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We Don't Talk About Borrowers

Chapter Text

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

High above along the wall of the Madrigal’s Casita, a clock ticked the seconds away as the arrows passed 12. The house was quiet, unlike the bustling activity during the day - the only sounds piercing the calm night were the gentle idle noises; from the ticking of the clock to the shimmer of the doors of each family Madrigal. By now, everyone was fast asleep without a care in the world - all except one person. One very tiny person.

The soft swish of a green ruana sounded as nothing but a whisper in the night, alongside the pitter patter of sandals on the tile. A borrower, about five inches tall, quietly emerged from an opening behind a grand painting, pushing it for a few moments till it budged just enough to give him some space. The fellow was a tiny thing, with a disheveled appearance and tired green eyes that scanned the floor of the second story of the Madrigal’s beloved home. 

His name was Bruno - and the miniscule man had lived in the walls of this house for 10 years, unbeknownst to the family members within. Though, one bean was an exception to this, not that he knew - Dolores had definitely heard some chatter in the walls, though even she couldn’t quite pinpoint who or what it was. But, he had never been found anyway - so as far as Bruno was concerned, it wasn’t his problem. The other beans in the house were quite scary - well, most of them were. Luisa was intimidating with her brute strength, Dolores and her super-hearing, Antonio with that Jaguar of his, Pepa’s wild emotional weather changes too - and while Abuela herself didn’t seem to have a proper “gift” that they all talked about other than maintaining the house, but she was intimidating in her own right with a stoic, stern disposition and a stickler for order. Mirabel, Agustín, Julieta, Félix, Camillo, and Isabella didn’t seem all that terrifying - but even then, Bruno didn’t really want to meet any of them. 

He had avoided them all for 10 years, and he wanted it to stay that way. 

Bruno glanced around for a moment, a tad uneasy, then stepped forward; only to yelp as a tile popped up from under him suddenly. Scrambling back, the borrower moved to run; but stopped himself as the tile seemed to “squeak” almost sadly at him, followed by another right beside it - the two clicking softly by the other till they settled back in their place. Right. He forgot someone else he knew was here; Casita. Other than Dolores’ suspicions that some odd fellow was in the walls, the house of the Madrigals itself was alive and well in its own way - assisting its family the best it could, but the tiny visitor had never gone unnoticed. 

Casita, not now…” Bruno muttered softly with a shake of his head as he slowly straightened himself back up, brushing the dust of his ruana. The tile squeaked determinedly in front of him. “What? Everyone’s asleep, and I’m hungry. Just let me pass tonight, okay? I’ll be careful.” A slower squeak sounded, followed by a tap of the second tile before both settled once more. 

“I’ll make it quick. No one is ever up this late.” Bruno tilted his head, looking down at the loose tiles for a moment; he kind of understood Casita - he didn’t hear words when it squeaked and tapped and rattled, but somehow, it’s like whatever it was trying to say made sense to him and everyone else in the house. Maybe it was like a sixth sense, he didn’t know - but it was nice to realize that at least something was on his side and hadn’t ratted him out for the past 10 years. When the tiles didn’t move anymore, Bruno scuttled along past them - slinking off to the stairs before he glanced down the steps with a soft groan. Great, stairs - those were never pleasant. But, as if reading his mind, the stair boards shifted in front of him; angling and morphing to create a smooth wooden surface, a slide - and with a small, grateful smile, Bruno inched forward and slid all the way down. Looking over his shoulder, they returned to their usual shape - normal steps - and a tile clicked almost happily in front of him. 

Casita always did like to help him. 

Gracias, Casita. ”  

Borrowing had been a lot easier ever since the house had assisted him - whether it was getting down from high heights or bringing food to him, a once rough life was a lot simpler. Plus, this odd, magical house had never tried to reveal him to the beans that lived there; as if it understood his existence was, and always should, remain a secret. Borrowers weren’t supposed to be seen, after all - and Bruno wasn’t about to break his 10 year record as far as he was concerned.  

