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Beckita's Bananas

I love a lot of different things. Current ongoing obsession: Elena of AvalorPodcast Princess Lady B / INFP / Huffledor / Chaotic Good / That Mom Friend PS I ship the hell out of Eleteo. You have been warned. Cover artwork by MissNobodyNobodius used with permission
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EoA Appreciation Week | Day 3 | Beach

Elena on the beach ☀️🏖🌊

So cute!!! 🤩❤️

4 hours ago

EoA Appreciation Week | Day 3 | Beach Elena on the beach ☀️🏖🌊

EOA Appreciation Week 2020

Day One: Adventure

Set on the evening of 'Giant Steps'. Naomi contemplates the contents of the letter to Vee she wrote, wondering for the briefest moments if she had made the right choice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Naomi had always been drawn in by the wonder of exploration. Whether it was from the excitement of sailing, the thrill that came with standing at the Crow's nest with the wind in her hair or just the simple joy that came with helping others, Adventure had always been Naomi's middle name.

Yet here she sat now, upon her desk in the middle of the night well into early morning actually, staring at the letter she had just finished writing to her dear childhood friend Veronica explaining her intention to stay in Avalor.

The brown piece of parchment sat innocently upon her wooden desk, waiting to be placed into its envelope and mailed to its recipient. But Naomi was still gathering her courage to do this dauting task.

"Ugh why is this so hard?" Naomi asked herself in exasperation, bumping her head against the desk.

Who knew that writing a letter to your longtime friend slash fellow adventurer, trying to explain to them your desire to stay in one kingdom instead of being the captain of your own ship and exploring the 17 seas would be such a monumental task.

Naomi sighed, "Let's just get this over with."

She carefully placed the letter inside its envelope, sealed it and left it on her desk, waiting to be delivered the next day.

But as she laid in bed, eyes closed and the fatigue fully washing over her, slowly pulling her into the depths of sleep, she couldn't help but think of her decision.

Because to Veronica, who knew little Naomi better than anyone, giving up a life of adventure amidst the high seas would seem unbelievable.

Even as a young child, all Naomi had ever wanted to do was to sail the 17 seas. See the world's beauty and experience it's glory with her very own eyes. And for a while that was all she could think about.

That was until she started helping out at the port, met Elena and eventually was chosen to be part of the Grand Council.

By then, fifteen year old Naomi had nearly forgotten what her dream had been once upon a time. Too busy with helping out in the port, finishing school and responsibilities as a part of the royal court kept her desire to travel pushed back somewhere in the far depths of her mind. Only being brought back into the light when Vee had come back and reminded her of her long-standing dream and thrist for the unknown.

And Naomi realized that Veronica did raise a good point. She had all but practically gave up in pursuing her dream. And it was that fear of not getting the chance to take her life into her own hands that spurred her to fulfill her goals and pave her own path.

But months of traveling alone, with no one else to share her new experiences with, made Naomi realize that the adventure of a lifetime that she had always wanted was not on the high seas sailing from kingdom to kingdom. But it was back on the golden beaches and sparkling blue bay of Avalor, where her friends and family were.

Where she was part of a cause that stood for something much greater than just the happiness and well-being of one person. Naomi's greatest adventure had always been in Avalor. Serving the people. Helping her friends. Being with her family.

Naomi would trade sailing the 17 seas any day just to see the beaming smiles and wide grins of her loved ones again. She would trade all the gold coins in the world if it meant she would bear witness to their happiness.

Her journey for the past few weeks taught her a very important lesson.

The simple truth was, Naomi's definition had changed. For young Naomi Adventure meant getting on a ship and sailing to the four corners of the EverRealm. For little Naomi, adventure required a person to travel through raging seas and dense jungle all by their lonesome.

But that wasn't the case for young adult Naomi. To her, adventure was doing mountains of paperwork with her best friend, who was also Crown Princess, and signing royal documents well into the late afternoon.

Adventure meant chasing down enemies of the kingdom with her closest friends by her side, and defeating said enemies to ensure the safety of every citizen in Avalor.

Adventure meant being with family in the kingdom she adored and with all the people she loved.

And it was with these thoughts that Naomi wrote a letter to Vee. And as she laid in her bed, in her beloved home, Naomi realized that she had made the right choice after all.

Tomorrow, she would send that letter without any regrets and with confidence.

She hoped Vee would understand. That although Naomi enjoyed being the captain of her own ship and sailing the 17 seas was a fantastic journey, the greatest adventure of her life was spending her time in Avalor, with all her friends and family, serving the kingdom and making sure it's people always had a smile on their faces.

'Perhaps that is the real adventure of life, being with the people you adore in the home that you love.'

4 hours ago

EOA Appreciation Week 2020

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EoA Appreciation Week 2020: Beach!   And, while this video isn’t especifically about a beach, vacation theme, thinking on the...

7 hours ago

EoA Appreciation Week 2020: Beach!  And, while this video isn’t especifically about a beach, vacation theme, thinking on the...

EoA Appreciation Week | Day 3: Beach

A/N: What was meant to be a fun amigos beach day fic turned into an indulgent Gabaomi fic with liberal amounts of Eleteo sprinkled in for good measure. xD 

———-

Naomi loved the beach almost as much as she loved sailing. She loved stretching out on a beach towel in the sunshine, the soft, warm sand beneath her, and just letting the warmth soak into her skin, especially after a long week of meetings, paperwork and bickering with former magisters of trade.

So when Elena had suggested a day at the beach with Gabe and Mateo, Naomi had immediately said yes.

The day had come, and she was now stretched out on her stomach in her little spot in the sun, eyes closed and a relaxed smile curving her lips as if she were more of a lazy cat than a young woman. She could hear laughter and back and forth teasing from Elena and Mateo splashing around as they hit an olaball back and forth and her smile grew.

She had been saying for a long time that those two were hopeless, as in denial as they were. In  fact, she and Gabe had just been talking about it the other day. He agreed, of course, and they had a new bet going to see when the clueless couple would figure it out and act. Though, to be fair, Elena wasn’t really clueless. She knew she was in love with that boy. She was just…well, Naomi didn’t know exactly what her best friend was waiting for.

But that was a whole other story.

Naomi had just shifted, turning over to feel the warmth on her face when, suddenly, the sun dimmed. Her eyes flew open, immediately seeking out the source of the darkness. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the muscular silhouette standing over her.

“You are blocking my sun,” she grumbled, closing her eyes again.

A snort. “You sound like that butterfrog from Vallestrella.”

“How do you even know? You’ve never met Bruce.”

A chuckle and a shrug. “I heard the stories from Skylar and Luna. Though they never called him ‘Bruce’.”

“That’s because I made it up. And, if you’ve heard the stories, then you know that he could get very cranky when anyone disturbed his sun.”

Gabe laughed and shuffled a half step closer. “Yes, I’ve heard as much. What of it?”

She had opened her mouth to shoot back a snarky reply when a cold wet droplet hit her cheek. Naomi hissed, bolting upright and smacking his leg. “Gabriel Nuñez! You are dripping on me!”

Her reaction just made Gabe laugh harder. “What are you so worked up over? I thought you loved the sea?”

“I prefer to be on the sea. Not in it.”

It was true. Naomi could swim like a fish, had been able to since she was very young, but she was much happier when she was dry.

Gabe eyed her, crossing his arms. “Well, that’s no fun.”

“Fun or not, it’s true.” She shot him a mock glare and made to lay back down, stretching as if she hadn’t a care in the world. “Now, if you don’t mind, please get out of my sun and stop dripping on me like an oversized wet jaquin.”

Gabe considered her a long moment before he moved. “I have a better idea.” He then scooped her up into his arms, much to her dismay, and started towards the water.

“Gabriel Nuñez! Don’t you dare!” Naomi screeched, barely concealing her laughter as she smacked him in the chest. Was she mad? Yes. But was she was also equally thriving on the attention so it was difficult to be really mad? Also yes. Especially considering that she was suddenly hyper aware of his closeness—his bare chest, the warmth of his skin, his teasing grin. It was a lot for her to take in.

Elena and Mateo’s game had devolved into a water fight as Elena tackled Mateo from behind, piggy back style and the two paused as they realized what was happening. “She’s going to kill him,” Elena whispered from her perch on his back, giggling.

“Oh, without a doubt,” Mateo agreed. “Or, kiss him—I’m honestly not sure which at this point.” They giggled quietly together, watching the spectacle spectacle unfold before them.

Gabe was laughing, a roguish gleam sparking in his eyes as he held her in his arms, Naomi laughing as she struggled to get free—though she really wasn’t trying all that hard. In fact, the longer he held her, the less she struggled until he was standing knee deep in the water and she was clinging to his neck.

She stared into the depths of his brown eyes, noting the warmth and laughter and—something else—looking back out at her. They’d been toeing the line between friendship and something more for awhile now, neither one quite able to voice what they both wanted. More recently, their playful arguing and banter had shifted to something that left her stomach feeling like a horde of butterflies had suddenly taken permanent residence there.

“Are you going to put me down?” she asked in a near whisper, her fingers contracting against the back of his neck.

“I don’t know—” he started in a husky, low voice that sent a shiver up her spine. “Do you want me to?”

Naomi bit her lip. The truth was, no. She did not. She liked the way he’d effortlessly scooped her up as if she weighed nothing. And she liked the feel of his arms secure around her—had they always been so big? But the fact remained that, cute as he was, he’d disturbed her sunbathing time. And for that, he would have to pay.

That face, however—and those lips—it annoyed her how dang near irresistible they were. She’d make him pay. But first—she wanted to kiss him. And the moment felt right.

Ignoring their friends just behind them, she leaned, her heart racing as he mirrored her movement until their lips were a hair’s width apart—she could feel his breath on her cheeks. “Yes, please,” she murmured, her lips nearly brushing against his.

To his credit, he did as she asked, gently lowering her until her feet touched the ground and she was now knee deep in the water. Her arms tightened around his neck and she hesitated only a second before stepping into her tiptoes and closing the distance between them, her lips pressing against his. Returning the soft kiss, Gabe’s hands moved to her waist, pulling her flush against him.

“Ha!” Naomi could hear Elena snickering from somewhere behind her. “You owe me five gold pieces.”

“What?!” Mateo scoffed. “I was the one who said they were going to kiss!”

“Pfft. But who made the bet before we even left this morning?”

Mateo groaned. “Fine. You win.”

Gabe and Naomi huffed a laugh, their lips still moving softly in unison. It was hilarious to them that their friends who had been so obviously dancing around their feelings for what seemed like an eternity were now taking bets on the love lives of others around them.

Naomi pulled back just enough to look at Gabe, seeing her own soft smile reflected in his expression. Something about him made her knees feel like jelly, and she liked it. It was all so strange and exciting and a wholly new experience for her.

They had a lot to talk about, but that would have to wait because first—

Her smile shifted to something roguish, her lips quirking up on one side and her eyes narrowing. Gabe only had a split second to process the change before she lunged into him. Gabe’s eyes widened and he squawked as he fell back into the water with an almighty splash. His hands had instinctively held tighter to her waist so she was pulled under along with him.

The pair came back up for air, spluttering and splashing and laughing as they found their bearings.

Gabe shot Naomi a mock glare. “What was that for?!”

“For blocking my sun.” Naomi laughed. “You didn’t think I was going to let you get away with that, did you?”

“You really are a butterfrog,” Gabe grumbled, pushing his dripping hair back out of his eyes.

“And don’t you forget it, Gabriel Nuñez!” She poked him in the chest to emphasize her point, though she was grinning widely. She slipped her arms around his neck, however and leaned in to kiss him one more time. “Now come on. I think we need to teach those two a lesson about being nosy, don’t you?” She gestured over her shoulder with a thumb to where she knew Elena and Mateo were still watching and whispering to each other.

“I thought you preferred to be on the sea, not in it.”

“I’ll make an exception this one time.”

Naomi grinned, reaching out to squeeze Gabe’s hand and they nodded in agreement before turning to their friends. Elena was still perched on Mateo’s back and he held her legs securely to his sides. The pair both widened their eyes at the look Gabe and Naomi shot them.

“Don’t even think about it,” Elena warned as Mateo took an involuntary step away.

“Think about what?” Naomi said sweetly, exchanging a mischievous look with Gabe as they both smacked their hands against the water, sending a wave over the crown princess and her royal wizard. Elena squealed and Mateo cried out in surprise as he stumbled backwards, the pair falling into the water, immediately becoming a tangle of flailing limbs as they tried to right themselves.

Mateo got to his feet first, turning to grab Elena’s hand and pulling her up. “Are you ok?” he asked, though his eyes danced with laughter.

“I’m fine, thank you, Mateo,” she replied with a smile before turning a glare to their friends. “You realize this means war, right?”

“We’re counting on it.” Naomi retorted, laughing as the pair sent a splash of their own over her and Gabe.

