Continuing Tales

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 27 of 29

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If he thought it would be awkward, being with her, he was wrong. It was easy. And natural. Like he'd been waiting his whole life to find this girl. Like she was made for –

-well, he was actually made for her, but the metaphor still stood.

With only a few exceptions, no one even looked at them a second time once they saw Valentine's hand wrapped around hers. Everyone else had apparently seen it coming. Mags even muttered, "Finally," as she walked away from them.

It didn't make everything simple, though. Valentine found himself reiterating the promises that he had been intending to keep, silently. He wouldn't hurt her. He'd always do what's best for her. He'd stay by her side. Just now it was with an added bonus of actually belonging with her.

It felt nice, to belong. To stand with someone as an equal.

And there was also another thing he hadn't expected.

She'd been teasing him.

Not that he minded all that much. And maybe she wasn't doing it on purpose, but she was doing it nonetheless.

They'd be talking with the Queen and she'd touch his arm just hard enough to feel through his coat. When they got caught in the bottleneck of people heading to the food, she stood in front of him, just ghosting along his front until he felt jittery. The few times they danced, her fingers would play at the nape of his neck until it was everything he could do not to kiss her in front of everyone here.

By the time she excused herself to use the bathroom, he was more than a little on edge. He paced the hallway by the bathroom, his hands clenching and unclenching unconsciously. He was not a patient man.

When she came out, she saw him and smiled. "You didn't have to wait."

He walked away from the ballroom, towards one of the quiet halls that led to the gardens.

"Valentine?" she called after him quietly.

She'd follow him, because even if she knew better, Helena was always curious. He wasn't far from her, just in one of the darker alcoves along the hall to the garden. Really, very close to the bathrooms, just out of sight. She turned the corner and tilted her head at him. "What are you doing? Trying to bow out of the party already?"

"Trying to behave," he said, leaning against the wall.

She walked closer, still smiling "What for?"

"Because." She was right in front of him now. Could she hear him humming? Or was that just inside his head? He'd spent weeks with this girl. Why was it so different now?

"Because?" she asked, reaching out and touching his arm.

Valentine settled his hands on her waist and Helena leaned into him.

Oh, right. It was different because now he could do the things he couldn't before. He didn't look her in the eye as he said, "You've gotta stop."

"Stop what?"

"Teasing me."

She looked up at him, "I don't know what you mean. I'm not teasing you."

"Yes, you are."

"No," she laughed at him. "I'm not."

They heard steps in the hall, heading to the bathrooms. Valentine figured if he wanted his chance to prove his point, it was now. He turned Helena into the alcove, standing in front of her with her back against the wall. She glanced up at him, the only indication she was surprised being the slight grasp of her hands on the front of his shirt.

Valentine leaned down, resting his forehead against hers. His thumbs traced circles on her hips and Helena glanced at his mouth.

The door shut to the bathroom and Valentine took Helena's hands, pulling her away from the wall slightly before spinning her around, crossing her arms across her chest as he pulled her back to his front.

She laughed quietly and Valentine took both of her wrists in one of his hands, leaving the other free to skim up her arm towards her collar. Her laughter faded.

"It's not fun, is it?" he asked her, bending his head to speak directly into her ear. He liked that she was shorter than him.

"What's not fun?"

"Having to act normal when someone is doing their best to drive you insane," he said, letting his fingers trail down her arm again, leaving shivers in their wake.

"I don't mean to."

He reached her hip, pulling her back into him. He knew the effect she had on him was obvious, but he was past caring. "Doesn't change a thing. And if you don't want me to thoroughly embarrass you in front of the Queen, the Prime Minister and everyone else of importance, you'll have to behave."

"It's only teasing if I don't follow through later," she said breathlessly, her hand skimming over the back of his. "And I have every intention of following through."

The bathroom door opened and Valentine paused, breathing harder than he should have. Both of them held their breath; they didn't want to be caught doing…well, nothing very exciting to the outside observer. But he wasn't an outside observer. Helena's heartbeat fluttered in her neck and he couldn't resist. He pressed his mouth to her skin, feeling the tremor against his lips. Helena's hand gripped the back of his hard and she leaned back into him. He swallowed and stepped back from her as the person from the restroom entered the ballroom again.

Helena turned around, her face a little flushed. He couldn't help smirking at her. She rolled her eyes and he stepped back to let her go first. She took two steps, then turned and pushed him back against the wall, following him. She leaned up and his arms were around her waist before his rational thought could even attempt a token defense.

