Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 25 of 29

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Valentine clenched his fists, glaring at the offending limb.

He'd hurt her.

He'd broken his promise.

Sighing, he leaned his head back against the stone wall. The dreams weren't helping. Dreams mixed with nightmares all twisted up into real memories. He wasn't able to stand it.


The voice from the door made him flinch internally, but he didn't move. That voice was ingrained in his skin, he knew who it was.

"You okay?" she asked quietly, stepping into the room. Her eyes dated around the small cell with the large mirror and the simple cot that Valentine was sitting on. Her jaw jumped as she looked around.

"Sure," he answered quietly.

"What are you doing in here?"

He glanced at her and she nodded slowly. "Oh."

"You didn't come back to the Tower last night," Helena pointed out after a minute.

He shook his head, biting his tongue.

"Valentine, it was an accident," she began.

"Drop it," he snapped.


Valentine glared at her, "I don't want to talk about it."

"I do."

"Too bad, regent."

"Don't call me that," Helena said, crossing her arms and her brows snapping together.

"It's true."

"You make it sound like something bad. And you only call me that when you're angry."

He shrugged.

"Everyone has nightmares, Valentine," she said, trying to pull the conversation back.

He laughed shortly, "Yeah, well. Most people's nightmares stay in their sleep."

"Just come back to the Tower, Valentine. It's your home. You shouldn't be sleeping here…" she glanced around the room again.

Valentine shrugged again.

She stepped into the room further and reached out to touch his shoulder. Valentine flinched away and she paused, stepping back.

"I miss my friend," Helena said. "And we were almost there again. Being…friends."

He didn't answer, that last word loaded with a lot more than friendship.

"I wish-"

"Wishes won't do anything, regent," he snapped. He stood up to go and Helena blocked him. She was tiny, but a physical wall between him and the door.

"You can't go back to that," she retorted back.

"To what?" Valentine asked, staring down at her.

"To that other Valentine!" she glared, fists clenching at her sides.

He didn't pretend he didn't know what she meant.

"You can't," she repeated quietly, grabbing his robe in her hands. "Please. Don't shut me out again."

He took a moment to remember this in his mind. Helena holding on so tightly to him, to whatever they were becoming.

Then he grabbed her wrists and pulled her hands off of his robe.


He walked out.

She was a hero. The Creator. The savior.

Only, right now, she felt very much like a terrified, nervous girl.

She knocked on the kitchen door, knowing that it was Valentine's turn for dishes. The others had all scattered, off to bed or elsewhere.

He didn't answer, but Helena persisted, too stubborn to back away now.

"I know you're in there, Valentine. Open up."

A few more agonizing seconds before the door creaked open.

He wasn't wearing his coat, and his shirtsleeves were pushed up to his elbows. Water still dripped off his forearms as he wiped his hands off with a towel. "Little busy here, regent. Need something?"

His tone wasn't what she had been hoping for, but she didn't back down. She slipped inside the room, ignoring his attempt to stop her, and closed the door. "I'd like to talk to you, but the only way I can do that is by cornering you somewhere."

"Then take the hint."

"What is going on with you?" she asked, already exasperated. Valentine turned away from her, going back to the dishes. "One day, you're acting like I'm your worst enemy, you snap at me or worse, ignore me completely. Then the next, you're keeping me from having nightmares, you're helping me, you're acting like you're my best friend. Which is it? And why is it happening?"

He didn't answer her, scrubbing at the dishes.

She chewed her lip, then decided that going all in was the only way she'd ever get answers. "Why did you kiss me?"

There was a crack, and Valentine pulled out a corner of one of the plates. He gripped both sides of the sink and didn't turn to face her. "Which time?"

"Any time," she answered, relieved that he actually acknowledged her.

"One, I thought we were all going to die, so why not?"

"And the other night?"

Valentine turned around and leaned on the sink, his arms crossed. The smile on his face was the bad Valentine's smile. "You kissed me."

"You kissed back."

The smile was still in place. "You're a pretty girl. And the other soldiers aren't really my type. Why not?"

"I was convenient?" Helena clarified.

He shrugged, "Nothing personal."

No. It was personal, because he was belittling whatever this was between them. Helena's confused swirl of emotions collided and sparked within her. She stalked forward and grabbed his shirt, yanking him down to her mouth. It wasn't gentle and she wasn't even 100% sure why she was doing this, but she wanted some kind of real reaction out of him. Some iota of truth that he couldn't hide behind his mask or his words.

Valentine was tense beneath her fingers, frozen in the face of her unexpected onslaught. Helena ground her hips into his and ran her tongue along his lip. That pulled a groan from somewhere in his chest and suddenly he joined in.

His clever tongue battled against hers, both of them fighting for control of the situation and not finding any. Arms wrapped around her so tightly that she was shocked she could still breathe and she wound hers around his neck hauling herself up and pulling him down at the same time. There was no space between them and it was still too much.

