CHAPTER TWO:

El Azulejo.


Eva Potter's P.O.V

The night was soft around Eva. Clear. Bright. The full moon fat and plump in the sky, a size Eva had never thought it could be. Sitting at an old picnic table, marked with a thousand scratches and dozens of lover's names, she could hear the low thump and bass of the music echoing out of the bar a few feet away. Obispo Losa was coming back over to her, out from the bar, twisting and curving around the bikes parked up out front, carrying two steaming mugs of coffee.

He placed one mug on the table in front of her, before he slid around and sat opposite, keeping his own in his hands. Eva muttered a thanks as she slipped her hands around the mug, her thumb running up and down the side, stroking at the chipped enamel. She needed to keep her hands busy. She felt like if she didn't, with how very twitchy she felt, she was likely to start kicking the table leg, picking at the hem of her shirt, drumming her fingers or any other myriad of obnoxious things that nervous people do.

Perhaps coffee wasn't the best choice right now.

"You look a great deal like your grandmother when she was younger. Her name is Eva too. She was the first to hold you after you were born. Stole you right out my arms and professed your name before either I or your mother had a chance to say hola."

The flick of her finger stopped. Eva had been so caught up in the prospect of having a father, one who was not James Potter, who wasn't dead and buried and had been for most of her life, she had, ironically, overlooked what that actually meant. She felt a bit like an idiot. Logically, of course Obispo Losa had a mother. He had a father too. Perhaps brothers. Sisters. Cousins.

Then it hit her. Hard. He could have other children. It had been sixteen years. Eva could have brothers or sisters out there. Perhaps both. Merlin… But she didn't. Not really. Oh, they could exist, they could even be back in that bar right now, she could have walked past them, or sat next to one, and she would have never known, and that was why she didn't.

She'd never celebrated their birthdays. Never got them a gift. Never taught them how to ride a bike or cleaned a scraped knee, or threatened their school bully, or any of the happenstances Eva had always wanted to do, but never could. She'd always wanted a big family, had dreamt of nothing but in her dank little cupboard, and though she might have missed out on those little moments that bonded a family together, now… Now there was a chance.

She wasn't a sister, but she could become one.

"I have a grandmother? Do I have siblings?"

Eva couldn't keep the disbelief from creeping into her voice like ivy vines up an oak tree.

"No… No siblings. You're my only child. But you do have a grandmother. She lives just across town. I know she would love to see you. I can take you to visit soon and we could-… I mean, that is, if you want to meet her?"

Disappointment flashed hot on her face, warming her cheeks pink. Obispo caught it, this fleeting blunder, and, she thought, he placed it on the wrong offender. She wasn't upset at being offered to meet a grandmother… Her grandmother. In fact, she would love that. Love it more than she could rightly put into words. She was, however silly it was, disappointed she didn't have any siblings stashed away.

Growing up as an only child, with only Dudley present, had been, well, lonely. And, as she always did, when the thought struck her that she might have siblings, as delayed as that thought was, she had jumped the gun and it had stuck like glue as she rambled through all the things that could be.

Full tables around a birthday cake. Teaching someone smaller than her how to cook. Reading and helping with homework. Sneaking them treats under the table, even if they hadn't finished their greens. Hallmark card shit. The kind she saw on T.V adverts, when she would sneak out her cupboard and watch through the crack in the door in the hallway, and had thought, really thought, this is what a family was.

Not whatever the Dursley's were.

Nevertheless, she had a grandmother. Another Eva. She had Obispo in front of her and… Fuck, that was more, so much more, than she thought she would ever get her orphan-y little hands on. So, Eva smiled. She smiled glossily. Hotly. Full of teeth and dimple and everything she had, everything she was, and that slick of rejection shadowing Obispo's eyes washed away like dew on morning grass come noon.

"I would really like that."

That was all he needed. He pressed in closer, rested his elbows on the table between them, his own grin decorating his sharp angled face, and he was in movement. Gesturing with his hands, coffee sloshing up the side of his cup, drops splattering on the stained picnic table. Shoulders bending. Lips moving. Animated. Alive. The sight only made Eva smile wider.

"You have cousins too. Uncles. Shit, Azulejo, your godfather is going to pop a blood vessel when he sees you."