From there it was all downhill. One couple splashing the other, laughter and taunts filling the air as the sun made its way across the sky. Though Naomi was eager to steal a bit of time alone with Gabe so they could talk about what had happened before, she was quite happy to spend this fun time with her friends away from the usual stresses they faced serving the kingdom and battling the forces of the dark.

Though she still preferred to be dry and lounging under the Avaloran sun, she was happy to be with her friends, enjoying the day together and living their lives to the fullest.  

7 hours ago

EoA Appreciation Week | Day 3: Beach

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EoA appreciation week

Day 1. Adventure

Because the greatest Adventure is to know yourself and learn.

16 hours ago

EoA appreciation week Day 1. Adventure Because the greatest Adventure is to know yourself and learn.

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EoA Appreciation Week | Day 2: Darkness & Light  I started this digital painting several weeks ago. When I thought about today's...

1 day ago

EoA Appreciation Week | Day 2: Darkness & Light  I started this digital painting several weeks ago. When I thought about today's...

The Magic Transcends, Ch TBD

Word Count: 4,009

A/N: This is an out of context (future) chapter from my multi chapter WIP, The Magic Transcends, featuring engaged Elena x Mateo, Naomi, Esteban and an OC named Tomás.

Background info: Canon divergent. In this timeline, the prophecy of darkness never happened, nor did the crystal well story arc. Elena has raw magic within that she can shape to her will in addition to her scepter powers. The main plot of this story has Elena and Mateo (and friends) on a journey to free hundreds of prisoners that had been arrested during Shuriki’s reign and sent away to island prison work camps in the uncharted Northern Islands. This particular adventure takes place on one of the islands they sail to. Finally, Tomás is an OC of mine from my previous multi chapter fic and is the ambassador from a kingdom called Malvara who is on this journey to help chart the islands on behalf of his kingdom and their Avaloran allies.

–––––

Excitement and anticipation thrummed inside him as Mateo ducked to enter what looked suspiciously like a Maruvian temple—except how could it be a Maruvian temple when they were on an island several weeks’ sea voyage away from Avalor? They were well outside the regions where the Maruvians had been known to have inhabited centuries before.

The ceiling inside was just high enough that he could walk upright, but anyone much taller than he might not be so lucky.

“Ouch!” the chancellor grumbled from a few paces behind.

“Oh, sorry!” Mateo grimaced. “Watch your head!”

Elena and Naomi exchanged amused looks as Esteban gave the young royal wizard a withering glare. Mateo, however, did not see it, for he was preoccupied with the runes covering the walls on either side.

“Whoa!” he breathed, his hand automatically outstretching, his fingers brushing feather light over the ancient writing.

“What does it say?” Elena asked, curious as she moved to stand beside him, her hand resting on his back.

“I—I don’t know—” Mateo said, his eyebrows furrowed together. “It’s written in Old Maruvian—I can only read classical. Translating between the two is tricky since Old Maruvian is written in a system of runes. Totally different from classical Maruvian pictograms—”

Elena pressed her lips together, trying not to laugh out loud as Mateo went off on a tangent. She glanced over to where Tomás was looking between Mateo and the runes, his forehead crinkled in confusion as he tried to follow and then Naomi who had just taken to leaning against the wall, and was picking at her nails while she waited for Mateo to finish.

Esteban, however, was out of patience and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation before interrupting. “Ok! Ok! We get it! You can’t read it!” Mateo squawked, startled at the outburst and bumped his head on the low ceiling. “Miss Turner,” Esteban turned to Naomi. “You’ve been studying Maruvian with Professor Mendoza, haven’t you? Perhaps you could enlighten us.”

Naomi scoffed. “I’ve only just started learning Old Maruvian. Unless it says ‘Hello, my name is Naomi. May I have five tamales, please’, I won’t be much help here.”

“Er—that’s ok,” Mateo mumbled before Esteban could retort, “Let’s just keep moving.”

“It looks kind of ominous. What if it’s a warning of some kind?” Tomás asked, examining the wall more closely.

“That’s likely, considering the captives in the village said the temple was cursed,” Elena said, shrugging. “We can either stay here and stare at this writing none of us can translate or we can keep going and find out for ourselves.”

“My vote is for going!” Naomi said enthusiastically, pushing herself off of the wall. “What’s the worst that could happen?

"We could trigger a curse and wind up as stone statues—or worse,” Mateo said idly as he peered down the dark hallway. “But I suppose we’ll never know if we don’t look. Besides, we have a job to do.”

The truth was that they were there to help the Avaloran captives find a handful of children who had disappeared near this ruin earlier that day. Rumor had it that the ruin was cursed, so the people usually kept their distance. Some of the children had recently taken to playing near the ruin, however, and had gotten a bit reckless. Once the children were found, they would evacuate the freed captives from the prison camp and sail on to the final island.

“Oh is that all?” Naomi asked, laughing and elbowing Tomás as she passed by him. “We handled way worse than that in Malvara, what with the horde of dark sorcerers and all. Isn’t that right, Tomás?”

The Malvaran diplomat snorted, rolling his eyes as he followed the group farther into the temple. “It’s getting pretty dark,” he said, squinting to try and get a better look around. “Did anyone think to bring a torch?”

“You’ll quickly learn that when you travel with these two,”  Esteban started, gesturing to Elena and Mateo with his thumb, “trivial things like torches become unnecessary.” He paused, turning to Mateo, raising a haughty eyebrow. “Well?” he demanded. “What are you waiting for? Do your— light magic spell thing!”

“Jeez, Esteban, you don’t have to be so bossy.” Naomi shot him a glare, her hands on her hips.

Elena exchanged a bemused look with Mateo.

Would you like to do the honors, or shall I?

I’ll do it—you should save your strength.

Elena rolled her eyes, but smiled and gestured for him to take the lead.

“You know, it’s still really weird when you two do that,” Naomi commented dryly.

Mateo ignored her, pulling out his tamborita and casting the light spell which flooded the hall with magical torch light.

The group continued on, keeping an eye out for trip wires, loose bricks or hidden switches—standard cursed temple fare. 

The five of them had fallen into a focused silence as they moved forward. Not a sound could be heard save for the soft footsteps and breathing. Mateo opened his mouth to comment about the suspicious lack of traps and locked doors when a chorus of shrill squeals rattled the temple, earning a series of startled jumps, curses and squawks from the group—Esteban actually shrieked and jumped behind Elena, who had pulled out her scepter and was pointing it down the hall.

“Do you hear that?” Naomi muttered, her hand on the lasso at her waist.

“It's—footsteps?” Tomás asked. “Very small, skittering footsteps? A creature of some sort?”

Mateo listened hard, trying to identify the sound that was growing louder and clearly drawing closer by the second. Glancing over at Elena, he shrugged, completely at a loss.

The chorus of squeals sounded again, even louder than before. A moment later—

“Pigs?” Esteban spat out, disgusted. “There are—pigs running amuck in a Maruvian temple?”

A pair of piglets came dashing down the hall, not paying the group a bit of attention and continued running. Naomi sidled up beside Esteban, bumping her shoulder into his. “Don’t move,” she whispered loudly. “They can probably smell your fear.”

Esteban, who had still been half cowering behind Elena, straightened, brushing the dust off of his shirt and looked down his nose at Naomi. “I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about, Miss Turner.”

Naomi snorted. “Right.”

“Well, that was weird,” Elena commented.

“It really was, but—” Mateo paused, thoughtful. “I don’t sense any danger so—I guess we should keep moving?”

“Sounds good to me,” Elena grinned.

“Right, 'cause the sooner we find those kids the sooner we can get out of this creepy temple,” Naomi quipped.

“I fully agree with Naomi.” Tomás nodded fervently.

It didn’t take long for the five of them to reach the end of the hall.

“Seriously? A—dead end?” Naomi said, perplexed.

“Did we miss an offshoot hallway or something?” Elena asked, looking back at the way they came.

“No—” Mateo said slowly, eyes narrowed as he peered at the wall. He took a step closer, reaching out to touch the stone, half expecting a cool, smooth temple wall, but instead his hand pushed right through it.

“It’s an illusion!” he exclaimed, eyes bright with wonder. He waved his hand through it and looked over his shoulder at the rest of his party, grinning. “Look!” He moved his hand through it a few more times.

“That’s great,” Naomi said in a deadpan tone. “But what if there’s a death trap on the other side? Who’s going to walk through first?” Tomás and Esteban were both quiet, but eyed the wall with apprehension. Clearly neither was eager to walk through to the unknown.

Mateo snorted, rolling his eyes as he pointed his tamborita at the wall and muttered a complex incantation by way of explanation. The wall flickered and vanished, revealing a dimly lit cavern spreading out before them, a faint shimmering reaching their eyes from the darkness within.

Without a word, Elena held out her scepter and said “Glow!” With a coy smile at Mateo, she moved past him and into the cavern, carefully looking either direction before stepping through the doorway, just to be sure there were no giant axes about to slice into them or some other horrible trap just waiting to be triggered.

Mateo was right on her heel, his jaw dropping in awe at the sight that spread out before them. The cavern was at least the size of the ball room back in the palace in Avalor and filled from wall to wall with heaping mounds of gold and glittering jewels and trinkets of all shapes and sizes. It was a treasure chamber that could put any royal treasury to shame.  

“Whoa!” Naomi and Esteban said in unison, awestruck as they wandered into the chamber, gazing around at the piles of riches around them, Tomás just behind them.

Mateo had just turned a circle and had become distracted by a detailed mural on the wall around the entrance to the chamber. He muttered the incantation to relight his tamborita and moved closer to get a better look at it.

“Do you see this?” he murmured to Elena, who had only spared the treasure a passing glance before turning to move to Mateo’s side, her scepter raised to help illuminate the wall before them.

“Are those Maruvian runes?” she asked.

“Yeah, the top half is something written in old Maruvian, but the illustration below is pretty clear—”

There was a Maruvian style painting that reselmbled the treasure chamber they were standing in. A figure stood on one mound of gold, holding a fistful of jewels. Next to the figure was a squiggly swirl that Mateo recognized as a typical depiction of magic in Maruvian artwork. And just past the swirl was a—

“Is that a pig?” Elena asked, her eyebrows knitting together as she glanced over to Mateo who was studying the image as if trying to solve a complicated puzzle. He simply nodded wordlessly, the wheels in his mind turning, trying to piece together the puzzle a few more moments before realization dawned on him.

Gasping, he whirled around, a warning on his lips. “Whatever you do don’t touch anything!” The warning died in his throat, however, as he took in the confrontation that he had not notice escalating behind behind them in his fascination with the Maruvian wall paintings.

“What do you mean, the gold belongs to Malvara!?” Naomi glared at the Malvaran ambassador, her hands on her hips, her usually cerulean blue eyes, smoldering with a strange, flickering darkness. “This treasure belongs to the people of Avalor!”

“Ridiculous!” Esteban scoffed, a hungry look in his eye. “I claim this treasure on behalf of the royal family! Imagine the economic development we could invest in with such wealth!”

Tomás glowered at the both of them. “Is this how Avalor treats its allies then? Lure them out to a remote island under false pretenses? This land and all of its resources was promised to the kingdom of Malvara and you dare to turn your back on that promise?”

“This treasure belonged to the Maruvians,” Esteban snapped, throwing his hands up in the air. “Meaning it was placed here by our ancestors, and is not a natural resource of the land. Thereby making it the property of Avalor!”

“You can’t just claim things for your personal gain, you overstuffed preening, peacock!” Naomi spat, her eyes flashing.

The three of them were locked in an angry disagreement like none Elena had ever seen before. This was not typical behavior for any one of them, and she’d never known any of them to be particularly greedy. Well, maybe Esteban, but he’d always been fairly rational and willing to see reason in the past. This thirst for personal riches felt—unnatural.

Tomás reached out and snatched up a bejeweled spear, stabbing it into the pile of gold he stood on. “Maruvians be damned!” he snarled. “I claim this treasure on behalf of King Alejandro of Malvara!”

Oh no. This was not good.

Before Mateo could protest, Esteban and Naomi lunged forward to grab at the spear and the three began a three way tug of war, trying with all of their might to take the spear for themselves.

The three brawlers paid not mind when the walls began to tremble, triggering a near blinding flash and releasing a poof of smoke. 

Elena and Mateo coughed, waving at the the air before them as the smoke cleared. A new pealing chorus of squeals echoed around the chamber and as the air cleared, three small piglets were revealed to be brawling where Naomi, Esteban, and Tomás had been just a minute before.

Mateo stared, horrified, shaking his head in disbelief. Could this be any worse? He was supposed to be the leader and three of his friends were now cursed. Why hadn’t he scouted the room before letting them in? He could have discovered the warning and made sure they knew to stay away from the treasure. But no, he could just add this to his long list of failures on this expedition.

“Stop that,” Elena murmured, cupping his cheek in her hand, drawing his attention to her. “This is not your fault.”

“But I could have done something to protect them!” His eyes darted away from her all too understanding gaze.

Elena shook her head. “Clearly the treasure was cursed to draw its victims in and there was no way to really know that until it happened.”

