Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 15 of 29

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Helena didn't encounter anyone after running into Valentine. She wasn't sure if it was because he had done as he said and watched out for her, or if this hallway was just empty. She entertained the thought that he was lying to her, but hoped she was wrong.

She entertained a few other thoughts that concerned the juggler, but couldn't dwell on that right now.

Even if her heart was still pounding and her lips still tingling. No. No. Focus.

The tower stairs were in front of her and Helena ascended them as quickly and quietly as she could. She only hoped that she could catch the Princess by surprise.

Helena pulled her notebook out of her bag, flipping to the page she had spent a while considering. It was a long shot, but every little bit helped. Ripping the page out, she approached the door with the page in her left hand and her sword in her right.

Shoving it open, Helena saw –


For a wild moment, Helena considered that Valentine lied. Then that moment passed and Helena continued to place her faith in him.

Stepping into the room, Helena carefully eyed the area. Desks were pushed against the wall, bookshelves were overflowing with the books that the Princess had stolen. The Mask had to be here somewhere…

Looking around, Helena felt a breeze behind her and turned.

The wall behind her looked normal enough, but Helena saw a faint shimmer.

"No use hiding," Helena said, glaring at the girl. "I see you."

Removing the Mask, the Princess's form rippled and became clear.

"Hello, Hel."

"Princess," Helena said in return, closing the door behind her. The Mask glinted at the Princess' waist, which means she would have to get closer. Her fingers clenched around the paper.

"Queen, actually."

"Not my Queen."

The Princess smiled, her dead eyes following Helena's movements. "Glad to see you've recovered. I would so hate for this to happen without an audience."

"What this would that be?" Helena asked, edging closer.

"Your death, my dear."

"I have no plans to die today."

"Nobody ever does," the Princess laughed, her dark dress dragging across the floor as she turned in place.

"I guess one of us is going to be wrong, then."

"Yes. Are you ready, Hel?"

"Not really, but I'll give it a go." Helena threw the paper to the ground and covered her eyes.

A pure, white light exploded out and Helena heard the Princess scream. She lunged forward, reaching for the Mask -

- and was thrown back against the wall.

Groggy, her head throbbing, Helena lost a few moments. When her eyes opened, the Princess was standing straight, if not completely steady.

"Oh, you stupid little girl," the Princess hissed. "Don't you know? Everything casts a shadow in the sun."

Helena stumbled to her feet, holding onto the wall. She'd known it was a long shot against the Princess, but hadn't hurt to try.

Well, it had hurt.

Helena moved around the room again, keeping her eyes on the Mask as the Princess rotated with her. Helena tried not to look her in the eye - it was too unnerving to see those dead vacuums of light.

"That is mine," Helena said. "I created it. It's mine and I'm taking it back."

"Do you really want to play this game with me, Hel?" the Princess asked, cocking her head.

"Surrender and I'll make sure you're treated fairly."

"Surrender and I'll make sure your death is painful."

Helena laughed, ignoring her headache, "You really suck at this negotiation thing, don't you?"

The Princess laughed as well, an odd echo of her own, "You're right. I do such much better at threatening." She lifted her hand and Helena felt something wrap around her throat. She was lifted onto her toes, until they barely brushed the ground.

Helena transferred her sword from one hand to the other, and touched her neck with her shadowed palm.

The Princess screamed, falling to her knees, and Helena dropped to the floor. She ran forward again, gasping, reaching for the Mask.

She was thrown to the ground again, sliding until she was about level with the Princess. Reeling and desperate, Helena grabbed at the Mask.

The Princess slammed her fist on Helena's shoulder, and she wasn't able to block it. Helena cried out, and slashed with her sword, catching the edge of the Princess' ribs. With the shadows embedded in the metal, it did more damage than Helena could hope for, and yet, not enough. The Princess shrieked and threw herself on top of her.

One of the Princess' hands pinned down Helena's left arm and the other summoned another shadowy dagger. Helena dropped her sword and grabbed the wrist holding the dagger. The Princess hissed and Helena could see the strain it was putting on her to keep hold of the dagger. She squeezed her wrist harder and the Princess' breath came in short pants and her fingers trembled, but still she held onto the dagger.

"You are a helpless, little girl. You think you could defeat me with nothing but a book and pen? You're going to die here, and no one is going to miss-"

"Oi, you stupid shadow of a girl," an Irish voice shouted from the door.

Helena couldn't look over, but she recognized that voice.

The voice moved closer, "Aren't you supposed to be brassed with the one that gave her the information to begin with?"

The Princess shoved Helena away from her, and sent her crashing into the wall once again. Helena got to her feet, gasping as she watched Valentine limp into the room.

His white robe had streaks of red on it and he held his side like he'd been hurt. The Princess turned on him, eyes tightening. "Do explain, Val."

"I was the one who told her what the Mask could do," Valentine said. "I read those books you sent me to get, and then I wrote it all down in a book of me own and sent it book back to the library, where she found it."