Eva's grin cracked like fine china on concrete.

"Godfather?"

Yet, before Obispo could pick up on that too, Eva pulled the grin back on tight. She pretended the word didn't make her think of long black curls and a dogs bark. No. She didn't think of the sound of paws padding across wood, or a rope of tattoo's across a too prominent collarbone. And she definitely didn't see, in her mind, the Veil, taunting her.

Sirius was gone.

And she needed to stop torturing herself. Eva couldn't flinch and break when anything, a word, a sound, a smell, reminded her of Sirius. He would never have wanted his name to hurt her so much. She knew that. Thankfully, wedged into his own trip down memory lane, Obispo missed Eva's own unexpected lurch into her sordid past.

"Si, Marcus Alvarez. Your oldest cousin. You used to babble so much around him as he bounced you on his knee. And you would have him doing it for hours, bawling your eyes out if he so much as hinted at putting you down. It would be all we would hear from you. Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali. You almost pulled his beard out once and, I swear Azulejo, I've never seen a grown man try so hard to hold back tears as he smiled down at a giggling baby, as Marcus did with you holding a fist full of his whiskers. He still has a bald patch in his beard which he's never fully grown out since. I tell you, before Lily-…"

And there, right there, was Obispo's own rapid jolt. Unforgiving. Torturous. Painful. Eva could see it all playing out on his face. Reminiscing was dangerous like that. It lulled you into a false sense of security, painting everything rosy and mellow and then, when you least expected it, something less pleasant would hit you right in the sternum like a shot of chili hidden in a sweet lollipop.

Oddly, Eva was torn. She wanted Obispo to continue, having been pulled right in too, hearing things she had never heard before, things about herself, family she never knew existed, this man, her godfather she had called Ali so many years ago, and all those misbegotten childhood dreams flooded back to her. Demanding attention. Craving more. More fuel. More stories. More. More. More. A selfish little creature it was. Yet, as it had done with Obispo, her mother's name added a chill. Frozen. Corked. Before Lily… Before Lily what?

What had happened?

Why was she now a Potter and not a Losa? Why had she grown up in England, not here? Why had Obispo never been there? When she had needed someone, a father, so fucking much? Why had she been left alone? To the fucking Dursley's? To starvation and neglect, abuse and death and-…

It was no use trying to picture what could have been, no matter how pretty and perfect Eva made it look in her head. Imagination was a bitch. It always painted in sunshine even if it would have rained. What was done was done. She was here. He was here. And somewhere, between them, just lurking underneath the surface, was the truth. They both simply needed to be brave enough to reach under and grab it.

"Before Lily took you."

His voice was low, soft, like a dim lamppost trying bravely to flicker on, as, finally, he finished the thought. Eva blinked.

"Took me?"

Obispo sucked in a dragging breath, held it in, steeled himself, Eva knew, because this was it. This was the conversation no one really wanted to have, but both needed it to. Placing his mug down on the table, he stared down into his black coffee, and, through its oil like reflection, Eva could see one lone eye staring back from the black abyss.

"How much has your mother told you?"

Eva stalled.

"Mum… Mum told me nothing. She…"

And completely stopped. She tried to gulp down the lump in her throat, the one threatening to choke her, but it was stubborn. Unrelenting. Unmovable. Funny, too, because 'un' was really the only sound she was capable of making right then. She opened her mouth, once, twice, three times, it wouldn't come out. Her mother's death, entombed in her throat, impenetrable.

She knew it was wrong, the way her hand delved into the pocket of her leather jacket, fingers plucking out the old photo that had caused all this, knowing full well she was going to use it to change topics, divert, stop herself from choking up, locking down, but it was the only thing she could do. She swore, however, that she would tell him, by the end of the night, come what may. She swore it on Sirius's memory. Obispo deserved that much.

Just not yet.

Placing the photo on the table between them, she slid it over to him, hands shooting back to her mug of coffee as soon as it was close enough. Obispo locked onto it straight away, picked it up, ran his calloused thumb over the face as a small, so fucking small, smile hinted at the corner of his lips. A shadow of an upturn.

