-Author's Notes: Hello all! So, first Mirromask fanfic. It starts during the events of the movie but soon moves on to events that occur after the film. Some slight Helena/Valentine or Helena/Val depending on how you want to look at it. Enjoy!-
Disclaimer: Haven't, don't, and probably will never own Mirrormask.
"It's over. There's nothing left. She's won."
It was black. Helena's breath sounded twice as loud as normal as she tried to look around. She'd failed. She didn't think she could fail; after all, this was supposed to be her dream. But here she was—was she anywhere anymore? A sudden chill clutched her stomach.
"Valentine? Valnetine!" she shouted. She couldn't stand the thought of being alone in this pitch-black nowhere. What if . . . what if he had been destroyed too?
"Helena?" Valentine answered.
Helena almost sobbed with relief but quickly recovered. Valentine was fine. At least he was still there. "Valentine, where are you?"
"I . . . somewhere over here. Where are you?"
"Here." Helena crouched down (or at least she thought it was down) and got on her hands and knees. The floor was tilted and she thought she could feel cool, cracked tiles. "Valentine, keep talking. I'm going to try to make my way over to you."
It was like a bad game of Marco Polo. She had to climb over what felt like a giant crease in the floor and at one point she hit her head against a pillar but eventually her hand met fabric. At almost the same time she felt something grab her shoulder. All the sudden she was enveloped in the fabric and her face was squished against something warm. She found herself hugging him just as desperately.
"What were you doing all the way over there?" Valentine asked irritably.
Helena felt herself smile. "Yes, I'm not hurt. Thanks for asking."
She felt his chest rumble. "Fine. How are you Helena, on this fine Armageddon? "
"Fine . . . not really." She buried her face further into his shirt. "We failed."
Valentine's voice lost all semblance of humor. "Is it gone? The world? Permanently?" Valentine whispered in her ear.
"I don't know," she whispered back. "I'm here and you're here. Your tower seems to be here. I've still got the Mirrormask." The mask was cool in her hand. "But I don't know what good it will do without a window."
There was again silence. But it wasn't really silence, Helena thought. She could hear Valentine breathing, feel his chest rising and falling. It was almost comforting. Almost.
"So," Valentine said. The vibrations from his chest tickled Helena's face. "I don't suppose that book of yours has anything to say."
Helena actually laughed. "Can Valentines read in the dark?"
"Ah," said Valentine, sounding smug. He let go of Helena and she heard a rustling of fabric. Suddenly there was a bright light. Helena's hand flew up towards her eyes. "Oh, sorry." Valentine turned the light to look around the room. "My poor tower!" he whined. "Look what she's done to it!"
It looked like the Princess had taken the tower and crumpled it up into a ball. The walls were making all sorts of odd angles, plaster occasionally cascading down to the floor which was in an equal state of ruin. As Valentine moaned about his damaged tower Helena fished for the Really Useful Book. Finding it, she opened the book to the only remaining page.
"Remember what your mother said."
"It says the same thing," she told Valentine. "Just about remembering what my mum said."
"Did she say what to do when the world has ended?"
"No, I don't think so." Helena turned the page and looked at the back side.
"Every cloud has a silver lining."
She read the line out loud. "Valentine, hand me the flashlight." She took it and carefully standing, she crawled towards the nearest window. Leaning on the windowsill, she shined the light over the landscape. It resembled Valentine's tower, wrinkled and bent. As the light flashed over what was left of the world, she saw nothing but dead, brown land; there wasn't even a sky anymore.
Valentine joined her at the window. "Once again, your book proves to be perfect rubbish."
The book flapped weakly in protest.
"It's been very helpful up till now," defended Helena. "We've got to think positive."
That's when the batteries in the flashlight started to die. Helena shook the flashlight but the only source of light in the world began to dim. Valentine moved closer and they sank to the floor as the light faded out. They were in the dark once again.
"Stupid book!" Valentine shouted.
"It's like some sort of bad joke!"
"There's no use shouting about it!" Helena shouted back.
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Valentine, sarcasm dripping from his voice. "I should just sit calmly and take the end of the world in stride!"
"That's how you deal with crises, isn't it? 'Onwards and upwards' and all that!"
"It happens to be a very good motto!"
