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Relations, Past & Present

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Camilo was incredibly glad his Mama was nowhere to be seen as he launched himself over Casita’s balcony bannister. If any of the Madrigal adults saw him he would definitely be in big trouble- Milo stop doing that, you’ll break a leg!

 

It wasn’t like his Tia could literally heal any and all physical wounds or anything.

 

He hollered a quick, “thanks Casita!” As the tiles below him shifted into a useful ramp, turning his falling momentum into a skid as he slid over the colourful floor. He didn’t waste anymore time as he bolted out the door, only stopping to quickly spin and wave at the house. He giggled as the red window shutters above the main door waved goodbye.

 

José’s form replaced his own as he raced down the path (those long legs helped him race the clock) with one destination in mind- the bakery. He switched to the Caffeine Kid so he could cheat and slide under the fencing, effectively halving his journey.

 

A few more forms were used to help him weave around the locals until he eventually rounded the final corner.

 

What greeted him was exactly what he expected. 

 

His siblings were all gathered outside of the bakery. Luisa was casually chatting to the baker as she munched on a buttered slice of bread, Antonio was happily perched on her shoulders with a toucan resting on his own shoulder- it made for a slightly odd looking totem pole. 

 

Isabela was kneeling on the floor, her multicoloured dress fanned around her as she quietly spoke to two girls standing before her. A small cactus was cradled in her hands, Camilo couldn’t hear what she was saying but he could take a wild guess from how she was pointing to various parts of the plant. Every time one of the little girls went to touch the spikes his Prima would subtly block their fingers, and instead invited them to touch the soft pink petals that made up the cacti’s crown.

 

Camilo couldn’t help but smile at the touching scene.

 

His Hermana was sat on a bench off to the side, the dreamy expression on her face told him everything he needed to know- her thoughts were still occupied by a certain dumb hunk.

 

His smile turned into a grin when he saw his lovely Prima Mirabel, and the scowl that adorned her face.

 

“Where have you been?” She asked in a tone that screamed I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. Camilo internally shuddered.

 

“For your information my dear Mirabel,” She shifted and put more weight on one leg, making her look more like his own Mama rather than Julieta, “I was talking to my Tio!”

 

“Which one?”

 

“No offence, but what would I talk to your Papa about? Bees? The rising cost of bread?” He retorted with an unmatched cockiness, he wasn’t going to be out-sassed by his twin of all people.

 

The seamstress huffed and smiled slightly, “alright sabelotodo.” 

 

Camilo gave a large- slightly over dramatic- gasp, clutched one hand to his chest and slapped the other against his forehead before he stumbled forwards until Mirabel had no choice but to catch him. “How could you use such crude language?!”

 

When his Prima didn’t budge he upped his dramatics, it didn’t take too long before they were sprawled out on the cobblestone path with Mirabel practically pinned under him.

 

“I win,” he quietly rubbed it in her face as he rested his elbows on her chest so he could hold his chin up with his palms. He really should have expected her to mash a hand into his nose, effectively throwing the shifter off.

 

The two spent a minute giggling and rolling around on the floor before Luisa interrupted them, “so guys, what’re we doing?”

 

“I don’t mind,” Isa chirped up as she waved the girls off, a crown of roses on each of their heads.

 

“I can’t come up with anything that isn’t work related so this day is on you,” Luisa stated as she rubbed the beak of Antonio’s toucan friend.

 

Mirabel turned to face him, “you got any ideas Cam?”

 

He shook his head and clasped his hands under it, “I’m happy to lay here all day.”

 

“Laying in the street isn’t too helpful,” she waved to the locals who were forced to skirt around the duo. The seamstress clambered to her feet, making sure to accidentally smack her Primo in the stomach on the way, winding him in the process.

 

They all shared a giggle over the offended squawk that escaped him.

 

He may not share everything with his twin anymore, but at least he could still play around with her.

 

Isabela moved to crouch next to him, “is Tio Bruno okay?” She asked softly before waving a hand over Camilo’s form. He felt something bloom around him but didn’t bother to check it out, he trusted his Prima. The shifter preferred to stare up at the sun that was beating down on them- his Mama must’ve been in a great mood for some reason.

 

“Yeah,” he sighed, “we chatted about some stuff. Lost track of time, sorry.”