"I found that a month ago. It was in a box in mum's closet. There was a birth certificate, some more photos, medals, an adoption certificate-"

He cut her off tersely.

"Adoption certificate?"

Obispo seemed confused, and, slowly, Eva realised he might not have known. How could he? If Lily did take her, why the hell would she have had James adopt her before she left? Why have James adopt her at all? Why leave? Why take her? Why?

"James Potter. He married my mum when I was about nine months old. He adopted me too."

Anger, red, beastly, contorted Obispo's face into something not quite human. Eva had to stop her hand going for her wand, which was safely strapped to her forearm, as he slammed his fist on the table, cursing.

"Fucking Jimmy adopted you? Married my wife? That conniving little puta! What-…"

Then he saw her bent shoulders, the leant back posture, the alert, watchful eyes of Eva and Obispo managed to drag himself back to himself. Hunching over his mug of coffee, Eva watched as he ran a tired hand down his face, his palm tugging at the whiskers of his beard. She didn't blame him. Not for the anger. If she had found out her child had been adopted behind her back, by someone she had thought friend, for Eva could tell that from the photos she had seen in the box, she too would be furious.

But Obispo stopped himself, saw her guarded expression and he had… He had controlled himself. For her sake. And no one had ever done that for her before. Normally, with the Dursley's, with the war, her face had only made it worse, worry or fear adorning it be damned. It meant… Well, it meant a whole lot that he even gave a passing thought to her sense of ease.

"I'm sorry, Azulejo. I'm not… I'm not angry at you. Is he here? Did he tell you?"

Eva slowly shook her head.

"No. He told me nothing. He's dead."

Obispo frowned at her.

"Did Lupin or Black bring you here? Tell you the truth?"

Eva winced, picked up her mug to blow at her coffee before taking a long, longer than needed, sip.

"No… No. They're dead as well."

If Eva thought Obispo looked confused before, she was sorely proven wrong.

"Then how did-…"

And, like sun breaking on a cloudy day, the fog parted and comprehension lit the path as he glanced down to the little photo he still held in his hand.

"You found the box. You… You didn't know I… Father… Jimmy… James…"

What was she meant to say to that? I'm sorry I didn't know you existed until a month ago? I'm sorry I could have gone my whole life without ever knowing? I'm sorry I'm here right now, dredging all this up? For some inexplicable reason, she had the urge to apologize. For something. Anything. Perhaps, because everything was somehow, someway her fault. And she felt guilty. For this. For that. For everything. That little cynical voice in her head, the one that filled her full of doubts and self-hate and guilt, was screaming at her, telling her this, somehow, was her fault too.

Eva didn't know how to do this.

All she had was the truth, and that was fucking ugly. Grotesque. Gnarled. Damp twisted tree roots that skulked in the dark, ready to trip and wrap and pull. Nevertheless, as ugly as it was, as much as Eva wished it was all different, simple, easy, the truth was all she had.

"No. I didn't know I was adopted until I found the box."

Obispo deflated. Sunk down. Folded. He reminded Eva of those card pyramids, a sudden gust of wind and it all came toppling down, layer by layer.

"Fuck, Azulejo. It was never supposed to be like this."

Nothing ever was. If Eva had her way, she would have never been in that cupboard. She would have never been with the Dursley's. She would have never gone to Hogwarts and restarted a vicious, bloody, half a century long war. She would have never lost Sirius. Remus. So many. She would have never died.

But she had.

Eva couldn't change that. Just as she couldn't change this. For some reason, sixteen years ago, Lily had left with her, James Potter had adopted her, and everything, all the loss and pain, had fell into place just as surely as the earth spins around the sun. Obispo was left here, out of the way, none the wiser, and they, him and her, when all was said and done, were left alone to try and fill in the gaps, mend the shattered picture. This is what they had, as little was it was, and some fucking way, they had to make that work for them.

"Then why is it?"

The only way to do that was to dig down, as much as it hurt, and try and collected the shards of truth buried in the muck of the lies.

"I don't know, Azulejo. Me and your mother, when we got married, when we found out we were having you, we were… We were happy. More than happy. We had a little home on a nice street. Friends and family. Then one day…"

Obispo puttered off, looking out into the distance, lost once more.

