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and you might just find who you're supposed to be

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“Hey, Mirabel, you got a minute?” Dolores nudged Mirabel with her hip as the two arranged plates for the dinner table - common procedure for a Madrigal dinner. Curiosity piqued, Mirabel nodded slightly as Casita arranged the plates she absentmindedly placed upon the table.

“Hm? Yeah, sure, what’s going on?” As she quickly analyzed the setting to ensure no eavesdropping could occur (though she was the most likely to do so in the family), Dolores pulled Mirabel aside with her hand in a shushing motion. Eyes to the left, eyes to the right.

The setting seemed to be inhabited.

“Okay, sorry for the secrecy, there’s just-” once again looking behind Mirabel, Dolores’ wariness in turn made Mirabel wary, “one specific person I’d rather not overhear this.”

“...is it about them, perchance?” With one question asked, another was raised - who in the family would have something going with them? The family had begun to be much more open about their issues and whatever plagued them, due to the prior stress that led to the downfall of the home… literally, might it be said. 

“Yes. And I know if they were to hear, they would be bothered that I was addressing it, but I’m really concerned, and I know you two were close.” With that sentence said, one person instantly sprung to mind, as if numerous fireworks ignited within her brain. And with those internal fireworks came internal gratitude that Mirabel’s ‘gift’ was not randomly igniting fireworks whenever something clicked.

“...Primo Camilo? We’re still close, but… what’s going on with them?” Dolores sighed softly.

“It’s just… sometimes, I hear them in their room, pacing and pacing. Sometimes he cries, sometimes he puts on an act to themselves only. I’m worried, and y’know what he’s like… make everyone else smile, even if you have to fabricate your own.” She smoothed over her skirt with her hands as she spoke once more, “I want to do something, as their sister, because I really am worried about my younger sibling you know? But I know he’d nag me for using my gift to eavesdrop on his personal stuff… even if I can’t help it.” Another sigh. Mirabel’s eyebrows furrowed as words failed her momentarily.

“Dolores, don’t worry. You’re a great sister, and a great cousin… but unfortunately, the candle didn’t grant you an ‘off’ switch for your hearing, yknow?” An awkward shrug prompted giggles from both of the women, as Dolores lay a hand on Mirabel’s shoulder.

“Gosh, I wish it did sometimes! You know how much easier that’d make some things?” Laughing once more, Dolores tucked a strand of Mirabel’s hair behind her ear as the family began to walk in. “You’re a great cousin, Mira. So please look after my baby sibling.”

“Will do!” Giving her cousin the thumbs up of mission approval, Casita moved the tiles beneath them to take them to their seats - manners were always important, especially before a family meal. 

 

Almost instantly, Mirabel’s eyes locked onto Camilo as he shuffled to his seat, helping Antonio up as they did so. The first to notice her (unintentionally) intense eye contact was Antonio, who gave her a big toothy grin. She smiled back, and Camilo gave a small smile at the scene unfolding in front of him. They seemed unaware of the prior staring that had taken place, luckily.

As the meal began, with the low level chatter flooding most people’s attention spans, Mirabel’s mission to ‘subtly’ send good vibes Camilo’s way began as well. Although she remained unsure of the major issue at hand, she could at least try to make him happy, as he often did for everyone else.

So, with similar dramatics to her cousin and her tío Bruno, she tossed an arepa across the table to land onto Camilo’s plate, only detected by those two.

“Oh, silly me, haha! The arepa seemed to have just… slipped out of my hand… how careless of me…! But, as it’s on your side of the table, you might as well have it!” Camilo looked at the arepa. Then, they looked at their cousin, with a smug smile etched on her face.

“Well, can’t help accidents, can we? But, oh no!” In retaliation, Camilo tossed the arepa back over to Mirabel, who only narrowly caught it. “It appears it slipped out of my hand too! Is tía Julieta’s cooking slippery or something? These accidents are just too coincidental…” Accepting the challenge, Mirabel tossed the arepa back once more, only to miss. In an attempt to save it, Camilo leaned back, only to fall flat onto the floor, gaining the entire family's attention.

 

“Camilo! Mirabel! What are you doing…? It’s impolite to play with your food.” Abuela Alma exclaimed, as Casita threw Camilo back up to sitting position, with haste that inferred it too felt shocked. 