Quietly, the borrower made his way through the courtyard of the house and into the spacious kitchen. Pulling the hood down from his ruana, Bruno fiddled with a makeshift grapplehook at his belt - swinging it for a good bit till he flung it - and it successfully latched on to the edge of the counter. It didn’t take long for Bruno to climb up the string and pull himself onto the counter; he scrabbled for a minute, until Casita gave him a literal nudge to let him fully plop down on the counter. Rolling his eyes, Bruno stood up and brushed himself off, retrieving the hook and fastening it back at his belt before he looked around till he spotted an abandoned plate nearby - a single dish that hadn’t been put away, with leftover arepas from dinner on it. 

Surely, Julieta hadn’t missed it?

The countertop creaked softly as a few tiles rose up from it like a wave, bringing the plate over to the surprised borrower; a back tile popped up and down almost exictedly before settling. 

“Julieta always cleans up after dinner, why would she miss a plate?” 

Another excited pop from the tile, and it clicked; a soft smile crossed his features and he emitted a little chuckle. 

“Aw, heh…You saved that plate for me, huh?” A follow-up pop and soft click from the tile confirmed it, gently nudging the plate closer; and with a nod of thanks, Bruno hopped onto it and tugged off a few pieces of the abandoned arepa. “Guess you got tired of seeing me eating just arroz last week. That’s, uh…real nice of ya, Casita .” Tucking the pieces away into a small bag slung underneath the ruana, Bruno reached for a few more - all of it should last him for a couple days if he was sparing with it. 

However, as he did, the plate jolted underneath him as abruptly, Casita rolled it backward. The borrower squeaked in surprise and landed on his bum with a tiny thud, immediately scrambling to his feet - and the tiles began to frantically pop up and down, squeaking at him. 

“H-Hey- Casita, que pasa ?” 

Bruno gasped as a tile popped up directly under him this time, trying to push him toward the edge and clattering almost fearfully behind him - but before the borrower could react, a familiar voice rang out through the kitchen. 

Casita, are you okay? Who are you talking to?” 

Mirabel. 

Bruno froze as he spotted the young girl heading into the kitchen - but as he saw her, she definitely saw him from the shocked look on her face, jolting her out of any sleepiness that might’ve plagued her only seconds ago. For a good long moment, the two were frozen, staring at the other in evident disbelief as Bruno’s form was revealed thanks to the shine of moonlight from the window - a tiny, 5 inch tall man clutching a piece of arepa between his hands. 

Bruno couldn’t hear himself think, let alone think period  - all he could hear was the sound of his rapid, shaky heartbeat and the frantic pulse in his ears as the adrenaline kicked him into gear. 

“What are you?” 

The girl stepped closer to the counter, slowly, a curious hand outstretched - and Bruno felt his heart jolt. 

“....Bye.” 

Without even a moment to spare, the borrower turned and darted across the counter, darting to the side to avoid the rising and popping tiles beneath him; he didn’t know what Casita was trying to do, but he wasn’t about to stop and find out - lest the house finally betray him and drag him straight to that bean. 

“Wait! Hey! Casita , do something!” 

The girl’s yelp sounded and Bruno veered hard to the left, running toward a crevice on the opposite countertop - but before he could, the tiles popped up from under him once more, shifting into a smooth slide that made him tumble back with a yelp. As he did so, the clink of glass could be heard as something came down on top of him, and Bruno squeaked as he tumbled face first into the glass - shaking his head, the borrower snapped his head up in alarm. Only then did the horror of the situation sink in as he realized he was trapped under a cup of all things, with Mirabel’s worried gaze looking down at him and her hand at the top, keeping it still.

That damn house finally ratted him out. 

Bruno was frozen for a good long moment, trembling ever so faintly as he looked up at the bean staring down at him in shock and concern, before he looked to the side and at the apologetically squeaking tile beside the cup. 

So much for a 10 year record.