Mateo sighed, looking up at the ceiling a moment before meeting Elena’s steady gaze. He smiled a small crooked smile. “You’re right. I—”

Mateo was interrupted as the three fighting piglets seemed to realize something had happened. A chorus of shrill squeals echoed in the chamber as they each took off running towards the doorway.

“We have to stop them!” Elena shouted, still holding up her glowing scepter to keep the chamber lit up. “If they get out, we may never catch them!”

Mateo leapt into action, letting his own light spell go out as he raised his tamborita above his head, hitting it as he shouted, “Clousanda!” Immediately, a glowing orange barrier popped into existence, barring the doorway—but not fast enough. One of the piglets managed to dart out of the room before it was barricaded. Mateo groaned in frustration but holstered his tamborita and ran forward to try and catch the remaining pigs.

“You go after the one that looks like Esteban! I’ll get the other,” Mateo said to Elena.

Elena nodded, laughing as she got a good look at the pig he’d indicated. Sure enough, it had a strange tuft of hair on the top of its head that resembled Esteban’s signature hairstyle and was that—a mustache on its snout? She put away her scepter and focused her raw magic to create a floating orb of light in order to free up her hands.

The two of them scrambled over the piles of gold, dodging multiple obstacles as they chased after their charges. “Ugh!” Mateo grumbled, weaving around a shimmering golden sculpture. “Who knew such small creatures could move so fast!”

“I know, right?” Elena agreed, making a running jump, her arms outstretched as she landed on her stomach, barely missing the Esteban-piglet as he slipped past the tips of her fingers.

“Oof!” Mateo, not realizing he’d come full circle around the cavern, did not see Elena  and tripped over her, falling face first into a pile of gold, knocking the wind out of himself and earning a few fresh scrapes on his cheeks. He was more worried, however, about Elena. Once he caught his breath, he scrambled over to where she was pushing herself up, cursing under her breath.

“Oh my gosh—Elena! I’m so sorry! Are you ok?” He reached out instinctively, placing a hand on her arm as he looked her up and down seeking out any sign of injury to his fiance.

“I’m fine,” she said simply, looking around. “Too bad we can’t multitask our magic—this would be so much easier if we could just use a freezing spell or something.”

Mateo had to agree, but he wasn’t sure they could freeze both piglets in one shot so they had to be contained. Not only that, but they wouldn’t be catching anything if they couldn’t see past the end of their nose.

Getting to her feet, Elena offered a hand to help pull Mateo up as well. One of the little pigs darted past their feet and Elena made to run after it. Mateo, however, caught her by the elbow, saying, “Wait a minute—I think we need to try a new tactic.”

“Oh?” Elena raised a skeptical eyebrow. “What did you have in mind?”

He watched the pigs running panicked circles around the room and thought they were possibly starting to slow down, if only a little. “I think we need to be patient.”

Elena snorted. “Patience is definitely not my strong suit.”

Mateo laughed and leaned in to press a kiss to her forehead. “I know, mi amor. I know.” He sat down, leaning against the wall and patted the space beside him, inviting her to join him. “But they aren’t going anywhere, so long as my spell holds, eventually they’ll calm down—maybe even realize we are friends.”

“You’re probably right,” she sighed, sitting down beside him a bit harder than she’d meant to, yelping. “Ouch! Those coins are a lot less soft than I thought.”

Scooting a bit closer, she rested her head on Mateo’s shoulder and he slipped an arm around her shoulders. The pair watched their transformed companions slowly run out of steam. The snuffled squeaks and squeals quieted and one of the piglets wandered by, sniffing at the gold.

Mateo couldn’t help but wonder if there was any amount of their friends’ sensibilities inside those little heads or if it was one hundred percent animal instincts. He held out his free hand, palm up and clucked his tongue quietly, the way he might if he was back at his mother’s house, helping to feed the chickens.

The little pig startled with a snort, leaping away from the hand and looking up at Mateo with wide eyes, but did not run.

“Oh, that’s definitely Naomi,” Elena murmured, her head still resting on Mateo’s shoulder. “Look at those blue eyes.”

She was right. Mateo could see their sassy friend looking back out at them from those glassy, blue eyes.

“It’s ok,” he said gently, reaching out tentatively. “We won’t hurt you, we want to help.”

Piglet-Naomi tilted her head to one side and then the other, easing forward to sniff at his hand, stretching her neck and refusing to move her feet until she lost her balance and fell forward.

“Oh yeah. That’s definitely Naomi,” Elena repeated. “She’s a stubborn one.”

The piglet snorted and glared up at the crown princess, the indignation apparent in her eyes.

Mateo laughed. “I think she understands you, even if she doesn’t remember exactly who we are.” He turned his attention back to Naomi. “Come on, Naomi. Really, it’s ok.” He coaxed. “We’re your friends.” Stretching out just a bit more, his fingers brushed the top of her head. He honestly didn’t know if pigs liked to be petted the way dogs and cats and horses did, but figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

To his relief, the Naomi-piglet let out a little snort-snuffle and nuzzled her snout into his hand. He chuckled. “I think she likes me better than you,” he said, smirking over his shoulder at Elena. Elena just rolled her eyes playfully and shook her head.

“Naomi?” Elena said, tentative. “Can you understand me?”

As if in answer, the piglet paused and turned her gaze up to the crown princess, her head cocked to one side.

Elena and Mateo exchanged a hopeful look. Perhaps, now that she was calm, Naomi would be able to help them help her. “We have to get you and Esteban—” Mateo pointed to the other piglet, perched atop a mountain of coins across the room. “—we have to get you back to the ship so we can help you. Do you understand?”

The piglet huffed a breath and clambered onto Mateo’s lap, plopping down and making herself comfortable, much to his relief.

Elena giggled, reaching over to scratch the little piglet behind the ears, calling out to the Esteban-piglet, “So, are you going to come over here, Esteban so we can get out of here? Or are you going to make things difficult as usual?”

The piglet with the strange tuft of hair turned where he sat and put his back to the group, lying down on his pile of gold. Mateo wasn’t sure if he was just being difficult or if he’d quite literally decided to claim that treasure for himself. Elena groaned in annoyance and made to get up when the Naomi piglet leapt from Mateo’s lap and stood beside him, squealing in what Mateo thought must be a rather angry squeal.

“Did she just stomp?” Elena asked, masking her giggle behind her hand.

“I think she’s yelling at Esteban.”

“Well, that’s nothing new.”

Sure enough, the other piglet squawked some kind of retort back, but got to his feet and trudged over to where Elena and Mateo were sitting. Neither one wanted to get up just yet, just in case either of the piglets were still a bit skittish.

Esteban piglet actually seemed to be looking down his nose at them, even though he was a tiny little thing.

“Well, at least their personalities haven’t changed one bit.” Elena smirked. “Come here, primo,” she scooped up the little pig and clambered to her feet, Mateo following just after her. He trusted Naomi enough not to run off as he disabled the barricade spell before scooping her up into his arms.

“So?” Elena said, making her way to the doorway and willing her light orb to follow. “What’s your plan.”

Mateo glanced sidelong at the runes on the wall, wishing he had time to decode them with his Old Maruvian dictionary before answering, “We need to get back to the village and find Tomás and those children.  Once we have them back, I can get my curse breaker potion from my trunk back on the ship. It only takes a few drops to break even the most powerful curses, so there should be plenty for everyone.”

Elena’s eyes widened. She was impressed. “Wow, you really did prepare for anything, didn’t you?”

“I tried.” He shrugged with a modest smile. “For anything magical, anyways. And if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that you can never have too much curse breaker potion.”

Esteban piglet snuffled, and Elena could have sworn he’d muttered, “This is true.” Of course, she agreed.

“You hear that, you two?” she asked the piglets. Your royal wizard is going to get you squared away. You’ll be human again in no time.“

The piglets nestled comfortably in Elena and Mateo’s arms as they made their way out of the temple and back to the village. Mateo was encouraged that this was a problem that he was actually equipped to solve. There had been precious few issues on this quest that he’d felt ready for.

Though, if he was being completely honest, nothing could have mentally prepared him for Naomi, Esteban and the Malvaran ambassador shapeshifting into wild baby pigs. Though he wasn’t sure why—if anything, this trip had taught him to expect the impossible.

***to be continued***

1 day ago

EoA Appreciation Week | Day 1 - Adventure

Theme: Adventure! 

Mateo had always grown up hearing the legends of the Sirenas. As a child he was dared to try to find one and in doing so it set him off on an adventure of a lifetime~ (Lightly inspired by LovelyRubee’s Sirena Eleteo art)

-Flashback-

Mateo was shaking with every step towards the water’s edge but he couldn’t back out now. His Mami might kill him if she finds out, but there’s no way he could back down now and have the other boys see. He could hear their whispers from behind the rocks they hid, reminding him they were watching. 

He never should have agreed to doing this, but it was too late now. 

He had been reading a book nearby when suddenly it was snatched from him. 

“What are you reading Mateo?” One of them had said laughing. 

Mateo looked up to face several boys he knew from his class and unfortunately for him… most of them weren’t very kind. 

“C-Can I have it back please?” He said, his voice failing to hide his discomfort and his eyes failing to make full eye contact with others.

Several taunts later, Mateo realized he would not get his new book back until he complied with Ramon’s request… However dangerous it might be. 

“C’mon guys, leave him alone. The Sirenas really?!” Gabe said with a worried face. 

“If little Mateo wants his book back all he has to do is find us a Sirena and I’ll give it back.” Ramon said with a smug smile and arms crossed. 

And that was how Mateo found himself now a step away from water…

He could feel his heart beating in his chest hard and he swallowed roughly. With another step, his bare feet began to tread into the ocean’s soft waves. 

He had no idea how he’d find a Sirena, but he had to try if he wanted his book and for the others to leave him alone. 

It felt like forever with Mateo walking about the waist deep water, essentially using himself as bait and occasionally ducked under to see if he’d catch a glimpse of a colorful tail. No Sirenas in sight. He was starting to lose hope as his clothes now dripped wet and the sun would be setting soon. 

He turned around towards the rocks where Ramon and the others were. 

“G-Guys, there’s no S-Sirenas… I tried…” He shouted toward them. 

Ramon stepped forward, “Well… I guess there aren’t.” 

Mateo felt some relief, “C-Can I have my book… please?” He asked, shivering a bit as a breeze blew. 

The other boy paused in thought for a moment, “Hmm, fine. Catch!” He said and tossed the book with a strong upper hand. 

This caught little Mateo off guard and he dived to catch his new leather-bound book. He caught it just barely, but the rest of his body plunged into the water yet again. When he ducked back up he could hear the cruel laughter of the boys as they walked away. One of the taller boys Gabe, wasn’t laughing and instead looked a bit sad at Mateo. He quickly took off his outer jacket and left it on a rock seemingly for Mateo to borrow before also walking off. 

Mateo sighed and began to make it back towards the shore. Examining his book and breathing in relief as it was unharmed and relatively still dry. 

“Phew. Thank goodness it’s alright.” He said. 

“What kind of book is that?” came a voice from behind him. 

Mateo froze. There hadn’t been anyone else around him or in the water…

Against his better judgment he turned around slowly and saw her. 

She looked like a normal girl, about as young as him, until he noticed several things about her. The girl had long flowing hair that was brown with what looked like red streaks running through it. She wore what appeared to be a red and pink top with a sparkling silver necklace, red jewel gleaming as it hung from her neck. The dead giveaway to what she really was however was when she lifted her shiny red tail out of the water. 

Mateo let out a screech and made it to the shore within record time. 

Tripping, he soon fell onto the sand, clenching onto his book for dear life. 

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you!” The… girl? Called out. 

“Y-You didn’t?” He asked nervously. 

And that was how he began a forbidden friendship with a Sirena named Elena. 

-Current time-

Meeting up with Elena became a comfortable pastime. The two had overcome large odds and had been able to keep their friendship for the past 13 or so years, both of them sneaking away from their communities to see each other. They grew together and developed a bond stronger than they ever imagined. 

His bare feet stepped carefully over the rocky area he and Elena had claimed as their special spot. The rocky cove just out of sight of the beach provided them privacy from those who would not understand their bond. 

He carried in his bag several scrolls to show Elena what he had been working on lately, spells that she marveled in and watched with excitement. The thought of her golden eyes shining sent his heart beating fast. 

As he turned a corner, he spotted his beloved Sirena sitting with half her body still submerged in the cool waters. 

“Elena!” He called out happily with a wave. 

When she didn’t immediately turn and appeared to wipe her cheeks, Mateo knew something was wrong. 

Elena had grown into a breathtakingly beautiful woman. Her hair had grown past her waist and she now kept it tied up, her tail had grown longer and shinier, and her features matured to that of a young woman as well. Her signature features however were her smile and eyes… Ones that Mateo could get lost in and may or not may not have something to do with why he had rejected several of the town girl’s advances towards him thus far… Those golden eyes were now shimmering with unshed tears…

“Hi Mateo.” She said, forcing a small smile at him and patting the spot next to her, inviting him to sit. 

