Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 13 of 29

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Helena didn't remember most of the next few days.

Flashes of information and movement surged through her head.

"...get her to medical tent!"

"Have to save that blade..."

"...broke off."

"What happen-"

She felt herself being moved and shifted. And she felt the pain.

Someone pulled the blade from her palm. She felt that, too, and screamed.

"It's okay, it's okay, we've got you..."

It wasn't okay.

The next thing she could recall was the feel of someone tending to her cuts and bruises. Despite being inflicted in a dream, she still very much felt it now. She couldn't shy away from the pain, though whoever it was seemed aware.

"Shh...I know it hurts...lie still."

Hours later, Helena managed to climb out of the darkness and open her eyes, seeing Laurel next to her bed. She wasn't able to talk, but some sort of raspy cough came out and got her attention.

"Hey," Laurel breathed, sitting up. "Welcome back."

Helena tried to smile, but even that hurt. "W-what happened?" she whispered.

"I was hoping you could tell me," Laurel said. "I woke up and you were thrashing and yelling and..."


"We figured that out. Drag pulled a piece of shadow out of your hand and-"

Helena paused and glanced at her hand. It was heavily wrapped up, but she could feel the ache throbbing in her palm. But she couldn't move it.

"It's bad," Laurel admitted. "But the Queen and Prime Minister think it'll heal fine. But..."


Laurel shook her head. "We can talk about it later. What happened? How did the Princess get to you in the tent, without me seeing her?"


"The Pool?" Laurel frowned. "The Pool of Dreams?"

Helena hesitated, then nodded.

Laurel jumped up, her face set, "I have to get the Prime Minister."

"No, wait-" Helena tried to sit up, but her friend moved too quickly. She tried to keep her eyes open, but the recovery demanded rest and soon she fell back into the darkness.

When she woke up again, it was with a far better sense of awareness than she had before. Mags, Laurel, and the Queen were inside the medical tent with her, straightening up when they saw her eyes open.

"About time," Mags immediately said, though Helena could see the relief on her face.

She smiled, relieved when it didn't hurt, "Hi to you, too."

"We've missed you," the Queen said, standing up and coming over to check her forehead.

"How long was I asleep?"

"Three days," Laurel answered.

Mags shook her head. "Waste of space, you."

Helena laughed, only wincing a little. The Queen took her bandaged hand in hers and said, "It's still healing, but I need to change it. Can you handle that?"

Shrugging, Helena tried to keep still as the bandaged was unwrapped and tugged on her healing skin. When it was revealed, she suddenly realized why the Queen had asked for permission.

The wound was quite bad. A gaping hole in her flesh that almost went all the way through and had the pasty, damp skin starting to heal around it. The cotton was packed into the hole, almost an inch across, and the Queen carefully pulled it out. Helena hissed, but did her best not to move. Dampening new cotton in a solution, she started packing it back in.

And that wasn't the worst part.

Small tendrils of shadows spread out from the hole in a starburst, moving slightly with her pulse.

"What..." Helena trailed off, staring at the shadows.

"The blade that we pulled from you, the very tip of it had broken off. Before we could get to it, it...melted and merged with your skin." The Queen finished rewrapping Helena's hand. "It doesn't seem to be doing you any harm. Our only other option was to amputate."

Covering her bandaged hand with the other, Helena shook her head. "No. I'm right-handed."

The Queen nodded, then sat on the edge of her bed. "We need to talk, Helena."

Bracing herself, Helena nodded.

"The Princess attacked you at the Pool of Dreams."

A nod.

"You're familiar with that place?"

Another nod.


"The first time I was here, we ended up there on our trip. My mother appeared and she thought she was dreaming, but it was my dream. Or the MirrorWorld. Something like that," Helena said.

The Queen nodded and seemed ready to move on. "We had to-"

"But," Helena interrupted quietly, "I've been there several times recently. In the past few weeks."

"Alone?" the Queen asked after a breath.

Helena shook her head. The Queen's eyes bore into hers, seeing something there that made her nod shortly. "I see."

She didn't bother trying to justify herself, she accepted the slight cold look the Queen was giving her, and the incredulous ones Laurel and Mags were sending her way. "He told me things about the Princess and the Mask."

"Did he?"

Helena nodded. "She's been collecting the books from the Library, all about the Mask. He read them and found a short history. Two copies holding the Mask at the same time would make the weaker copy disappear."

"So you think that if you were to hold the Mask at the same time as the Princess, that she would vanish?" Laurel asked.

