Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 22 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

"Here, Val. Picked this up for you." She handed him the sword, watching him take it. He was clever, he'd figure it out.

"It's Helena's," she added, thrill coursing through her as he began to open it with a slight frown.

Finally, she was rid of the competition. The Princess and her guard headed off. With Helena out of the way, this was the time for a decisive movement...or should she let them stew in the knowledge that not even their great Creator was safe from her? Tempting…

The guard moved suddenly and she whipped around, startled to see Val letting go of the sword buried into her guard's neck and shoulder, clutching at his wrist with a snarl on his face.

...he had just tried to murder her.

Temper and...something else...whirled through her and she settled on cynical. "Bone is so much more difficult. If you knew any better, you would have gone through the softer bits."

He swore under his breath and she caught words like, "Bitch" and "Tyrant."

She squeezed his wrist harder in a warning, "Language, juggler." The guard walked away as Val straightened up, holding his wrist carefully. The Princess saw the red stains on his coat and felt something almost like pity for him.

"Are you a little upset, Val?" she asked, hoping to get a rise out of him. She loved their conversations, even when it was just fighting. He could be so clever and quick. She enjoyed it.

But then he just turned and walked away from her.

"Val!" she called. Why was he just walking away? He still didn't respond, so she stopped him by force, her shadows holding him still.

"What's gotten into you?" she asked him, honestly curious. Was he really that broken up about Helena? Why? They'd never been together to begin with.

"Let me go," he demanded bluntly, his face carefully blank.

"Go where, Val?" she asked. Back to his Tower? The castle? She might let him, if it would improve his mood at all.

"Anywhere else that isn't here."

"You're being a tad overdramatic, aren't you?" she asked, canting her head the way Helena did.

"Piss off."

"Val, you really need to control your language. It's not becoming. With the Creator gone, the rest of the City of Light will soon fall. Soon, I'll have everything." And I can share that with you.

"Brilliant. Let go," he repeated in that same detached voice.

She sighed, "If we two are going to be the only ones left, don't you think you should try to be civil?"

He laughed. He laughed at her with cold, cruel noises that reminded her of her mother. It wasn't humorous. This was laughter that mean to pierce and burn her. Unsettled by the similarities, she removed her shadows, wondering if she should be the one to leave now.

Taking a deep breath, Val didn't run, but fixed her with a glare, "Princess, if we two are the last ones left, I promise you it won't be that way for long."

She tried to explain, "With Helena gone, there's nothing better for you. Just me."

"Then I'll take the nothing!" he shouted.

She jumped at the anger in his voice. Up until now, Val's antics had been an amusement, a distraction, entertainment. But just now, he had tried to kill her. She might have pushed him too far, too much, too dark. She was the worst thing in this world and he...frightened her.

"Watch it, Val," she warned him, her hands rising. "You're walking a very thin line. Your veiled threats are-"

"Who said anything about veiled? I want you dead," he stated coldly, no room for her hedging or misinterpreting. "Even if everyone else is gone or shadows, and it's just the two of us, I'll never stop trying to get rid of you. There is no ending where you get what you want. No way in which you'll force me or anyone else into caring about you. If I have to end my own life to prove that you can't get your twisted happy ending, then I'll do it with a smile."

He would rather die than even exist in the same world as her?

She wondered if he knew. Her mother hated her. Her father abandoned her. The only thing she wanted was for people to stop leaving her, even if she had to keep them by force. She didn't want to be alone. She'd usurped her mother and gotten the kingdom. She challenged the City of Light and destroyed it. She'd turned her casualties into weapons. She accomplished all of it, but couldn't get the one thing she wanted.

She couldn't compete with a dead girl.

"You disgust me," he threw at her, digging the shards even further into what was left of her heart. He leaned forward, and for a wild, irrational moment, she wondered if he was going to kiss her, but -

"And even though she's gone, you're still only second best."

She drew back, her hands lifting with shadows on instinct. He didn't flinch and she couldn't help but be impressed by his strength and courage. She should kill him right this second, damn her feelings and desires, and end his pathetic life. The shadows rose and the Princess glared and -


Helena, the real Helena, woke with a scream. Her clothes were soaked through and she couldn't stop shaking. The dreams had been bad before this, but this was…this was…

She leapt out of her bed, rushing to the door. She reached for the handle, determined to make certain it was a dream, but the door opened up before she could move.

