CHAPTER ONE:

El Oso


Eva Potter's P.O.V

Eva could see him through the swarming crowd and swaying smoke of the bar. He was right there, just across the room, sitting at a table smiling and laughing with a fist full of whiskey and cards. Obispo Losa. If she really wanted to, Eva could get up from her own stool perched at the bar, walk right on over and introduce herself. Maybe she would smile. Maybe she would offer her hand out in a friendly shake. Maybe there would be laughter. Sitting at the bar, nursing her own beer, Eva found her world had become a plethora of maybe's and could's. An endless rope of knotted prospects. Yet, despite all this, Eva did nothing. She was still, even thirty minutes after spotting the man, stuck on the notion that he was there at all.

He was real.

It had been nothing like a Hollywood movie, Eva finding him here, she would tell you that much. There had been no clandestine meeting. No epic search and accidental crosshairs. There had been no instant of unintentionally meeting him on the street, looking at each other through the throng of people and having, Merlin forbid, a moment. No. It had been slower. Less dramatic. More… Purposeful. It had been a slug. Hard.

Eva had been in America a month now, a whole fucking month, Santo Padre just a few days short of that, and after looking up any Obispo in the county directory as a last resort, she had stumbled across just three. Uno, dos, tres. Luck, it seemed, was still on her side.

The first Obispo she had visited had been an old man in a local retirement home. He was a nice guy, even if he was more than a bit grouchy and missing most of his teeth. He spoke broken English, kept haggling her for a cigar, but, well, he had a wicked sense of humour. Eva had whittled a whole day away at his chair-side, she didn't think his family visited him often, if he had any at all, and she had left with a promise to visit soon. A promise she was going to fulfill. She still owed him that cigar.

The second had been a math teacher just across town. He was less kind. Busy, prim, a bit of a stuck-up fucker if she was honest, with his turned-up nose and snooty pressed slacks. Eva had ditched as soon as she saw him. Too young, she knew, to be the man she was looking for. Still, she couldn't forget, not quite, the roll of his eye as he scanned her, having spotted the torn-up jeans, baggy white shirt and scuffed timberland boots, before he barked at her to get back to class, mumbling something or other about waist of time and a pay raise. Eva scoffed. She'd saved the world once, bloody died and resurrected like a second coming, and what had mister oxford shoes done? Marked some poor bastard down a grade for looking at him funny in roll call?

Prick.

And then came this one. This Obispo. He was listed as owning a bar down at the south-side of Santo Padre. A small hole in the wall kind of dig, part bar, part junkyard, out of the way, just on the right side of town to get all the wrong kind of crowd in. Eva had rolled past a week ago, on the back of Sirius's bike, spied the door, saw that damned symbol, Mayan, not Aztec as she now knew, face that had been on that old baby hat almost stamped on the door and she just… Knew.

This was it.

By the time Eva worked up her courage, something she would never admit to having to do, she had to save some Gryffindor face after all, and got her arse out of her hotel room and down here, it seemed the bar was open on some kind of specials night, people flooding in from work, home, and if she was to be honest about how some of these women were dressed, the local fucking brothel. Subsequently, it is here Eva found herself, squirreled away in a little corner pressed tight to the bar after flashing her fake ID, ordering herself a cold one, and waiting.

He had walked in from a back-room half hour ago, shoulder to shoulder with men, all wearing the same odd jacket, same strange symbol emblazoned across the back, sat down and-… Shit. Eva had just watched. Sipped her beer. Watched some more. Went to get up. Sat back down. Drank some more beer. Watched. Rinse and repeat. Now that she was here, now that he was in front of her, now that it was all so very real and happening, Eva just… Didn't know what to do.

It was funny, in a way, if it wasn't so fucking sad or pitiful. For something she had planned, for a meeting that she had played in her head over and over again since discovering the truth, everything felt so… Unexpected. Surreal. Unpredictable. Obispo Losa looked older than the man in the photo, but he was still in there all right. In the cut of his jaw. The sweep of his nose. The arch of his brows. Time had been kind and, Eva thought, she wasn't quite sure whether she was thankful she could so clearly see the man in the photo in the man just away from her now, or whether it terrified her.

He hadn't changed much, but she had.

She wasn't a baby anymore. She was grown. Scarred. And what if he didn't believe her? Worse, what if he did and he still wanted nothing to do with her? What if there was a reason James Potter adopted her and no one, not Remus or Sirius while they were alive, had told her the truth? What if Lily could see her now? What if, what if, what if.