“Sorry, Abuela!” Chiming in with an apology at the same time, the two cousins looked at each other, and Mirabel couldn’t help but snort at the events that just took place. Seeing their cousin laugh, Camilo couldn’t help but chuckle too, as he held the arepa that caused it all in his hands.

“Well, I suppose it’s yours now, just as I planned.” Mirabel hummed in achievement, despite her loss of food. And, as Camilo stared at his cousin, who had turned her attention from her theatrical performance to the untouched meal on the table in front of her, ideas flurried through their mind as to how to repay this mealtime’s events.

 

So, as the meal came to an end and everyone excused themselves, Camilo hovered around until Mirabel went to leave. As she tucked her chair in (despite Casita’s best efforts to beat her to it), Camilo awkwardly hopped out towards her and straightened his back slightly.

“Mirabel! Wait, can I… can we, you know, like… when we were kids, we used to stay with each other after I got my room a lot, and I…” As they shuffled around where they stood, shifting their weight from one leg to the other in a back and forth motion, Mirabel softly chuckled and adjusted her glasses slightly.

“Are you asking to stay with me, Cami? Because if you are, I’m absolutely fine with it - I was planning on asking you soon, anyways.” Unable to hide their joy, Camilo jumped slightly as they momentarily shapeshifted to Mirabel and grinned. “Buuut, I need to do a few things first, so give me an hour or two, alright?”

“...can’t promise anything, I might break in.” As they joked with their cousin, Casita slapped them on the wrist with the table cloth, and Mirabel laughed once more.

“You forget, Casita is like, my best friend. If you try to break in, it’ll know .” Her hands fell on her hips as Camilo folded his arms in retaliation.

“But what if I pretended to be you-” this time, Casita lightly slapped Camilo on the arm, making them jump and stare at the table in exaggerated shock, “okay, geez I’m sorry!” His arms fell to his side as he smiled softly. “I’ll come visit you in a bit, just knock on my door when you’re ready.”

“Will do!” As she watched her cousin walk off, no longer feigning a decent posture, her brow furrowed as she ran towards the stairs, trying to find her other cousin once more. 

 

As she went to run towards Dolores’ room, a hand grabbed her from behind a few doors early, startling her as her vision became clouded with a colourful blur. Pink, purple, green, blue, orange, yellow. As she watched the door close, her attention had yet to be on the unknown origin of the hand dragging her, as every little thing in front of her was covered in floral decoration. As if it melted together, the inner pink and purple layer of camellias had been slowly painted with blues and greens to cool the room off, surrounded by neon oranges as flowers like strelitzias blossomed on top of the rest. Just like Isa, the perceived perfection she and her room had to adhere to had been taken over by an eternal freedom that would not so easily wilt. With her true colours reflected in her outfits, it was natural such a breakaway from her past would impact her room too.

But still, it really was awesome to see how she rose above the expectations, through the roof and to the skies.

After analyzing the room, Mirabel finally turned to see who had dragged her over to Isabela’s place of rest, only to see Dolores waving with a nail polish brush in her hand. In her other hand was Luisa’s, whose hands were covered in light pinks and blues. 

They were having a girly evening… Mirabel would be offended, but she had the coolest Madrigal staying with her tonight, so really, she couldn’t complain much.

“Hello, you. Thought we’d quickly grab you before you fell face first into Dolores’ empty room or something.” Isabela patted her youngest sister on the head as she greeted her, and Mirabel instinctively ran a hand through her hair, only to find a little purple flower on the top of her head. “So, what’s the hurry…?”

“I, uh… I need to ask Dolores something.” A pause. “In private! Hah…” Mirabel noticed how all three girls were looking straight at her, all with raised eyebrows, until Dolores got up and smoothed her skirt down as she ushered Mirabel over to the side with her hand. Despite Luisa and Isabela sharing a glance of confusion, they left the two to it as Isabela sat down and let Luisa begin painting her nails hues of blue and green.

 

As they stood on the side, Dolores placed her hands on her hips and looked at her youngest cousin with a smile as she spoke, “What’s so urgent? I heard you and Camilo talking about a sleepover in your room, so…?”