Helena took a deep breath to shout at him again and stopped short.
This was how it all began, wasn't it? Shouting over a stupid argument. Saying things that she later regretted. "You'll be the death of me." "I wish I was."
She took another deep breath, this time to calm her anger. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout. I'm just scared I guess."
There was a pause. Then Valentine whispered, "Yeah, me too."
"What, the being scared or the being sorry?"
"Maybe . . . possibly a little, teensy bit of both."
A small smile crept onto Helena's face. "So it takes the end of the world to get a sort of apology from a Valentine." Helena fiddled with the hem of her dress as she continued, "I really am glad that you came with me. And especially now; I don't know what I'd do if I was alone here."
"Yeah, I suppose we've always got each other and all that other sappy nonsense." Helena felt a large warm hand take hers. "Juggling partners to the end, right?" Valentine's voice was light with forced humor.
Helena squeezed his hand. "To the end. Although I'm still not sure about you being my manager."
She heard him chuckle.
Then a light appeared. The silver band hit the opposite wall and Valentine and Helena scrambled up to look through the window above him. Valentine saw what looked like a very large sliver moon in the sky. Helena saw her.
"The window," Helena breathed. She turned excitedly back to Valentine. "The window I drew on the door! On the roof! She missed it!" Helena excitedly took the Mirrormask in hand and stared through the window intently.
Valentine never could see what she saw in the windows. But after finding the Princess' letter he knew something was there, something he could neither see nor hear nor touch. A different world, the one she came from. He had gotten a brief glimpse when he ate the future fruit; to him it appeared to mostly consist of waiters, mean managers, and crashing plates. As Helena held the Mirrormask and looked through the last window in the world, Valentine found himself wishing fervently that for a moment he could see what she was seeing. He listened to Helena's one-sided conversation, a whirlwind in his mind.
"This is my world!" she told the window. "Real life? You couldn't handle real life." Then she put the mask on.
The whole world rippled and waved. A clear ringing sounded and Valentine felt like he was floating in pudding as colors and shapes blurred around him. He had just enough time to start to panic before things started to settle.
He had to blink in the sudden light. The world was brighter than he remembered it being in a long time. Glancing out the window he saw a bright blue sky and the land back to normal. Somewhere in the distance was a bright object; the City of Light, probably the palace. He grinned like mad and laughed. "We did it! We actually did it!" Valentine lifted his hands in joy. "We saved the world!" He turned and saw Helena asleep on the floor.
Tossing back his robe, Valentine crouched beside the sleeping figure. He gently shook her shoulder. "Helena? Wakey, wakey! We have a world-saving to celebrate! And we have your contract with me to iron out."
Helena stirred, opened her eyes blearily and looked around, becoming more and more confused and upset. When her eyes fell on Valentine, her face went livid.
Valentine felt his smile drop like a falling tower. This wasn't Helena.
"NO!" the Princess screamed, slamming the floor with her fist. "I don't want to be here!"
Valentine stood and hastily backed as far away from the Princess as he could. His heart was hammering a thousand times per minute. This definitely wasn't Helena. She didn't even look like Helena now that Valentine was really looking at her.
The Princess stood up and looked out the window. Stomping her foot, she screamed. "That girl! That horrid, bloody . . . girl!" Then she whirled around to face Valentine. "You! Tell me where I am! Now!"
No, nothing like Helena at all. Valentine found he was rather hating this Princess girl. "In my tower," he said with a frown. "But we'll be at the Dark Palace very shortly." He felt his tower change direction as he said this, making its way hastily to the Dark Lands.
"But I don't want to go home!" the Princess yelled.
"Must you always shout?" he asked. "I didn't want Helena replaced with some—some whiney, spoiled, horrid little girl!" This was true he realized.
As the girl sat down and began to cry pitifully, Valentine left the room, going up the stairs to his own bedroom. He couldn't stand to be anywhere near that Helena-wannabe. He wasn't sure what he had expected the Mirrormask to do; he supposed in some roundabout way he knew Helena had to go back to her own world, but not right that second! All the things he hadn't said floated through his mind: he never apologized, not really and he got the feeling that he probably, well, very likely owed her one. A real one. Not the dance around the words he had given her. The mask didn't even allow for him to say goodbye. Somewhere in the far back of his mind, a small voice whined he had lost yet another juggling partner, but most of his mind was dominated by an emptiness.