Mateo frowned slightly, “What’s wrong Elena?” 

She forced a small laugh, “I can’t hide anything from you mi amigo…” 

————————————————————————————————–

“Someone stole your necklace?!” Mateo said in shock. 

Elena’s necklace was a family heirloom he had learned over the years, passed down from mother to daughter, and was magical… She never went a day without it for all the years he had known her. It was one of the only things she had left of her parents who had passed… 

Elena was hunched in on herself, holding her arms, “I searched everywhere for it! There was no way I lost it and the box I left it in for a second was open! What if I’ve lost it forever Mateo?” She said, looking over at him for answers.  

He had half expected her tail to change colors as it sometimes magically did with her moods, but to his surprise it didn’t. 

“The amulet gave me the magic… now that it’s gone, I’ve lost that magic too…” She said sensing his confusion and burrowing her head in her crossed arms. 

The bright light that was Elena had dimmed and it hurt Mateo to no end to see her like this… He couldn’t bear to see her in pain. There had to be something that could be done!

He reached out softly and embraced her. 

She clung to him as she had done many times before after a hard day or to comfort him on his own bad days. This beautiful soul in his arms not laughing, smiling, teasing him, was not something he could stomach. She was risking being shunned by her own kind every time they met up and she was by far the bravest person he knew. 

Something had to be done. 

With a determined thought in my mind, he stood up suddenly, making Elena look up towards him.  

“Elena, I promise you we’re going to find your amulet.” He said definitively. 

————————————————————————————————–

Mateo had always imagined what the world of the Sirenas looked like under the ocean, but he never imagined himself seeing it with his own eyes. Floating in the water besides Elena thanks to some magical seaweed, he could not help the awe he felt in that moment. The coral glowing structure off in the distance was indeed ethereal and otherworldly. 

He suddenly felt unworthy of being here, in front of this beautiful site and by Elena’s side. Who was he, a normal human, to be there? What did he have to offer to find Elena’s amulet? 

As if sensing his concerns, Mateo suddenly felt a hand slip into his own. He turned and his green eyes met her dreamy gold ones. He felt her tighten her grip slightly and he did so in return.  

He and Elena were about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime in search of her amulet. Where it would take them, neither of them fully knew. He knew for sure it would be difficult and they would face many dangers ahead, but as long as Elena was by his side, he could truly believed he could face anything. As long as they were by each other’s side, they would face everything. 

“Ready?” She asked with a cheeky smile. 

“Ready.” Mateo said, more certain than he had ever been before. 

2 days ago

EOA Appreciation Week- Day One

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In which the Delgados get their chance…  Happy EoA Appreciation Week, everyone! :D 

2 days ago

In which the Delgados get their chance… Happy EoA Appreciation Week, everyone! :D 

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I just really love them, ok? ❤️

8 days ago

I just really love them, ok? ❤️

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Asdfghjkl 😍😭❤️

12 days ago

Asdfghjkl 😍😭❤️

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Too Much To Handle   Can’t hide the secrets You can’t forget about this mess I’m waiting on the sidelines From the sidelines  I...

13 days ago

Too Much To Handle Can’t hide the secrets You can’t forget about this mess I’m waiting on the sidelines From the sidelines I...

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I love that Elena invites him to Chloe’s boat party cause this means that Mateo is either one of the gals or a real life of the party kinda guy aaahahaha!

13 days ago

I love that Elena invites him to Chloe’s boat party cause this means that Mateo is either one of the gals or a real life of the...

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Chatana with Pili  (Based on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady With an Ermine”)  [Image ID: A pencil crayon and ink drawing of Chatana...

14 days ago

Chatana with Pili  (Based on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady With an Ermine”) [Image ID: A pencil crayon and ink drawing of Chatana...

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Elena & Mateo Holding Hands
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19 days ago

Elena & Mateo Holding Hands

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May you always know the love That shines from deep inside In your darkest hour May it be your guide  May its golden rays Light...
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21 days ago

May you always know the love That shines from deep inside In your darkest hour May it be your guide May its golden rays Light...

Apology

A/N — A Gabaomi ficlet inspired by the Discord Weekly Challenge prompt, “Apology”. Takes place the evening after “Giant Steps”. Naomi realizes that she owes someone an apology and goes to speak with the captain of the guard. Fluffy and pointless and a good time all around :)

——

Naomi was surprised to realize how relieved she was to be back. Avalor was home and the people her family—some more so than others. But there was one person who, though they had handled her sudden departure and imminent return rather well, she felt she owed an explanation and an apology.

Which is how she found herself standing the door to the captain of the guard, her hand pausing mid air as she steeled herself for whatever was to come. She knocked, butterflies erupting in her stomach at the familiar, strong voice telling her to enter. As she stepped through the door, she saw Gabe hunched over his desk, his pen scribbling over a parchment. If she had to guess, she assumed he was likely filling out a report documenting their mission in Vallestrella that day.

“Hey Gabe,” she said, quietly, her hands clasped behind her back, continuing as he froze, his gaze snapping up to hers. “I—I was hoping we could—um—talk.”

“Of course.” His expression immediately shifted from the usual stoic guard captain gaze he wore when on duty to something much softer and warmer—affectionate, even. Nodding, he put his pen down and immediately got to his feet, coming around the massive mahogany desk and leaning casually against it, almost sitting on it.

He patted the desk beside him. “Would you like to sit?”

Naomi grinned and took the offered spot beside him, hopping up onto the desk and letting her feet dangle several inches above the ground. A moment later, however, she was wringing her hands in her lap, trying to think of the words she needed.

“I—feel like I owe you an apology—” she started, glancing away with a sigh.

Gabe raised a questioning eyebrow. “Oh? Well, that’s news to me. What makes you think that?”

She looked back at him, meeting his even gaze with furrowed eyebrows. “You know—because I left?”

Looking genuinely confused, Gabe shook his head. “What? You want to apologize for following your dream?”

“No! Not that—” she started, feeling a bit flustered as she worried her lip. “I just up and left—I didn’t say goodbye or anything! And, well? I should have. And,” she looked down at her lap. “I’m sorry.”

At the time, leaving with the tide seemed like the most important thing in the world. Vee had left and Naomi felt as if her dream was hanging on by a thread—if she was ever going to take hold of it, she had to leave right then and there. There wasn’t a moment to lose!

But as the weeks went by, she’d realized that it wasn’t just Elena she was missing. She missed Mateo too, sure, but Gabe—they had something special. First their time together in Norberg and then when they danced at Carnaval—they both felt it and had just started to explore whatever “it” was when she just up and disappeared.

Gabe was quiet a moment, thoughtful, before opening his mouth to speak. “I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. It’s not like we were—” he smiled sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. “You know—we weren't—”

“A couple?” she finished for him with a wry smile, to which he nodded. “No, you’re right. But still! Even as friends—I should have said goodbye.”

He elbowed her gently, smiling. “Well, you made up for it with all of those letters, yeah?”

She looked up at him, a small smile playing about her lips. “I suppose,” she murmured, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “And thanks for keeping me updated about what was really going on around here—I thought Elena’s letters seemed a bit too positive, even for her. Though all that stuff about Mateo—”

He laughed. “Yeah, well, you know how they get sometimes—”

“That I do.”

“Imagine that, but ten times worse while you were gone.”

She chuckled, shaking her head. “Yeah, we talked about that already.”

Snorting, he replied, “Wow, you don’t waste any time do you?”

“Nope. I know my priorities.”

“Of course you do.”

The pair became quiet. It was that slightly awkward silence between two people who aren’t quite sure where they stand with one another. A minute passed before Naomi glanced over at him and said, tentatively, “So—are we good?”

He smiled. “Yeah. We’re good. Just—promise you’ll say goodbye next time.”

“There won’t be a next time.”

“That’s what you say now, but—” he shrugged. “What happens when the adventure bug strikes again?”

“Then I’ll make up some excuse to drag you guys along with me—for the good of the kingdom,” she replied matter-of-factly.

Gabe couldn’t help but snort. “I’m not saying I would be opposed to that.”

“Good.” She scooted a bit closer, smiling as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Because I don’t plan to leave my best friends behind again.” She paused before adding, “Or—you.”

Gabe slipped an arm around her shoulder. “Wait—if I’m not your best friend, then what am I?”

Naomi didn’t reply for a few moments. Her heart had tightened in her chest and small flutters tingled over her skin.  Finally she voiced the feeling she’d thought many times over the past months, “Something more—”

Caught off guard, Gabe made a sharp intake of breath through his nose and pulled away just far enough that he could see her, their eyes meeting. His smile grew slowly until he was positively beaming. “I—I like the sound of that. And I agree. Or, um—I feel the same or—whatever.”

Naomi laughed quietly as he stumbled over his words. “Well, that’s good,” she said simply, bumping her shoulder into his.

“Welcome home, Nomes.” Gabe spoke  wrapped his arms around her in a hug and she returned the gesture, slipping her arms around his middle and leaning comfortably against his chest.

“Thanks Gabe,” she murmured. “It’s good to be back.”

There would be time later to figure out her place in Avalor and whatever it was she was meant to do. There would be time to figure out what, exactly she and Gabe meant to each other.

She knew she would figure these things out sooner rather than later, and, perhaps, the two of them could figure some of it out together.

23 days ago

Apology A/N — A Gabaomi ficlet inspired by the Discord Weekly Challenge prompt, “Apology”. Takes place the evening after “Giant...

23 days ago

May I join the Elena discord server please?

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It’s Father’s Day and I have nothing else to give you but old angst 🙃😭

23 days ago

It’s Father’s Day and I have nothing else to give you but old angst 🙃😭

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Reason #1047 Why Elena Castillo Flores is Selfless and Good: She was willing to risk her own health and well being to protect...

24 days ago

Reason #1047 Why Elena Castillo Flores is Selfless and Good: She was willing to risk her own health and well being to protect...

27 days ago

Thank you bet, well the Wizard was/is Malikor, I may have that he has a hand in the villains like shuriki and Ash. Malikor was...

Marked — Post Movin’ On Up

Elena couldn’t remember the last time she felt so giddy and light. Mateo—her soul partner—was home—in her home—to stay. Permanently.

It just felt so—right.

Something about the multiplied happy, fluttery feeling in her chest made her think that Mateo felt exactly the same as they stood together at the window, utterly at ease staring off into the distance, neither of them in a hurry to do anything at all.

Elena sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder, her arm tightening around his waist. She snuggled into the soft fleece of his robe, smiling when his head rested on hers. It was nice, being there—together—and knowing that he wasn’t going anywhere. Truly, she could get used to this.

A few quiet minutes passed before Elena glanced sidelong at Mateo and said, “You know, I think this calls for a celebration.” A mischievous gleam shone in her eye and she smirked.

Unsure of how to interpret that look, Mateo raised a curious eyebrow. “What exactly did you have in mind?”

She took his hand and tugged him towards the door. “Well, to start with, I’m thinking we should raid the kitchen for snacks—and maybe settle in for a few rounds of Conquian?” She waggled her eyebrows. “You know, so I can thoroughly defeat you, of course.”

Mateo snorted. “What? Is this like the initiation for anyone who moves into the palace? A round of Conquian with the crown princess so they all know who’s boss?”

“Nope, just you,” Elena teased, highly amused by the very idea as they slipped out into the hall and she let go of his hand.

“Oh, well, I’m honored, Your Highness. I think?”

“As well you should be, Royal Wizard.” Elena giggled as they walked companionably through the halls, winding their way down to the palace kitchens. Once they arrived, Mateo swung the door open, holding it to allow Elena in first.

Chef André was on the other side of the room, standing on a stool, straining to reach a mixing bowl on a high shelf. Glancing over his shoulder, he smiled at Elena and offered her a warm greeting before noticing Mateo just behind her. The smile slipped off of his face and his eyes narrowed as he watched Mateo with a wary expression.

Noticing the sudden tension, Elena paused, glancing back at Mateo who simply looked confused and mildly hurt by the chilly reception. A moment later, understanding dawned in his eyes and he snorted a laugh, rolling his eyes. Stepping forward, he held up his hands, palms out in a placating gesture and said, “I don’t care for carob, though I’ll eat it if it’s given to me, I love chocolate, lemons and oranges really are just fine and I honestly couldn’t care less about the amount of cilantro in my food.”

The effect of those words was instantaneous. Like a lantern being lit, the warmth and welcome immediately sparked in the chef’s eyes and he nodded, his eyebrows furrowed a bit. “What about the shellfish?”

“Well, ok,” Mateo admitted. “That one is an actual allergy, but everything else—really. I’m not that picky of an eater, especially in someone else’s home,” he glanced at Elena, a crooked smile on his lips.

“This is your home too, Mateo,” she reminded him, reaching out to squeeze his shoulder.

