Author: Tintinnabula PM
Howl's life before meeting Sophie, and his thoughts and feelings during the time portrayed in the movie. Based on Miyazaki's version of these characters.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 19 - Words: 28,666 - Reviews: 107 - Favs: 170 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 09-19-06 - Published: 08-31-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3133862
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Howl's Moving Castle and the characters portrayed within that book and movie are the sole property of the talented Diana Wynne Jones and Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli. They are not my property. This story is meant to demonstrate how incredibly wonderful I find both the movie and book.
This story is complete. I hope you have enjoyed it!
Thank you for reading and commenting!
Chapter 19: A Battle Lost, a Battle Won
He should have said he loved her. He had said those words to others so many times that they had lost their meaning. Rather, he hadn't really known the meaning of those words. Now he did, but like a coward, he hadn't said them. He might never see her again, and he hadn't told her the most important words he could ever say. I love you, Sophie.
Tears welled in Howl's eyes, clouding his vision as he flew upward to stave off as many attackers as he was able. This was what love was, Howl saw. It was more than physical pleasure or the sweet ecstasy of knowing that the person he loved loved him in return. It was more than simply wanting to give her every gift he could imagine that might make her smile, make her realize he loved her, make her love him more. It was more than knowing that he could wake every morning by her side and want to know her better, and that those mornings could stretch on for years, decades, and still he would not be sated. Howl realized that in loving Sophie, he had both lost and found himself. He realized that they were truly as one. Her pain was his pain, and in losing her, he would lose himself.
And surely he had lost her. His humanity was slipping away. He could barely control the rage he felt at this, or the atavistic, animal desire for vengeance that was struggling to consume him. He had pushed himself for days and nights, and his body and spirit were exhausted. He needed sleep and the chance to focus his energies, so that he could cling tenaciously to the person he was and survive the offensive put forth by his animal self. Howl was losing the battle. His arms melded into his wings as they grew to an immense size. He now had the wingspan of a condor, and his legs grew massive and scaly to match. Howl's skull grew the flesh-tearing, tooth-laden bill of a prehistoric raptor; his eyes glowed red. His transformation was complete. Howl the wizard was gone.
Howl the monster flung himself on a warplane and struggled to tear back the fuselage. Higher thought and compassion were lost to him. He thought only of the fact that this plane was attacking the ones he loved. He would stop it by any means possible. Howl used the curved, jet claws at the end of each hollow wing bone to gain purchase on a seam in the plane's skin; he used his brute strength to pop the rivets and peel back the cover of this flying tin can. Immediately the mutant forms of his former colleagues flew in and attacked him, their leathery wings and soft, scaly bodies crawling over him as he focused on his task. Howl cried out in a bellow of rage as the wizards pelted Howl relentlessly with assorted spells. The reptilian wizards retained some of their powers and enough intelligence to know how to use it. They were merciless, heartless, inhuman. They stunned the avian monster and delighted in their victory.
Howl fell from the plane. Cold air rushed past him and helped him come to; Howl the monster took flight, avian instincts overwhelming his once-human ones. He soared and spiraled and found that his pursuers would not relent, he could not escape. They surrounded him in a dark cloud of screaming reptilian fury. The air was filled with their cries, and with white hot shrapnel and other debris of war. Howl's feathers singed. His flesh bled as the flying beasts attacked him with claws sharp as shards of glass, and spells of polished steel. The monster Howl fought back, to no avail, then, wounded, plummeted from the sky.
"HOWL! Howl, I'm dying. Listen to me. Howl, are you there? Howl, it's Calcifer! Don't give up who you are. I know you can hear me. Listen to me, listen to me, you birdbrain! Howl! Wake up."
The human Howl stirred within his animal flesh. Who was speaking?
"Howl. She's got me. It's Calcifer, Howl, the keeper of your heart, remember? Listen to me! The witch has got me. I knew we shouldn't have let her in! But do you listen to your fire demon?"
Howl was confused. Witch? Demon? He needed to get back to the battle.
"Howl, I can't hold on much longer. Come here. Save me. Save yourself!"
"Trust in Fate, Howl." This was another voice, Howl's own voice, a memory of words read. Howl pushed the animal inside him aside. The human remembered those words, the letter, and saw a glimmer of who he had been, whom he loved.
Trust in Fate.
Sophie! Howl saw a glimpse of the summer night he had walked through a field, caught a star and seen his love. His past was still her future, her fate. He could make her fate happen.
Howl gave his trust completely. He trusted these memories, these voices, his own and Calcifer's. Howl flew towards the waste, Calcifer's weak voice a beacon in his mind. Only one last spell to cast. The door to nowhere/everywhere would guide Sophie to his past, her nascent present, and their future together.
"The night in the meadow. The night I met Calcifer. Take her there," Howl called out in a whisper, casting the spell that would show her how to save him.
"Howl! The castle is splitting apart! Find her! She's falling! The ravine…"
The beacon in Howl's mind extinguished. Howl soared on into the wastes, and fell to the ground near the wreckage of his home. Sophie had been here, he could tell. There was the door. Her fragrance hung in the air, as did the recent memory of her presence. Howl remembered her beauty, her gentleness, her unconditional love. He sobbed, and felt himself slipping away. It was too late. It was over.
Trust in Fate.
Howl summoned the last of his strength to transform from the hideous monster he now was to the Howl Sophie loved. She couldn't see him this way. He tried, and failed, and tried again. His skull shifted and his face emerged as before, his eyes stunningly blue, his features refined. His skin, however, was the grey, feathered skin of a black-as-night raven; his body the massive size of a prehistoric teratorn. Howl felt himself fading. He struggled to remain at least partly human. He was weak; he was bleeding, barely conscious.
He no longer knew who he was.
Then he saw her. He knew her, he was sure of it. He felt the peace radiating from her into him, calming him. He felt the encompassing embrace of being loved and knew he would do anything for her, although he didn't know her name. He looked at her blankly, sadly, as she kissed him. This surprised him, though he didn't know why. This vision of peace and kindness had kissed him. To break a spell, perhaps? It was too late, though. He was no longer Howl the human, but a horrible mixture of man and beast. Howl heard her words; the chimera would do as the girl asked. She clung to his talon as he lifted his mass into the air. He dripped blood and feathers as he flew, and lost consciousness as he thumped onto the deck of the once-castle.
Howl awoke to a headache and a pounding in his ears, his chest, everywhere. He was confused, and wondered why he was lying on his back on a floor that was shifting under him, with no walls around it or roof above it. The sky was clear and bright above him. He focused his eyes and saw that the loveliest girl was kneeling over him, concern and devotion in her eyes. She looked like an angel, her hair sparkled and shone like starlight. He cried out aloud in his amazement. "Sophie!" He started to say it, those words that she must hear, but she jumped on him in delight, knocking him back against the floor. "I love you, Howl!" she cried, before he could catch his breath.
And they started their life together.