On edge, frightened, and still shaking, Helena flinched, tripping backwards and throwing her hands up. Her eyes snapped shut on instinct before she hit the ground.

Someone grabbed her, catching her before she fell.

"Helena? Are you all right?"

Her heart beating through her chest, Helena allowed her eyes to open, seeing a familiar masked face and dark eyes watching her. Valentine must have just jumped out of bed, his hair mussed and pajama bottoms being the only thing he was wearing. He straightened both of them up, but still held onto her shoulders, waiting for an answer.

"'M fine," she murmured, already feeling the blush start. "It was-it was just a dream. I'm sorry I woke you."

He still didn't let her go. "What was it about?" he asked.

"My parents," she lied.

"It wasn't your parents' name you shouted," Valentine pointed out, staring at her.

The heat on her cheeks doubled. "I'm sorry."

"Valentine's don't apologize," he tried to smile.

Helena nodded, but was still shaking.

"Come here," he said, tugging her towards her bed and sitting both of them down on the edge. He pulled the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. He pulled away, hesitated, then put his arm around her shoulders keep it in place. Automatically, Helena curled her feet up next to her, leaning into his arm slightly.

"Were you going to take off outside?" he asked. "You looked ready to run."

"No," she said into the worn maroon blanket. "I was running, but to…"


"Your room," she admitted.

He nodded, then asked, "Why?"

"It was my dream," Helena whispered. "Her memories and…" She turned her face into his chest slightly, comforted by the already familiar scent of Valentine - palimpuffs and a spice she couldn't place - and his arm around her.

"What do you mean, her memories?" he asked, his voice buzzing in her ear.

"I haven't told you everything," she said quietly.

"I figured. You've been alive a long time. I imagine it would take you as long as you'd been alive to tell me everything."

She picked at the blanket, quiet, unsure how to phrase it. Valentine was quiet, too, which was odd. She took in a breath and just decided to go with it, "When I was fighting the Princess, we were both holding onto the Mask and..." she trailed off, unsure how to explain. "This world has duplicates in it, like my Mum being the Queen of Light and the Queen of Shadows. And my Dad being the Prime Minister. And you and-"

"Let's not go there," Valentine cut her off. "Rather not be reminded of that."

She wanted to ask why, but there was a point to her ramblings. "And me and the Princess." Before Valentine could argue that she wasn't like the Princess, she kept going, "You told me that if two of the same person held onto the Mask at the same time, the weaker one, the duplicate, gets absorbed into the original one. And that's what I did. That's why she's gone. Because she was a duplicate of me and I took her back," Helena finished, picking at the loose threads in her blanket. How could she explain what had happened?

"She just looked like you," Valentine said. "That doesn't mean she was you."

"But the book said-"

"You dad isn't like the Prime Minister. And your Mum was nothing like the Queen of Shadows," Valentine said. "Right?"

"Well, no she wasn't, but maybe-"

"No, just because you look like someone, it doesn't mean that they duplicated your every thought."

Helena stared at the blanket. How did she explain what had happened? How she was terrified that the lines between her and the Princess were somehow blurring together? "But she was like me. And now she's a part of me. Doesn't that-"

"It doesn't mean you're evil, Helena," Valentine cut off her train of thought before got there. "The fact that you're worrying about it proves that."

She closed her eyes, trying to hold onto the feeling that Valentine gave her. That she wasn't evil, that her dreams were just that. Dreams and nothing more.

"What'd you dream about?" Valentine asked quietly.

"It was just a nightmare."

"About what?"

Helena shrugged. She couldn't tell if she didn't want to talk about it because it frightened her, or because she didn't want Valentine to have to relive it. Either way, she stayed quiet.

Valentine was relentless, though. "It was about the Princess?" he asked her.


"I have nightmares, too," he said, as if on another thought.

Helena tilted her head up, looking at his spiked beard. "What are yours about?" she asked, wanting the attention off of her.

"The last three years, mostly."

He said it so flippantly, but Helena knew now. Her nightmares had been his reality. All because she's been too proud and too hurt to keep track of this world. She'd let it go to rot because of her hurt feelings. People had been hurt and the Monkeybirds had been killed and it was all her fault. And here was one of the worst victims of her apathy trying to console her. It was wrong. She'd been so selfish and...

"I'm so sorry, Valentine," her voice was choked, but she refused to cry in front of him.

He pulled her a little closer, "Valentine's don't apologize, Helena-na," he said, rubbing her shoulder.

