the word spoken carefully: "And her name is Hermione."
"Ger-mione, ger-mione," he tried, not really grasping the sound. He sighed disappointedly. "I fear I have to train this name. This letter her name begins with is a bit difficult to speak. We don't have this letter in my home." Obviously remembering something he hastily rose from his seat and had to fetch some books as he pushed the table away in his motion. He reached out his hand again and uttered:
"How rude, I totally fargat to intraduce myself: I'm Piotr Iljitsch Kamenew and I'm fram Kiev. That's the capital af the Ukraine."
"Nice to meet you, I'm Harry Potter," Harry eagerly watched the reaction of Piotr, well-used to all kind of unpleasant behavior or some kind of adoring what he didn't like much more. But Piotr only grinned lopsided, his eyes wandering up and down as if he was searching for something.
"Ah, so you're Garry Patter. I heard about you. But shouldn't you be taller? I expected someone about six feet tall, with blonde mane and piercing blue eyes: you know, as the heroes of light and glory in the books." Confused, clueless how to react Harry stared at Piotr until he changed his disappointed face to a broad grin and punched Harry against the shoulder; "It was a joke. It is really nice to meet you. Your name has aften been uttered back in Durmstrang."
Tom interrupted them shortly, putting tea, two cups and a plate of breads on the table and a small dish with fish on the ground before he walked away.
"You're from Durmstrang," Harry asked when they were alone again?
"Yes," there was more than a hint of sorrow in Piotr's voice: "Have been there until … until last winter. But now I'm going ta stay at Hagwarts."
"That's good; I'm going too, only spending the last days before start of school here. Which class will you go?"
"I'll go ta the third class." Piotr saw the quizzical look of Harry and explained. "I'm going ta be fifteen in a manth but I'm repeating third class because … af the switch, the new language and all." Harry had the impression that there were other reasons too, but for now he stayed silent about the matter. So he would likely see more of Piotr in the future.
The next days flew away with Harry and Piotr spending a lot of time together. Right the next morning saw them training how to pronounce the names of Harry and Hermione correctly and Harry got the first impression of how persistent and stubborn Piotr could be. As soon as Harry had announced that Hermione would arrive four days later, Piotr decided that he wanted to greet her correctly.
Apart from this they spoke about Hogwarts, Scotland and all the things that were so natural for Harry and so foreign for Piotr. Harry only wished that Piotr would show the same enthusiasm when he asked him about his home and Durmstrang. But obviously the boy from Kiev didn't like to speak about that or the reason why he left his family. It was easy to see that much pain was associated with these themes and so after a while Harry avoided to ask about it.
"I have a question, Piotr," Harry asked on the second afternoon, both boys sitting on caskets and watching the passersby. "Your cat … Tasha Yar … what kind of name is this?"
Hearing her name the lynx opened her eyes and looked shortly at Harry before she turned towards Piotr, allowing him to ruffle her fur below the head and behind the ears for a while before she snapped playfully at his fingers.
"I never had an animal before. Tasha Yar belonged to my elder sister. Irina … she had been an ardent admirer of Star Trek. That's a Muggle TV series if you don't know, science fiction, spaceships voyaging thru space and all that. The character of Tasha Yar had always been very special for her. She combined all the characteristics she adored: bravery, loyalty, honesty. And she saw these traits in this cat too so the name came quite naturally."
"I see." Harry wanted to ask but didn't dare because he feared the answer and the new sorrow. But obviously Piotr understood. "Irina died last winter and left Tasha Yar behind. And now I look after her." For a moment he stared at the lynx before he continued with a smile: "Or better: Tasha Yar looks after me, deals with all dangers … and jostler."
Silently Harry combined what Piotr had told so far. His sister died last winter, the same time that he left Durmstrang. Perhaps she had been a pupil there too and her death or the memories about had been the reason to leave. Whatever the reason was, Harry loved the idea of having him at Hogwarts. Perhaps he would get along with Hermione as good as he thought in the moment. With Ron and him more interested in Quidditch than in books it certainly would be a nice change for her. I wonder which house the sorting hat will chose for him.