 

“Don’t be,” her eyebrows were pinched in concentration as she did a bit more hand waving.

 

“I have an idea,” a little voice interrupted them and they all looked to the source simultaneously- Antonio. His Hermanito was still perched on their Prima’s shoulder, but the toucan had been replaced with a coatis, the little creature had draped itself over Tonio’s shoulders like an expensive shawl.

 

“And what would that be, my little friend?” Mirabel asked.

 

“W-we could,” he took a second to seemingly mentally order his words as he ran a hand through the coatis’ fur. “We could maybe ask about Diego? If that’s okay, just an idea,” he trailed off as he physically shrunk in on himself.

 

Mirabel made her way over in two large strides before she reached up and very gently punched her Primo’s leg, “I think that sounds like a great idea, right guys?”

 

The group all made various noises of agreement, even Dolores who had only recently tuned back into the present day.

 

“Who should we go to?” Luisa asked. Mirabel, like the true leader she was, was about to say something before she was interrupted by a sudden voice.

 

“Luisa! I know it’s Sunday, but the donkeys got out again! The foal followed them,” the group turned to see the farmer standing nearby. He shrunk into himself under their collective stares.

 

“I know it’s Sunday guys, but-” Luisa started… and did not finish as Mirabel butted in.

 

“Luisa!” She jabbed her Hermana in the ribs, which did nothing to the strong woman, “you will relax! We will take care of the donkeys, right gang?” She turned to them with her arms held wide and an excited grin on her face.

 

This time the response was less enthusiastic.

 

Camilo’s youngest Prima didn’t wait for a proper reply, before they could moan she had spun on her heels and was already making her way towards the fields. With a chuckle Luisa moved to follow, Antonio still on her shoulders as she herded Isabela along. 

 

Camilo figured if he stayed still they’d leave without him… Sadly, he wasn’t that lucky. Dolores appeared in his eyeline, her bun effectively blocking out the sun. 

 

“C’mon,” she held out a hand for him to take, reluctantly the shifter obeyed the unspoken command. As he was being dragged away he couldn’t resist looking back to see what Isa had been up to.

 

He couldn’t help the snort that escaped him, she had made several types of flowers bloom around him, all various shades of yellow as they swayed in the breeze. There was a Camilo shaped silhouette where he’d been laying.

 

It looked like a rather floral murder scene, nevertheless it warmed his heart.

 

xXx

 

The donkeys were, as expected, not in their pen.

 

Instead they were wandering dangerously close to the corn fields, and Camilo knew if they broke in there then Encanto would have a mini farming civil war on its hands.

 

They knew they had to get them back where they belonged as soon as possible… Right after they fawned over the foal.

 

“Oh god, it’s so cute!” Isabela squealed, making Dolores flinch slightly. Camilo had to admit the little thing was cute, the way it stumbled over it’s tiny hooves as it ran to keep up with its Mama made him want to copy his Prima, and squeal like a damn pig.

 

With strict instructions, Luisa stayed on the side lines with the farmer as the others made a barricade between the donkeys and the vulnerable corn fields.

 

Mirabel was standing with her limbs spread wide, trying to make herself as big as possible. Isabela had forged a quick fence of vines to discourage the animals from wandering into the very busy path (a herd of donkeys against a small child, for example, wouldn’t end well). Dolores was off to the side, acting as a last defence against the donkeys and the jungle that surrounded the village, her hesitant demeanour was what made Camilo take his place between her and Antonio. 

 

She nodded her thanks for the backup.

 

“Guys, could you please go back?” Tonito practically begged. 

 

The donkey at the front of the herd simply huffed in response.

 

“That is rude!” his Hermanito shouted back. When the mean front donkey stomped one very heavy hoof into the grass Tonio’s coatis made a sharp hiss from it’s perch.

 

The sudden noise didn’t faze most of the donkeys, they were too used to the noise of the village kids. However, the foal wasn’t as seasoned as the adults- so it panicked.

 

It made a startled noise, like a mixture of a whine and scream, as it’s eyes darted around the scene. Before Antonio could reassure the worried creature, it bolted…

 

Straight for Camilo.

 

Now, Camilo didn’t wake up that morning with the plan to get runover by a baby donkey… but alas, it happened.