Her lips were warm and matched up with his perfectly. Valentine could taste cinnamon and the tang of ink as she tangled her hands in his coat, pulling him down even as she pressed up. One of his hands spayed across her lower back, drawing her in closer, their hips fusing together. This was probably not the best place to be kissing the world's Creator, but he didn't really care at that moment. All he cared about was the weight of her against his chest, her skin underneath his fingers, her teeth dragging along his lip.

Vaguely, he realized that he was going to be getting himself into a lot of trouble with this girl and he couldn't care less.

She pulled away so suddenly that Valentine's head followed hers for a few inches. She slipped out of his grasp and danced down the hallway back to the ballroom. He stayed against the wall for a moment, trying to catch his breath. Helena turned mid stride and grinned at him.

"Now that? That was teasing," she said.

Valentine stared after her, waiting until the door shut behind her before he let out his air in a huff and let his head fall back against the wall.

"She is an awful, awful girl."

Helena held the broom tightly as Mags tried to pull it away.


"No," Mags cut in. "Go to bed. The mess will still be here tomorrow."

"Not if I clean it up now," she pointed out.

"Argh," Mags said, dropping the broom. "Juggler, can you handle this?"

Valentine, from his place leaning against the door, shrugged. "She doesn't listen to me."

Helena glared at him, an exasperated smirk on her face.

"It'll be just as much work tomorrow, but after some sleep," he said.

With a sigh, Helena dropped the broom. "Fine. We'll start this tomorrow. Everyone head to bed. You all deserve a good night's rest."

They all said their goodnights and filed off to bed. Helena and Valentine walked towards the side door and across the grass towards the Tower.

It was cool, but the stars were out and a silver glow was cast over the short distance to the Tower. Neither one of them spoke, but Helena found that her heart pounded harder the closer they got.

Valentine opened the door for her and then shut it behind him with a click that seemed to echo through the room. They left the lights off as they walked through the kitchen and living room and up the stairs. Helena got to her bedroom door and walked in, putting the notebook she had carried around most of the evening on her nightstand.

Helena didn't turn around, but she knew that Valentine had followed her in. She was nervous. This wasn't making out in the hallway before someone caught them. They were alone and they were both adults and she knew what she wanted, but she didn't realize it would feel so…intimidating. She felt a breath on the back of her neck.

"See, Helena-na…I don't know what to do," he murmured.

"About what?" she asked him.


She was going to turn around, but Valentine touched her shoulder and kept talking. "You, with your disgusting face, and your magic paper…you turn everything upside down. I knew what to do before you showed up here. I knew who I was. And then you walked in on your horrible bunny torture devices and saved the world, and made everything change."

"I'm sorry," she said quietly.

"Don't apologize," he mumbled, his breath brushing across her shoulder.

"I'm not a Valentine, that's your rule." Helena had to keep talking to keep her head. Between the dancing and the clothes and his accent and how close he was...

He chuckled and the noise went straight to her head. She leaned back and Valentine let his hands rest on her shoulders. He took one deep breath before vanishing.

Helena spun, already on the defensive that he was trying to leave again, only to see him standing a few feet away, juggling a set of three balls in the air.

Not exactly what she had been expecting.

He added in three more from pockets she hadn't even known that she drew. Then he tossed three to her. She caught them and stared at him. "What are you doing?"

"This, my beautiful regent, is called juggling," Valentine said.

Helena rolled her eyes. "Why are we juggling now?"

"It's always a good time to juggle." He did a simple circuit and then looked at her.

"What?" she asked.

"Go on, then." Valentine was smirking a little and Helena felt she was missing out on the joke. "Juggle."

Helena did the same thing he had done, a simple round with the orbs, catching them easily.

"Very good," he commented. He added a fourth ball to the air and had Helena mimic him again. She was rusty, but she could manage it.

They had done this several times, before he wanted her to juggle six with one hand. It took a lot of concentration and Helena hadn't practiced as much as she should have.

She dropped one and sighed.

"That's one," Valentine said.


"Piece of clothing."


"You dropped. You lost the round."

"We're playing strip juggling?!"

He smirked, "I'm playing. You're losing."

Oh, it was on.

She glared at him and bent over, slipping off one shoe and kicking it to the side.

Valentine watched her, that arrogant smirk still on his face.

"Just wait," Helena said, straightening and staring at him. "You'll pay for that."