And he looked happy. Sitting there. Surrounded by, what appeared to be, friends. Grinning. Laughing. Shuffling the poker cards in his hands. Taking a drink of his fifth of Jim Beam. He looked relaxed. At home. He has a life. Obispo Losa had a life, had friends, a job, and she's Eva Potter. She's bad luck draped in flesh. The black spot. The monkeys paw. If the number thirteen had a face, it would be hers.

Nearly all she had loved were dead. She's bitter. She's angry. She has a vile temper and a sailor's mouth. She smokes too much and drinks too much, she's just too much in general. She's anti-social and, even Hermione would say, on her best of days she's downright abrasive to the point of contention. She never knows when to let an argument go, and she-…

She's about to walk right into his life and she knows, right down to the fucking marrow in her bones, that she will ruin it. She ruins everything. Every Merlin damned thing. Everything she touches withers and dies. She's poison of the worst kind.

Insidious.

Suddenly, she can't do that to him. Suddenly, this was all a horrible mistake. Suddenly, she was panicking. Her hands were shaking. Palms clammy. Eyes stinging. Breath wavering. The room was shrinking. The crowd was too loud. Merlin, it was all closing in and-

"Well, don't you have a face like thunder. I would offer to buy you another drink, if only you didn't look like you were about to smash that one over my head if I did."

Eva snapped to with, what felt like, the force of a cold, hard slap to the face. The voice was deep, accented, flavoured with something Eva had never heard back in dreary old England. Something she quite liked, a certain roll and spice. And it came from just over her shoulder. Before she really knew what she was doing, Eva was scowling darkly, turning around, speaking.

"Excuse me?"

And she looked up… And up… And up. The man, for he was nothing else, was an absolute bear. Tall. Broad. His black hair was slicked back, shaved at the sides and back, his dark eyes glinted something fierce in the low light of the bar, and his beard, neatly trimmed, gave him a roguish sort of charisma that was almost lethal coupled with that grin of his. Yes. Definitely a bear. Big. Friendly looking. Charming. Yet, she knew, with one good swing, just like a bear, he could pitch her right across the bloody room.

More importantly, she saw his jacket. Arms missing. Black leather. White patches sown on at the breast. Mayans. Santo Padre. Los Asesinos De Dios. And, though Eva could not see it with him facing her, she sure as hell knew there, on the back, would be the Mayan face. It was the same god damned jacket from the photo in her pocket. It was the same fucking jacket she saw Obispo Losa wearing tonight. It was the same bloody shitty jacket a good six… No, seven men were wearing in the bar. What was this? Uniform for the bar? A cult? Girl scouts?

"Your drink. You look seconds away from smashing it and shanking someone."

He said in that sloping voice of his as he nodded over to her hand. Eva squinted down and spotted the white knuckles straight away, virtually sickeningly pale against the mottled green of her beer bottle. Immediately, she dropped the beer back onto the table, the liquid inside sloshing up the neck with a muted splash, as she flexed her fingers, drawing her hand into her lap and out of view.

"Right, yeah… Sorry. Long day."

Was her ever so elegant reply. She thought the man would shrug, move along and forget all about the morose stranger at the bar. That was what she was used to. Eva's life was full of it. Comings and goings, people who left their mark in their own way, both good and bad, but always transient. Fleeting. Instead, he grinned at her, in that mischievous way she was beginning to believe was simply him, edged up to her side and leant back on the bar by the prop of his elbows, kicking back with an air of sluggish relaxation.

"Then I don't suppose you would be up for a long night?"

For the first time in a very long time, maybe in months, fuck it, a year, Eva laughed. It was bright, hot, maybe even a touch obnoxious, but it was true. And it felt good. More than good. To just laugh for laughing sake, over something innocent and not because it was a choice either to laugh or cry. Life or death situations, which Eva's life had been full of, seemed to wear you down over time. The tide eroding away the cliff. And even this, being here, in the same room as a man, a stranger, Obispo Losa, the guy, until recently, she had not even known existed, let alone was her father, was something hefty and dense like stone, and she was tired.

So very bloody tired. Laughter, as short as it was, over something so silly, gave her a glimpse, just one, of being the sixteen-year old that she was. She liked it. So, for a moment, that's what she did. She pretended she was just like any other sixteen-year-old in a bar with a fake ID talking to a stranger. Eva cocked a brow at the man, flashed a dimpled grin, and pretended there was nothing more to her being here apart from getting alcohol.

