|Portrayed By||Sasha Pivovarova|
|Place of Birth||Kolomna, Polomskovye, USSR|
|Date of Birth||21 March 1966|
|Mother||Asya Mikhailovna Baryshnikov|
|Father||Ilariy Sergeyovich Baryshnikov|
|Siblings||Brother Grigori Ilariyovich Baryshnikov (+8), sister Alyona Ilariyevna Baryshnikov (+5)|
|Children||Clemency Iakovevna Lancaster, age 6|
|First Appearance||A Distinctly Disorderly Meeting|
On March 21, 1966, in the beautiful and ancient city of Kolomna, in the Kolomensky District of Moscow Oblast, among thousands of other important happenings, a small girl by the name of Valentina Baryshnikov was born. Her brother, Grigori, fully eight years old, was quite unimpressed; her sister, Alyona, only five years old at the time, was utterly delighted at the idea of having a real live baby sister doll to play with and dress up. Shortly thereafter, Alyona was much less pleased, as is often the case when one learns of how much of a hassle most babies are.
Ilariy and Asya Baryshnikov kept a secret from their neighbors in Kolomna, however — a secret that kept them apart from their fellow citizens, and would have led to a great deal of unrest and trouble had those fellow citizens learned the truth. For Ilariy and Asya were not simply Communists, like their fellow citizens, but were also Wizards, and this meant they were slightly more equal than certain of their neighbors might have liked. So long as they kept their secret, though — and by keeping their children at home, instead of sending them to the public schools, they sharply limited the opportunities their children had to blab out their secret — they lived perfectly ordinary lives, among all their perfectly ordinary neighbors, and life was reasonably good.
They didn't starve, and they never froze, and in the heat of summer they could cool off — so life was better for them, in some substantial ways, than it was for their neighbors. But as those neighbors seldom had reasons to complain directly, Valentina, at least, lived her childhood oblivious to the problems surrounding her. Instead, she spent her time with the family pets — a Kneazle and a few dogs, among others, some older than she was — and enjoyed every opportunity she could find to get out among other animals, throughout the neighborhood, the city, and the surrounding countryside.
And then, shortly after she turned eleven, The Letter arrived: a letter which stated, as failed to surprise Ilariy and Asya, Grigori and Alyona, that little Valentina, too, would be heading in time to Durmstrang, to study the art and science of being a witch. Once she had her wand, her supplies, and her owl Vchera, she was all set and ready to go — so it was a shame she had to wait another two months, until the school year actually began.
Life at school was radically unlike life in Kolomna. For one thing, Durmstrang was about as far away from being communist as it was possible for anything or anyplace to be. For another, Valentina couldn't just go wandering around to see the animals and grounds any time she pleased; she had to attend her classes on a regular schedule, like everyone else, and it wasn't a schedule she got to set, either. What's more, in the midst of all this chaotic change, she started making friends, for the first time in her life. (Some of these friends were also her sister's, and she got as close to Tiana Moldavia as one five years younger could at boarding school. Alyona and Tiana did her hair and taught her how to be a teenager.)
And school, too, was a chance for her to shine in a way she'd never been able to before: her sister, Alyona, was still there to guide her, at first, for all that her brother had already graduated; with Alyona's help, she began to understand the way that classes worked, the way that being in school with standings worked — she began, in fact, to get good grades in at least some of her classes, and to pass the rest. Unsurprisingly, she did amazingly well in Care of Magical Creatures — and when her professor learned that she'd bottle-raised her owl, Vchera, she nearly received passing marks for the first year on the spot. As time wore by, she discovered strengths in Defensive Theory (and practice, for the British war between Dumbledore's group of wizards and the ministry against the self-styled Lord Voldemort was active enough, at the time, that Durmstrang thought it wise to teach its students how to actively protect themselves, instead of just think about it) and Transfiguration.
But before she knew it, Valentina was already graduating, and — despite her good scores, despite her love of animals — she had no real idea of what she wanted to do. Habit, long-engrained, had her convinced of the need to keep something secret; perhaps this fed into the careful work she'd put in over her entire school career, and slightly beyond, slowly and arduously perfecting the transfiguration to top all transfigurations — she became an Animagi, able to transform into a silver fox at will. Now that she had her lofty goal realized, she realized that — well — she had no idea at all what she wanted to do next.
Enter, at this point, one James Lancaster, generally called Jas. He was older — by over a decade — and quite charming, in a slightly confused-by-Russia sort of way. He told her that he was on vacation from his work in the British Ministry of Magic, and that he wanted to know everything there was to know about Kolomna, and that he would be utterly delighted if she'd be willing to show him around. Within three days, they were lovers; within three weeks, they'd decided they would get married, which happened less than three months after they'd met. Promptly thereafter, the two moved together back to England, to his family home outside Lancashire, and she found work there, instead — British witches and wizards who were interested, as much as she was, desperately welcomed her help and input in research for and rehabilitation of magical creatures. Jas' family money helped them out more than once, as well.
Life was pretty good, for a time, in the 1980s. Jas and Valentina loved each other, and they each loved their work. In time, they had a daughter, Clemency, and it seemed, briefly, as if life would be even better — but it was not to be, for when Clemency wasn't even two years old, Valentina had had the last straw, catching Jas in one too many second-chances after being caught having affairs. That, as far as she was concerned, was that: no more would she be his wife, for he was hardly being a husband to her. His name, she kept, for herself and for Clemency, for in England, Baryshnikov was a hard name to pronounce (or spell, if not both). Her job, she kept, and their daughter, she kept — he was left to his family home, although he had to part with some of the estate to care for Valentina and Clemency. Occasionally, they even still speak with each other, at times other than Clemency's birthdays.
The unusual thing that turned Valentina's life all twisted again happened in mid-October of 1995. She was contacted by Jack Noble, a man she had met in the spring of the previous year when her Cornwall magizoology facility was asked to remove a dragon from a cave and relocate it so the proper curse-breaking could be done — he was the curse-breaker. A very charming curse-breaker indeed, and somehow their short collaboration had turned into a single night of no-strings-attached sex and an amicable departure to different places the next day. He mentioned something about an ashwinder making a home in a bad spot, which got her attention immediately, and the strange questioning that followed only got her attention more raptly. Apparently Mr. Noble's verdict on her answers was sound, for she was invited to join the Order of the Phoenix.
Oh, and get rid of the ashwinder, for that matter. There really was an ashwinder, and it really was living in the fireplace of 12 Grimmauld Place in London. No one wanted it to lay any eggs.
Having never been to Hogwarts, it may be simplifying it to say that Valentina got lost trying to get there. Actually, Valentina got lost trying to get to Scotland. — Valentina is kind of a ditz, A Distinctly Disorderly Meeting
"I am not sure, I think, whether to congratulate you or express remorse for your situation. Assume I chose the one which was most appropriate and continue from there, whether or not you feel the need to tell me which it was. — Awkward Flooversation