He swallowed hard, his cheeks warming. “Thanks, Elena.” He gave her shoulder an affectionate bump with his own. It was still strange to think that his home was the royal palace, of all places. Not only that, but his home was now the same as Elena’s, and his quarters were just down the hall from hers—a good change, for sure. Yet, still one that would take some getting used to.

Chef André watched the exchange between the Crown Princess and her Royal Wizard, a curious eyebrow raised, but didn’t comment, instead asking, “Is there something I can do for you two?”

Elena grinned. “We’re just here to raid the pantry for snacks. You know, to celebrate. Have you by chance baked anything sweet today?”

“Ahh, yes. The famous Flores sweet tooth,” the older man chuckled indulgently. “There are some cookies, some cream cheese pastelitos and a variety pan dulce. Oh! And I believe your abuela just finished a large batch of hazelnut chocolates.”

“That sounds perfect! Thank you señor!” Elena chirped happily, turning to raid the cold pantry, Mateo hesitating a moment before pulling out his tamborita and pointing it the bowl on the shelf and muttering, “Levaluq!” The bowl glowed orange and glided down into Chef André’s waiting hands. He nodded his thanks as Mateo grinned and turned, hurrying to catch up with Elena.

“So?” she asked over her shoulder, when he’d caught up. “See anything you like?”

“I’ll have whatever you’re having,” Mateo said simply with a shrug as he leaned against a wall.

“Oh come on! You have to have a preference!” Elena whirled around, staring incredulously.

“We didn’t have a lot of sugary foods around our house—apparently it’s bad for your teeth.” Mateo said dryly, rolling his eyes.

“But—you do like sweets, don’t you?”

Elena looked so concerned that Mateo thought she might kick him out of the palace or disown him as a friend if he said ‘no’. He laughed, moving forward to elbow her gently. “Don’t worry, Elena. We just didn’t have them around the house and until I became royal wizard, all of my pocket money went to acquiring potion reagents and stuff like that. So the answer to your question is—yes, I love sweets and usually devour them whenever I get the chance, but I don’t have any particular favorites.”

Smirking, Elena said lightly, “Well it seems I got ahold of you just in time then didn’t I? 18 years old and just now discovering your favorite sweets.” She tsked and shook her head in mock disapproval.

“Just add that to my list of things I owe you my life for,” he replied with a grin.

“Oh, I will,” she teased, turning back to the shelf. “We’ll just grab a little of everything then—” She had a tray and started piling it with pastelitos, conchas, sweet empanadas, churros, chocolates and cookies.

Mateo watched the mountain of pastries and candies grow with wide eyes. “Maybe I’ll discover a favorite before I die of diabetic shock,” he said dryly.

“Pfft,” Elena scoffed. “You’re young and healthy—you’ll be fine. A little sugar never hurt anyone and we’ll tell your mom it was all made of carob and that you brushed your teeth really well afterwards.”

Mateo just snorted a laugh by way of reply. He had a feeling there would be a lot he wouldn’t be telling his mother about now that he lived at the palace. And that was ok with him—he was eager to try new things and find a new daily routine. And he was pleased that Elena was so enthusiastic about helping him do all of those things.

The pair finished filling the platter and grabbed a pitcher of ice cold horchata before heading back to the royal wizard’s quarters. Elena was so happy, she was practically skipping. A small thought in the back of her head worried that maybe they should have invited Gabe and Naomi to celebrate too. But she reasoned that they would have plenty of time for friendly game nights in Mateo’s room, and for reasons she couldn’t quite articulate, she wanted just this first one to herself.

Mateo settled the snacks and drinks on the small table in his sitting area while Elena dashed across the hall to grab a card deck from her room. By the time she’d hurried back into the room, he’d finished arranging the pastries and was just standing there, an expression of awe in his gaze as he tried to reconcile this incredible new living situation with what he was accustomed to.

Elena slipped quietly through the door and just stood there a moment watching. a small smile playing about her lips. Finally, she spoke. “I know what you’re thinking—you’re missing the baby jaquin curtains, aren’t you?”

Snorting, Mateo rolled his eyes playfully and turned. “Right. You caught me. Those and the baby proof latches on the cabinets.” He sat, making himself comfortable on the half circle sofa. “So are you going to thoroughly defeat your poor, clueless royal wizard at cards or are you planning to stand there all night and pick on me?”

Flashing him a wide grin, Elena bounded over to the sofa and plopped down beside him, leaning forward to grab a chocolate, popping it into her mouth. She regarded Mateo a moment before asking, “Seriously, though. I never would have guessed you were that sheltered—was that how things were at your house growing up?” As she awaited his reply, she began to shuffle the card deck.

“Um. No.” Mateo shook his head, smiling wryly. “Ok, well sure. She was always a bit—um? Hovery? Protective? Perhaps a bit condescending at times—remind me to show you the color coded bookmarks she made for my spell books later. I didn’t mind though because she was so happy when she got to fuss over me.” He shrugged. “But the extreme baby stuff? That was—really weird actually. Even for her.”

“Huh, that’s odd.” Elena pursed her lips in thought, dealing out the cards.  "Though I suppose it makes sense, sort of.“

"Oh?” Mateo raised a skeptical eyebrow. If he was being honest, he didn’t understand it at all.

“Yeah, I mean,” Elena fanned out her cards as she mused. “Think about it. You are her only son and it was just the two of you for almost two decades and caring for you made her most happy. But suddenly you’re grown up and leaving home. She was trying to hold onto the old memories the only way she knew how.” Elena shrugged, laying down the first card.

This was a huge revelation to Mateo. His eyebrows furrowed as he rearranged his cards and discarded a jaquin of hearts. “So—what you’re saying is that me moving out kind of sent her world crashing down?” He looked away, saddened by the idea.

Elena reached over, placing a hand on top of his, causing him to look up and meet her steady gaze. “No. Well, ok, maybe a little. But not in a bad way! Growth isn’t always easy, you know,” she reassured him. “I find myself doing the same with Isa sometimes. Of course, I’m not her mother, but I care about her more than just about anything and sometimes I find myself going overboard trying to protect her even though she’s old enough to take care of herself in a lot of ways.” She smiled softly, continuing, “But as we both work together to try and reconcile who she is growing up to be and who she needs me to be to her, I’ve found the new relationship that’s starting to develop is even more beautiful and precious to me than ever before.”

Mateo’s eyes were thoughtful as he considered her words. “I—just want to be sure I’ve done the right thing, you know? I would never be able to forgive myself if I hurt her.”

“Trust me, Mateo,” she squeezed his hand gently. “You’ve done the right thing. And I am confident that after today, she knows this too. You’ll always be her baby—” she pinched his cheek playfully, earning an indignant squawk from the young royal wizard. “But I know that in time you two will find that balance between who you were as a child and who you have grown to be.”

“I hope you’re right,” Mateo sighed, though his eyes were significantly less troubled.

“I am,” Elena said with confidence. “If you want to know more, just ask my abuela. She did it with two daughters already and we’re sort of in that stage now—the difference is that since she’s done it before, she got the desperate need to hold onto the past out of her system a long time ago.”

Mateo smiled, laying down a five card straight before speaking. “That’s good to know. I suppose Mami did seem much more at peace when she left this morning.”

“She was!” Elena agreed, though she glared at the cards he’d just laid down as if they had personally offended her in some way. “And I’m not saying things are going to be perfect, it really is a growth process and those things take time. Just keep being your amazing self and she’ll see how grown up and capable you are.” She drew a card and grinned, laying down three queens. “Ha! Take that!”

Mateo blushed at the compliment, but couldn’t help but snort at the sudden change in conversation. “Elena, I still have two more cards on the table than you do,” he pointed out logically.

“Don’t count your cards before they’re melded, my dear.”

Rolling his eyes, Mateo just laughed as she made her discard.  His expression brightened, a triumphant gleam sparking as he saw what she’d put down. “I think you must be reading my thoughts again,” he said sweetly, plucking up the card and adding it to his hand before laying down another four card straight. “And I thank you for it, your highness.”

“What?!” Elena nearly squealed, outraged. “I most certainly did no such thing! I want my card back!”

“No way!” Mateo shook his head indignantly. “All’s fair in love and cards, you know. Finders keepers and all that.”

If looks could kill—Elena shot him a withering glare as she examined her hand and drew a card, groaning in frustration before discarding it. “Don’t you dare pick up that card,” she warned him, eyes narrowed.

“Or what?” Mateo asked, raising a challenging eyebrow. “Are you going to kick me out of the palace?”

“No I'll—” she paused, lips pursed as she thought fast. “I’ll haunt your every waking moment with my scepter!”

“Right,” Mateo scoffed. “You already do that so forgive me if I’m not sufficiently terrified by your threat.” He looked her straight in the eye, grinning tauntingly as he snatched up the card in question. “But my mom did make sure to teach me manners, so I should thank you again for the lovely card.”

He laid down a set of three kings, discarding his final card. “So? I believe that’s a win for me?”

“Beginner’s luck,” she muttered, folding her arms over her chest.

“I never said I was a beginner. You just assumed.” Mateo laughed. “How do you think my mom and I spent our Friday nights all those years when festivals and community gatherings were all but forbidden?”

Elena stared, incredulous a moment before her stern expression melted away, giving way to a grin. “Fair enough. How about best two out of three? I won’t go so easy on you this time.”

“If you say so,” Mateo said with a shrug, gathering the cards and shuffling with expert grace and dexterity. Elena pouted for just a moment, thought she couldn’t help but admire his skill. Her soul partner clearly had many talents and she was just now starting to discover them.

The pair settled in for another round of conquian, teasing and taunting each other in good natured competition. Soon they tired of the games and simply sat and talked for hours late into the night, Elena curling up into Mateo’s side and eventually giving in and laying her head down on his lap as they talked and laughed together about every topic imaginable.

Mateo still felt as if the whole situation was a bit surreal, being best friends and soulmates with the crown princess, moving into the palace. Yet, at the same time, it felt absolutely perfect as if he was precisely where he was meant to be. He was home.

27 days ago

Marked — Post Movin’ On Up Elena couldn't remember the last time she felt so giddy and light. Mateo—her soul partner—was home—in...

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It had to be done.

29 days ago

It had to be done.

Kindness

A/N —written in response to the Discord weekly challenge prompt “kindness”. Olivia is discouraged after messing up a potion and Mateo offers her a few words of kind encouragement.

———-

Olivia needed a break. This whole studying magic thing was way harder than she’d ever thought. It felt like every time she made some kind of progress, she’d mess something up! It was really discouraging. Today’s disaster involved an exploding potion that left Mateo’s workshop covered in a layer of shocking pink goop that she had no idea how to clean up, and Mateo was out for the morning, busy making some report or another to the grand council.

He’d trusted her to work on the potion he’d assigned and she’d messed it up. Again.

She thought that maybe if she got some fresh air, she’d feel better and would be able to ask for help when Mateo was back. Leaving her tamborita in the workshop, she wandered out to the palace gardens, careful to avoid the cracks between paving stones because everyone knew what would happen if you stepped on a crack!

Once she reached her favorite, pretty fountain, she sat down, curling her knees to her chest and staring down into the water with a heavy sigh. She’d never become a master wizard like Mateo at this rate. Maybe she should just give up. He’d been so nice about her mistakes and she kept promising to do better only to mess up again and again. She was a hopeless case, really.

Olivia wasn’t sure how long she’d been out there when she was startled from her sad thoughts by a familiar pointed cough. Gasping, her gaze gaze flicked over to see Mateo’s reflection standing there beside her own, arms crossed with an expectant expression on his face. She whipped around to face him.

“So—I see you decided to redecorate the workshop while I was out?”

Olivia looked away, toying with her glasses. “Um, yeah. Sorry—I—I messed up the potion. Again.” She swallowed hard, her eyes stinging as she anticipated the disappointment that was sure to come.

“And—you didn’t think to clean it up before you left?”

“I couldn’t!” she looked up at him with wide, sad eyes. “The goop was stuck! And I was afraid I make a bigger mess if I tried something magical.” She looked back to the water, certain this would be the last straw and he’d send her home. “I’m sorry I keep messing up—I—I don’t think I’m ever going to get this magic stuff right.”

Mateo’s eyebrows furrowed together and he sighed, sitting down beside her. “Olivia, we’ve been over this. You can’t learn if you don’t make mistakes—mistakes are proof that you are learning. Trust me when I say you’ve come so far over the years!”

Olivia looked up, hopeful as Mateo continued. “The trouble is that when you practice advanced spells and potions, mistakes become messier and more costly. But you’re going to make mistakes—do you know how many times I blew up my basement when I was studying magic without a mentor?”

“Yeah, but I have a teacher and I still mess up! I don’t know that many spells yet and my potions are a mess!”

Mateo huffed out a laugh, smiling a little. She reminded him a lot of himself, actually. So eager to learn quickly, but easily frustrated when it didn’t work out the way he’d hoped at such a young age.

“You know,” he started slowly. “A wise friend once told me that how many spells you know isn’t important and that words like ‘I can’t’ will only hold you down. You have to believe in yourself and keep trying.”