"I'm sure I will."

Helena threw herself into the game, pushing herself farther than she thought she could go. She got Valentine on a one legged, one handed juggle. He wavered and the ball hit the floor. Valentine stared at it for a minute before shrugging. He unbuttoned his coat and Helena found herself following his fingers. Winning had multiple advantages.

He tossed the coat onto the bed and faced her. The coat had hidden the definition, but with only the gray shirt...Helena swallowed.

They started getting more creative, throwing in more than just juggling. He got her on being able to balance three juggling balls on top of one another. She got him on being able to walk on her hands and doing a backflip.

It was amazing how far he could get her to push herself. She always had to strive to do better around him, without him ever pressuring her.

When he kicked off his second shoe, she realized that Valentine had an advantage.

"I have less clothes than you," she commented, realizing that now that both her shoes were gone, and she'd refused to wear stockings, that left her with very few options.

"Convenient, isn't it?" he smirked. He'd lost both shoes now, leaving him in his socks, shirt and trousers, plus whatever he was wearing under that. "Your move."

Helena was done playing nicely. She juggled a simple circuit and Valentine watched her with narrowed eyes, obviously confused why she was doing such an easy move. Then she started walking forward towards him.

He stayed still, even when she was within inches of him. She switched to just one hand, leaving her right hand free. And then she started undoing the buttons on his shirt.

He stared down at her, barely breathing as she worked her way down. Helena didn't meet his eyes until she reached the last button. Then she glanced up at him and smirked. He inhaled and didn't move again, even when she threw the balls behind her and did a 180 degree spin and walked back to the other side of the room.

She caught them and took a breath before turning back around. Valentine was staring at her, his shirt hanging open.

Helena put her hand on her hip after he didn't move for a second. "Can you do it, Valentine? Or do I win by default?"

He started juggling and Helena felt her heart speed up. She loved juggling, but now there was a whole new level to it that she was never going to forget. The look on Valentine's face as he walked towards her, with ninety percent of his attention on her and still managing to make the juggling look effortless.

He got to her and walked around to her back. He muttered something under his breath when he saw that the buttons went all the way down to the floor. She laughed, then felt the pull at the top of her dress as he undid the very top button. The movements continued down her spine a few inches.

She didn't know what tipped her off, but Helena glanced over her shoulder and saw that Valentine had stopped juggling at some point to use both hands.

"Cheater!" she cried, turning and grabbing his hands. "You lose."

He spun and twisted to free his wrists, but she had him tightly, grinning as she shouted at him. "Come on, Valentine! I demand you pay up! Even though I'm sure Valentines are above paying their debts!"

Valentine laughed, actually out right laughed. Not out of anger, or to hide something, or sarcastically. He laughed like he had before any of this had happened. Before Princesses and wars and dreams.

Helena kissed Valentine. Not out of anger or fear, or a bet or a fight. kiss him. She let go of his wrists and let her hands rest on his chest, over his shirt. Completely innocent.

He put his hands on her hips, not pulling or pushing, just placed on her hips. When she drew back, Helena could see that something had changed between them.

Valentine was smiling, with no agenda or guilt. Helena felt relaxed, like she didn't have to be on guard with him any longer. Like they were both finally who they wanted to be.

She smiled, "Hi."


"I missed you," she said quietly.

"I missed you, too."

Helena smiled and kissed him again, spearing her fingers through his hair and tugging him down closer to her. He followed willingly, his tongue edging out to taste her. His arms wrapped tighter around her waist, pulling her closer as he walked her backwards. When the back of her knees hit the bed, she sat down. Valentine planted his fists on either side of her, looming over her. He kissed her again, but it was gentler, then he kissed her cheeks, her forehead, her nose, her chin. When he stopped, he rested his forehead on hers, both of them breathing a little faster.


She smiled, "Yeah?"

"If I were to say something romantic, it would reflect my feelings in this matter," he whispered.

"I know, juggler," she answered. With his actions and his eyes and the words he did say, she knew he felt the words he wouldn't say. But, with all things Valentine, Valentine's don't admit that they lo-

"On an unrelated note, I love you," he breathed out.

She smiled and he grinned back at her. "If I tell you I love you, too, will you think I'm crazy?"

"Yes, I expect so," he retorted easily, dropping his lips to her neck.

She let her head drop back and her eyes flutter closed. "I'm never going to look at juggling the same again," she mumbled.