He picked her up, turning so she sat on the edge of the sink, her legs wrapping around his waist. He grabbed her knees, pulling her flush against him, both of them gasping at the contact. Helena's head fell back and he took the advantage to attack her neck, nipping and kissing at the exposed skin. She had her fingers tangled in his hair, keeping him close, refusing to let him shy away like he'd done so many times before.

She went for his neck, the only part of him that she could reach. Valentine busied himself with sliding his hands along her legs, then up the back of her shirt, splaying his hand on her back and pulling her impossibly closer. Helena rolled her hips and Valentine grunted and bucked against her, his fingers curling into her skin.

"Valentine…" Helena breathed out, unable to contain the words that pressed against her lips.

He froze.

Not even her grip stopped him from moving away, from sliding away from her, letting her slip off of the sink to feel so utterly bereft of...something.

He didn't run, a minor miracle in and of itself, but Helena could already see the other Valentine coming up to shadow his features. The openness of his features being subdued and covered up again.

Helena felt insignificant. What had happened wasn't an act of love, but it had stemmed from it, at least on her part. Now it was being eaten away by rejection, hurt, and guilt.

He didn't run. This time, it was her.

He followed her, just like she always followed him, this inevitable, unbreakable connection between them that kept them pulling and pushing at one another, but getting no closer. If they continued down this path, if they kept to this painful pattern, one of them was going to end up broken.

If she hadn't been already.


"If it was about convenience, why did you stop?" she snapped at him, facing him in the main hall and praying no one was around to hear.

His mouth stamped shut in a thin line.

"Because here's what I think. I think you do care about me, but you're lying to yourself and trying to make me hate you because of some twisted sense of punishment." He opened his mouth but she talked over him, "And I can understand why you'd want to hurt me, but why are you hurting yourself?"

"I don't want to hurt-"

"I love you."

The silence in the hallway was palpable as Helena revealed the honest truth and Valentine stared at her like he didn't know her. When she couldn't stand it any longer, she said, "Say something."

He didn't.

She shook her head, "Fine. Then I'm done with...whatever this is."

Valentine moved then, grabbing her arm. "Helena, wait-"

She reacted rather than thought, stomping on his foot and shoving her elbow back. He let go, rubbing his chest and frowning at her.

Her temper snapped. It hadn't been the harsh words or pushing her away or even rejecting her, but this - this sent her right over the edge.

"Don't tell me to wait! I am done waiting, Valentine!" She stomped off down the hallway and heard him coming after her. "Don't follow me. I'll get my things out of the Tower and move back into the Castle."

"You don't have-"

"I want to." That wasn't quite a lie. She just wished there wasn't a reason for her to want to.



He turned on his heel and walked in the opposite direction. Helena was almost to the Tower before Nodd ran into her.

"Hey, Helena, Mags wanted me to...are you okay?"

She hadn't realized she was crying until he said something. She wiped her eyes and muttered. "I'm fine. What did she want?"

"...Was it Valentine?"

"Don't worry about it."

"I knew he was a traitor. He never should have been excused, he should have-"

"Drop it, Nodd."

"-seen his feet dangling as he paid for what he did. He deserved to-"

Helena stopped and grabbed his shirt and twisting it. "You don't know what you're talking about. Drop it. Now."

"He's a traitor," Nodd said, fighting against her grip.

Helena glared at him. "He is the bravest man I have ever met. If I hear you say another word about him that hints otherwise, you'll regret it." She dropped Nodd's shirt and stepped away.

"Never thought I'd see you defending an asshole like him."

Helena spun around and slugged Nodd in the nose. He yelped and fell back, covering his nose.

"I warned you." She walked up the stairs to the Tower and opened the door.

"He hurt you!" Nodd shouted before the door closed.

Helena hesitated, her voice softening slightly, "Yeah, well...I hurt him. Maybe I deserved it."

She shut the door behind her, hoping Nodd would take the hint and not follow.

Valentine was stalking about the gardens, wasting time before he could go back to his Tower. Good she was moving out. It would make everything easier.

He hadn't realized it'd be this difficult to get her to stop caring about him.

Knowing how these things went, Valentine hadn't wanted his reputation to drag down Helena's as well. Sure, they forgave him now, but the second something else happened in the Shadow Kingdom, all eyes would be on him. He couldn't risk Helena being caught in the fight as well. She was better than he was.

And he'd hurt her.


Valentine froze, not realizing he'd come so close to the castle's kitchen entrance. Not wanting to be seen, not in the state he was in, he stepped back into the shadows.

"What's up?" Laurel asked.

Valentine couldn't see, but he recognized Nodd's voice. "I think you should check on Helena."

"Is something wrong?"

"Yeah. Three guesses who caused it."

"Nodd..." Laurel reprimanded quietly.

"No. He had her in tears and when I say one thing, she comes after me like it's my fault!"

Valentine stared at the ground. She hadn't cried in front of him, not that he blamed her. They were alike in that respect at least.

"There's history there," Laurel murmured, clearly not wanting anyone inside to overhear. "I tried to warn her-"

"That he's a traitor and a psychopath?"