Sighing, Olivia said, “Maybe.”

“No. No maybes. This is 100% true. Now—” Mateo got up and pulled the smaller tamborita from his bag, handing it out to her. “Come on back, apprentice. We have a workshop to clean up.”

She looked up, eyes wide. “But–I don’t know how—”

“And it’s my job to teach you how,” Mateo explained patiently. “Now, come on. Wasn’t it you who said your mom told you to always clean up your messes?” He grinned. “I’ll even teach you a new spell—I think your mom will like this one.”

A hopeful smile twitched at her mouth and she got up, taking the tamborita. “Ok, Mateo. And—” she smiled in earnest, chewing her lip. “Thank you—for being patient with me.”

“That’s my job as your teacher,” he replied, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder. “Now, lets go Apprentice. We have a job to do.”

1 month ago

Kindness A/N —written in response to the Discord weekly challenge prompt “kindness”. Olivia is discouraged after messing up a...

Marked — Post Snow Place Like Home

A/N — Soulmate AU Set after the Noche Buena party at the end of Snow Place Like Home. Mateo has a special gift for Elena that he’d been saving until he could speak to her alone. NOTE: This fic was previously posted back in 2018 just after the episode aired by the title “Gift From the Heart”. I re-edited it and tweaked it to fit into my Soulmate AU. 

———-

Mateo had no idea why he was suddenly so nervous. His stomach fluttered as he fidgeted with the small, neatly wrapped package. It was only a Navidad gift, after all. A yearly tradition, hardly worth making a fuss over.

But. Never before had he spent the day making such a fool of himself—so completely wrapped up in self pity as he sulked over being stuck away from home on Noche Buena that he missed the selfless love and care his best friend—his soul partner—had offered him again and again that day and hurting her in the process.

It was unforgivable, really.

Mateo knew he was not alone in his actions, but he alone should have known better. Been more sensitive? Less childish? Something! Considering their soulmate bond, he had no excuse. Though, to be fair, perhaps it didn’t help that her own concealed sadness affected his own.

But that was not the point! Mateo knew he had to do better. She deserved better from him.

Of course, being the beautiful, kind hearted soul she was, Elena had forgiven them all and they’d enjoyed a wonderful Noche Buena—all of their families together.

Still, the guilt and disappointment with himself lingered in the wake of the festivities as they wound to a close, echoes of laughter and music fading into the night.

And then there was the gift itself. Mateo had put his heart into finding just the right thing, though it wasn’t exactly new. In fact, it was sort of a homemade kind of gift. Or perhaps, an act of kindness would be more accurate? He knew her well enough to understand that she would appreciate a gift from the heart much more than a gift from his coin purse. But the fact remained, she was the crown princess with all of the wealth and power of a kingdom––perhaps she deserved something better than what he had to offer?

Mateo scrunched his eyes shut, chastising himself for being ridiculous. This was Elena. His best friend. She would love anything he gave her—or appreciate the sentiment at the very least.

He hoped so, anyways.

Squaring his shoulders, he pushed the door open, creeping out onto the moonlit balcony. A pleasantly cool sea breeze from Avalor Bay tickled his cheeks and Mateo couldn’t help but think how strange it was that just a few hours earlier, everything had been covered in ice and snow.

He blinked a few times, giving his eyes a moment to adjust to the sudden dimness as he peered around, seeking her out, until—his breath caught in his throat and his heart thumped unevenly against his rib cage—there she was.

He vaguely remembered thinking she looked lovely in her Navidad gown earlier that day, but now? Her back was to him as she stood at the railing in a pool of moonlight, the fabric taking on an ethereal quality—like that of an angel from another world.  

His mouth went dry as, not for the first time, his grasp on the Avaloran language failed him.

As if in a sort of trance, his feet carried him forward. He stared, trying to remember how to breathe properly.

What he couldn’t see was that Elena was blushing, knowing exactly what her appearance was doing to him, though her back was to him. As he moved closer, she glanced over her shoulder, smiling softly, a soft pink that Mateo simply attributed to the chill night air overlaying her cheeks. She turned and leaned casually against the balcony railing.

“Hey there,” she murmured.

Mateo shook his head a little in an attempt to clear it. He needed to get a grip. This was his best friend, for heaven sake, and there was no need to gawk at her like some starstruck admirer.

“Hey Elena,” he replied, smiling crookedly as he stopped a few feet away. “I—uh—” he fiddled with the bow on the package. “I was just—just looking for you, er—“ he swallowed hard, his breathing becoming more rapid as he took in the full effect of the gown faintly shimmering in the moonlight, the fabric draped elegantly over her slender frame.

Elena just watched him, the corners of her mouth twitching, equal parts pleased and amused. “Yes?” she prompted, raising an eyebrow.

Wow. When had she become so beautiful? Mateo always thought she was lovely and perfect but he couldn’t remember a time when he’d been rendered speechless by her beauty.

Wait. How could he have forgotten? Just a few weeks before, he’d been completely blown away when she’d come out in her new masquerade gown. He chewed his lip as he remembered the way it had fit her so perfectly—hugging curves he’d never really paid any attention to before. She’d looked every inch the regal queen she was training to be.

And now? Well, if he didn’t know better, he’d believe she was one of the goddesses of old, such was her beauty and her grace.

He blinked again. Once. Twice. Three times before he realized she was watching him expectantly, her eyes now twinkling with laughter.

“Oh! Uh—“ Mateo laughed nervously, “Sorry! I was just thinking I never told you how pretty your dress looks—I mean, how pretty you look in said—that dress. I—is it new?” His face flooded with color as he stumbled over the compliment, mentally kicking himself.

Amusement quickly gave way to the flush of pleasure, Elena smiled warmly, reaching out to give his arm a little squeeze. “Thanks Mateo! And yes. After everything we’ve been through this year, I thought I might treat myself to a new gown for Navidad. Antonia really outdid herself this year.”

Mateo smiled, his hazel green eyes meeting her warm amber eyes as he replied, “You definitely deserve a new dress—and so much more.” Pausing, he glanced around the balcony and said, “You’re out here all alone, are—you ok?”

Nodding once, Elena reassured him, “I’m fine. It’s been a wonderful evening, one of the best Noche Buenas in a long time, actually. I honestly thought everyone had gone home, but I wasn’t quite ready for bed, so here I am.” She shrugged, crossing her arms as she rubbed her hands up and down them as if trying to warm herself.

“I was on my way out,“ Mateo said. "But—I—I had something t—wait.” He paused, eyeing her suspiciously. “Did you come out here without your wrap? Again?” Mateo chuckled, shaking his head. This was such typical Elena behavior. In his amusement, he momentarily forgot why he was even nervous in the first place.    

“Er—” Elena smiled sheepishly, “I suppose I did. After all the snow and ice earlier, it seemed excessive to wear a wrap.”

Rolling his eyes playfully, Mateo set the package aside and pulled out his tamborita, smacking it once. An orange glow erupted between them as a bundle of fabric materialized out of thin air. Holstering the drum wand, he reached out for the fabric and shook it, holding out the red and gold wrap she’d worn out in the snow storm earlier that day.

Eyes widening, Elena breathed, “Whoa! How—how did you do that?”

Mateo shrugged, opening the wrap and gently placing it around her shoulders. “Eh, it’s just a silent summoning spell I’ve been practicing. I thought it might come in handy.”

“Well, you were right about that,” Elena giggled, snuggling into the warm wrap. Her heart felt so light at his thoughtful consideration and concern for her well being. It made her—happy. To know he was looking out for her even regarding such trivial everyday things.

“Having a wizard around is pretty handy.” She looked at him warmly, a new blush blossoming upon her cheeks as she met his eye for a bit longer than was necessary. She cleared her throat, focusing her attention on adjusting the wrap and securing the buttons. Turning her gaze back on Mateo, she gestured to the small package that he was fidgeting with again. “So? What do you have there?” she asked, raising a curious eyebrow at the nervous discomfort she could sense rolling off of him in waves.

“What? Oh!” Mateo startled, but smiled shyly, one hand shooting to the back of his neck while holding out the package with the other, “I—I didn’t get a chance to give you your gift earlier.” He exhaled shakily, trying to calm his racing heart. “Feliz Navidad, Elena.”

Surprised, Elena’s mouth formed a perfect little O. “Mateo! You really didn’t have to—”

“Of course I did, Elena,” he interrupted. “You are my best friend and my soul partner. How could I not get you a Navidad gift? I—” his eyes darted away as his hand once again found its favorite spot at the back of his neck, “I just hope you like it.”

Elena grinned widely as she began removing the paper wrapping from the box. “Of course I’m sure I will lov—” she gasped as she slipped the lid off of the box, nearly dropping it when she saw what was inside. Frozen, she stared wordlessly into the box.

Nestled within was a glittering tiara. But not just any tiara. No, it was her mother’s tiara—the one that had been irreparably damaged when Shuriki had broken into the royal treasury months before. The tiara that had been smashed so thoroughly the best jewelers and goldsmiths in the kingdom said it would be impossible to piece it together exactly as it had been. The tiara that though Elena had given up as lost, she’d saved the fragments—tucking it away with a piece of her heart in a box in the royal treasury—a beloved memory tainted by the darkness and destruction that followed wherever the witch’s shadow had fallen.

Looking up, she met Mateo’s gaze, her wide eyes sparkling as tears trickled freely down her cheeks. “How?” she breathed.

Throat tightening, Mateo swallowed. “Esteban retrieved the pieces for me and I used a repairing spell to put it back together, a renewal spell to smooth out the dings and crushed bits, a polishing spell to bring back the shine, a permanent sticking spell to reattach the gems—”

Elena stared, eyes wide and mouth ajar, as he listed off the various spells he’d had to learn and use to restore one of her most cherished and precious possessions—this tiara that had belonged to her mother.

A warmth sparked in the pit of her stomach as she realized just how much meticulous effort he’d put into this gift—just for her.

Mateo continued, gesturing to what Elena realized was a light blue gem and not the magenta stone she remembered, “I’m just sorry I couldn’t replicate the original jewel. I had to replace it with a Maruvian crystal from my own collection. So, it has, you know, magical properties, like the jewel from your scepter. I—” he reached out and carefully pulled the tiara from the box, gently placing it upon her head, “I just know how much that tiara meant to you. I hope that’s ok.”

He smiled so hopefully and looked at her with such affection that it nearly broke Elena. Sniffling, she brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear, blinking as she tried to find her voice.

“I—I don’t know what to say, Mateo. This—” she exhaled a shaky breath and looked into his eyes, allowing the warmth of his gaze to wash over her—calm her. “I’m speechless. I never thought I’d see this tiara in one piece again and—you did the impossible. Just for me. And it’s perfect—new jewel and all! I—thank you!”

And for the second time that day, she threw her arms around him in a fierce hug as she thought about how lucky she was to have such an incredible friend who understood her from the inside out and was so thoughtful in his love and care for her. It was actions like this that really laid bare what she knew instinctively in her heart—Mateo knew and understood her at a soul deep level. With or without the strange markings on their arms, he was her soul partner.

Mateo silently sighed with relief as he slid his arms around her, holding her close and resting his cheek on her head. She liked it, she really liked the gift. He thought she would, but worried that he had been too forward. The gift too personal. But no. She was happy and that was enough for him.

“Anytime. Feliz Navidad, Elena.”

She pulled back just enough to smile at him, letting every ounce of happiness, love and affection shine through the soul bond, as she murmured, “Feliz Navidad, Mateo.” And she leaned in, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.

Heat flooded Mateo’s face as he gasped quietly, his cheek burning where her lips had pressed to his skin. As she pulled away, interlacing her fingers with his own, he touched his cheek with his free hand.

“Er—I—I think it’s getting late,” he started, stumbling over his words in his surprise. “My mom will be wondering where I’ve gotten off to, but– May I walk you to your room?” he asked quietly.

Nodding, Elena held his hand and allowed him to lead her back into the palace.

Mateo had no idea what to make of the kiss, nor of the way his heart was thundering erratically against his ribs, nor of the strange warmth flashing over his skin when his best friend looked at him.

One thing he did know, however, was that he was simply happy that she was happy. And that was all he needed to make his Navidad simply perfect.

1 month ago

Marked — Post Snow Place Like Home A/N — Soulmate AU Set after the Noche Buena party at the end of Snow Place Like Home. Mateo...

1 month ago

You’re welcome. And cool that’s awesome. I’m also working on Elena of Avalor ideas. Like a supernatural fulfilled prophecy of...

1 month ago

Do you think Esteban has a chance for redemption and forgiveness?

1 month ago

Your art style in this latest piece is so beautiful!

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Then I woke up to discover That my dreams had all come trueHere I was In the land I loveWith a wish From me to you!—Love Always...
IMG

1 month ago

Then I woke up to discover That my dreams had all come trueHere I was In the land I loveWith a wish From me to you!—Love Always...

Marked — Post Song of the Sirenas

A/N - Soulmate AU post Song of the Sirena’s scene. Mateo can’t sleep after the events of the day and ends up running into Elena during his late night wanderings.