"Does that line honestly work?"

He chuckled and took the seat next to her, her reply apparently the only invitation he needed.

"Once or twice it's worked its magic. What can I say? I had to give it a go. It's not every day you meet la británico down in these parts."

The big bastard was the type to flirt with a broomstick, Eva thought. Harmless. Friendly banter. Not a lick of meaning really behind it. It was a default setting. Just like Sirius. Eva winced at the thought, snatching up her beer to chug a mouthful as a splinter of ache and loss sparked in her chest. The beer was warm, tasted like shit, but it lessened some of the emotional burn.

"What gave me away, the accent or the sheer social awkwardness? Please tell me it's not my teeth."

Now it was the mans turn to laugh, and if Eva thought he looked like a bear, he sure as shit sounded like one. Rumbling, low, Eva was surprised he could make such a noise, so much like a growl, that she had half the mind to think him some sort of shifter going incognito among the muggles. That is, if she didn't feel not a taste of magic coming off him. Nada. Zilch. In fact, Eva couldn't feel any magic anywhere. Not one person. That meant her fath-… Obispo Losa…

He was a muggle.

Don't get her wrong, Eva wasn't disturbed, upset or even angry at this revelation. She had spent her childhood fighting a war for equality. However, it was another hurdle to climb. Did he know of their kind? Had her mother told him? Shown him, perhaps? Or, as witches and wizards were prone to do, did she too go incognito? How much had been truth and how much had been based on lies and deception?

Because Eva couldn't live that way. Not anymore. Her life had been one lie after the other. Rot setting in young. Nothing good ever came with lies. And if Obispo Losa didn't know of their kind, if Eva did eventually get up and walk over, talk to him, get to know him, if he wanted her to, then she wouldn't do it with lies already primed on her lips. And that was just another reason not to get up. Why all this was a mistake. If he didn't know, she would be opening a whole can of worms he would never see coming, perhaps endangering him, and if not that, he could hate her for it.

Freak. Monster. Abomination. She could hear uncle Vernon shouting in her mind. Feel the hits. The clap of fist meeting skin. The humiliation. The degradation. She could see aunt Petunia's eyes, dark, hooded, distrustful and filled with revulsion. Abruptly, Eva's scared. Terrified. What if this Obispo echoed Vernon? What if she could see Petunia in his eyes?

And that's why she's not getting up, why she's not walking over there, Eva now understands. She's petrified of facing those demons, because, in the end, if it's not just Vernon and Petunia who felt that way, saw her that way, then, maybe… Maybe it was because they were right. She was a Freak. A monster. Something wrong.

"So, what brings you so far from home and right into mine?"

Home. Perhaps this man beside her could read Eva better than she was comfortable with. Or, like she, he was good with lucky guesses. Because, despite this almost primordial fear that had suddenly grasped her in its keen talons, that's the spark of hope that has kept her right in this seat all night and not stalking out the door. It's what's brought her right over the Atlantic ocean, to this very seat, to this very moment in time. A chance at having a home.

Eva has never had a home before. She's had a cupboard she was locked in. A school she had fought in. Died in. An inn room she had hid in. A Weasley house she had sometimes invaded, welcomed but never fully one of them. Alien. An old, broken cottage she had exposed deceits in. Subsequently, before, she never realised how much she had wanted one until, right in front of her, there was a chance at having it. A home. And, shit, she wanted that. Badly. Achingly. For houses meant nothing. They were brick and mortar and concrete. Cold.

A home was where family was.

"Family."

Again, Eva was speaking before she meant to. Yet, she can't really get mad. Like laughter, it felt good, for once, to let it out, speak her mind, to just say something and be damned. Perhaps that was why bars and pubs were so popular. There was no judgement. No caution. Every poor soul here had their own mournful little tale, their own reason for being here and not somewhere else, and in the end, they were all here looking for something. Connection, relaxation, a chance to let go. In the dim light of night, surrounded by strangers, escape from who you are is easy.

The man smiled at her, softer now, his gaze flickering past her, over and away, and, idly, Eva knows he's looking at the table of men in similar jackets.

"Nothing more important than family. No matter how close to insanity they push us."

Eva shrugged, fiddling with her beer, thumbing the corner of the label, picking at the glue holding it to glass. Peeling. Fuck if not everything in her life wasn't currently flaking back in layers of mendacities too.