"That he's been through a lot and perhaps he's taking on more responsibility for what happened than he should," Laurel finished firmly. "People suffering like that need time and forgiveness. Not others rehashing every mistake." The last jab was clearly directed at Nodd.

"He hurt her."

Valentine flinched, knowing it was true and hating that he couldn't hear it. Hadn't that been his goal? Hurt her enough until she finally gave up on him?

Except, she didn't seem to be giving up on him. Not if she was still defending him to her friends.

"And worst of all, she thinks she deserves to be treated like that," Nodd hissed.

"Valentine isn't the only one recovering from this war," Laurel murmured. "Helena talked a lot when we were on the move. She created this world and the Princess. Then she abandoned it out of anger, only to find out that Valentine had been trying to protect her. She feels guilty for not trusting him, for inadvertently causing the deaths of all the people in the war, for the loss of the City of Light, for everything. I think she even feels responsible for Valentine's change."

"What change?"

"He used to be happy. Helena thinks she ruined that. That it's her fault he went through everything he did. He might be carrying around a lot of guilt, but Helena's trying to take all of his and more. Helena's convinced Valentine changed because of what she neglected to do, and he's convinced that Helena changed because he hurt her. They're both too stubborn to sit down and actually talk to one another."

"He's still a son of a bitch," Nodd muttered.

"I think he's a hero. So does Helena. And the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Judge, even the Librarian and those two never got on. Even Drag said he wasn't sure he would have been able to do what Valentine did. The only people who don't believe it are Valentine and those too stupid or jealous to see the truth."

Nodd scoffed, then bid a hasty goodnight to Laurel. He walked off, never noticing Valentine in the darkness.

He waited, not wanting to run into Nodd a few yards away. Not when he was itching to have a fight and Nodd was itching to beat Valentine to a pulp.

"Might as well come out," Laurel called, startling Valentine. "Nodd might have his head shoved somewhere, but I don't."

He sighed, then stepped out of the shadows, his hands shoved in his pockets.

Laurel had her arms crossed as he appeared, not even the slightest bit startled. "Juggler."


"How much did you hear?"

He shrugged. "I never hear anything."

"You going to do anything about her?" Laurel asked him, cutting straight to the point.


"Don't be an ass."

He kicked at the grass. "She's better off without me."

Laurel rolled her eyes, "Oh, save me from the noble types."

"Helena deserves someone who is better than me. Without my reputation."

"But she wants you."

"She doesn't know what she wants."

Laurel laughed scathingly, "Oh, you want to say that to her face? She'd tear you a new one. And given what Mags and Drag taught her, she'd be very thorough."

Valentine couldn't help but smirk a little. She wasn't wrong about that. Laurel continued, "So you think that you've driven her off and everything will be fine now? What about when someone else starts after her? She's a catch. Warrior, hero, regent, Creator. You're going to be able to watch her be with someone else?"

He hadn't considered that. "Yes."

Laurel smiled at him. "You'd tear them apart the second someone put his hands on her."

He didn't agree or disagree.

"Why can't you two just be selfish for once in your lives? She wants you, you want her. So just go be together, already."

"She doesn't want me any longer."

"No, she doesn't want to put up with your bullshit any longer. She knows you care. But you keep drifting back and forth and she can't figure out if it's just for fun or convenience or whatever. Or if you really want to be with her."

"I hurt her." The words escaped before he could stop them, slipping out into the night and making Laurel's face soften.

"It was an accident."

"No excuse," he answered, rubbing the back of his neck.

Laurel was quiet for a moment, then sighed, "Look, she'd kill me if she knew I told you this, but you two are so damn stubborn…" She straightened, "She holds herself personally responsible for every new scar you've got. Every one of them."

He frowned, "They aren't her fault."

"Yeah, but in Helena's mind, it's her fault for not trusting you the last time she came here. She thinks, that if she'd seen through your crappy lies, that you two could have stopped the Princess then and there and none of this would have happened, and you'd be fine."

"That's ridiculous. The Princess would've killed both of us."

"That's what I say, but she's got in her head that this is all her fault. The war, your scars, the deaths of everyone involved. Everything."

He scoffed, "It was all the Princess, not her."

Laurel stared at him and he knew that he'd walked right into her trap, "Exactly."

Valentine glanced at the ground, trying to wrap his head around an excuse that would bring the blame back to him, but not finding one. "I should talk to her."

"Yeah. But not tonight. You've pissed her off, Nodd pissed her off. She's in no mood to listen," Laurel shrugged. "At least not to either one of you."

"How do you know Noddy annoyed her, too?"

"'Cause she punched him in the face. I love her, but subtlety? Not really her thing."

Valentine chuckled. "She really hit him?"

Laurel walked over and put her hand on his shoulder. He didn't flinch, but he tensed up.

"Helena stormed a castle, fought a shadow, put herself on trial, and told off anyone who said something negative about you, up to and including the Queen herself. She did that for you." The soldier smiled, "So, yeah. She slugged Nodd, too."

Valentine smiled.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 25 of 29

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