Helena shrugged, "Worth a shot, right?"

"Is it, though?" the Queen responded. "Taking his word and risking your life?"

"I...I could ask him," Helena suggested quietly, feeling as if she were disappointing the Queen more and more with every word.

This time, the Queen was the one who hesitated. "You can't, actually."

Her throat constricted. Had the Princess killed him for speaking up?

"When Laurel reported that you had been to the Pool, and we'd figured out that's where you were attacked, we took measures to make sure you wouldn't be pulled back there to be attacked again," the Queen said.

"What kinds of measures?"

Laurel spoke up, "We put together a potion that you drank while you were unconscious. It'll keep you from going back there."


The Queen nodded, "As long as you continue taking it. Which you will until the Princess is captured or defeated."

Knowing she had disappointed them and that she was lucky she wasn't being put on trial right this second for treason, Helena just nodded.

The Queen continued to stare at her for a moment, then her face smoothed and she brushed Helena's hair back from her face. "I'm glad you're all right."

"I'm sorry. I should have said something."

The Queen smiled slightly. "The heart wants what the heart wants. We can't do much to change it, however much we may want-"

"Your Majesty?"

Had she not been sitting so close to the Queen, Helena wouldn't have seen the tiniest flush appear on her cheeks as she turned to face the Prime Minister.


He stepped inside with a bow, glancing at Helena and smiling, "Glad to see you're up and awake."

"Finally," Drag added from the flap.

"I hate to intrude," the Prime Minister directed his words to the Queen, "but Drag may have found a weakness in her defenses and we'd like your input on that before we solidify anything."

"That's wonderful," Mags said, sitting up.

"Perhaps, but how much good it'll do against the Princess herself has yet to be seen," Drag admitted.

The Queen glanced at Helena, waiting for her nod before saying, "We may have an answer to that."

Valentine wished he couldn't remember the past few days. One moment of pain followed by another until he was finally cut down and allowed back to his bed. The Princess was still pissed at him, but he was just happy it was over.

Not that he deserved it.

He had been there, right there, as the Princess hurt Helena, and what had he done?

Not a single thing.

Sure, he could justify it. He couldn't get to her. Even if he had, what could he have done? Even if he could have done something, she would have just thrown him back and continued on. Even if he could have gotten up, what could he do to her in a dream? She was almost untouchable in reality, the dream was much worse.

Though at this point, he didn't recall it so much as a dream, but a nightmare. One of his worst. Helena never called his name specifically, but he knew that he should have helped her. But all he did was stand there and allow the shadows to hold him back.

He had spoken up in the end, he reminded himself. Though of course, it was Helena who'd finally convinced the Princess to let her live. Because she was Helena, the Creator, the hero, the maskless girl, and he was just a Valentine. She didn't need him. And being around him, even just in her dreams, proved to be dangerous for her. Too dangerous.

Didn't change the fact that he still hoped to see her.

That night, at the Pool of Dreams, Valentine waited.

And waited.



No Helena. There was a feeling of aloneness in the air that he had never quite felt here before. Somehow he knew that there would be no visit from the maskless girl.

Resigning himself to being alone tonight, Valentine settled sorely onto the edge of the Pool, hoping to at least get a breath away from the Princess. She'd been rather relentless, never giving him even a moment to sleep until now. He was going to take advantage of the silence, he told himself, he wasn't going to think about Helena or Princesses or -


He jumped up, feeling the grate of muscles and bones that weren't quite in the right place, and spun to face -

- the Queen?

No. The Shadow Queen?

No. No. He knew her.

Helena's mum stared at him, a tiny frown between her eyes. "I know you. I dreamed you up years ago. You were here. With...with..." she trailed off, looking around.

"She's not here," Valentine told her quietly.

"I know," she said, coming over and sitting on the edge of the Pool. "She's still in hospital."

Valentine looked around, still confused at how she managed to get here. Then he sat next to Helena's mum, not too close.

"What happened?" he asked.

She was already crying, but she spoke clearly, as if she had said it so many times that she was reciting it now. "There was an accident. Her trailer was hit by a car and it rolled. She hasn't woken up yet. It's been months."

"I'm sorry."

She sighed, wiping her yes. "But she's not here, either?"

"She's here," Valentine admitted. "Just not, here. She's with friends, though. Good people."

"Why aren't you with her?" she asked.

Valentine tried to smile, "Because I'm not good people."

"But you're her boyfriend."

He stared, then laughed shortly. "No. No, I'm not."