———-

As far as Mateo could see, everything about the evening spoke to a certain kind of serenity. The world was at peace, a full moon shining bright in the crystal clear sky. Not a ripple disturbed the silently flowing water in the canals of the city.

By all definitions, peace had been restored to the land. The witch had been defeated and the traitorous duke discovered and captured while sirenas turned from mortal enemies to friends.

But thanks to the storm of emotion that did not belong to him, the young royal wizard knew there was one who felt anything but peace on this quiet night.

Unable to sleep himself, Mateo chose to wander the halls of the summer palace, no particular destination in mind. He thought to go check on Elena, to make sure she was ok after everything that had happened, but she’d made it clear before retiring for the night that she did not wish to be disturbed.

Though it was difficult, he passed by her her door, leaving it undisturbed and stepped outside. He closed his eyes, reveling in the pleasant breeze brushing his cheeks.

As he wandered the moon bathed city, his mind reeled at the knowledge that a traitorous snake could exist in such a beautiful place. How could anyone pose as a loving cousin and kind ruler when the reality was so starkly different? Truthfully, Mateo was outraged that the duke had been nothing more than a money hungry coward—not only was it a disgusting lack of courage, but it had hurt Elena deeply.

He made his way down the palace steps and found himself wandering the alleys and canals. Mosaic murals on the stucco walls sparkled in the moonlight, catching his attention. They were beautiful and eerie and awe inspiring, each telling a different story about the legends and mythology of Nueva Vista—many of which seemed to include the sirenas. It was fascinating, really.

These were only vague distractions from the troubling thoughts still racing through his mind, however.

The battle that afternoon had been intense. Not only because of the three malvagos they’d fought, but the flashes of crippling terror, panic and icy stabs of fear that had torn through him at random intervals throughout the fight, all screaming Elena’s name in the back of his mind. He’d never known such fear in his life—he still wasn’t sure how he’d managed to focus enough to deal with Fiero in the end.

And when the blinding flash of magic pulsed around them, he’d feared the worst. Never had he known such relief as when Elena had returned, safe and physically unharmed—though he’d easily seen past her smile to the exhaustion and sadness beneath.

Not only that, but he could feel it too.

That grief and exhaustion had joined forces with a hollow sense of emptiness, weighing like a stone in his gut. He realized by now that the strange flashes of emotion did indeed belong to Elena and theorized that it was yet another mysterious side effect of the soul bond. Of course, he couldn’t be sure, but the evidence sure pointed in that direction.

As he rounded a corner, a glimmer near the water caught his eye. Pausing, he squinted through the darkness, noting a figure ahead. Narrowing his eyes in an attempt to focus more clearly in the dark, he froze with a small intake of breath, realizing it was Elena—he would recognize her profile anywhere.

She was sitting on the steps leading down to the edge of the canal, staring down into the water, her legs hugged to her chest and her chin resting on her knees.

She’d been through a lot that day, constantly the center of attention with a target at her back. He was unsure if he should disturb her—perhaps she wanted a bit of quiet away from anything and anyone that would remind her of what had happened. She’d said she wanted to be left alone, so he figured his company would only bother her, even if she was too kind to say anything.

He’d just about convinced himself to turn and walk away when he saw the shudder of her shoulders and heard the quiet choked sob.

To turn away from Elena when she was crying was akin to losing a limb, or turning his back on magic—not something Mateo would ever do willingly. In one smooth motion, he changed course and made a beeline to where she was sitting at the edge of the dock. “Elena?” he said softly, placing a hand on her shoulder.

She startled, whipping her head around with a gasp. “Mateo?” she breathed, blinking. Her eyes were wide and sad, while tears sparkled against her cheeks in the moonlight. Her hand automatically went to his, gripping it like a lifeline where it rested on her shoulder.

“Hey,” he said quietly, squeezing her arm. “I—sorry—I—didn’t mean to intrude,” he stumbled over his words, nervous that he was bothering her as he continued, “I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d try going for a walk and—well, I just found you and heard you crying and was worried. And—I can go if—”

“No!” she said quickly, a hint of panic in her voice, “I mean, please stay Mateo. I—I could use the company.” She grasped his hand with both of hers, tugging at him until he stumbled, plopping down to sit beside her in an attempt to not tumble into the water.

“Oof—” he grunted with a hint of laughter at his rather ungraceful display. “Ok, ok! I’ll stay,” he teased, “If that’s what it takes to keep you from throwing me into the canal.”

He couldn’t be sure in the moonlight, but he thought she might have blushed as she toyed with a loose strand of hair. She smiled sadly, shaking her head. “Sorry Mateo, I—”

He squeezed her hand, interrupting her, “Don’t. You don’t have to apologize, I was only teasing. I probably shouldn’t have. Not after the day you’ve had.”

She said nothing in reply to that, simply shrugging. Mateo watched as she turned her gaze up towards the moon, wishing he knew what to say to take the pain away—or at least ease it a bit. His eyes drifted over her profile, thinking she still looked so beautiful and regal in spite of the tears—or perhaps because of them. He wasn’t sure.

His breath caught in his throat as he noticed the soul mark clearly displayed on her bare shoulder, remembering the moment he laid eyes on her in that dress that very morning. He’d felt such a surge of pride when he saw her. His best friend—his soul partner—was without a doubt the most beautiful woman in the realm from the styled braid to the elegant masquerade gown that had been tailored to perfection.

Not only that, but he’d been shocked speechless that she’d selected the strappy gown, allowing her Maruvian soul mark to be on display for all to see. He hadn’t had the opportunity to ask her about it at the time, only just managing to gather his wits about him when Naomi clapped him on the back and teased him about picking his jaw up off the ground and shoving his eyes back in his head or he wouldn’t be of use to any of them.

Reaching with his free hand, he brushed his fingers gently over the soul mark, feeling her shiver beneath his touch. “I see your new tattoo made its public debut this afternoon—do you think anyone noticed?”

Of course, this was not important in the grand scheme of things, but Mateo hoped a distraction would help ease her mind a bit until she was ready to talk about things.

She glanced down at the mark before meeting his gaze, her lips twitching into a sad little smile as she shrugged. “As far as the public is concerned? Maybe? He—” she scowled, “—noticed right before we came outside—and was properly scandalized, I might add.” A fierce sense of pride flickered in her eyes at the thought, as if she was glad to have at least given the duke some amount of trouble even before he’d been revealed as a traitor. “But,” she continued, “I already told you, I don’t care what anyone thinks about it and I won’t cover it up. Well, not intentionally anyways.”

Mateo smiled quietly, pleased for some reason beyond his comprehension in that moment. “Well, I’m glad you got to irritate him at least once before the day was over.” He leaned in, bumping his shoulder against hers playfully. “I’m just glad no one else gave you a hard time about it.”

Elena was quiet, simply smiling sadly as her gaze tipped back up towards the moon. Mateo watched her, thinking how awful it was that someone so beautiful and kind and just—so good had so many enemies coming at her and so many burdens at such a young age. It wasn’t fair! Mateo wished with all of his being that he could lighten her burden, if even just a little.

“You already do,” Elena said suddenly, startling Mateo from his thoughts.

“I’m sorry, do what?”

She turned to him, taking his hand again and squeezing it. “Lighten my burden.”

He blinked, shocked though he wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t he hadn’t been catching flashes of her thoughts and emotion all night. This soul mark stuff was still very strange to him.

She smiled softly. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without you here by my side, Mateo. Whenever things feel so overwhelming and hard, I remind myself of my friends and family and how you are all with me, but I’m especially relieved knowing you’re here, you know?”

He slipped his arm around her in an automatic response to her leaning her head on this shoulder. Good. He was glad to know that she felt that way. Mateo was fiercely protective of Elena and wanted to shield her from further pain and suffering as much as possible. Sure, she could look after herself, but he thought that trying to be so strong for everyone else all the time must be exhausting.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll always be here for you Elena.”

“No matter what?” she asked, a small smile in her voice.

He snorted quietly. He had said those words to her more times than he could count in the last year. Perhaps he should be more creative with his wording of the sentiment.  "Yes, that,“ he said, leaning his head on hers.

In spite of the heavy, emotional day they’d had, sitting quietly together on the canal bank of Nueva Vista had a magic of its own. Soothing beauty surrounded them and between that and the presence of the woman he cared for above all else, his best friend, Mateo felt his heart calming by second.

Though perhaps it was Elena’s heart calming? And he was sensing it? Or both of them were calming and that had an effect on the other? Whatever the reason, Mateo was thankful.

"So, this may be a dumb question,” he started, uncertain, “but are–are you doing ok? Did you need to talk about—stuff?”

Elena let out a breath and said softly, “I’m ok Mateo. Or, I will be.” She paused. “It’s just a lot to process, you know? I can still hardly believe that Cristobal–” She hissed his name and Mateo could picture the snarl in her expression.

Mateo frowned. “I wouldn’t waste too many thoughts on him. Though I am sorry he turned out to be such a lying traitor. Would you like me to go kick the bars of his jail cell for you?”

He was totally joking, of course. Taunting prisoners was wrong, even if the snake deserved far worse, in Mateo’s opinion.

Elena huffed out a laugh. “That won’t be necessary, but thank you for the thought. I—have a better idea, honestly. When the council meets tomorrow to decide his fate, I think I’m going to suggest we send him to Soledad Island to live out his days in exile.”

A shiver ran down Mateo’s spine. He’d heard of the island. Many had apparently been sent there during Shuriki’s reign and released as soon as Elena taken back her throne. Not many had been sent in the last two years, however, which was unsurprising considering the impressively low crime rate in Avalor. But still. Exile. He couldn’t even imagine what that might be like.

He gave her a squeeze. “That sounds reasonable, more than reasonable, really considering he handed you over to Shuriki of all people.” He couldn’t help but grind his teeth at the thought—Cristobal had to know that Shuriki wanted Elena dead! How could someone betray their own family like that? For money, of all things. Money that the Duke clearly had not be in want for. Mateo would never understand such motivations.

“Some would say he deserves worse,” she sighed. “But he’s still family and I don’t think I could live with myself if I gave into the temptation to even consider such options.”

“Well, I support your decision. Whatever decision you choose.”

“Thank you, Mateo,” she said softly. “I can always count on you to have my back.”

“Always,” he murmured.

Elena was quiet, her head still resting on his shoulder as she gazed down into the silent, moon dappled waters. “Speaking of thanks,” she finally said. “I believe I owe you one—for saving my life. Again.”

Whatever Mateo had thought she would say, this wasn’t it. Surprised, he replied, “Oh? I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about, I don’t think you were ever in danger from Fiero.”

Sitting up, she turned to look him directly in the eye. “No, not Fiero,” she said softly, reaching for his hand. “I’m talking about how you’ve been such a good and faithful friend and magical mentor. Your training and encouragement has meant the world to me and I would not be sitting here right now without you.”

Mateo blushed, though he was smiling. “Well, um, you know that’s my job right? As your royal wizard?”

Elena’s smile grew, becoming positively affectionate. “Maybe, but I still don’t think I would be where I am without you. You never let me quit and ‘I can’t’ is never an acceptable answer.  Not only that, but,” she glanced away, shyly toying with a strand of hair. “But I find myself wanting to impress you. And that, I think, is the difference.”

Was it even possible to feel more love and affection for your best friend than Mateo felt in that moment. He grinned. “You know you don’t need magic to impress me, Elena. You impress me just because you’re you.”

“Well, thank you. But still–” she paused, her cheeks going pink. “The truth is that if you hadn’t pushed me to try and learn to vanish myself, I would probably be dead. And I will always remember it was you who has been so faithful and patient with me. I know it’s not always an easy job, being my royal wizard.”

She reached for her royal wizard, wrapping him in an embrace and resting her head on his shoulder. “So–thank you, Mateo,” she murmured.

“Anytime, Elena,” he replied, his own arms slipping so naturally around her, thankful that for whatever reason, fate had seen fit to preserve his friend. She had lived through so much and was still good and kind and a role model for them all.

“I don’t know about all that role model stuff,” she murmured, still holding him close.

“Stop reading my thoughts,” he grumbled, half teasing.

“Stop shouting them at me,” she retorted with a smile from where her head still rested on his shoulder.

Mateo laughed. This soul bond stuff was still very strange to him. If he focused, he could get a read on her as well—he could sense she was calm and mostly content. The heartbreak and grief was secondary to the overwhelming love and gratitude. Good. He wasn’t so foolish as to think the bad emotions could simply be forgotten, but was glad to know he’d been able to help her rise above them, if only a little.

“It’s getting pretty late and you do have an early council meeting tomorrow. Do you think you’re ready for bed?” he asked quietly.

She hummed thoughtfully. “You’re right, and yeah–I think I am.”

Mateo got to his feet and offered his hand to help Elena up. Once she was standing, she took his elbow and guided them back towards the palace. They walked in companionable silence, Elena only breaking the quiet to ask, “Will–will you stay with me? Tonight I mean.”