"Is it though? Is it so important? I mean… People get by without family all the time. Orphans. Kids from shit-hole homes. Fuck it, Batman seemed to do alright for himself."

He sniggered over the rim of his own bottle, the expelled air doing that odd twanging whistle that reminded Eva of pan pipes.

"Nah, Chiquita. Some may not have blood around them, but don't think for a second they don't have family. Batman had Alfred in the end. And if you happen to have blood and family, damn, you don't need nothing else. Now, stop brooding and go do what you gotta do."

Eva reeled back slightly, blinking rapidly, catching the man's eye with a look of mild, somewhat irritated, offense.

"Brooding? How the fuck do I look like I'm brooding? I don't brood."

Alright, maybe that wasn't completely honest of her. Eva, perhaps, occasionally, ruminated. Everybody did. And if she did, now and then, seem to be a bit temperamental or sullen, who could really blame her? But brood? No. Hell no… Okay. Fine. Maybe she fucking brooded occasionally. By the 'no shit' look the man was giving her, he wasn't quite buying her quick denial either.

"No one sits alone at a bar on a Saturday night, in a room full of half-drunk chica's and tipo's, staring down the neck of their beer talking over the pros and cons of familia without brooding."

Eva sucked in a lungful of air, more denials, rejections and hot disavowals ready and waiting to be fired like bullets when, abruptly, she stopped. Halted. Froze. He was right. Here she sat, in a bloody bar, nursing some beer like it was her baby, in a room full of laughter, dancing, joy and jokes, on a Saturday night, acting like a kicked dog. And it was sad. Pathetic. Cowardly.

She was Eva bloody Potter. She'd survived not one but two killing curses. She'd waged, and won, a fucking war. She had faced werewolves and dementors, centaurs and giants, rode on the back of a fucking dragon, stared down a hoard of starving acromantulas, stolen from one of the most secured banks in Europe, killed a basilisk with a fucking sword, faced down Tom bloody Riddle, the epitome of evil, somehow fought off being a horcrux, a fucking horcrux, and she was scared to introduce herself?

No.

If Eva could do all that, if she could survive all that, she could do this. So what if this Obispo Losa was her father? So what if he turned her away? So what if he called her a freak or a monster? She was Eva fucking Potter, a survivor, and she'd survive this too. What was the worst that could happen? A bewildered I don't know who you are, a snide remark, a demand to get out? Hell, she had all that on a good day with the Dursley's.

She could do this.

Plucking up her beer, Eva downed what little was left before she slammed it back down on the bar in front of her. Standing up, she snatched her frayed wallet from her jeans back pocket, plucked out some crinkled bills, placed them next to the empty bottle, and proceeded to sling her own jacket back on, the smell of motor oil, smoke, and that old spicy note left over from Sirius, still enveloping the old leather.

"Hey, now. I didn't mean it like that. Don't leave on a-"

Eva cut him off.

"No… No, it's not you. I… I have someone I have to see. Thank you…?"

He grinned, nodded, a slight up and down movement, sharp, before he deftly picked up her subtle question she had left hanging between them.

"Angel."

Angel. Eva chuckled. Strangely, she thought it fit him perfectly. Ironically almost. Big bear with a heart of an angel and a voice cut from sin. It had a nice poetic twist to it.

"Eva. Eva Potter."

She finally added before she swiftly turned on her heal and began to push through the crowd. Before she could fully disappear into the mass of undulating bodies, Eva could hear Angel shout at her retreating back.

"I'll see you around?"

Eva replied, voice lilting, without glancing behind her. Forever unsure whether he had heard her or not over the music and chatter. She hoped Angel did. She thought it would be amusing if he didn't. A girl's got to have a little mystic every now and again.

"Maybe!"

With each step closer to the table at the far end of the bar, with each body passed, Eva's resolve grew like weeds through cracked pavement. Unconstrained. Fixed. Determined. She was doing this. Right here. Right now. Nevertheless, as she drew closer, when, through the crowd, she could see him again, Obispo Losa, eyes locked on the back of the man she had been watching for the last hour, searching for in the last month, her heart picked up speed, jack hammering in her chest, matching the thud, thud, thud of her old black army boots.

Still, Eva kept her head held high, back straight. Proud. And, if her hands fisted at her side, somewhat quivering from anxiety, fear, no one was to see them tucked into the sleeves of her jacket. No one would ever know but herself. She could live with that.

