Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 16 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

It took a while, but Helena eventually managed to get Valentine on his feet. He was more than a little unstable, but it helped that she held onto him, her arm wrapping around his waist but taking care not to bump his injuries. He probably wouldn't have felt it even if she had. He felt kind of fuzzy and dazed. Like he was seeing and feeling all of this through a dream. Or a nightmare. The fight with the guards had been something he never wanted to repeat. He'd almost had the first three under control, but when he got swarmed by six of the dead guards, he'd lost the advantage. The only thing that kept him from bolting was the thought that he had to stay. He'd promised. They'd wounded him, but he managed to lock them in the throne room before he ran towards Helena and the Princess.

He glanced down at Helena now, seeing the cuts and bruises starting on her skin. He shook his head, ignoring the twinge in his own throat, as his mind tried to pull up the image he had seen walking in. Helena, pinned beneath the Princess who had been holding a dagger against her throat. He had to press on his injuries to remind himself it wasn't one of his nightmares.

"You okay?" Helena asked.

He'd stopped walking as he tried to clear his head, keeping her from moving forward for fear of hurting him. "I'm fine," he croaked out.

She gave him a tiny smile, "It's okay if you're not. I know I'm not."

She was hurting. And here he was, leaning on her. Valentine tried to pull away, but she held on to him. "Don't be silly."

"Habit," he muttered, and let her pull him back.

Helena sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder as they shuffled forward. Valentine tightened his arm over her shoulders, pretending that he hadn't been an awful man for the past three years, that he hadn't betrayed his closest friend. Pretending that he hadn't kissed his closest, but mostly likely unwilling, friend (but really, pretending he had and she had enjoyed it).

He pretended he didn't know what was waiting for him outside.

He'd made the promise to her mother. He'd fought off the guards. He'd attacked the Princess. He done exactly as he said he'd do.

It was only fair that he got to reap the benefits, if only for a moment. He could be selfish for just a little longer.

"How are you?" he asked, distracting himself. Normal things to talk about.

She laughed quietly and cast him a glance, "You know. Busy fighting a war."

"Before that? Before being here."

She lifted her head (not his goal) and thought about it, "I've been working with the circus, mostly."


"I started applying to colleges, but I've missed a lot of the deadlines. Poor time management, me. But it's okay," she said.

He knew what the disappointment looked like on Helena's face. Now he got a perfect sense of what it sounded like. He was not a fan.

"I'm sorry about Nan," he told her, trying to move past it. Probably not the best topic to choose, but he felt he had to say it and-

"Me too. But she was old, and..." Helena paused and stopped walking. "How did you know about that?"

Whoops. "Um, long story."

"Long walk," she countered, staring at him. She starting pulling away from him. No, no. That was the opposite of what he wanted.

He couldn't admit to it. It was a complete invasion of her privacy. She'd hate him. "The Queen told me when-"

"Don't you think you've lied enough?" Helena interrupted him quietly.

Suddenly his actual wounds didn't hurt so much as the violent sharpness in his chest. He stepped back from her and Helena didn't stop him this time.

"I didn't...I couldn't tell you. I had to! I didn't have-" he started. Part of him wanted to deny her, while the other part of him wanted to acknowledge that she was completely right.

"Hey," she said, her face soft. "I know you had to. Just...don't you want to stop now? I won't be mad. Whatever you say. I promise."

He doubted that. But he couldn't rightly lie to her now. He hung his head and let the words spill out. "I had this mirror. A gift or curse from the Princess a few years ago. It showed me your room all the time. There was no way for me to turn it off."

"Why did she do that?" Helena asked.

Not exactly the question he was expecting, but he answered anyway. "Her own personal form of fun, I guess. Seeing people forgetting me."

He kept his eyes focused on the flagstones. Interesting things, flagstones. They always started out so rough, but after just a few years they'd be worn down and smoothed and kept track of where people walked the most. The smoother the floors, the more people that passed by. These flagstones had been here for many years, and yet they weren't very smooth. The flagstones in his room were smooth.

So focused on the stones, he jumped when Helena appeared in his line of sight, wrapping her arms around his middle and pressing her face into his chest. She mumbled something that he missed.

Valentine put his good arm back around her, feeling her breath through his shirt. "What was that?"

"I never forgot you," Helena repeated louder. "I'm sorry."

This maskless girl would never stop surprising him. He admits to spying on her for the past two years and she's apologizing. Nonsense.

"Don't apologize," he told her.

"Fine, but you don't have to feel bad," she told him. "I'm glad you were there."

Helena exhaled and let go of him, beginning their walk again. Valentine tried to keep quiet, but he couldn't help it.



Valentine swallowed, "Why were you glad?"

"I think I knew someone was watching out for me. Or I hoped someone was. Otherwise, I was just talking to an empty mirror." Helena shrugged, "I always imagined I was talking to you."

Valentine stared at his feet. He'd hoped she'd been searching for him whenever she looked into the mirror. But to hear it for sure... Maybe he wasn't completely crazy. Maybe things weren't completely hopeless.

