Today's fanart is by *I don't know their username yet so I will change this when I find out* The rain looks gray and soaking like actual rain in this picture, but I love how that accentuates how close and carefree Camilo and y/n are. The art is AMAZING in this drawing, too! I think we all want a hug like that <3
BACK TO THE STORY
Time was a funny thing. The winter chill had dried it up, freezing precious moments in delicate statues of ice. When you'd been frozen with Camilo, Time had mercifully suspended itself into a dimension where everything had lasted forever underneath a shimmering sheen. But Time had lied. Because ice melts. Because nothing lasts forever.
Now Time whisked out of your hands, like the beautiful pink petals that tumbled down the cobblestone streets. They chased each other in fluttering circles, swirling frivolously in invisible currents. Everything you did now felt a little like the petals. Pointless.
How could mundane tasks like scraping rust from metal scraps compare to stargazing beside someone you loved? How could hammering nails into dull boards compare to adrenaline-charged, terrifying tunnel rescues?
With the entire village's efforts, Casita's window shutters and bricks tidily stacked into their original, grand form. But it wasn't the same. Not at all. The mischievous whispers of magic had drained from the very walls. This new "Casita" was nothing but a lifeless shell. A dry skeleton.
Some nights, when it hurt too much, you'd sneak out of the nursery. Vanish from Casita's lonely, night hallway and break out onto the cold night air on the roof. There, gazing into the powdery starscape, you'd flip through your thoughts. Each memory was a tattered page, defiled with nostalgic blotches of ink. Spills of wistful yearning, splashes of purple misery. But they were yours. An old scrapbook, painful but familiar.
At first, you'd hoped Camilo would find you there, drawn by the inescapable fate that connects lovers. The threads that had guided you to his curious eyes in the marketplace and had trapped you together underground. But those golden wisps of magic had long fizzled out on the lonesome whistle of the wind. Something had shifted. You didn't understand it, but you knew cold inside your stomach that he wouldn't come.
When you cried, the Madrigals didn't hear and the stars didn't mind.
You liked the stars. Their thick swirls of dust glowed in the sky, whispering of forgotten myths and ancient tragedies. Cristina called them constellations. As June blossomed into summer, you and Mirabel would smuggle out into the soft night breeze and meet Cristina in the open meadow. Cristina would dip her fingers in the black canvas and trace the outlines of constellations, teaching you and Mirabel about their meanings and patterns. The woven expanse of grass bended underneath your backs as the three of you laughed and whispered. About chores. About villagers. About love.
Mariano's proposal to Dolores was a surprise, greeted by a flurry of preparations and cheers. At first, Julieta's features had saddened, upset for Isabella's sake. But after Isabella effusively assured her mother that she had never held any affections for Mariano, Julieta tenderly welcomed Mariano with a crinkle-eyed smile and a nod.
Mariano defeated Felix's scavenger hunt with sweet determination and unwavering perseverance. Felix had pushed a crumpled slip of paper into your hands with the rest of the Madrigals, and nobody questioned it. After what you'd suffered for them, they graciously accepted you as family.
The night of the celebration, the Guzmáns, Madrigals, and Felix's family illuminated the cliffside with blazing torches and music.
Julieta found you choking out sobs in a damp mountain cave. She'd wrapped you in an embrace as you cried, whispering soothingly. She didn't even have to ask why you'd left the party. Why shudders racked your body. She understood.
When you looked at the the conspiratorial, love-drunk giggles of Dolores and Mariano, the memories cut into you like blades. It should have been you. It should have been Camilo.
"You know, Augustin wasn't my first love," Julieta gently sighed, her chestnut eyes dewy with sad sympathy. You glanced up in surprise, pushing trails of tears off of your cheek.
"Really?" You hoarsely asked. In your mind, Augustin and Julieta belonged together, flawless magnets that couldn't be separated. Imagining Julieta's kind, small hands laced in between another man's fingers felt wrong.
"Yes. He was a young man named Judas," she lightly laughed, her gaze clouding with thoughtful remembrance. "He was taller than me. And handsome."
"And you... you loved him?"
"Oh, I did. I thought I wanted to marry him. He'd sneak to Casita to see me every night." With an amused frown, she added, "Mama was stricter back then." You unsuccessfully tried to picture an Alma with a sterner stare, stiffer posture, and colder words. She must have made living in Casita exasperating.
"Ah," she wistfully smiled, taking your hand. Her palm felt warm and slightly sandy with flour from baking bread. "Sweetie, not all first loves last. We had disagreements, and we grew apart. And that's okay."
"Growing apart hurts," you quietly objected, your voice cracking again. Growing apart. Lighting up at Camilo's golden laugh. Almost slipping your fingers through his. Drifting away in his bright eyes for a moment too long. Only to remember you'd lost him.
"It does. But I found someone better. The heartbreak was worth it to reach my Augustin."
But I don't want someone better. I want Camilo.
An awkward cough and the smooth shuffling of shoes against rock startled an explosion of panic into your chest. Even after weeks of safety, sneaking shadows on cave walls scared you. Every unknown felt like an urgent threat to the Madrigal family. Your eyes instinctively scrambled to find an escape for you and Julieta.
"Ah, sorry!" Camilo yelped, embarrassed to have caught you crying. "I, uh, they sent me to ask where the extra arepas are." Slightly red, he focused on Julieta's face with intensity, clearly trying to avoid looking at you. "If you just want to tell me where they are, I can get them and you can stay with..." Camilo trailed off, quickly glancing at you and then away.
"No, no, I'll come," Julieta sighed, gracefully lifting from the ground and brushing off her bluebird apron. Selfless, she couldn't refuse any request for her service. "Will you be alright, sweetie? I'll come right back."
"Of course," you uncomfortably nodded, propelling enthusiasm into the movement. Julieta smiled and whisked away. You didn't want her to leave, but you hated the thought of Camilo seeing you as needy. You smiled blankly, as if you hadn't just been slumped on the floor in ugly, jagged pieces.
"Crying over a boy?" Camilo awkwardly split the silence, his hands fumbling together. Camilo's light words and easy smile could charm anyone. But evidently, crying disarmed him. Of course, he'd still try to cheer you up. That's just who he was.
Yes, I'm crying over a boy. You wanted to scream. You, Camilo, you.
You hadn't meant for your expression to be unfriendly. But you hated this. Camilo towering over your tearstained, exhausted mess, watching with detached pity. The kind of sympathy nice people gave to strangers. Because that's all you were to him.
"Oh, sorry. I only overheard a little," Camilo defensively explained, caught off-guard by your cold silence. He backed out of the cave, his shadow seeping away from yours. "I'm gonna leave." You almost apologized, begged him to stay, but your vocal chords froze like a nightmare.
Then he was gone. You were a glass statue, frozen with your knees pressed against your chest in the abandoned cave. Wishing your words had been softer, kinder. Wishing you could pull yourself together to join silky chatter of dancing and laughing outside. The moment grinded to a halt, like steel against steel, until it almost froze into place.
Time was a funny thing.