“You… didn’t actually tell me any way to help Cami… and I want to do something to like, actually help, y’know?” She gestured with her hands for a moment, only realising how nosy she seemed as she panickedly added, “You don’t have to tell me the ins and outs of their situation, though! I’ll let them talk to me, just… kind of like, a hint? Something I can do to help…” As Mirabel spoke, Dolores hummed and placed a hand to her chin as she furrowed her brow in thought. Mirabel looked at her cousin's wrist and noticed a little bracelet with a ‘D’ charm on it that definitely had not been there before. Had Mariano made it for her? Regardless of the craftsman, the craftsmanship was positively adorable, as it matched her red bow perfectly. And the thought of her cousin receiving a cute gift like that from someone she loved was just too heartwarming for Mirabel to handle.

Love, whether it be this romantic kind or the familial bonds for everyone in this room, would always be such a beauty to behold as it blossomed.

“Well, I’m not sure if I’m the best person to ask about this, but why don’t you go ask my Mama for any spare dresses?” As she realized how much she may have given away, she made a high pitched ‘hm!’ noise as she turned back to the rest of the girls.

“Wait, a dress…?” Mirroring the hand resting on her chin that her cousin had done prior, Mirabel pondered for a moment as she realized the time. “Wait, I can’t hover for too long! Tía Pepa will be putting Tonito to bed soon, so I need to go…!” She turned to leave, but just before doing so, turned back to the others. “Thank you guys for your time!”

“Sure! You and Camilo have to join us next time, I found a really cute colour for you!” Luisa shouted towards Mirabel, as Isabela gave a small wave and Dolores covered her ears slightly.

 

With a sigh, Mirabel stepped back outside and began looking for her aunt. The halls of the Casita were not usually long, however, to a frantic Mirabel tracking down someone in an unknown location, she may as well have traversed someplace unknown in her free time.

She’d done that once, after exploring the mountains behind the Casa Madrigal… and she’d rather not do it again.

Moreover, she couldn’t help but try to piece together Dolores’ hint, especially due to her reaction after she said it. As if she’d given away too much. 

Well… It probably would’ve clicked if it wasn’t late at night and she had several other thoughts racing through her mind.

So, giving herself a moment to wind down her thoughts, she instead pondered what to do with the spare dress she had to find. She could absolutely work with it! She could embroider small little symbols on it to represent members of the family, like an article of clothing she herself owned, and she could add cute little frills and colours that’d really make it pop - though, not to a point Isabela would accuse her of plagiarism.

 

“Mirabel, you okay?” Pepa stared at the girl lost in thought in front of her door, as she had Antonio’s blanket over one of her arms. 

“Y…” Startled back to reality, Mirabel jumped and looked at her aunt in confusion, “Yes! Sorry! I was actually looking for you, it appears I just got a bit lost in thought, hah…”

“What’s with that startled reaction…? I’m not that scary, am I? I know the weather thing used to upset you as a kid but I didn’t think it was the same…”

“No, no, I promise! Genuinely, I just lost myself in my thoughts and it made me jump when you said my name.” She readjusted her glasses and chuckled awkwardly, the memories of her childhood flooding the brain that had just been emptied from shock.

“Hm, alright.” Pepa hummed and turned her full body to face Mirabel, playing with a loose thread of Antonio’s blanket. “So, why are you looking for me, little Mira?”

“...I told you not to call me that anymore, tía Pepa…” Despite her embarrassment, what appeared on her face was a sheepish smile, as she tried to explain herself, “Anyways, I was wondering if you have a spare dress anywhere I could borro- well, have?”

“I do… but why this all of a sudden, especially so late at night?” As her voice grew to a higher pitch to match her curiosity, Mirabel tried to come up with an excuse on the spot.

“I… sew sometimes at night, messing with all my clothes, but, as you can see-” giving a little twirl of her skirt to showcase her point, she continued, “I’ve kind of done it for all my clothes. And it’s difficult to make something entirely new when you’re half asleep, so I thought just small embroidery would help me wind down, you know…?” As her teeth unintentionally grit together from the tension only she perceived, Pepa considered it for a moment and smiled.