She rested her head on his shoulder, laughing quietly, "I'm not a Valentine. I'm a stupid little girl, who ruined all your lives just because I was too childish to get over hurt feelings."

He didn't say anything, but Helena couldn't stop. "I was so mad at you," she said into his chest.

Valentine got tense and Helena grabbed the hand that was wrapped around her shoulders to keep him from pulling away. "You were my best friend. The best friend I ever had and you just pushed me away and I was so angry with you. I didn't want anything to do with you and I just stopped drawing completely. I never took the pictures down, but I didn't add anything. I purposefully ignored them. But I couldn't ignore you and then I met Andrew and..."

Valentine tried to pull away again, but Helena refused to let go. "And then I started drawing again and thinking about this world and missing it, but I was scared to try and come back. What if you still hated me?"

Valentine cleared his throat, "Helena..."

"And then by the time I realized that I was being stupid and got back here, it was too late. I was already too late and you paid the price. And then they call me a hero and you the villain, but you're not and it breaks my heart that I did it to you."

"You didn't do anything," he said, trying to console her.

Helena pulled away, kneeling to face him and letting go of his hand. She couldn't see his eyes in the dark, especially not behind the mask, but she knew he was looking at her. "I know. That's the problem. I didn't do anything to help you until things had already gotten bad. I just...I'm sorry. I don't think I ever said it to you. But I am so sorry."

"I think you're the only person in this world who's ever apologized to me." He raised his hand, then let it drop again, settling behind her. "Especially for things that you shouldn't be apologizing for." He cocked his head and thought for a moment, "Well, you can apologize for the look-a-like. I wasn't fond of him."

Helena chuckled despite herself, "Yeah, he was a mistake. I think I knew that going in."

"Then why did you stay with him?"

She swallowed and dropped her eyes to his hand, trailing her fingers across the back of it. "I...because he looked like you."

It was quiet for a long time, so Helena kept focusing on his hand. He didn't move an inch. After a moment of the most silent silence she'd ever experienced, Helena went into self-preservation mode. She looked up at him and smirked, a quip on the tip of her tongue about him being a very important man. But it vanished when she met his eyes.

He looked frightened. Nervous. Unsure. None of which suited him.

The quips and jokes died out, replaced with brutal honesty. "But he wasn't. So I couldn't...he wasn't…" She swallowed. "I could never replace you. And I don't want to."

Valentine still hadn't moved, but was staring down at her with an unfathomable expression.

Helena leaned forward, giving Valentine the time to move away if he wanted. He remained still, even when she placed her hand on his jaw. She had only intended for it to be a simple kiss.

That's not how it turned out.

As soon as her lips touched his, Helena knew she wouldn't-couldn't move away. His mouth was warm and tasted like spice and pears, and though he didn't move for a moment -

Valentine inhaled and was suddenly involved, never willing to be second best. His mouth was warm and much gentler than the first time. Helena could hear her heart in her ears, how loud her breath sounded when he finally pulled away, the way he whispered her name before kissing her again. He sat up straighter, wrapping his other arm around her waist to hold her closer. Helena's arms wound around his neck and she nipped at his lip. Valentine hissed and his arm tightened around her waist. Helena felt her shirt ride up a few inches. Valentine's hand brushed her skin and she shivered, pressing closer into his chest.

Valentine broke away, grabbing her shoulders and pushing her away. She was breathing heavily as she stared him, seeing his own chest rise and fall faster than normal. He got up off the bed and backed away from her, "Right, so. No more nightmares, okay? You're all right?"

She stared at him. "...what?"

"I should get back to bed. Long day tomorrow. I'm sure. Definitely." He continued to back up, bumping into the door frame and stumbling.

"Valentine, wait," Helena tried to stop him, but her knees were all jello-y. Fine time to go all useless.

"Goodnight," he said, shutting the door behind him as he escaped to the bathroom.

Helena sat on her bed, staring at the closed door. What the hell just happened?

Valentine shut his door behind him, leaning against the heavy wood. His heart was still pounding and he ran his fingers through his hair, messing up the spikes.


He just royally screwed up. He kissed, and he meant –kissed –Helena. Creator of his world. Savior of the world. Twice. And he was…Valentine.


He banged his head against the door. Stupid.

But…she had been kissing him back.

No, probably she had been just too surprised to realize what was going on. She wouldn't kiss him. Not after everything he'd done. He was an awful man.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 22 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>