"Yes, last time she was here, I said I had dreamed her up a boyfriend, and then she was drawing you all the time," she argued with him.

Valentine shook his head, without answering.

She remained quiet for some time, listening to the water from the Pool.

"I miss her," she whispered into the air.

Valentine nodded. "Me too."

"You care about her, then?" her mother asked curtly.

He shrugged, not willing to admit to anything.

"You do," she assumed, moving past his silence. "You do. So you'll take care of her."

Valentine looked at her, "I told you, I'm not good people."

"I don't care. I can't look after her here. You can. I need you to take care of her. I need you to make sure she's okay, because I need to know that she's okay," she insisted.

He still didn't answer.

She took his hands in hers, "What's your name?"


She smiled slightly, her face still glistening with tears, "Valentine. That's a nice name."

He didn't disagree.

"Valentine. That's my daughter. And I need someone to take care of her, no matter what happens. No matter what she does or how you feel. Protect her. Please, tell me you'll do what's best for her? Because she's a wonderful girl who doesn't deserve this."

He couldn't disagree with any of that, either.

She squeezed his hands and stared at him in the way that mothers were supposed to look. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced and he...he couldn't...

"She doesn't deserve it," Valentine said quietly. "I'll do what's best for Helena. No matter what."

"Do you promise?"

He nodded slowly, "I promise."

With that, Valentine locked away a part of himself that had never really had a chance in the first place.

"Absolutely not."

"Don't be an idiot, Drag," Mags snapped, "This is the best chance we have."

"This isn't a chance, it's a suicide mission," the Librarian said quietly.

"You are not walking into the Castle of Shadows and that's final," Drag ordered.

Helena fumed in her seat, "But he said-"

"Who?" Drag snapped, turning on her.

Helena cursed her tongue and saw Mags shift uncomfortably.

"Where are you getting your information from?" Drag pressed.

Helena took a breath. "Valentine."

"He's dead."

"No. The one that attacked me on the roof, and that Drag killed, that was a copy. The Princess has figured out how to make copies of people."


"Drag," Helena said, "he's been helping me."

"Of course he has, which is why you nearly died."

"If it weren't for him it wouldn't have been 'nearly,'" Helena snapped at him. "He spoke up and got her to stop. He got hurt for it."

"So are you going after her or him?" Drag asked.

"Either way, with your information, we have to go!"

"I told you this was a mistake!" Drag shouted, making everyone in the vicinity jump. "She's compromised!"

Helena got to her feet, knocking away the helpful attempts to steady her from Mags and the Prime Minister. "How dare you," she whispered. "I have done everything for you and the Queen."


"I watched him die," Helena cut in. "Copy or not, he died in front of me and I didn't try to save him. Doesn't that tell you my loyalty? And dammit, take him out of the equation if you'd like. Either way, I just gave up the biggest break since this war began. If it means getting rid of the Princess than we've got to try it."

"We aren't risking you, Helena," the Prime Minister tried to lower the tension.

Helena slammed her fist onto the table. "I am sick of that excuse. My life isn't more important than anyone else's. How many more have to die before the rest of you see that?"

"We don't trust your source."

"I don't give a damn what you do or don't trust. If there's even the slightest chance it'll work, we should try."


"Do you want this war to end or not?" Helena interrupted the Prime Minister.

The silence was both endearing and frustrating.

"Yes," the Queen said quietly. "Yes. This war needs to end. And we will do what's necessary. We will take what information and help we can get from any quarter. But we will be cautious and thorough."

She turned to the Librarian. "Search what few books you have left to corroborate the information we've been given. Drag and Helena," she said meeting their eyes, "you will work together and confirm your suspicions."

While the Queen delegated, Helena settled back into her chair and pulled out the Book. Quietly enough to only disturb Mags, she whispered, "What do you know about the Mask?"

MirrorMask: Can copy things and people. Can let you imitate people. Can open gates between worlds. Can allow travel between worlds without replacing the alternate world's person. Can ward off Shadow powers'.

Helena noticed that the handwriting was different, but passed it to the Queen just the same. "Majesty."

The Queen looked it over and nodded. "With Drag's discovery and Helena's information, we should move quickly. The Princess won't wait long to retaliate…" She looked up at Drag. "How much time do you need?"

"Three days. A week, tops."

"Six days," she told him. "On the seventh, we'll attack the Shadow Kingdom."

The faces around the table were serious but resigned. Helena stared at her palm and wondered who she would have to face on the sixth day.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 13 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>