"Onwards and upwards," he murmured without any real feeling.
When he got to his bedroom he immediately walked over to the window and stared out at the passing clouds, wishing he could see a bedroom with a moon mask, a little cuddly sea anemone, and most importantly a girl with short brown hair and laughing eyes. He wouldn't even mind the bunny slippers.
As soon as they were allowed to see her mum, Helena couldn't wait to tell her about the weird dream she had on the night of the surgery. She was bouncing up and down as practically the whole circus crowded into the hospital room, bringing flowers, cards, fruit, and several small juggling acts (though the nurses soon put a stop to that). Eventually things died down and most of the circus people left. After all, Helena's dad had decided to take the circus back on the road and there was much packing to do. Soon there was only Helena, her mum and her dad. Then even her dad left to go talk to the doctor about paperwork and Helena finally got the chance to talk with her mum alone.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Helena held her mother's hand. "Aw, mum, I've got to tell you about this amazing dream I had."
"What a coincidence, I wanted to tell you about a dream I had," her mum said, smiling. She looked pale still, but much better than before the surgery. Still, Helena could tell she was tired already and that the nurses would soon shoo all the visitors away.
Helena smiled. "You first."
Her mum's smile turned almost bashful. "It was such an odd dream, luv. I was only me for part of it. I also seemed to be some sort of queen, dressed all in white and silver and gold." She laughed. "My hair was long and white too. I must have been a very old queen, hm?"
Helena tried not to let her smile falter under her surprise. "So, what did your highness do?"
"Well, you were there. But I'm not sure where exactly there was, or even what it was. You know how places shift and change in dreams?"
"It was like that. At one point we were on a bus, and at another point we were in your room, only there was nothing in there but a lamp on the floor and your drawings on the wall. There was also some sort of place with a pool—but that will come later. You were in your jammies," her mum said, laughing. "And I was asking you about something you had lost. You told me you were looking for some sort of mask, a-a mirror mask, I think. Something like that anyway. And I asked you who had it last and all my usual questions. I said something about the dream being very odd and you replied that it was your dream. Then, all the sudden we were by this pool I was telling you about and there was a young man there in a baggy robe and wearing a mask."
Helena's heart flip flopped. "What did the mask look like?" she asked quickly.
"Well, it was sort of beige with a purple or maroon stripe down the middle. I'm not sure, whole area had a hazy color to it. Oh, and there were small spikes on the top," her mum declared triumphantly, proud to have remembered such a detail. "It looked kind of like that spiky thing kids do with their hair these days, with lots of gel. Are you alright, luv? You look a little worried."
Helena quickly put the smile back in place. "No, no, mum, I'm fine. Please, continue."
"Alright, but there's not much more to tell. I asked you if he was your boyfriend and you got all cute and flustered." Helena's mum smiled, obviously greatly amused. "Then I said that the mask thing you were looking for was probably staring you right in the face. And that was it. Next thing I know, I'm waking up and the surgery is over."
Nodding, Helena tried to be nonchalant. "Well, that is a very interesting dream. Fancy, a masked man. Sounds like it should have been my dream after all." She and her mum both laughed.
True to Helena's predictions the nurses came in to tell Helena that her mum needed her rest.
On the way home on the bus, Helena glanced out the window and wished very hard that she would see that masked man staring back.
That night, once she heard the TV turned off and her dad's soft snoring, Helena got out of bed. The clock said it was around 1:48 am. She quickly pulled a sweater over her nightshirt and stuffed her feet into real shoes this time (Valentine's voice echoed in her head: What the hell have you got on your feet?). Grabbing a flashlight, extra batteries, a blank journal (in case the sphinxes got hungry again), and a small knapsack, she quietly opened her bedroom door and snuck out of the apartment.
She reached the ally only to find a dead end.
When her dad asked her the next morning why her eyes were so red, Helena simply said she had a rough night sleeping.
Valentine woke up when he heard someone knocking. Jumping out of bed, he ran down the stairs and quickly opened the Tower's front door. He wasn't sure why he felt disappointed when it only turned out to be the mailman.