"You traitorous piece of-"

He laughed over her, "Oh, and I told her where the Mask was. She was heading towards the Throne Room at first, just like you wanted her to. But I found her and told her the truth. So if you really want to punish someone, I'd punish me. I know you want to."

Forgetting completely about Helena, the Princess marched towards Valentine, who hadn't backed up a step, and grabbed him by the front of his robe. "I should've killed you the first moment you refused me, instead of keeping you as a pet."

"Yeah, you should have," he told her. Valentine threw his fist out, catching the Princess on the jaw as he reached out with other hand as quickly as a snake. He snatched the Mask out of her belt and threw it to Helena. It skidded across the floor and landed right at Helena's feet. She picked it up and stared at the Princess, who realized her mistake a moment too late.

"No," the Princess whispered.

She tried to throw her power over Helena, but the shadows wouldn't stick when she held the MirrorMask. Helena smirked, "Looks like you're out of threats."

The Princess paused, "True, but I just got a lot better material to negotiate with."

She clenched her fist and Valentine swore, grabbing at his wrist. Helena caught a glimpse of black metal as his sleeve fell back. She bit her cheek and faced the Princess, "What? You think using your own man to barter with will make me give up? He's the enemy, too, in case you forgot."

"He saved you. You care about him," the Princess countered, twisting her fist.

Valentine fell to his knees with a cry, curses tripping out through his lips.

"Cared. Past tense. Now he's your toy. Why would I sacrifice this entire world for someone who betrayed me and then got cold feet?" Helena asked.

She couldn't see Valentine's face, hunched over his arm, but she saw his shoulders tighten. He didn't ask her for anything, He didn't once ask her for help. Because he didn't think he would get it.

Or he didn't think he deserved it.

Still, she kept her face impassive, looking into the mirror of herself three years ago.

"You still care, don't lie to me," the Princess snarled.

She couldn't lie well enough on this to get away with it, so she tempered it with the truth, "Of course I care." Valentine looked up and Helena had to avoid his eyes as she finished with, "Just not enough."

The Princess glared and slammed her fist down. The room was quiet enough in that moment that Helena head Valentine's arm snap. She went cold and took an involuntary step forward as Valentine gasped and went limp against the wall. The spider pulled away from his wrist with a tearing, dripping sound and crawled up Valentine's chest. It latched around his throat and began to tighten.

The Princess hadn't even looked, "Now tell me you don't care."

Helena hesitated and the Princess clenched her fist.

Valentine's breathing stopped, the skin beneath his mask starting to change colors as he struggling for air. He coughed, grabbing at the spider with his good hand, but still not calling out for her.

The Princess's knuckles started to go white as Valentine went purple.

"Stop," Helena said. "You're right. Stop, please. I'll give you the Mask."

"Finally," the Princess said, her hand getting loose enough that Valentine was able to take in a shuddering breath. "A reasonable decision."

"Helena, don't-" Valentine rasped.

"Shut up, Val," the Princess said.

"Oh, burn up and die, you damn shadow bitc-"

"I said, shut up!" The Princess shouted, her hand tightening again.

"Let him go, first." Helena said as Valentine choked once more.

"You know, I don't think I will. Give me the Mask." The Princess held out her hand.

"How do I know you won't just kill him once you have it?" Helena said, taking a small step forward.

"You don't. But I will kill him if you waste my time much longer. I can promise you that. Mask. Now." She jerked her arm towards Helena.

Helena wiped her palms on her pants, holding the MirrorMask in both hands as she approached the Princess. Please, she thought, please let me be strong enough...

She would hate to vanish into the Princess.

The Princess grabbed the Mask as soon as Helena got within reach, not loosening her grip around Valentine's throat. Helena held on like a dog with a bone, her fingers hurting as the metal cut into her skin.

"Let go," the Princess said.

Helena glanced at Valentine, "You first."

The Princess grabbed the Mask with her other hand and Valentine went limp on the ground.

Helena smirked at the Princess as their hands sealed to the mask. "So, think you're strong enough?"

The Princess frowned, trying to pull her hands away and failing, "Strong enough for what?"

"To not be unmade," Helena stared into the Mask, feeling a pressure start to build in her head.

The Princess whimpered, shutting her eyes, obviously feeling the same.

"What have you done?" the Princess whispered.

"What you forced me to do. Now go back to where you came from," Helena replied.


Helena felt her body jerk to the side, slamming into the Princess. It was familiar and completely foreign. The last time, they had been in different world. This time, Helena felt every cell of her body trying to force the Princess away and out. It hurt.

She might have screamed. She really wasn't certain. Memories that were hers and not penetrated her mind in painful bursts.

"I'm sorry, sweetie. Nan's gone."

"Valentine's don't settle for second best."

"You don't belong here."

"You are quite possibly the very worst daughter. I should have strangled you the day you were born."

"You couldn't handle real life."

"You disgust me."