"One day?"

Eva pushed gently. Half for his sake, and half because, really, she was afraid of the answer. Obispo snapped back, shuffling in his seat before he took a gulp of his cooling coffee.

"One day she changed. She had just had you. Everything was going good. Real good, Azulejo. And then she got a letter from home and she… She changed. I can't describe it any other way. It was like a damned switch went off in her head. After that… Some days I didn't even know who that woman was. My own wife was a stranger."

A letter from home. Dread crept in. A hundred angry snakes hissing in the bowels of her stomach. From all the stories she had heard about her mother over the years, one thing had stayed constant. How unabashedly her she was. A tad like Hermione, now that Eva thought about it. No matter what other's said, how derogatory they could be, the prejudice and ignorance they had faced, they had always been themselves and nothing else. To the point of refusing to grow, in some cases. A bit closed minded, though Eva would never tell Hermione that.

Not unless she wanted a face full of angry canaries.

So, to hear that her mother changed, drastically at that, over a letter from home of all things, Eva knew, was the turning point. The hinge that had flipped and turned what could have been into this mess. Could it have been cursed? Some darker spells did change a persons personality. Who would do it? Why? If Lily, James, Sirius and Remus were here, in America, they were out of the battlefield that was England. Off the front-line. They were all powerful witches and wizards in their own right. The Deatheaters wouldn't have wanted them active on home ground. Cursing them to run back seemed counterproductive. They could have finished off the war in England and then come for them, cleaned up all the loose ends for any opposition. So why would-

Albus.

Albus would want his top men back. Albus would need the extra force. Albus would need his child sacrifice somewhere in arms reach, not halfway across the world. Albus had a history of messing with peoples lives. Their futures. Another pawn to move. Another body to fill the trenches. Another bloody kamikaze runner. Eva knew that personally.

"Changed how?"

But to curse them? Her mother? As tricky as Albus was, as far as he was willing to go for the 'greater good', Eva couldn't see him stooping to such lows. Coercion? Sure. Albus could talk a cat into barking like a dog if he wanted. He could talk an abused child into walking to their death for others who wouldn't spit or piss on her if she was on fire. Albus had liked talking. Too much, Eva now knew, older and wiser to the ways of power struggles. But dark curses? Not so much.

"She got paranoid. Real bad. She refused to leave the house, especially with you. She wouldn't talk to me. She hardly let me touch you, your own father, let alone anyone else. She banned your godfather, Marcus, from coming around. She did it with all our friends. Jimmy, Lupin and Black too. She burnt the letter and I never got to read it but, after, she… She wasn't the same person. It was like she was always looking over her shoulder."

Obispo shook his head.

"Fuck. One day I got a tattoo done. On my forearm. Lily spotted it when I got home and… She lost it. It was bandaged to stop infection, and she saw the covering, and she… She stormed right up and ripped it off before I could move. She saw it, Madre Maria knows what she was looking for, it was just your birthdate, and she broke down crying, saying she was sorry. She locked herself in her room for hours afterwards, refusing to open the door no matter how much I begged."

Eva sighed, closing her eyes as she tried, so hard, to keep herself together. It was all making a sick sort of sense now. That letter… What would cause her mother to change? The one thing that would cause change in all mothers. A threat to her child. That fucking letter was likely a warning of the prophecy. The reaction to Obispo's tattoo, the paranoia, the refusal to leave the house, with Eva most importantly, the caution Lily took with having people around her, even friends, it was all her mother trying to protect her.

Lily likely thought, with Eva's birthday, that Eva was a target. It had, after all, been a two-horse race back then. A toss up between her and Neville. A flip of a coin. Nevertheless, Neville was a pureblood. Eva, in truth, was… Well, her mother was a muggleborn and her father a muggle. Lowest of the low. Tom's eyes, already filled with prejudice and hate, would have flown straight to Eva for the simple matter of her blood. To a Merlin damned racist, megalomaniac sycophant like Tom, it was always going to be the 'dirty' that would be a danger.

And who would have sent that horrid letter? Who would know Tom would gun for her and not Neville if Tom found out about her? Who would want Lily, James, Sirius and Remus back? Who would know, if Lily knew about the prophecy, that she would come rushing home for help to protect her child? Who would act as if they were looking out for her mother and small child, if only to have them close and usable? Who was good at talking and convincing?

