Sophie's breath dissipated into the night air as she regained consciousness to her surroundings.
"Even though her heartbeat was still fluttering fast, her mind felt calm, the blankets were smooth and warm and the slight breeze coming in through the window was refreshing. Altogether, Sophie felt happy and content. The only slight discomfort she felt was the weight and heat of her husband's body, lying on top of hers. Fingers still entwined from their passion, she clenched her husband's hands.
"Howl," she whispered, "do you mind moving a bit?"
Wordlessly he shifted his body to the side, nestling his face into the crook of her neck, his arm fell around her, pulling her close.
"Are you going off to sleep now?" Sophie asked, a little annoyed. She moved her head to study his handsome features in the soft moonlight. A faint sheen of sweat on his forehead told her of his exertion. She herself felt exhausted – but also invigorated – and there were things she wanted to talk about.
"Eventually, letting out a gentle sigh, Howl opened his eyes; "sorry darling," he propped his elbow on the pillow and rested his head on his hand, looking lovingly at her, "I was just recovering... tonight was so special, you are so very special," he kissed her gently. Sophie noted how slow it felt compared to the fervent ones they had exchanged just moments before. He drew back.
"How are you feeling? You must be cold. Shall I get your night things from off the floor?"
"No, don't move. There's plenty of warmth between us... but perhaps," she had a thought of someone bursting in in the morning and finding them indecent. Michael, Calcifer, her mother. She relayed this to him.
Howl laughed. "I sincerely doubt someone would be dull enough to burst in on newlyweds the morning after, Sophie," he said.
Sophie blushed (definitely not for the first time that night) and drew the covers up to her chin. "Well how am I to know how everything goes? Its my first time after all."
"So you kept saying so nervously before," Howl grinned deviously, "how did it go, all things considered? I was nervous too you know. But I was hoping you wouldn't notice."
"Well, I can say you were wonderfully patient for once in your life. But were you really nervous? I thought that was just you being gentlemanly – making me feel easier about it and all. No, I don't believe you. Think about your history with women. And that's just what I wanted to ask to you about-."
"Oh no. You're not going to use tonight to interrogate me about my skirt-chasing days. Pinning me down like that, knowing full well that while I am so enraptured, I'll have no choice but to see to your every whim and answer all your questions..." he moved to kiss her again.
Sophie pulled back. "Exactly how many women, Howell Jenkins?" Sophie's whispers were soft but laced with powerful magic that made them demanding.
"It's not nearly as bad as you think. Honestly, Michael blew the whole thing up," said Howl. He embraced her, running his warm hands across her stomach, "I'm so glad you're feeling well, my darling… Just think of it Sophie – perhaps a child…"
Sophie emitted a moan from her husband's caresses, but a crease appeared on her brow. She slid her hands over her husband's, stopping his administrations. "I can barely believe it really," said Sophie, "I'm excited. But, I know that these things take time."
"Yes," said Howl gently, noting her seriousness, "it may sometimes take a couple of tries, but-," he smoothed her own hands comfortingly over her stomach, "I think, we can trust everything to work out at the right place and time."
"Mm…" Sophie wrapped her arms around his middle and snuggled down in the bed to rest her cheek against his bare chest. She tried to focus on the sound of his heartbeat. Just then she wanted to hide away from the world above the bedcovers. In such an intimate and literally naked situation, she was battling with all her harboured anxieties. Recently married, and just turned twenty, Sophie wondered how she'd do as a wife let alone a mother. Howl may be childish, but when push came to shove his maturity showed. He was twenty-nine after all… roughly. Howl had been sketchy about his precise age. But that's the age Sophie had guessed considering the way he had went on about it when he proposed (naturally handsome and be-spelled Howl could easily pass as twenty-five). Just from tonight's proceedings, Sophie could see how much more experience her husband had than her with certain aspects of life. She remembered how good he was with kids; with Michael and his niece and nephew. She knew he'd make a great father. She herself could barely remember holding her sister's when they were babies…
"How are you going, under there," said Howl lifting the blanket; cool air streamed into the space.
Sophie put her mind off her own tumultuous thoughts by admonishing him, "you never answered my question."
"Wha-? Oh, you remembered," Howl sat up a bit on the pillows; "alright if you really must know…" he started going over a list in his head, counting his fingers absently.
"Did you just count through ten, already?" said Sophie in astonishment.
"Okay. I think there was twenty-something all up," he looked at her expression and cringed, "since high school, this is including my former life in Wales. Look Sophie, I can't say I'm proud of it. I was heartless but it was still disgusting behaviour. I have since reformed, obviously."
"Well, at least now I can put my imagination at rest."
"Ugh, trust you to bring up something so awkward tonight of all nights."
"I love seeing you squirm, but I can't say I would want you to be totally uncomfortable," said Sophie smirking, her worries forgotten for the moment.
"Ah?" Howl's breath hitched as he felt her lips brush over his. She had shuffled on top of him now. He positioned his hands on her body, "so, I take it you've tired of our midnight conversations Mrs Pendragon?"
"Yes, I have," said Sophie, putting her hands through his hair as she kissed him fully.