Her eyes opened and Helena saw her reflection in the Mask.

Her eyes were black.

"No!" Helena shouted. She shoved as hard as she could and for a second, she saw brown overpower the black. She just had to remember who she was.

I'm Helena. Creator. A juggler. A daughter.

Images of her life flashed past her eyes. Drawing the MirrorWorld. Learning how to juggle with her father. Sitting in her parents' trailer having dinner after a show.

I'm a soldier. A squad member. A City Guard.

Falling over and over again to learn how to hold onto her weapon. Helping Laurel up off the ground, while Nodd watched her back. Standing together in formation, listening to Mags give one of the shortest, yet most inspiring battle speeches she'd ever heard.

I'm a friend. An enemy. Sometimes both.

Juggling with Valentine in the market before things turned bad. Facing the fake Valentine in the war and wounding him.

Ten minutes ago in the castle. Valentine shoving her against the wall and...


Helena flinched as the Princess screamed inside her head. She closed her eyes focusing on the kiss in the castle whenever the Princess began to pull free.

The scream continued and grew louder and louder. Then suddenly it was gone. It was silent for half a second then-

The Mask exploded out, dropping to the ground and sending Helena flying. She never heard the Princess hit the ground. She slammed against the wall, something stabbing through her back. Helena cried out, hanging from something metal as her skin ripped and tore until she fell to the ground. Dazed, with her back shredded and bleeding, and her arm twinging painfully, Helena propped herself up, seeing no one in the room but herself and-


He still lay on the ground in front of the doorway, not moving. Helena jumped to her feet, feeling them wobble beneath her as she stumbled over to his side. "Valentine!" she shouted, failing to get a response. She fell to her knees at his side, and saw that he wasn't breathing. She grabbed the spider from his throat, making a noise when it dissolved into ooze at her touch. She wiped it away and moved his broken arm away from his chest. "Valentine, wake up!"

She started compressions on his chest, praying that her one emergency class in school wasn't completely gone from her head. She breathed into his mouth, unable to cover his nose because of his mask and prayed she was helping. Her hands were shaking like leaves. If she hadn't hesitated, if she'd played her hand earlier, if she hadn't let the Princess get to him, if she'd told him her plan, if, if, if...

Wet spots appeared on his shirt and Helena didn't bother trying to wipe away her tears. Sure, he messed up. But she'd messed up far worse. She'd shoved the Mirrorworld out of her head because she was acting like a hurt child and she hadn't taken care of it. She was ultimately responsible for every single thing that happened. Including if Valentine...

"Wake up!" she shouted, pounding on his chest. She was scared, alone, and desperate. She needed him to wake up. She needed him. "You stupid, brave, selfish, half-rate excuse for a juggler! You hear me? Wake up!" She shook him, tears making her weak. She rested her head on his still chest, "Please wake up, Valentine."

His chest moved beneath her cheek as he coughed. Helena shot up, staring intently to see the barely there difference behind his masked eyes. He coughed again, looking around and catching sight of her. "Helena..." he reached up to her face, but dropped his hand before he got there. "Is the Princess...?"

She swallowed, not really willing to go into that yet, "Gone. Are you okay?" she asked him, helping him up to a sitting position carefully.

"Me arm hurts. Neck's a bit sore. And why do I feel like someone was dancing on me chest?" he asked, his voice still rough.

Helena smiled weakly, "That was me. Sorry. You weren' stopped..." The day's events hit her and Helena sat back, shaking a little. Her friend-turned-enemy-but-in-his-heart-still-friend-most-likely nearly died for her. She had created the evil copy of the Princess, unintentionally, but still. Then she'd taken that evil back in. The Monkeybirds...the guards...the spider. She couldn't handle any more. She sat next to Valentine, shutting her eyes as more tears welled up.

Valentine didn't comment on that. "You going to get on with it?"

"With what?"

He shifted, "You know what."

Helena glanced at him, his eyes unreadable. She did know what. He wanted her to fight him. Arrest him. Something like that. "Yeah, well. I'm really not in any shape to deal with it right now. So, come on and don't try to kill me on the way out, okay?"

Getting to her feet was a chore, and the bloody smear she left on the wall wasn't encouraging. She needed to get help from someone. Quickly.

"We have to get your arm looked at," Helena muttered. She held out her hand and Valentine looked at it for a second. Then he reached up with his good arm and took her wrist. She helped him to his feet, ignoring the twist in her shoulder.

She stumbled, the weakness in her body making her unsteady. One arm steadied her and Helena looked up, finding Valentine's face very close to hers. She was thrown back into the hallway and the kiss that she hadn't expected. She still wasn't sure which Valentine this was; her old friend, the man from her dream, or the one she hadn't really met yet.

"Can I ask you something?" he asked quietly.

"Sure," she said.

He smirked, though it was a little off, "Did you call me a selfish, half-rate excuse for a juggler?"

Against the odds, Helena found herself smiling.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 15 of 29

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