She didn’t have to explain. Mateo knew she had suffered nightmares often over the past year and could only imagine what today’s events would add to the already horrible ordeal. Bumping his shoulder against hers affectionately, he said, “Of course. Whatever you need, Elena.”

“Thanks for being here for me, Mateo.”

“Always.”

1 month ago

Marked — Post Song of the Sirenas A/N - Soulmate AU post Song of the Sirena’s scene. Mateo can’t sleep after the events of the...

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Float model? Well that’s a mouthful. How about you just call me Flo?  Bonus:
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1 month ago

Float model? Well that’s a mouthful. How about you just call me Flo? Bonus:

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Omg this is hilarious! @cartoonfangirl1218 have you seen this yet? 😂🤣😂😂

1 month ago

Omg this is hilarious! @cartoonfangirl1218 have you seen this yet? 😂🤣😂😂

Marked - Mid Song of the Sirenas

A/N — Sooo…I actually wrote this over a year ago. It was originally supposed ot be part of my “No Matter What” series but then I decided to write all of my episode aftermaths in my soulmate au, so I had to pretty much rewrite it aha. And just fyi, I do have like 12 others started and in various stages of completion. So they are coming! Eventually lol

———-

Mateo rolled over and stared up at the ceiling, sighing in frustration as his eyes followed the intricate moulding designs sprawling like a web across the room. Dim moonlight poured in through the elegant arched windows, bathing the room in its faint, otherworldly light.

It was the middle of the night, he was lying in arguably the most comfortable bed in the Realm at the summer palace and, yet, Mateo couldn’t sleep. Truth be told, not sleeping wasn’t particularly strange for the young royal wizard. He was used to keeping odd hours. The trouble was that at home—at the palace in Avalor City—he could find relief for his overly active mind in the sanctuary of his workshop until sleep found him.

He didn’t have that luxury here. He’d brought only the minimal potions ingredients, his tamborita, and just one spellbook after Gabe and Naomi had teased him endlessly about how he was supposed to be going on vacation, not establishing a branch of the royal wizard’s workshop in every corner of Avalor.

So there he was, having a sleepless night with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling while his insides churned with worry and anxiety. At first, he assumed the anxiety was from the excess of nervous energy that had no path of release as he was kept from his work, but he felt—strange. Like a weight had settled in the pit of his stomach, nameless worries and fears gnawing at the edges of his mind.

He’d been having odd flashes of emotion for awhile. And they’d been growing stronger by the day. Truthfully, he couldn’t make sense of it.

Sure, he had plenty to occupy his mind. Shuriki was on the loose and she had the Scepter of Night. Not only that, but she had been spotted near Nueva Vista that day.

They were all in danger—especially Elena.

Distracted by the mere thought of her name—his soul partner’s name—his mouth curved subconsciously into a small smile. In spite of the chaos and trouble, the past few weeks with her had been like something out of a dream. Well, a dream within a nightmare, really. But still.

He’d hated sending her off to Vallestrella for scepter training alone. One, they’d been a team in that area from the very beginning. Plus, he’d always been there to watch her back. It felt—strange. Wrong. Like wearing his boots on the wrong feet. To be apart like that. But, he agreed with Quito Moz that her focus was of the utmost importance and if that meant him staying behind, then he would. He knew that between the jaquins and the sunbirds, she was as safe as could be.

And then there was the fact that he had her name magically and permanently marked on his arm.

Though they both agreed that the appearance of the soul mark didn’t mean anything had to change between them, Mateo couldn’t help feeling an acute sense of loss whenever they were apart. Conversely, her presence brought exponentially more joy than before while her absence was almost painful to bear.

Mateo vaguely wondered if the flashes of worry and fear were somehow related to the bond?

The dream came when she returned to the palace from training every night. She would seek him out and tell him all about her training that day. He’d quickly figured out the pattern and had taken to having a pan dulce and coffee waiting for her. They would sit curled up together on the small sofa in the library, and he’d listen to her recount her adventures. It had become such a comfortable habit, he felt out of sorts now they were on vacation and their schedules had become out of whack.

Sometimes she’d end up laying her head on his lap and doze off mid sentence. Mateo didn’t mind though. He liked watching her sleep. Her face was so peaceful, as if all of her burdens were lifted from her shoulders and she was free. Even if just for a short time.

In spite of these pleasant thoughts, Mateo flinched, sitting upright as a sudden stab of icy fear completely unrelated to the pleasant memories pierced through his heart, leaving him reeling. His eyes flew around the dark room seeking out the danger.

What was that? Where had that even come from?

As the fear passed, his eyes stung. Like he was about to cry. Followed quickly by that sinking knot of dread in his stomach.

What in the—

He leapt from his bed, peering around the darkness as his heart thundered in his chest. Something was wrong, but whatever it was remained lurking in the shadows of his mind, just out of reach.

Some instinct inside him nagged at the back of his mind, telling him to go check on Elena—what if she was hurt? Or—dark panic pooled in the pit of his stomach as the thought of Shuriki somehow infiltrating the palace occurred to him.

He didn’t even want to imagine what might have happened. He just kicked on his slippers and threw his dressing robe over his pjs, grabbing his tamborita as he dashed across the hall to the door he would have known belonged to his soul partner even without having wished her a good night just outside it a few hours ago.

Such a panic had overwhelmed him that he didn’t even bother knocking, he just burst through the door, calling out, “Elena? Elena! Are you ok?”

Just as the door burst open, Elena, who had been tossing and turning and feeling rather miserable in her bed bolted upright with a cry of fright.

“Mateo?” she called out into the darkness, her tone tearful, her hand over her heart as she tried to calm her ragged breathing. “Is that you?”

Relief flooded the young wizard as he heard her voice—she was safe.

“I—I’m sorry Elena,” he started, feeling sheepish as he rubbed the back of his neck and moved closer to the bed. “I should have knocked. It was just—I thought—” his voice trailed off and he looked away. This was so ridiculous. He’d panicked over literally nothing. She was going to think he was crazy!

Her own worries forgotten for the moment, she peered curiously at Mateo, her head cocked to one side. “What?” she asked quietly. “What happened?”

He sighed, shaking his head and looking away. “I—nothing happened. I was in bed just minding my own business. You know, one moment I was tossing and turning, wishing I was home so I could be in my workshop and the next I was panicking that you were scared or hurt or something.” He chuckled nervously, running his hand through his hair. “Pretty dumb, huh?”

Elena stared at him in disbelief. The truth was—she had been spiraling, worry and fears growing exponentially by the second as she became lost in her own thoughts.

“I—I’m fine—” she began, scrunching her eyes closed as she took a ragged breath through her nose. She wondered why she was lying to Mateo of all people. If anyone would understand, he would. She was being silly.

She opened her eyes, tears trickling down her cheeks, as she corrected herself. “Actually, no. Mateo, I’m not fine. Not even close.”

Weird sixth senses all but forgotten, Mateo, of course could see she wasn’t fine. And as she admitted it out loud, his heart twinged for her and he took an involuntary step closer, a hand half reaching to her.

“What is it?” he asked, immediately crawling onto the bed beside her and wrapping her in his arms when she reached back for him. “What’s wrong, Elena?”

Automatically curling up into his side, Elena almost cried from relief— though she wasn’t exactly sure why. Sure, it was a recent development, but it wasn’t anything new. Even before discovering the soul marks, late night talks with Mateo had been a regular thing, but now? Well, more often than not, they ended with her falling asleep in his arms.

He kept her grounded when she woke up screaming from a nightmare and she never had to explain a thing. He just—understood.

Mateo held her quietly, his cheek resting on her head as she settled in, snuggled comfortably against his chest.

She smiled, her heart calming as she listened to his steady heartbeat—steady like his gentle presence. She breathed in his scent—the calming scent that was so—Mateo, and simply rested in the warmth of his arms—arms that were quickly coming to become so much more to her than than simple comfort. They were safe. They were home.

“So…” Mateo murmured, giving her a little squeeze, “what’s bothering you?”

Elena was quiet a moment as she tried to sort through her racing thoughts. “Hmm?” she asked, teasing, “Whatever makes you think something’s wrong?”

Chuckling quietly, Mateo shrugged. “Oh I don’t know,” he said lightly, “Just a wild hunch.“

Elena didn’t think long on this—the idea that he’d known to come check on her in the dead of night. It just felt natural to her that he would know something was up with her. In spite of the storm cloud of thoughts and worries plaguing her, that lone thought made her happy.

The truth was, she’d wanted to see him—to talk to him—but hadn’t wanted to wake him. That he was here now was a relief. She sighed.

“I don’t know, Mateo. It’s a lot of things—and that’s the problem, I think.”

Mateo’s heart clenched as she launched into the substantial list of worries that plagued her—her voice thick with tears barely held at bay. He simply listened, idly stroking her hair, instinctively knowing that she just needed to talk.

The worry for her family—including himself and their friends—with Shuriki suddenly stalking them so far from home. The old struggle between her desire for revenge and her desire to do what’s best for the kingdom. The fear for what would happen to her kingdom if she should fail and it fell into Shuriki’s hands.

“And then there’s this whole thing with the sirenas!” she wailed. “I am so confused!” She buried her face in his chest.

Mateo was quiet as he thought about everything she said before asking, “Why, exactly, are you confused?”

Sighing, she tilted her face back towards him, “I—I don’t know what to believe! What to even think! On the one hand, my instincts are screaming at me that everything Marisa said about the sirenas is the truth—“ her voice trailed off, though the silence was thick with what had been left unspoken.

“But?” he prompted gently.

She sighed, burying her face in his chest, “But,” she started, her voice muffled until she pulled back to look at him, sorrow and anguish etched upon every feature of her lovely face, “But, then there’s Cristobal. How can I ignore the fact that his parents were killed in a sirena attack? How can I fight him on this when I know exactly how it feels to have lost my parents and want revenge on the one responsible?” Her voice broke as the tears spilled from her eyes.

Mateo’s heart broke for his soul partner as he held her in his arms while she sobbed, murmuring quiet hushing noises and rubbing her back soothingly. She was so young, but had the burden of an entire kingdom on her shoulders. He hated that for her and wished there was something—anything—he could do to lighten that burden, even just a fraction.

He settled for holding her just a little closer and murmured, “For what it’s worth, I think you’re right about the sirenas. Everything Marisa says matches up with the facts. But—“ he sighed, “I know that doesn’t change the fact that you are at odds with your cousin.”

Elena made a small noise of agreement, her cheek resting on his chest. Her eyes closed tightly, she exhaled sharply through her nose, clenching the fabric of his pajama shirt in one fist and continued, her voice shaking with emotion, “And then there’s the fact that I have a REALLY bad feeling about tomorrow. Like my gut is telling me that this parade is a bad idea. A really bad idea—“

“You know,” Mateo interrupted, “In spite of the many panic attacks I’ve had over your crazy, impulsive ideas,” he poked her in the side, earning a small, muffled giggle from the princess in his arms, “your instincts are usually spot on. You really should listen to them. Though, either way, I support you. I’ll be right there with you and so will the others. We’ve got your back, Elena.”

“I know,” she sighed, “but again, how can I argue with my cousin who has been through so much? And my people? How can I disappoint them? But—in spite of that?” she swallowed hard, her arms slipping around Mateo, clinging to him like a lifeline, “I’m scared, Mateo.” she whispered in a small, childlike voice.

“Awww. Elena—“

That crack in her armor, the small vulnerable voice was nearly Mateo’s undoing. He couldn’t bear to see his strong, brave best friend suffer so.

Holding her closer, he said, “Don’t worry querida. I swear, I’ll be right there beside you and I will do everything in my power to keep you safe,” he rested his cheek on her forehead, and murmured, “no matter what, remember?”

Elena smiled in spite of herself. It was a tiny smile, but a smile nonetheless.

The truth was, Mateo was worried too. His gut told him that with Shuriki having been sighted in the area, the last thing Elena should be doing was parading about publicly, even with himself and the others right there by her side on guard and ready to spring into action. The air. It just felt—dangerous.

But he also understood how important it was to her to be there for her people. She was the crown princess and had to be strong. Besides, they were so far from Avalor City, most of the residents of Nueva Vista had never even seen the crown princess in person. So, tomorrow, he would walk into danger with her and do his damndest to protect her.

But tonight? Tonight he would simply be there to comfort her in whatever way she needed. He held her close, quietly stroking her hair with one hand as he listened to her breathing settle.

“Thank you, Mateo,” she whispered. “I know I can always count on you to be here for me.” Her whisper trailed away as sleep finally came to claim her.

“No matter what,” he murmured, his eyes growing heavier by the second.

And the pair drifted off to sleep, safe and secure in each other’s arms. The morning would bring its own problems, but for tonight—tonight they had each other, and that was a comforting thing, indeed.

1 month ago

Marked - Mid Song of the Sirenas A/N — Sooo...I actually wrote this over a year ago. It was originally supposed ot be part of...