Albus fucking Dumbledore.

And it wouldn't have taken much, Eva knew. He likely warned Lily of the prophecy, told her mother Eva was a target, some 'grandfatherly' advice attached at the end to keep an eye out for anything odd, for Eva's safety of course, a tactic to instill fear and paranoia that they, Deatheaters, were indeed coming without ever saying so, an offer for help should Lily need it, and it had all played out exactly as Albus had wanted it to. He got his men back on home soil, he already had Neville close, her too now should Tom have chosen her, and the rest was history.

The funny thing, the real kicker, was Tom Riddle probably didn't know Eva existed until Lily came back to England with a child. Why would he? Her mother had been living as a muggle in America, and Tom's attention had never drifted from the pebbled shores of England. Eva, in short, if her mother never read that letter, never went running back, would have been safe. Tom's attention would have fell on Neville and stayed.

Albus, in trying to help the Longbottom's, in trying to spread the chances of Neville not being attacked, had fucking obliterated Eva's family. Sacrificed them. Yes, perhaps he didn't know both would be attacked. Perhaps he thought he could help them both by endangering another. Perhaps he really did have good intentions. Yet, good intentions paved the way to hell. And, right then, Eva had never hated Albus as much as she did, sitting in the ruins of what his 'greater good' morality had wrought.

Lily had tried to stick it out. Make it work here. But it all got to much. The fear. The constant guard. So, she took Albus's offer. She ran. Lily had been trying to protect her. Leaving, having a pureblood, James Potter, adopt her would have put her on the same level as Neville, evening the odds that Tom wouldn't choose her, and it had all been to protect Eva. To protect the man in front of her.

The man who knew nothing of magic if he did not know of the prophecy, or why her mother became paranoid, why she would think she had to run. The man who did not know his wife had been a witch. The man who, still, to this day, did not know what had happened to cause his family to fall apart.

"We had a row one night. A vicious thing. I said some shit I didn't mean. I told her… I said if she wanted to leave, she knew where the door was. I stormed out of the house. I needed to cool down. By the time I got back in the morning, she was gone. You were gone. I rang Jimmy-… James, Black, Lupin. All their phones had been disconnected. I visited their apartment. Empty. Everything was packed and gone. She left me a note. Just four words. Don't look for us. Fuck… I should have taken you with me that night. I shouldn't have left the house. I shouldn't have-…"

Eva opened her eyes, but she couldn't bring herself to look at Obispo. She had been right. In a way, this, all this, was her fucking fault.

"I tried looking for you, Azulejo. I tried my fucking hardest. But international abduction laws are hard to enforce and Lily… She disappeared in the wind. I went to law firms, charities, the fucking FBI. No one had a single clue where you or Lily were. I tried going to London once. I visited her home. The address she had told me she lived in. No one had ever heard of a Lily. You were… You were just… Gone. I didn't even get to kiss you goodnight…"

There was so much blame there, hidden between the rolls of vowels and the snaps of consonants. Eva's stomach flipped. Spoiled. She couldn't bear to hear it, aimed inside, at himself when, really, it should be aimed at her.

It was all her fault.

"She did it to protect you."

Eva was focused over his shoulder, staring off into the dark, watching the metal chrome of a bike glint underneath the moon, still unable to meet his eye, that she couldn't see his face. She could, oddly, hear the frown in his voice.

"Protect me? How is taking my child protecting me?"

Eva's voice softened, ghosting along in the glimmer of that fat pale moon.

"Lily… Mum… Mum died a long time ago."

At her confession, there was silence. Silence and starlight. That voice, mocking, biting, cold, was speaking up again, telling her not to carry on. Bury it. Hide it. If he knows, he'll hate you. Blame you. Kick you to the curb where you belong. It sounded like aunt Petunia. All nasally and odious. Eventually, Obispo shattered the silence with a cracked, almost grunted word.

"How?"

Eva licked her lips and tasted grief.

"She was murdered."

From her peripheral vision, she could see Obispo open his mouth, go to talk, but Eva beat him to it. If she didn't get it out now, she never would.

