|Through the Looking Glass
Author: Bad Faery PM
An epic adventure in fifty separate, but interrelated, sentences. Helena x ValentineRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 2,224 - Reviews: 35 - Favs: 46 - Follows: 5 - Published: 04-10-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2886209
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean own Mirrormask. I own a couple of action figures. They win.
Annoyingly Long Author's Note: I'm experimenting with a new format here, which I stole from the 1sentence community on LiveJournal. The challenge was to write a one-sentence drabble for each of fifty one-or-two-word prompts. It seemed to be a perfect fit for the surrealism of the Mirrormask world.
So, here we go. The sentences are interrelated, but not sequential. Valentine is Helena's masked friend from the MirrorWorld, and Val is her unmasked boyfriend who she met at the very end of the movie. I've included the prompt that inspired each sentence. Oh, and since each drabble could only be one sentence, you'll find some creative punctuation as well as some flagrant semicolon abuse. If I were to say something apologetic about that, it would reflect my feelings. Accurately.
Since this is an experimental fic, I'd love to know what you thought. I'm especially curious which drabbles you liked best or, conversely, thought didn't work.
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1. Walking- Val walks, dodging flying fish and drifting books, searching for the palace Helena told him to find; the scenery is astonishing but he barely notices- there's no Helena here and, therefore, this city has nothing to offer him.
2. Waltz- "We made it," she whispers in disbelief, gazing up at the Palace of Light when Valentine whoops with delight and twirls her into an impromptu dance of celebration.
3. Wishes- In later years, Helena would always wish that she'd been watching more closely when it happened, wish she'd seen their hands meet, wish she'd seen the harsh lines of Valentine's mask melt into organic curves.
4. Wonder- Valentine stares into the Princess's black eyes and wonders why he used to think Helena looked anything like her.
5. Worry- She assumes he has a plan; after all, she has never known Valentine not to have an agenda, but when he presses the knife to the side of her throat, her confidence in him is a bit shaken.
6. Whimsy- This year she has a terrible time trying to decide what to draw on Val's card until a fit of whimsy overtakes her and she finds herself sketching a street from the MirrorCity, complete with a miniature juggler performing in the distance.
7. Waste/Wasteland- As Helena leads the way through the dark landscape, navigating more by instinct than memory, Val looks at the twisted and dying vegetation, wondering what kind of a person this Valentine is to have ended up in such a desolate place.
8. Whiskey and rum- It's not that he's drinking to forget about her; he just doesn't want to remember that she's gone.
9. War- The inhuman screech behind him is the only warning he has before the shadows are upon him, lunging for any bit of flesh they can latch onto, but he shakes them off before their tendrils can bite into his soul- this time they won't find him such an easy conquest.
10. Weddings- Val's arms are wrapped tightly around her as they watch the strange, but oddly beautiful ceremony, and she feels his lips moving against her temple, shaping words, as Pingo mimes his vows.
11. Birthday- Before Helena can open Val's eighteenth birthday present to her, she finds herself pinned against the wall of her trailer and being kissed in a most thorough and improper way- "I've been waiting two years to do that."
12. Blessing- Her father stops to watch her put the finishing touches on a new mask, but spends most of the time watching Val assemble the rigging for her mother's act; when she looks up at him, he touches her hair with gentle fingers and says, "He's a good man."
13. Bias- It is perhaps unfair, Helena thinks, that even two years after her dream of the MirrorWorld she still thinks of her masked friend as the Real Valentine, while her gentle, funny boyfriend is relegated to the role of the Other Valentine.
14. Burning- 'She's too young,' he tells himself- too young to know what that come-hither look in her eyes invites- too young to know what her smile does to him- too young to want, but he does anyway and always will.
15. Breathing- She isn't sure what to make of him, this man who is both Val and Valentine and neither of them, but when he wraps his arms around her and she feels his chest rise and fall in synch with hers, she knows exactly who he is.
16. Breaking- He tightens his grip on the dagger and begins to press it home when the girl's frightened voice reaches his ears, "Valentine, please..." and he remembers who she is before he remembers himself, the queen's spell shattering into a million pieces, "Helena?"
17. Belief- Shortly after her mother came home from the hospital, Helena drew a picture of Valentine's Tower, a larger one this time with a prominent window, and sat in front of it for hours, waiting for him to lift the sash.
18. Balloon- She's wielding the silver Sharpie like the most delicate paintbrush imaginable, finishing the sphinx she's been drawing on the wide-eyed girl's balloon, when she feels eyes upon her and looks up to see Val- Valentine, she corrects herself- smiling at her over the crystals he's juggling, and she realizes that all the real life she could ever want is right here.
19. Balcony- Helena leans against the railing, pointing out the sights of the city, "The mask shop is over there, I think, and if you look just there- there used to be giants," she falls silent, looking sad, "I guess even the Queen couldn't save everybody."
20. Bane- Helena falls into step beside him, and it's exactly like old times, making plans and matching wits, and life would be perfect if the blond kid with the stupid accent wasn't tagging along.
21. Quiet- Even though it's too dark for her to read Valentine's expression, she knows something is terribly amiss because he isn't talking.