“Of course! I’ll go grab an old dress of mine - it’s far too small for me now, so you can keep it for yourself - but you have to show me!” With a rainbow appearing above them both, Mirabel considered her mini-mission a success. “Ah, but I need to put Antonio to bed…!” Just as she turned to approach her son's room, her husband appeared from behind her and gave her a kiss on the cheek, making Mirabel roll her eyes slightly.

“No worries, mi querida, I’ll do that for you!” Félix triumphantly said as he took the blanket and walked towards Antonio’s room, with his distant affectionate shouts towards his son echoing through the closing door behind him.

“Gosh, he always seems to know when I need him…” Another rainbow, this time much brighter. Love truly was a strong force. “Well! Let’s not keep you waiting any longer!” Pepa signaled for Mirabel to step in her room, which she quickly made sure to do. 

 

With yellows as warm as she remembered since childhood, it took Mirabel a moment to acknowledge just how long it’d been since she’d stepped inside her aunt's room. She used to sneak in a lot with Camilo as children, for hide and seek games or to steal the snacks left on the side table, only for a stormy rain cloud to chase them both back to the nursery as giggles morphed to shrieks… that was the origin of the ‘fear’, as it had to be considered how intimidating a growing thunderous cloud that chased you would be to two four year olds. With those memories in her head, she glanced at the side table, which had a little drawing on it. After approaching it, she noticed Antonio’s handiwork, and the contents made her heart melt; stick figures of all the Madrigal’s holding hands, with lots of rainbows and cute animals around them, captioned ‘la familia Madrigal (mi familia :D)’. The page had slight tears and folds from the eraser, which only made it more charming, as he’d really tried to make it look pretty.

“He’s a real artist, isn’t he? My Tonito.” Despite her focus being on the wardrobe she was rummaging through, Pepa’s maternal third eye kicked in, presumably having seen Mirabel move through her peripheral vision.

“Yeah… he’s really lovely.” Her hand unintentionally fell upon the stick figure captioned ‘Mirabel :)’, with a big smile and even bigger glasses. Usually, her glasses being her defining feature would make her feel a little silly, yet seeing the love poured into this little drawing made Mirabel place her other hand to her glasses in joy.

“He must get artistic talent from my lovely niece.”

“...tía, you’re too nice…” Pepa chuckled and grabbed a small orange dress from her wardrobe, just as Mirabel turned to face her.

“It’s the truth, little Mira!” As she spoke, she handed the neatly folded dress to Mirabel, a big smile on her face as finished her words, “Now, go, create something beautiful!”

“Will do!” Running towards the door, Mirabel made sure to close the door gently as she approached her final destination - her room and her place of work.

 

Flopping on her bed as she shut the door, to temporarily regain her energy before summoning her cousin via Casita's assistance, Mirabel stared at the ceiling. 

 

She was going to work on this dress and give it to Camilo before he left her room.

Even if she saw the sun rise the next day doing so.

 

“Aaaalright, Casita, can you go send… a little message to Camilo for me? Just, yknow, make it clear it was from me!” A wave from her windows allowed her plan to unfold, as she began to throw every spare blanket or pillow (including the ones from her bed) onto the floor, leaving a barren bed and a sea of blankets on the bedroom floor. 

Staring at the blanket pile below her, she couldn’t help but remember all the sleepovers as children between the self-proclaimed ‘Madrigal twins’. From a very young age, whether it be due to night terrors or storytelling purposes, it became common procedure for the two of them to have a makeshift blanket fort as they slept on the floor together, enjoying each other’s company to the point of crying when one got a new room. Even when they were separated due to room changes, Camilo would sneak into the nursery to have sleepovers - their best friend was all alone, how could they leave her so cruelly?! Eventually, the sneaking into the nursery stopped as Pepa caught him one night, and in a panic he turned into her and tried to run into the village. 

Storms lasted for days. 

So, after his sneaking failed, Mirabel tried to sneak into their new room instead, though that was put to an end even quicker as the adults had become aware of this nightly movement.

Then Mirabel didn’t get a gift… which made Camilo demand that the adults let them swap rooms because he ‘accidentally stole her magic and he felt really bad’.

It had been years since they had stayed together; as they grew older, although they didn’t grow apart, things they cherished in childhood felt weird to request as maturity became expected of them. For that reason, Mirabel smiled at the empty room, happy she’d once again have her best friend as her roommate, even if only for tonight.