"Mum, James, Sirius, Remus… They were all in some deep shit. Back home, in England, everything was going wrong. So very fucking wrong. It got dark. Real dark."

Eva tried to find the right words all over again, at least ones a muggle would understand, without the magic and surrealism that tinted her life into some fucking Salvador Dali painting.

"The government was fighting a terrorist organisation. They, this organisation, called themselves Deatheaters."

The word cached in her mouth like flies in honey, tasting like rancid meat, wiggling with maggots. Eva hardened herself. Cut herself off. Went… Inside. It was easier that way, she found. To pretend she was talking about someone else, traumas and wounds inflicted on someone else, distanced. Away.

"They believed in purity. They thought themselves special. Devine. Superior. You know, the usual with a supremacist group. They were categorical foul. They were the type of people to break into a families home, rape the wife in front of the husband, kill a child in their parents arms, and then leave them all just barely alive enough to feel the lick of flames on their skin as they burnt their house down with them locked inside. They liked hearing people scream."

So many families gone like that. Too many. And no one had really cared in the wizarding world when it had only been muggle attacks. No one had given a flying fuck. It had been swept under the rug. Forgotten. That had only changed when the Deatheaters began attacking wizarding families, ones who opposed Tom. Muggles? Sure, rape, torture, maim and murder until your hearts content. Attack an unarmed wizard? Oh, no. You're evil.

Hypocrites.

"Their leader was a man called Tom Riddle. He worked in the government. He had a… Family name. Old blood and older money. The one percent kinda man. People flocked to him. He was charismatic. Intelligent. Handsome… And the vilest most inhumane person I have ever known."

There was not enough words in any language to describe the monster that was Tom Riddle. Eva didn't want there to be. Even the name Tom Riddle seemed to be a creature of its own, infecting anyone who heard it.

"He believed he could… Become immortal. He went to a… Fortune teller one day. He thought she would tell him that he would succeed. Instead… He didn't like what he heard. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark them as his equal, but they will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."

"You were born in July…"

Eva nodded.

"Tom went on the warpath. Mum… That letter she got, it must have been news of the pro-… The fortune telling. Tom already knew of mum because she had gone to the same school he had, though he was older. Mum and James, Sirius and Remus… They had joined his political rival young. Too young to make any sort of decision like that. They already had targets on their back for opposing him. This… This was just icing on the cake. It didn't matter if it was real or not, you see, because Tom believed it was real."

Eva gave a hollow laugh. It sounded like a death knell.

"And Tom hated my mother. He hated anyone like her. He would have hated you. He thought people like her, like me, like you, were less. Muddy. Unclean. When mum got that letter, she must have thought Tom would come."

Obispo's voice was raspy.

"And he did."

"Yeah. Mum ran. She had James adopt me because, I think, he came from an old English family too. She likely thought it would protect me. Protect you."

But it hadn't. it had sealed all their fates.

"It didn't protect you, though, did it?"

Finally, on their own accord, her eyes drifted back to Obispo, finding the dark brown wet with unshed tears.

"I was a year old when he finally found mum. Some people in the government put her in protective custody. It's probably why you couldn't find us. He broke into her home. He killed… James was the first gone. He killed my mum… She was standing over my crib. He… He fired at me but mum jumped in the way. He tried to kill me too, after mum-… but something went wrong."

In a rap of three, Eva tapped at the scar on her forehead.

"The shot rebounded off me and hit him instead. It did some damage. He was… Really weak for a long time. He had to go underground."

Obispo's eyes roamed over her face, from scar to chin, dropping to her hands, her knuckles, to the little chicken scratch scars white and bright on her tanned skin. I must not tell lies. Immediately, she pulled her hand underneath the table, tugging at the sleeves of her leather jacket over her hands, but it was too late. The damage had been done. Obispo had saw them. A tear fell.

"He came back again, didn't he?"

She had a choice now, Eva knew. Tell him yes, but say Tom was gone now and leave it at that. Or… Or for once in her short but sorry life, everything could be laid out on the table between them, no deceit, no trickery, no coercion with half-truths, and she could give Obispo what was never given to her. The full picture. But in so… She could be damning herself.