"Special delivery for a Mr. Valentine," the postman's envelope mouth said.
The mailman handed over a small envelope with silver ink writing: Valentine, Tower, Lands of Light. "Special summons from the queen! Very special indeed, sir."
"Yes, well, I am a very important man," Valentine mumbled distractedly. He was about to open the letter when he found the mailman still in his doorway, curiously trying to see what was inside the envelope. "Don't you have mail to deliver or something?"
"Huh? Oh, erm, yes, of course. Good day, sir. As always, a slight gesture of appreciation is always, well, appreciated!" The mailman held out his hand suggestively.
Valentine forced a smile. "Ah, yes, of course." He grabbed the postman's hand, shook it once and said. "Thanks!" He then slammed the door in the mailman's face. The Tower quickly flew off and left the disgruntled mailman behind.
Inside, Valentine tore open the letter, letting the envelope drop to the floor. "Royal summons?" He looked up at nothing in particular. "Well, Tower, it seems that we've been invited to meet the Queen. What do you think of that, eh?"
The building creaked.
"Um." Valentine looked down at the letter again. "It says you can land right outside the palace." He felt the Tower change directions.
It didn't even occur to Valentine that maybe he'd want to dress for the occasion or even attempt to straighten his bed hair until he was walking up the palace steps and saw the Prime Minister walking down towards him.
"Ah, Mr. Valentine, welcome, welcome!" the Prime Minister said, taking Valentine's hand and giving it a friendly shape. "Absolute pleasure to see you now that the world isn't being plagued by Shadows."
Valentine opened his mouth to say something but the Prime Minister continued.
"Now, come inside. The Queen wants to see you." With that the Prime Minister started up the stairs once more, silver robe shimmering in the sunlight. Valentine followed. They eventually came into a room that was made mostly of windows. It was very tall though not very wide. There were some plants growing along the corners and in the middle was a little silver fountain, a small white table loaded with plates of little cakes, and two white chairs. One was occupied.
"Valentine, good to meet you. Please, have a seat," the White Queen said, motioning to the empty chair.
Valentine might have run away then and there out of sheer nerves if it hadn't been for those delicious-looking cakes. He sat down.
"I'll just be going now, Your Majesty," the Prime Minister said, giving a small smile.
"Alright, luv. If you must." The Queen smiled, kissed her finger and turned it towards the Prime Minister in a sort of 'air kiss.'
The Prime Minister smiled.
Valentine looked awkwardly down at his shoes. Soon he heard the door close and could practically feel the Queen's attention focus on him.
"Please, help yourself to the cakes. I insist," she said at last.
"Yes, Your Majesty." Oddly enough, the cakes helped. Valentine felt himself relaxing as the sweet icing melted on his tongue.
"I wanted to thank you in person," continued the Queen, taking one of the cakes for herself. "After all, it's not every day that I'm rescued by someone I've never met."
"Well, I do my best," Valentine said, feeling completely at ease now. He took another two cakes. "Though, Helena deserves some of the credit too." A white cream filled cake paused half way to his mouth. Did he really just say . . .?
He hadn't spoken her name since she left. He hadn't even thought it. He made a point not to. Onwards and upwards.
The cake finished its journey but somehow it wasn't as sweet as the others.
The Queen watched with interest. "Naturally," she said. "But don't underestimate your own importance, Valentine."
Valentine could practically hear Helena's laughter at that from where he sat. "Never do," he mumbled.
"I was wondering what you'd like as a reward."
At that, Valentine met the Queen's eyes. "Reward? As in, jewels?"
"Anything you want," shrugged the Queen, taking another cake. "A party, jewels, a feast." Her eyes crinkled as she looked at the mostly empty plates on the table. "Whatever is in my power, I will do."
"We'll bath in . . . fish! Eat our own weight in chocolate buttons."
"Learn to play the concertina!"
"Now, I definitely don't need a manager."
"Juggling partners to the end, right?"
Her hand squeezing his. "To the end. Though I'm still not sure about you being my manager."
"What about Helena?" The words were out before he could stop them. He frowned at his own mouth.
The Queen looked slightly saddened. "I wish there was some way I could repay her. But she's in her own world now."