22. Quirks- If her parents notice that Val has picked up a few more personality quirks, seemingly overnight, they don't mention it.
23. Question- "You can't really prefer him to me," he shoves his hands into his pockets and tries to pass it off as another quip, but his voice cracks a little as he asks, "Can you?"
24. Quarrel- "Look, this is ridiculous!" Helena snaps, glaring from Valentine to Val and back again, "You're my friend; you're my boyfriend, and you two are going to get along; now, shake hands!"
25. Quitting- He doesn't remember who he is, doesn't care much either, so when the Dark Queen puts a dagger in his hands and shoves him toward the dark-haired girl and the blond man, it seems like a small price to pay for being left alone.
26. Jump- As Valentine charges toward the Dark Queen, she adjusts her grip on the dagger he slipped into her hand and leaps from her platform onto Val's, deliberately not looking at what's going on behind her as she works on cutting him free, "Everything's going to all right now, you'll see," she promises, not sure if she's reassuring him or herself.
27. Jester- "The Princess is bored," the Dark Queen informs him, digging her nails into his shoulder, "Entertain her."
28. Jousting- Her hands are tied behind her back, so she can't throw a ball to him as he once did for her, but perhaps if she can engage him in their familiar verbal jousting it will have the same effect.
29. Jewel- In a world of glitter and glass and crystal lights, Helena outshines it all.
30. Just- Just one more year, Val reminds himself; if the age difference between sixteen and twenty-two is perverse, the difference between seventeen and twenty-three is a little better, but it's eighteen and twenty-four that sounds downright reasonable; he just has to be patient for one more year.
31. Smirk- He can't bring himself to admit he's missed her, choosing instead to once again insult her choice of footwear, but the slight curl of his lips below his mask betrays him completely.
32. Sorrow- "That's it then," she whispers to herself as she looks around his empty trailer, trying not to cry; he didn't even bother to take his birthday card with him when he left, and she's ready to tear it to shreds when she notices something moving, "Val?"
33. Stupidity- The Dark Queen's throaty laugh and the Princess's vicious smile remind him that getting their attention was the single most idiotic thing he's ever done in a lifetime full of stupid decisions.
34. Serenade- A cheerful blast of trumpets wakes her out of her doze, and she jerks upright to see the sad-eyed Prime Minister waving to her hesitantly from her mirror.
35. Sarcasm- "Oh, can't you just leave him?" he shouts to Helena as she struggles to free her blond companion, and even though she rolls her eyes at his comment, for once, he's being completely serious.
36. Sordid- He bites back an animal moan as he catches sight of Helena wrapped in the arms of the man who both is him and isn't him, kissing him for all she's worth, and a sick rush of arousal fills him, stirring his body at the same time it makes him want to die.
37. Soliloquy- He's babbling even as they run, gasping out complaints about how he'd been treated, his former accommodations, and especially the food, sounding so unutterably Valentine that Helena wants to cry.
38. Sojourn- Collapsing into the chair the Prime Minister had offered him, Val stares up at the Queen in irritated disbelief, not planning to move until he got an explanation for that rather extraordinary statement: she couldn't send him back because he "wasn't complete"?
39. Share- As they struggle to regain their breath after their escape, Helena finds herself flanked by both of her Valentines, each of them reaching for one of her hands.
40. Solitary- Although he has his arm wrapped around Helena's shoulders and she's gripping his belt, her cheerful banter with the jester who shares his name has left him miles behind.
41. Nowhere- As Val watches, startled despite everything that's happened in the last few hours, Helena steps into the throne room out of nowhere. exchanging a meaningful smile with the queen before running to embrace him.
42. Neutral- "Valentine?" she asks, but there's no hint of recognition in the posture she can read as easily as she can Val's expression; there's no sign that he feels anything at the sight of her, and that is more frightening even than hate.
43. Nuance- No one else would notice the subtle changes , the way his voice is one shade more playful, his smile a hint more ironic, but Helena notices, and it makes all the difference.
44. Near- Val has never felt so useless in his life as he watches the masked maniac advance on Helena, dagger flashing in the moonlight; he struggles with his bonds, but they're solidly done- he's less than six feet away, and he can't save her.
45. Natural- Valentine drapes his long coat over Helena's shoulders, covering her torn clothes, and his breath catches at how natural it feels to look after her like this.
46. Horizon- The past, the future, hopes, dreams and fears- the Borderlands are made up of all of these things, and as Val looks through the mist, seeing Helena wearing a white veil leaning in for a kiss from the masked Valentine, he tries not to worry which of these the vision represents.
47. Valiant- He isn't being heroic, he assures himself as he leads the Dark Queen on a twisting chase away from Helena and the blond boy; there is nothing heroic in running away.
48. Virtuous- He'd gone to visit her one night and found her sprawled across her bed; her pristine white pajama top had ridden up dangerously high, and he turned on his heel and left before he had time to think of doing anything else.
49. Victory- The Queen of Light smiles at the pair of them and gestures towards the mirror that now reflects an image of home.
50. Defeat- Just when he thinks he can be no more uneasy, a series of clockwork dolls surrounds him and, as they shower him with glitter, he feels even his most vivid memories draining away.