The choice was easier than she thought it would be.

"He did. But he's gone now. Dead. You should know… It was me."

"Eva…"

Obispo sounded as if he was going to try and rebuff her, push back, but Eva couldn't have that. Not now. He needed to know exactly what and who was sitting in front of him. What he would be letting into his life should he not boot her away. Eva straightened out, squared her shoulders and looked Obispo dead in the eye.

"I killed him. I killed Tom Riddle."

And then it all came tumbling out as if, deep inside, a dam had broken, flooding her with thoughts and feeling she was used to telling herself not to think about, let alone speak.

"He resurfaced when I was eleven… And he just kept coming. He wouldn't stop. Year after year after year, he would attack and retreat, attack and retreat and… No one believed me. Not in the beginning. They thought I was insane. Little cracked Potter. That's what they called me. Cracked Potter. I begged for them to believe me. Pleaded. To do something. Anything… No one did. And when they did finally see for themselves… It was too late. Tom was in. His people were in. He was everywhere."

Eva couldn't stop.

"He killed my mother. He killed my da-… James. He was the reason Remus and Sirius were murdered. He… Remus had a wife… A wife and a new-born child and… Only Teddy survived and I… He tortured my friends… He took everything from me… He… He voi… He violated me in ways I can never speak… I…"

Eva never spoke about… About… That. Being a… Horcrux. Not to anybody. It felt shameful. Dirty. To have him, Tom… Inside her. Her mind. Her soul. Invading. Taking. Whispering things in her ear. Sending her dreams of killing muggles, innocents, night after night after night until she couldn't sleep, too afraid of what she would see, what atrocities would unfold before her, and she, helpless, trapped, unable to do anything, to stop it and-

And he wouldn't stop. He'd taunt her with her own thoughts. Things meant to be private. He'd take them and warp them and throw them right back at her as demons. He'd sully her emotions, tinge everything in shades of anger until she had no joy left, no happiness, until… Until she was becoming him. That was the worse.

He had tried to strip her of herself. In her own body, her own mind, her own soul… Nothing had been hers. It had all been his. His weapons, his tools, his toys. Nothing had been safe… Eva had never felt safe. He had stained her. A stain, a soul deep stain, that Eva could never wash off, no matter how hard she scrubbed.

"I killed Tom seven months ago. He attacked my school. Cornered me. Shot me. I was… I was dead for a whole forty-two minutes the heal-… Doctors said. Dead. But I got back up. Against the odds I came back and I made damn sure he wouldn't be able to do the same. I made sure he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone else. I made sure he couldn't take anything else from me."

Something wet dipped into the crease of her lips. Salty. She was crying.

"I killed Tom Riddle. And I'm not sorry for it. I would do it again. I stood over his cold, lifeless body and I didn't feel a lick of remorse. That's who I am, you see. I… if your going to let me… If this is going to continue… You should know that."

Obispo's voice cracked brokenly.

"The police?"

Eva swiped at her cheeks, scrubbing away the tears, the weakness. Merlin, why was she crying? It was done with. Finished. Tom didn't have any power over her anymore. He never would again.

"You don't have to worry about hiding me. I'm not on the run. They gave me a bloody medal for it. Last I heard, they were even going to put a statue up in my honour."

Eva practically spat out the word honour. What honour for her was there? She had… She had killed someone. Tom Riddle, yes, more monster than man, but he was still a man. A human. And that was blood on her hands. Sixteen and she had taken someone's life. That was just another thing she would never be able to scrub away.

"The poor little orphan girl who stood up against the devil. A nice fairy-tale, isn't it? The things we tell ourselves to sleep at night… I'm sorry. I… I understand if you don't want me… I… I just thought… You deserve to know the truth. I didn't want to lie… I… I'll go. I'm sorry."

Eva may have been outside, free, but all of a sudden, she desperately needed air. Space. She pushed away from the table, listing off to the side, leaving. It's the silence. Obispo's silence. She couldn't take it. She knows what it means. You're fault. You're fault. Monster. Freak. Just like Tom. You ruin everything you touch. Tainted. Infected. Who could want you? Sullied. You're fault.

