It was a strange scene. Dmitry stood in the middle of the parlour in full cultural attire, silver robes clasped over the embroidered front of his red-and-white vyshyvanka, occasionally shifting to reveal darker red pants and black boots. His sisters were together on the loveseat under the window, not really paying him any attention, Nadia biding time with whispered storytelling while Evgeniya clutched her doll, both in matching floral-patterned robes over their pyjamas. His mother, sitting in the wing-backed armchair facing him, was in businesswear with a newspaper folded in her lap, his father standing behind in a complementary suit. She was talking to him, more reminders than instructions, of the school he was about to enter and expectations for how to engage with the different levels of staff and something about the house-elf culture. He was trying to pay attention, but he already knew most of it from past conversations. Also, his stomach kept reminding him it existed.
At this time of the year, the sun still rose early in Vladivostok. It was already fairly high in the sky and breakfast had passed, but at his mother’s advice Dmitry hadn’t had more than a little kasha as he would be arriving at Rocky Mountain International right on time for dinner. Porridge was filling enough in the moment, and he had been distracted enough while getting ready for his trip, but he couldn’t ignore being hungry any longer; it had been almost half an hour since he came to the parlour to wait. (This had been despite his mother’s advice that the Portkey would activate at exactly the right time. He would never openly suggest she was wrong, but he couldn’t risk being unprepared, just in case. From the amused angle of her eyebrows when he entered the room, which he immediately recognized as the same expression when she caught the dogs off-duty and rolling around in the grass, she hadn’t taken offense at this.)
The clock on the mantle chimed its first deep tone, and his mother switched to English. “Above all, enjoy yourself, Dima. It is a magical place.” She was smiling. His father was not, just offered a nod, but that was to be expected. Dmitry managed a nod back before he was transported to the other side of the world.
He landed firmly on his feet. Portkeys were a familiar means of travel. With one parent working in a neighbouring country and another parent managing an international transportation network, Dmitry had often joined them on business trips, in addition to countless visits of extended family across Europe. He had even travelled to America before, although those were strictly social visits; aside from his aunt Kejan, whose company had an office in Los Angeles, no one else in his family had business connections on the entire American continent. But it was quickly obvious that a few day trips with his sisters to their not-blood-related aunt Ika’s zoo wasn’t enough to prepare him for RMI. The hall he was in now was filled with the noise and bodies of more kids than he had ever seen in one place, and some of them were dressed so casually Dmitry actually cringed. There was a time for casual clothes - and yes, sometimes that time was ‘when your parents weren’t looking’ - but even if some of the people here weren’t of proper status, he’d expected they would know better than to make first impressions in Muggle style jeans!
The first thing he did was make sure his robes were still lying smooth, and then he checked the top compartment of his trunk. “Kak dela, Artem?” Artem’s antennae bobbed towards him as its fist-sized spiky shell shifted to bright orange. Dmitry took this as a good sign and shut the lid again.
Because he couldn’t bring all five of their dogs with him to RMI, Aunt Ika had helped him pick out a pet of his own. It had been so hard to choose. There were newts with heads at both ends, which were neat to watch swimming around in circles, and an entire cage of bats, although when he asked about spectre bats specifically he’d been told that ghosts weren’t appropriate pets (this had come from his mother, not Aunt Ika). He didn’t really like cats so had skipped all of those, and eventually they came across a tank of miniature streelers. The African snails had corrosive slime and were dangerous to touch bare-handed, but with all of her creature knowledge Aunt Ika had set him up with the right supplies, and his mother had decided it was fine (or at least better than a ghost bat). Artem wasn’t a playing type of pet, but Dmitry was trying to train him to follow basic directions like ‘go there’ and ‘stop’ and ‘no, really, stop’. It was also just nice have a faintly glowing, colour-changing snail in his room when he was sleeping, like the adult version of his sisters’ night-light.
Straightening up when called, the slightly chubby boy politely greeted the Deputy Headmaster before entering with the other first-year students into the dining hall. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the dining hall at his home, but the railcar style was charming and a little home-like, reminding him of riding the Rojkovsky train line even if the scenery out the windows looked nothing like Siberia. Taking cues from the other students, he looked at his dreamcatcher to see it turning a deep blue and walked over to the equally blue fire, a bit alarmed at having to sit on the floor but reassured to see that everyone else was doing the same. There was a speech that he struggled to follow; the Headmaster had a strange accent that didn’t match any of the four languages he spoke. But again he took cues and applauded the older students being singled out. They were obviously student leaders, although he’d have to find out how that worked, as his mother had mentioned that RMI no longer used a student government as it had been in her time.
At last the speech ended and he had an opportunity to address his empty stomach. Having been prepared for the sight of house-elves, which were less common in his part of the world, or at least in his level of society in that part of the world, Dmitry waited until he saw one with a platter of blinis leaving the red fire and held up a hand to signal it over. “Spasibo, thank you, do you ‘ave any kasha too?” he asked hopefully and was rewarded with a large bowl in addition to his blinis. Preparing to dig in, it occurred to him that even though he was sitting very strangely and informally around a fire, he should make an effort at conversation, so he turned to the person beside him. “Hallo.” The brunette offered a tentative smile. “My name is Dmitry, of da Kovalchuk and Rojkovsky families.” Was that too formal? No, there was no such thing. Following up with a question, the right order for introductions, he added, “Are you also being a new student here?”