 

“Mira! Can you tell your house friend not to nearly throw my mirror at me next time you want me?!” Interrupting her thoughts, Camilo stormed in with a theatrical scowl as it quickly melted upon looking at the scene in front of them. Panickedly, Mirabel threw the dress to the end of her bed, as a few of her pins rattled as they were knocked. “Oh my god… I haven’t seen this in years. It really has been years…” Face first, he fell into the blankets and rolled over to face the ceiling. “You remembered our tradition…”

“Of course.” She sat on her bed, and began to fiddle with the neckline of the borrowed dress. “How could I forget, after you made us do it every night for, like, 6 years of my life?”

“Heh, don’t act like you weren’t amazed by my genius.”

“You’re very amazing, Camilo Madrigal, and I’ve always thought that of you.” His tone joking, yet her tone sincere. The affirmative tone made Camilo turn away slightly, his lip quivering as he quietly let a question slip.

“Do you… really think that of me?” Mirabel cocked her head to the left before giving a soft smile.

“Of course! I mean, you’re my amazing cousin, I’ve always thought of you as so unbelievably cool, and-” Turning to face Camilo, she noticed they had begun to cry, which turned her tone from flattery to distress, “Oh my god, are you crying?! Did I say something wrong…?” Hearing his cousin’s concern, his sobs only grew, which in turn created more distress on Mirabel’s end. After wiping their tears on their ruana, Camilo tried to speak, despite the rising tears clogging their throat.

“You didn’t say anything wrong, it’s just…” He took a deep breath before speaking again. “I’ve… I’ve been struggling a bit lately, and your words felt really kind and loving. I’m not really sure why I cried.” Mirabel’s face fell, and she lay a gentle hand on Camilo’s back as he leaned forward to stare at the floor.

“Hey, it’s okay, you don’t have to be okay, you’re free to talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind right now. You know I’ll listen.” As she spoke, she rubbed Camilo's back with one hand and grabbed her needles with the other, intending to work as he spoke for a quick fix.

 

"Well… God, how do I address this…?" They pushed themselves off the bed and slowly fell to the floor, Mirabel watching their every move. "I… don't feel like me . I don't know who I am anymore, I feel so uncomfortable in my skin." He raised his knees up to his chin and rested his head on them. "And I can't shapeshift to something I'm comfortable with." Tears trickled down his face before he could stop them from falling. Unsure as to how to respond, Mirabel stayed silent, staring at her cousin in dismay. As if her words would ruin the mood, she stayed silent for a while, fumbling with the dress yet staring at her cousin. A pause. Then, Camilo looked up at the ceiling for a moment, only to sob further. "I just don't get it, Mira… I don't recognise the one staring back at me in the mirror, how is that possible…?!" The sobs grew with their distress, as Mirabel threw herself off the bed and panickedly wrapped her arms around him.

"Hey, hey, it's okay, really…!" She gently stroked his arm with her thumb, ensuring she wasn't causing him more harm than good. "You don't… have to know everything, you know. You're allowed to take your time to discover yourself, and no one's saying you have to know everything. You're a kid, Cami." Her head fell on his shoulder, her thumb still moving in a rhythmic motion. "We both are." For two seconds, as if following a guide, Camilo breathed in, only to deeply exhale as they returned his cousin's hug.

"Thank you… it just… sucks." With every word, he moved away from Mirabel slightly, and eventually gave up on sitting upright at all. He performed a dramatic flop into the sea of blankets, reflecting his mindset of drowning, and stared up at the ceiling. A few seconds after, Mirabel shuffled over and lay beside them, though her eyes were on them instead. "I don't know who I am. I don't even know if I'm a boy. Or a girl! Or just-" giving a vague hand gesture that tried to voice what he struggled to, he made a disgruntled noise and tried to continue, "-nothing and everything at once, you know?" A small nod from Mirabel stated an unspoken understanding. "God. I don't know. I can't put this feeling into words."