Valentine's frown deepened. "Can't you talk to her through the Mirrormask?" He paused. "Whatever happened to the Mirrormask anyway?"
"The Mirrormask is back where it was before the Dark Princess came," the Queen answered. Valentine noticed how she evaded actually answering; after all, he was an expert at avoiding certain words and phrases. "As for using it, it's nothing to be done lightly. The Mirrormask keeps the world in balance. By using it, even a little, that balance is broken."
"You mean the world would start ending again?"
A small smile played on the edges of the Queen's lips. "Not necessarily. The consequence could be as small as opening a door to nowhere. Remember, it was the Dark Princess who was destroying the world." Then her look turned serious. "Is that what you want? To use the Mirrormask?"
". . . Will I have to go on a dangerous quest to get it?"
She drew him a window, a special one surrounded by juggling balls, cakes, jewels, and all those things he liked. His tower hovered near one corner and his robe was draped on another. She added a couple of flying fish for good measure.
All it needed was his face in it.
Helena taped the drawing onto the mirror insider her camper. And she waited. Every day when his face didn't appear, it hurt less and less. But that didn't mean that it didn't hurt at all.
After a while when her mom got out of the hospital and the circus started to pick up again, she stopped looking all together.
It took him seventeen and a half tries to get the mask anywhere near his face. Then he set it aside and told himself he would try again in the morning.
She knew it was a dream; it didn't feel nearly as real as her Dream in the MirrorRelm and she wasn't in her pajamas this time. Still, he was there and he seemed real enough, or as real as people can seem when you're in dream.
"You haven't looked through the window even once," she accused. A school of fish flew by.
"Well, you left without saying goodbye."
Helena was going to defend herself but the scene changed and so did he, slightly. Was this the bus to the hospital?
"Is this what I look like in your world?" he asked. "Disgusting, I can feel my face moving."
She couldn't help but smile at that. "He sounds a bit like you. I ran into—well, he ran into me, actually."
"Ah, can't be me then, can it? Valentine's are never clumsy."
Scene change and Valentine was back to normal. Or was that back to not normal?
"I tried to get back, through the alley," she said. She pointed. "But there wasn't a door there this time."
"Well, you didn't draw one, did you?"
Helena thought about that. "How did you get through to my world in the first place?"
Valentine looked confused. "I'm not sure, me and . . . what's-his-name just sort of . . . walked there. We were looking for a secret place to practice so no one could steal my ideas."
The scene changed again. Her bedroom—or was it the Princess' bedroom?
"I drew you a window," Helena told him.
"Ah. Yes, well, I've had a bit of trouble using the Mirrormask."
Helena frowned. "It doesn't work for you?"
"It's . . . not that exactly. I just . . . haven't gotten around to actually trying it yet."
"Why not? I thought you wanted to see me."
"Of course I do! I just didn't want to get—" Valentine made some odd motion with his hands, "—sucked into your world, now did I? It's too strange a place, all those moving faces and stationary buildings."
"The mask concentrates your desires. It gives you what you need," quoted Helena.
"That's all fine and dandy but I don't need to be there, I need you to be here."
Helena felt surprised and then smiled. "Why, Valentine, that's the most romantic thing you've said to me all dream," she said in a high pitched voice.
Valentine smiled. "Don't expect that too often. If this weren't a dream I wouldn't have said it at all."
"Don't tell me: this is your dream?"
"Of course. How else would I be seeing you?"
Helena decided to leave it. "So you want me to come back to the . . . dream world."
"MirrorRelm is what the queen called it. And yes, it would be much more convenient for you to come back here than for me to go to your strange world."
"But you have the Mirrormask."
"I'll just give the mask to you." And somehow he had it in his hands. "Here."
The mask felt more real than Helena herself. But somehow as soon as she touched it she felt more real and everything else started to fade . . .
She woke up earlier than normal. When she glanced over at her alarm clock it told her it was about 4:53 in the morning. She groaned, decided to go back to sleep (she felt half asleep anyway), and tried to lie back down. Something was poking her in the stomach. She took the Mirrormask, stuffed it under her bed grumpily and soon found herself in much more normal dreams.
He couldn't believe he had lost it.
True, he wasn't the neatest person in the Lands of Light, but he didn't lose important things.