He chuckled, making her shiver. Wanting more, Helena grabbed the edges of his shirt and pulled him down to the bed with her. He let her, falling to Helena's side, rather than on top of her. She wasted no time in finding his mouth again, her fingers dancing across his chest and back, tracing over the scars she was now familiar with, but with a far different intent than healing them.

Valentine's hands wrapped around her back and she knew he was working on the unfinished buttons of her dress. When he got down to her waist, she pushed him away slightly and he flinched away from her as if burned. "I didn't…I'm sorr-"

Helena realized what he may have thought and paused, holding his face between her hands and cutting him off with a kiss. "Stop. It's okay. No need to be sorry." She stepped away and let the dress slip off, pooling around her feet.

Valentine propped himself up on his elbows and stared. Helena, who had spent most of her life in skin tight outfits in front of hundreds of people including her family and closest friends, found that she was blushing.

He cleared his throat and spoke quietly, "You know how, when you truly want something, more than you've wanted anything, you build it up in your head and in your dreams? Then, when you finally get the real thing, it's a bit of a disappointment?"

Helena crossed her arms, in an effort to cover herself and not reveal how self-conscious she was. "Yeah."

"That isn't what's happening now."

She rolled her eyes and he sat up, grabbed her wrists and pulling her on top of him. "You are not a disappointment, Helena-na."

"Well, good," she breathed as his fingers danced all over her skin. She used the opportunity of him sitting up to push his shirt off of his shoulders, throwing it to the floor. His body was all muscle and hard angles beneath her, holding her tightly and kissing her until her breath came in short pants. His own breathing still sounded too controlled for her liking, so she pushed him down to the bed, sitting low on his hips. The tickle on her shoulders told her that her hair was coming out of place, but with the way Valentine was looking at her, it didn't matter one bit.

She leaned over to kiss him deeply as his clever fingers ghosted over his knees, her thighs, her waist, looking for a place to hold onto. Taking the innate directions her body was giving her, Helena rolled her hips against Valentine's, getting a groan and a tightened grip on her in response.

His eyes opened and latched onto her as his movements paused. He blinked once or twice, still focused on her.

"What's wrong?" she asked, her fingers dancing over his arms.

He breathed out slowly, "Usually this is the part where I wake up."

"This isn't a dream, Valentine," she whispered, kissing his neck and his shoulders.

He held onto her all the tighter, as if she was going to vanish like smoke. "But I've wished for this for so long, and you know that we often confuse what we wish for with what is and I don't want to wake up."

"This is one of those times where what you wish for is actually true, then," she told him. "And I'll keep reminding you of that all night if I have to."

He seemed surprised, then smirked, "That sounds like a challenge."

"It is," she retorted, her lips curving up. "Can you keep up with me, manager?"

He flipped them on the bed and leaned over her. "Oh, my dear regent, I do believe I can."

Valentine kissed her again and again, rising admirably to her challenge.

The moon was still up, lighting up Helena's bedroom just enough.

They were lying in bed while Valentine touched her face. He seemed to love doing that. Watching her face move into different expressions, touching her cheeks, her nose, around her eyes. He just seemed amazed by it.

"I know sometimes you're sad because you're far away from your parents and friends," he said quietly. "But there's no place I'd rather you be than right here. With me. Your manager."

She turned her face into his shoulder. "I love you, my very important man."

"Of course, as you should."

She laughed and he wrapped his arms around her. She had sighed and closed her eyes to sleep before she heard him very quietly say, "I love you, Helena."

She reached up and touched the curve of his mask, finding his mouth on her first try.

Valentine woke up in the middle of the night, a whisper of air against him startling him out of sleep. He reached out for Helena, but found only sheets that were still faintly warm. It was dark and he couldn't hear anything but the sound of his own heart. "Helena?" he asked quietly.

She didn't answer.

He leaned over to the nightstand, turning on the light.

The bed was empty. Her things were still piled up in the corner, A Really Useful Book tucked into them between her jacket and his robe. Her notebook was on the nightstand, along with her pencils. She wouldn't have left without that. The Princess was gone and there was no one else mad enough to take Helena on, especially not without waking him up. That meant there was only one option left.

Valentine swallowed, still staring at the empty bed. "Right. Of course. Should've seen that one coming."

He grabbed his robe from the floor and pulled it on, leaving the silent and empty room behind him.

If I Apologised

A MirrorMask Story
by Caitastrophe8499

Part 27 of 29

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