"No, I think I got it…! But, you know…" Mirabel grinned at her cousin. "I'll support and love you no matter who you are, so you best make sure you're showing that true self!" Saying that, Mirabel threw herself upright, startling Camilo. Within the sea of blankets, they stared up at their cousin, who was frantically rummaging through the things on her dress… Although he had been curious about what she was doing, he wondered what had just reminded her. "Right, okay, it's not done but I think it'd be best to show you now rather than leave this any longer. Stand up!" Begrudgingly, Camilo stood up, though his legs had gone numb to the point of him having to hold onto the end of her bed for dear life. "Look!"

 

As Mirabel held the dress out in front of her, giving it a little spin, Camilo's eyes welled up with tears. On the neckline, an unfinished butterfly fluttered towards his eyes, alongside a finished tiger and chameleon surrounded by orange stars. Every little aspect, alongside the initial details on the bright yellow dress that looked like the sun their mother controlled, was just so… beautiful. Warm. Enticing. 

It looked like something Camilo would love to wear. 

Especially as Mirabel grinned at her unfinished handiwork, moving it around all excitedly.

"Well! It's not finished at all, this butterfly has…" she plucked a loose teal thread from the dress as her words faded out, "a few unfinished details, and I'd planned little icons for everyone in the family because that'd just be sweet, but-" before she could finish rambling about her work, Camilo tackled her into a strong hug, making her words fade out. His tears of joy were hidden by his giggles, as Mirabel squeezed him back with equal vigor that made him laugh even more. 

He was so grateful.

He loved his cousin so much.

That he just couldn't express it with verbal gratitude alone.

"Thank you…" 

"You're absolutely welcome. But!" Though the embrace felt wrong to separate from, Mirabel gently pushed herself away from her cousin. "It's not done! You wanna help me?" Shaking the dress in front of Camilo, they laughed.

"How can I refuse when you're tempting me so much?" He sat down, only to have a realization a moment too late. "But I can't sew."

"I have always wanted to teach someone, so…" Gesturing for Camilo to take a needle from her hand, she chuckled, "if you're willing to learn, I'm willing to teach." With an enthusiastic nod, they began sewing until the early hours of the morning.

 

As the sun arose and the morning had announced its presence, Mirabel awoke to the Casita’s alarm dancing around her windowsill, her head buried in the pillow river. 

Had they really stayed up so late…?

Slowly sitting up, she scanned the room, presuming she would see her cousin becoming one with the blankets and the dress on her bed.

Neither of these presumptions were true.

Where did Camilo go…?

And did they take the dress with them?

Her slow moves quickly turned to more frantic movements, as Casita practically launched her out of her door before she had the time to get dressed or compose herself. It seemed as if the house wanted her to see something important, and who was she to deny its request?

 

And, as the sun seemed to shine indoors but not due to Pepa’s influence, Mirabel understood the hurry.

 

On the first floor, a bright blur of spinning yellow met Mirabel’s vision, and as she put her glasses on (as Casita so kindly fetched them), she saw Camilo dancing around with Antonio in the finished dress, smiling a genuine smile. The grin consuming their face seemed to be infectious, as Mirabel found herself smiling down at how energetic and full of life her cousin was. She was so grateful her little idea worked… they seemed so comfortable now, as if the blues of discomfort had so easily been cured.

“You’ve made my little sibling so happy, you know. He didn’t sleep at all last night.” Dolores, seemingly from nowhere, stood and watched Camilo by Mirabel’s side.

“He didn’t…? I thought they would have gone to bed after me. Did they not?”

“Nope, but it wasn’t from being upset, like the last few times I’ve heard them awake. They were trying on the dress, hyping themselves up in the mirror.” She chuckled as she spoke. “Oh, and he kept thanking you as you slept. Think he tried your glasses on once or twice.” To that, Mirabel unconsciously grabbed her glasses and gave an awkward laugh.

“Yeah, they used to do that when we were kids too…” 

“You did a good job, Mira. Thank you so much.” With her final words said, the mission Dolores had assigned Mirabel seemed to have reached completion. Of all the mini-’missions’ Mirabel had been set by family members, this was probably the most fulfilling one.

 

So when Camilo saw Mirabel staring down at them, they laughed and waved with such vigor, that Mirabel’s face ached from smiling.

Not that it would ever be a bad thing.

Her primo Camilo would never stop until they made someone smile, right?