Well, not often.
He was currently tearing the sheets off his bed when his strange dream came back to him. She had taken the Mirrormask right before he woke up. But that was a dream! . . . Right?
Hadn't Helena called the MirrorRelm a dream when she first came?
Valentine walked out onto the Tower's balcony and looked over the lands below. Part of his mind watched the lands grow and change and another part thought deep, philosophical things.
It wasn't much of a stretch to think she had physically taken the mask from a dream, was it? After all, hadn't she created this place in the first place?
All that deep thought made his brain hurt. So he just watched some monkeybirds instead.
As Helena got dressed later that morning, she wondered about the dream she had. She didn't remember much except for Valentine—he had definitely been there but she couldn't remember what they had been talking about . . . something important? Stepping out of her trailer, Helena rubbed her eyes. Ug, not enough sleep.
She walked around the skeleton of the circus tent, thinking about what had brought that dream about. She hadn't had dreams about the MirrorRelm since she first dreamed it up. Then all the sudden Valentine appears? What brought that about?
Then she turned the corner and remembered. Right, him.
She had only seen the anti-Valentine once yesterday, but it had been enough. He came to audition and she had seen him passing by while she was practicing. He had given her a little wave and she had given him a little smile. Then he had come over to her and asked directions to her dad's trailer. Catching the last of juggling balls, Helena showed him the way.
"By the way, you were great last night. That was you, right? Juggling during the gorilla scene?"
Helena smiled. "Maybe. You'll have to join the circus to actually find out who's behind the masks." They were at her dad's trailer then so she wished him luck and left and didn't see him again the rest of the day.
Seeing him now brought the whole dream back to her. "Ah, can't be me then, can it? Valentine's are never clumsy."
The Anti-Valentine smiled at her which made her heart jerk in a weird way. "Hey," he said. "Uh, you know, I never caught your name."
Smiling, Helena replied. "Helena. Rather dull, isn't it?"
"No! I-I think it's a rather lovely name."
Nope, definitely wasn't Valentine. "So, what's your name then?"
Helena pretended to give it some thought. "Dignity and style, mixed with a bit of romance . . ." She smiled. "I like it. So, got a callback did you?"
Val's expression turned from confused to happy. "Yeah!" he said, positively grinning. "The man in charge of the circus—"
Val stared at her for a moment. "Is there anyone in this circus you're not related to?"
He sounded so much like Valentine when he said that Helena couldn't help but laugh. "I'm not related to most of them. My mum and dad just run the circus."
Val's mouth formed an 'o.' Then he nodded and continued, "Well, the very kind man in charge of the circus said I had some potential."
"Good. Glad to hear it." Helena saw her dad coming over from behind Val's shoulder. "Ah, and speaking of my dad."
Mr. Campbell walked over and patted Val on the back. "Ah, perfect timing. I was just going to look for Helena and ask her to do a quick practice with you."
It turned out he could juggle too.
He wasn't Valentine. But did she really want him to be?
Helena got back to her trailer rather late. She plopped down on the bed without bothering to change and stared at the drawings on her wall.
It seemed static. But was it?
She turned her head to look at the mirror with Valentine's window on it. No face appeared. Then Helena narrowed her eyes. She was pretty sure those cakes had been whole when she drew them; she would remember drawing bits out of them, right?
Her dream came back to her.
Trying to prevent herself from getting too excited, Helena pulled herself forward on the bed and looked underneath.
A silver mask reflected her face back at her.
She used the window she had made for him. So she supposed she shouldn't have been surprised to find herself in his tower. Putting the Mirrormask in her shoulder bag, she looked around the room. Suddenly, a door creaked open.
"Oh, um, thanks," she told the building, hoping she wasn't making a fool of herself. She walked through the open door and saw Valentine standing on a balcony.
He turned, grinned, and then tried to force said grin into a scowl. "I don't know what kind of time you'd call this," he said. "Running off on me without so much as a goodbye. Leaving me to clean up your mess. Do you have any idea how annoying that Princess girl was? Why, I'm almost tempted to break our contract."
Helena smiled. "Missed you too, Valentine."
-A/N: Tadaa! Alrighty then, time for me to shamelessly plead for reviews! Critique welcome and appreciated.-