Eva got five steps away, just five, before warm fingers landed on her shoulder, tugging, and she's being pulled around, swung. Then there were arms, around, hauling, and her face brushed leather that smelled of cigar smoke and whiskey, a hand in the back of her hair, drawing her in, holding her close, shaking slightly. Hugging. Tight.

"Lo siento, azulejo. I'm so fucking sorry. I should have been there. But I'm here now. I'm here now and I'm not ever going away. You hear me? Never."

The desolation Eva felt was all consuming. She felt broken, shattered, robbed of everything she could use to hold herself together. She felt like a man lost at sea, helpless and stranded, looking desperately for that hint of land on the horizon to anchor herself before she drowned.

"I was scared… So scared… No one believed me… No one helped…I was so fucking scared…"

It's the first time Eva had ever admitted it. Her fear. So much fear. Both internally and externally. Before, in the war, as the bodies were dropping, she couldn't afford to even hint that she might have been afraid. If the Girl-Who-Lived admitted she didn't know what the hell she was doing, that she was barely running on fumes of fear, that all she was was some scared little girl who was only trying to survive, everything would have fallen apart. Too many eyes had strayed to her to win, to fight, to be what they couldn't. Too many had leant on her, expected her to bare the weight of their worries and fears, and absolve them of their sins. Too many had thought she would know what to do, how to save everyone.

She had been so bloody scared.

After the war, it had become second nature. Don't show. Never show. The Weasley's, with the death of George, needed her there to be strong for them in their time of need and grief. They needed to see her face to give reason to George's death, to make it worth something, anything, to deal with the insurmountable loss of a child. The ministry paraded her around like a prized pig, pushing the notion that all was good in the world now, the light had won, here was their saviour, who, of course, the ministry had always backed and, no, of course they had not hunted her mercilessly just a few months ago under Tom's orders. Everyone else expected her to fall into line, to become an Auror, to carry on the good fight for them all, to keep the little wizards and witches safe in their homes, to sacrifice more, fight more, die a little bit more. For them. Always for them. Take and take and take.

And all she had been left with was fear.

Fear she would have to keep on fighting. Fear that, even now, with Tom gone, her life wasn't her own. It belonged to the people. To the fucking 'greater good'. Fear that one day, another man would come, another Tom and she would, again, have to walk alone, terrified and broken, and die that way all over again. Fear that, in the end, this was all she had, this fear, and she would never know what it would be like to be…

"I know, azulejo. I know. You're safe now. I've got you. Padre's got you. You're safe."

Safe. Safe from that cupboard that still haunted her dreams. Safe from uncle Vernon and aunt Petunia. Safe from too heavy expectations. Safe from murder. Safe from being used, abused, demonized and sainted. Safe from being hunted and paraded, prized and loathed. Just safe. That's all she wanted. To feel safe. Just once.

And here, with this stranger who wasn't a stranger, her father, wrapped in the cloying smells of expensive whiskey and cigar smoke, clinging onto him like he was a lifeline, Eva, for the first time in her life, thought she really was safe.

This is what coming home felt like.


Thoughts?

Azulejo: Meaning bluebird, or a glazed tile primarily used in traditional Spanish and Portuguese buildings.

A.N: So, I think next chapter is going to be less heavy in topic, less depressing lol, and… Not lighter, per se, but more positive. I obviously don't want to give too much away, but Nestor is coming soon my beautiful readers, so hold on tight!

I also wanted to let you guys know, in case you were interested, that I have a little Tumblr blog up and running. On it I'm taking requests, Mayans MC included, and there isn't much content up yet, but I will be posting on it regularly between updating my main fics here to keep inspiration going and to just challenge myself. It will primarily be original character content, headcanons, prompts, imagines, that sort of stuff, and on the smaller scale. I have an ask box open and waiting, if you feel like you want to hand over a prompt or anything that tickles your fancy. If you want to pop over and check it out, leave a little request, I have the link on my profile page here, just remove the spaces and, if you want to just search it, my name on there is AlwaysEatTheRude21fanfic.

Well, that is it for today folks! I really hope you enjoyed this chapter, and thank you to everyone who has followed, favourited and reviewed! Until next time, stay beautiful! ~AlwaysEatTheRude21