 

Before he could even process what was happening the little thing was running straight towards him… and suddenly he was sprawled out on the grass, his limbs pointing in every direction and his cheek mashed into the floor. He barely registered his form shifting randomly as his knee flared up with pain.

 

“You okay?” Mirabel asked from somewhere to his right.

 

“My knee,” he groaned back.


“But you’ll live?”

 

“Yeah…” The grass muffled his speech.

 

“Great!” And then she was gone, bolting into the jungle after the foal, Antonio hot on her heels. Camilo figured laying still was the safest option as he listened to the oldest two slowly herd the beasts back where they belonged.

 

He was only slightly surprised when he realised strong arms were picking him up, cracking an eye open revealed it was his lovely Prima Luisa. 

 

“Where we going?” He mumbled into her top.

 

“Just to rest by the fence whilst the others sort everything out, okay?” The shifter slowly nodded, the throbbing in his knee flared up with each of Luisa’s steps, he forced his jaw shut to stop himself from groaning in pain. “Then we’ll find Mama, she should be somewhere in Casita at this time.”

 

He didn’t reply as she placed him on the floor so he was sat on the grass, his back pressed against the barn.

 

“We really gotta get better barn doors, or dumber donkeys,” he muttered whilst he totally wasn’t sulking.

 

“They’re gettin’ too smart for their own good,” the farmer replied, happily watching his Hermana and eldest Prima slowly push the donkeys back towards their home. All whilst not moving an inch to help.

 

A thought suddenly struck the shifter, “hey senor…” He waved a hand around as he struggled to remember the farmer’s name.

 

“Angelo,” the man took pity on him.

 

“Senor Angelo! I knew that, can I ask you a quick question?”

 

“Sure, kid.” The man turned to face him, still leaning against the barn door with him. Luisa shuffled closer for easier listening.

 

“Do you remember anyone called Diego living in Encanto?” From where he was sat he could easily see the farmer tense at the name.

 

“Y-yes, I remember a Diego. Not a very common name in these parts.” Camilo shared a look with his Prima at the man’s words.

 

“Who was he?” Luisa pressed.

 

Angelo hesitated and flicked his eyes around to watch the eldest Madrigal kids make their way over. Dolores was whispering something to their Prima, probably getting her up to date on the conversation. “He was a good man, helped a lot around the village, looked after his Mama… Yes, a good man.” His shoulders hunched over, his posture was very closed off.

 

“Did…” Isabela started as a few flowers bloomed around her feet, “did he know our Tio Bruno?”

 

Angelo’s reaction was instantaneous, he flinched slightly as his gaze flicked between the Madrigals.

 

“Yes, he knew Bruno,” Camilo didn’t miss how he spat their Tio’s name, he resisted the urge to glare at the older man.

 

“Where is he?” Dolores practically whispered, her wide eyes stared directly at the farmer. Angelo looked incredibly uncomfortable at her question, his arms were crossed tightly over his chest as his eyes darted around the field- purposely not looking at any of the Madrigal kids.

 

“Ah! There you are!” He pointed past them, they all turned to see Mirabel and Antonio making their way out of the dense jungle. The elder of the duo was doing her best to carry the very wriggly foal, whilst his Hermanito tried to calm the baby- apparently it was being very stubborn.

 

The farmer practically ran past Dolores, and nearly shoulder-barged Isa in the process. He scooped the foal from Bel’s arms (ignoring how it whined at the violation) and barely said thank you as he returned it to it’s family… before promptly disappearing into the barn.

 

The Madrigals were left in a stunned silence.

 

“You okay?” Mirabel questioned as she picked up on the tense atmosphere, Tonio’s little hand clasped her skirt as his gaze flicked around his older siblings.

 

“Not really,” Luisa grumbled before she promptly scooped Camilo up. He swallowed a yelp as he was carried back towards their Casita, the rest of them trailing behind as the strong woman led the way.

 

He had a passing thought about a group of ducklings following their Mama before he closed his eyes and focused on his breathing- it made the pain of his throbbing knee easier to handle.

 

xXx



Camilo loved his Tia Julieta, he really did. 

 

She was the walking definition of warmth, and she never failed to make people feel better in that special way that only a parent could achieve. The way that made a special warmth bloom in your chest. 