She was nearing the table when she saw him, Obispo, lean over to the man next to him, a burly beast with ink from neck to wrist, whispering something into his ear before Obispo placed his cards down. Chair squeaking over the base of the music pumping in the air. Then, Obispo was walking away from the table, over to the back rooms she had seen him leave earlier, alone, and then, right then, Eva saw her chance.

Pushing the people around her now, some turning to groan and snark at her shoulder, no one quite seeing the storming five-foot-three woman before it was too late and she was shoving past. Eva didn't care. She slipped across the corner, banking to the left, nearly jogging to catch up, and, then, three more steps, she marched out from the crowd, right in front of him.

He very nearly ploughed right into her, and there was a flash of a moment where he had to scrabble with her shoulders to keep them both upright, but they both remained standing, and his hands were still on her shoulders as he began to swear, angry, annoyed, before he looked up, right at her, brown eyes so dark they were almost black locking with jade eyes so green they were almost lurid.

"Take it easy! I could have-… Do I… Do I know you?"

His hands fell from her shoulders, flopping to his side as his head cocked back and to the left, frown heavy on his face. One day, so very long ago, he did. One day, he sat on some hospital bed, next to her exhausted mother, wrapped her in a little pink blanket and held her. One day, long ago… They had been a family.

But Eva wasn't that baby. She hadn't been for a very long time. Her innocence had been stripped years ago, before its time was due. She's grown. Changed. Yet, through it all, the scars and age and time, Eva's surprised that he could still spot something familiar in her face. In the very pit of her stomach, hope flares white and bright, because, if he could still recognize some form or shape of that baby, even if he did not know her name, then her innocence too wasn't completely gone, and if that wasn't completely gone, maybe, just maybe, they could get back to that photo and be a family again.

"I-… You're Obispo Losa? The-… I… Uh… My name's Eva… Lily Evans was my mo-"

Recognition rushed over his face like a fisher letting out a line, a small fluttery drawback and then, crack, recollection, holding him in place as mercilessly as a snake coiled around a baby bird. For a wink of an eye, Eva only watched on, her pulse skyrocketed, thrumming, sounding like a thousand galloping horse racing right through her skull.

He knew.

He's known since she said her name, Eva, and for a split second that feels like a lifetime, it was make or break. An excess of possibilities all laid bare before them, crammed into the few inches of space distancing them, and, to Eva, the air felt so tight and bulky with those potentials that she thought the very air would pop and rip right between their feet like fabric seams. Nevertheless, the horses don't smash her skull, time restored itself, and the air didn't burst. No. What happened next was something Eva never saw coming.

"Lily. Dios… Eva? Is that really you? Mi Eva?"

Because he said her name like a confession. A prayer. A plea. Not like uncle Vernon, with his revulsion and rage, not like Petunia with her cynicism and antipathy, not like Albus with his sorrow and duplicity, not like Hermione and Ron with their exasperation or apprehension. For the first time in Eva's life, it felt like someone was looking at her and seeing only her. Not Lily or everything they thought atrocious in the world caught and trapped in skin. Not a child they knew they would have to sacrifice, a pawn on the great chess game, when the time was right. Not a friend who, most often than not, put them all into dangerous peril, and, really, friendship could only go so far.

He just saw Eva.

She felt naked. Exposed. Words died and festered on her tongue. There was a million things she wanted to say, a million more questions, and all fail her, all gone. She's simply standing there, a puppet with her strings cut, in a crowded bar, with a man who was a stranger, a man who was her father, and she's stumbling, stuttering, stammering, and-

He swept her up, crushed her to him, and it takes longer than needed for Eva to realize he's hugging her, not attacking her, before she went slack. One hand slipped into the curls at the back of her head, cradled it, brought her in close, sealed, tight. Eva still couldn't find any words, she could hardly form a complete coherent thought, but, standing there, hugged for the first time in so long, she found sometimes, some marvelous, wondrous times, there didn't need to be any words. Then her own arms are up, around, clenching into the back of his leather kutte, fingernails scratching at stitches, and she was hugging back, just as firmly, just as sturdy, just as… There.

Eva's there. Obispo's there. Nothing else, fear, hope, worry, concern, none of it matters.

"I never thought I would see you again."


What do you think? Good? Bad? Absolute trash? Let me know by dropping a review!

~AlwaysEatTheRude21