|A Year in the Life
Author: Tintinnabula PM
This is the sequel to Waiting. It looks at the year following Sophie's rescue of Howl. Justin returns. Will he ruin things for the young lovers?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 28 - Words: 68,850 - Reviews: 184 - Favs: 122 - Follows: 123 - Updated: 01-06-08 - Published: 09-19-06 - id: 3161816
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: 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.
Author's Note: This story continues where HMC (movie) left off, but builds on the backstory and details given in Waiting. So if you are confused…
Emma is the given name of the Witch of the Waste.
Uncle Octavius gave Howl his secret garden/mill cottage. He had a long career at the Royal Academy of Sorcery, and taught with Madame Suliman, as did Emma.
Howl's parents had both died by the time Howl turned six. He lived with his uncle while attending the Academy, but was expelled when Calcifer was discovered.
Chapter 1: Starting Over
He'd finally said it. They had climbed up from the remains of the castle (Howl needing help, as he was still a bit weak), and had stood atop a lichen-speckled outcropping, trying to make sense of all that had happened. Howl had grasped Sophie's hand and had spoken to her softly. "I should have said this days ago, Sophie. And I kicked myself for not doing so." She had turned to him, questioningly. "I love you, Sophie. Even without a heart, I loved you."
Sophie's soft velvet eyes grew bright with tears as she smiled a most radiant smile. "I know, Howl. I am still finding all of this hard to accept, though."
"What do you mean?" His voice was gentle, but concerned.
"You've known me much longer than I've known you."
"Yes, that's true, in a way. I saw you and knew you'd somehow be an important part of my life. I dreamed about you almost every night, you know, for years and years. But Sophie, the thing is, I was sure I'd love you, but I really didn't know what love is. Not until just days ago. You taught me that, you know. You saved me, Sophie."
"I did? How?"
She still didn't see how special she was. "Sophie, I've never known anyone like you. You love unconditionally, you forgive those who've hurt you. Your love is a gift. Help me to be more like you." Howl pulled her to him and buried his face in her shimmering hair.
"Oh, Howl," Sophie whispered. "You already are. I can't imagine anyone as generous as you. You took an orphan and two old women into your home, no questions asked."
"I knew you were one of the old ladies, Sophie. And I did ask questions. So that hardly counts. And the answers you gave to those questions." Howl rolled his eyes.
"Hush," Sophie cried, giving him a push. "You put up with me rearranging your spells and ruining your hair. Although I really do like it better this way."
"Hmm. I'm glad," Howl said, kissing her lightly on the lips. "I don't think I'll have as much time to attend to my personal grooming habits anymore."
"Why would that be? I rather like you the way you are." Her tiny hand caressed his face.
"Sophie, if I'm to give you the world I'll have to cut back somewhere else. One hour each morning in the bathroom will be enough." Howl affected a most self-sacrificing expression and a saintly smile to match.
It was easy to imagine a golden glow around his head. (If he had more energy, he would have somehow engineered it, Sophie thought.) Sophie snickered aloud. "I'll adjust, I guess."
"Sophie," a familiar voice said, "you won't have to adjust. I'll give you ten to one odds that Howl won't be able to reduce his bathroom time by more than ten minutes."
"Calcifer! You came back!"
Howl surveyed the wreckage of the castle. A first glance showed him that nothing was salvageable, except for its four legs and the heavy oaken portal. It would take some time to create a new castle, and Howl was in no condition to begin the task immediately.
Sophie seemed to read his thoughts. "Howl, where will we sleep tonight? Granny Emma is still not quite herself, and I think you'll sleep for days once we find a bed for you."
"Not if you were with me," Howl thought, but kept this to himself.
Sophie looked out over the wastes and saw the flames of Market Chipping. "My old home is gone," she said sadly. "My whole life took place there." She thought for a moment, then turned pink. "Well, my whole life before you." Her eyes filled with tears despite her happiness at being with Howl. She turned away from the fiery view on the horizon.
"Sophie," Howl promised, turning her face to look into her eyes. I'll walk with you above Market Square again. You'll see, love. They'll rebuild it and all of your memories will live again. We can even live there, if you like." He gave her hand a squeeze.
"Come with me," Howl said, and turned to Markl and Emma. "You, too. Heen, will you be traveling with us or does Madame Suliman need you?"
Heen wheezed at her name, and ran in circles around Howl's ankles.
"I'll take that to mean you're coming with us," Howl laughed, throwing his head back with abandon.
Howl led the way down hills that were more rock than soil to the site where Sophie had crashed not long before. He said a few strange words and the portal reappeared. "Kingsbury." He said softly. "Academe Row." He opened the door, which was already turned to black. "After you, Markl, ladies," he smiled, standing at the threshhold. "Hot baths and soft beds await us."
Four humans, one demon and one errand-dog moved into the ether, which crystallized immediately into the fine avenues of the capital, unscathed by the recent fighting. They emerged into an alley, and turned into the busy street. One would never think a war had taken place, judging from these surroundings. Men in overcoats and top hats walked down the streets, the evening news tucked tightly under their arms. Women hurried home with the ingredients for a late-planned meal. It appeared to be an ordinary day in the opulent city.
Howl stopped short before a beautiful building, easily the most elegant in this very stylish street. Sophie's eyes widened at its tall windows and finely crafted draperies, which hinted at the sophistication of the rooms within.
"This is where I grew up, Sophie. It's ours now."
Sophie looked at him quizzically. "This is your home?"
"Come on inside." He knocked on the highly polished, black door, and smiled his bright smile on the woman who answered.
"Master Howl. How good to see you." The door was opened wide, and the weary travelers entered.