He saved his breath as they maneuvered the stairs, finding that the incline made his wounds pull irritatingly. But when they reached the bottom, Valentine found his breath and nerve.

"Helena," he said, barely recognizing the serious and hopeful tone in his voice. Helena stopped, expectantly waiting with a smile, "I wanted to tell you that-"

"Look out, Helena!"

"Stay where you are, traitor!"

Valentine turned to see two, blue-haired guards bearing down on them. He bit his tongue, having hoped for a little more time before this. He separated from Helena, stepping forward. Once again, he locked that small part of himself away. He'd been a fool for opening it up in the first place. With a half-hearted smile and a cool glare he raised his good arm, "I'm not going anywhere. No need to shout. I surrender."

"Mags, Drag," Helena said, "wait, it's not what you think! He helped me, he's not-"

"Stop, Helena. They're right," he told her as the guards reached them.

Mags, or Drag, he wasn't sure who was who, grabbed his wrists and knotted a cord around them. His broken arm protested and Valentine hissed, but didn't fight them.

"You don't need that," Helena argued. "You're hurting him! He saved me, he-"

The male guard spoke, "I'm sorry, Helena. But he's a criminal. He surrendered, but he's still going on trial for his crimes."


"Oh come on, Creator," Valentine said coldly, "it's not like you didn't know this was coming."

Helena glanced at him and he felt some kind of victory at the concern all over her face. And a faint twist from the hurt that he elicited.

"I'm an awful, awful man, remember?" he added.

She shook her head, "This isn't right."

"It's the law," Mags said, confused over Helena's expression. "He has to be tried and if he's found guilty, he'll-"

"Mags," the other one, Drag, cut her off. Valentine was surprised to notice concern on the gruff guard's face, but he realized it wasn't directed at him. It was directed at Helena.

"He'll what?" Helena asked, looking at each of them. When no one answered, she repeated her question louder, "He'll what?"

Valentine found it astonishing that a girl who could fight a war and argue with a Princess and create worlds could be so innocent about some things. He didn't want to ruin that for her, but like she said, he was done lying. "I'll hang."

Her expression broke, sending emotions rippling like aftershocks over her face. Valentine reeled and found himself wanting to reassure her, but also glad that it was already beginning.

It'd be hard to keep his promise to keep her away from the bad guys while he was still around.

"It'll be okay," Mags told her.

"Don't lie," Helena snapped.

Mags looked shocked, "I-"

Ignoring her completely, Helena turned to Valentine, "I'll fix this."

He didn't doubt her. But he knew there was nothing to be fixed. "I'm a criminal. It's the law."

"Well then, I'll talk to the person who-" she started.

Valentine let his newer self do the talking for him. The one who could out-snark the Princess and leave her reeling. It'd be easier.

"I don't need your help, Creator," Valentine shot at her. "And I don't need any special favors."

Helena's eyes widened, then narrowed at him. "Too damn bad, juggler."

"Keep your nose out of my business."

"You made it my business when you decided to help!" she snapped at him.

His lips twisted up, even as that quieter part of him wanted to shut his stupid mouth. "I don't need you, your help, or your little favors. I'm not your kept juggler, so piss off."

Helena's mouth fell open as she stared at him, bright spots of anger starting in her cheeks.

"Aren't you supposed to be taking me away about now?" Valentine asked the guards.

Mags glanced at Drag, the shock on their faces obvious.

"Well, let's get on with it, then!" he snapped.

Helena tried one last time. More than he'd expected, honestly. She put her hand on his good arm, "Valentine, please, don't push me awa-"

"Hands off, Creator. Don't want to be seen with the enemy, do you?" he asked her quietly. Pulling his arm away, he led the way out of the castle, leaving Mags and Drag to hurry after him.

As he stepped out into the light, Valentine saw the Army of Light cleaning up from the battle. Monkeybirds, dead soldiers, and (formerly) live soldiers of both sides littered the ground. When people started to catch sight of him, he noticed that they stopped working and stared at him.

Some of them only stared. Some of them glared. Most of them talked.

And had the Creator come out with her hand on his shoulder, they would have talked even more.

He could deal with dirty looks. He could deal with the comments. He could deal with it all and it would still be a picnic compared with the past three years.

He was a Valentine.

Another soldier, one he didn't recognize, ran into the castle. He barely paid any attention to it until he immediately came back out, "Medics! Majesty! We need you!"

"What is it, Nodd?" Mags asked, letting Drag continue marching Valentine on his way.

"It's Helena, she's breathing, but I can't wake her up! Medics!" Nodd shouted again, hurrying back inside the castle.

Valetine's heart clenched, but he didn't look back. She was breathing, she'd be fine. He had to pretend. He had to protect her from everything. Especially him.

"Let's go," Drag said quietly.

Valentine didn't argue, letting himself be pulled towards some other imprisonment. He didn't fight. He didn't look back.

He promised.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 16 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>