 

She was always there for every person in the family no matter what, she’d held him close during Antonio’s ceremony when she’d picked up on his nerves. She hadn’t been able to care for the children when Antonio was being born (being too busy making sure her Hermana was okay), but she made sure their Tio Agustin knew what to do- play loud music to try and drown out their Mama’s shouts and hold them close, especially Dolores. 

 

To conclude, Julieta was a walking ball of warmth and parental love.

 

However, that didn’t stop him shrinking under her stare as she watched Luisa lower him into one of the chairs. He heard his Prima mumble a quick “thank you” to the house for nudging a chair from the table.

 

He could only offer her a sheepish grin as she started making a handful of her infamous arepa con quesos.

 

“What happened?” She waved an uncooked lump of dough at her middle daughter, it was a well known fact Luisa was the worst liar of that side of the family.

 

“Erm…” Luisa looked at Camilo with a panicked look on her face, he could practically see her sweating already.

 

“I had a fight with a baby donkey,” he took pity on his Prima, “and obviously lost,” he waved at his knee… the fact that it felt hot probably wasn't great.

 

He glared at the back of his Tia’s head when he heard her snicker.

 

“The donkeys got out,” Mirabel offered, “I thought we could let Luisa really have a day off and get them back ourselves…” She gave Camilo a sheepish grin and he simply waved her off. It wasn’t her fault at all, but he knew his Prima would find a way to blame herself.

 

“My friend spooked the baby,” Antonio perked up from his station by his Hermano’s side as he ran a hand through the coati’s fur. “She bolted and ran straight into Camilo… sorry.”

 

“Not your fault Tonito,” he made sure to nudge his Hermanito’s side, careful not to jostle his knee.

 

They didn’t have to wait much longer for Julieta to turn around with a plate piled with food, she gestured to the table, obviously wanting them to take a seat. Casita even made the chairs shake slightly to encourage them.

 

When they were all huddled around the table his Tia took a seat and gave Camilo the gorgeous food before offering them to the rest of the siblings. They were silent for a few minutes, all too busy enjoying the taste of the magic treats. The only sound that could be heard was a few kids yelling in the distance, he safely assumed it was about a nice topic from the soft smile on Dolores’s face.

 

His knee went from hot and throbbing (and not in a good way) to perfectly functional in a matter of seconds- he was eternally grateful to his Tia.

 

“Hey, Mama,” Luisa gained all of their attention, “where’s Tio Bruno?” She whispered.

 

Julieta’s eyebrows pinched together in mild confusion at the question, but answered anyway, “he came down a bit ago to help me wash up, he’s been in his room ever since… why?” She squinted at her daughter.

 

Luisa ignored her Mama for a second (a dangerous game) to look at Dolores, who in turn tilted her head, paused for a second and nodded her head quickly. “He’s doing a lot of mumbling but he’s in his room.”

 

Seemingly happy with the answer Luisa looked to Mirabel, who rolled her eyes at the puppy dog eyes her Hermana gave her. For such a physically intimidating woman she sure knew how to imitate a kicked puppy on command.

 

The seamstress sighed and turned to her Mama, “we have some… delicate questions…” She said slowly, when Julieta simply raised an eyebrow she continued, “about Diego?” Her voice raised a few octaves at the end.

 

A look of understanding crossed over the older woman’s face, “ah yes, Diego… what would you like to know?”

 

“Where is he?” Isabela spoke up, a few thin vines crept up her arms in anticipation.

 

“He…” Julieta trailed off, fiddling with the edges of her dress- a very un-Julieta thing to do.

 

“Did he leave Encanto?” Antonio asked and the woman's face only grew more pained at the sound of his little voice.

 

“My powers have done a lot to help the people of this village,” she started, Camilo’s expression fell into one of confusion at her words, “I’ve helped so many people. I tend to wounds, relieve illnesses, I’ve managed to give the elderly a few precious extra weeks to say their goodbyes…” She clasped her hands in front of her on the table, “but not even I can save everyone…”

 

A pit started forming in Camilo’s gut.

 

“There was an accident…”

 

The pit grew into a gaping hole that threatened to swallow him whole.

 

“I couldn’t save him, Diego unfortunately passed away…”

 

It's alright, kid. He’s not around anymore, he’s gone.