Same thing before:
0. All people not mine. Diana Wynne Jones's
1. You read.
2. You like.
2. You hate.
3. You review.
4. You write flame, I send Calcifer, burn you.
4. You write nice, I send Calcifer bring nice present.
5. We all happy.
Good. Let's get on with the story.
Sophie woke with a start, blinking blearily into the-no, it wasn't dark... why wasn't it dark? It's always dark under stairs until... Sophie shrieked, and thus began another hair-raising morning in the moving castle.
"What I'm trying to understand," Calcifer managed to wheeze out between laughs, "is why you thought it would be a good idea to have Sophie sleep in your bed?"
Howl glared ferociously at him, nursing the red handprint on his face with an icepack conjured from Wales. "I thought she deserved a softer bed than that straw pallet under the stairs..." he muttered.
"But why'd you crawl in after her?" Calcifer snorted. "Oh Lord... you'd think the man would have at least the common sense to sleep on the floor..."
"Why should I have to deny myself creature comforts in order to make my fiancée more comfortable?" Howl sulked.
Sophie was massaging her temples and refusing to speak to Howl, or even make breakfast. Calcifer, of course, was too busy ribbing Howl for the morning's incident. And Howl, being Howl, was wont to conjure up green slime any second, but wasn't, for fear that it would make Sophie angrier.
Michael, seeing the way the wind was blowing, quietly slipped out for breakfast with Martha. He had briefly contemplated his chances of survival if he told Howl that his hair was a lovely shade of lavender with dashing streaks of navy, but decided that eating bacon was much better than becoming it.
"Who does he think he is? What on Earth could have possessed the man to think... argghhh! He's so selfish!" Sophie growled at every kitchen and cleaning implement as she attacked the castle with a fury that hadn't been seen since her second day of work as housekeeper. Calcifer dutifully kept quiet; Sophie's newest dish-washing liquid bore an eerie resemblance to her last weed-killer.
"And now he doesn't even have the decency to come back home... Slither-outer. Coward. Selfish, over-grown brat. Gahh! I need to talk to someone else... Calcifer! I'm going out!"
"Are you coming back?" he asked timidly.
"YES," she punctuated, with a door-slam.
"... and now she won't even shpeak to me! What'm I shupposed to do?" Howl, or more properly, Howell Jenkins, cried, half-sobbing, half-yelling, at the bartender.
The bartender, whose name was Edward, was very confused. It was his first day on the job, and he hadn't expected quite so many crying drunks in the establishment. Then again, he thought, with a name like "The Mournful Hog," he realized he shouldn't have been surprised. "Cheer up, lad," he attempted to comfort the maudlin wanker. "It'll get better. Just get home and apologize to her... Although the state you're in..."
"Apologize?" Howell blinked owlishly at the rather large man calmly wiping down tumblers before him. "Apologize... That's it! I'll apologize! You're a genius, Bob!" He swept the bartender into an enormous hug that knocked over every glass within a three foot radius. Edward gave the-admittedly few-people around him an apologetic glance, shrugging. The drinks' owners nodded. They'd been listening to the rambling, violet-haired drunkard for over an hour, yet couldn't leave.
"But how do I go home like thish? I can't go home like thish! Shophie'll kill me!" He seemed on the verge of tears again.
"Well... you can either tell her truth, or you can buy her some flowers and a nice box of chocolates and hope she doesn't ask why."
"Flowersh! Shoc'latsh! You're brilliant!" The now distinctly royal-purple crowned sot stumbled out of the door. "By th'way, George, mind bartending at our wedding? Thanksh!"
"Thank God!" exclaimed one of the people at the bar. "I thought he'd never shut up!" Edward nodded sympathetically. He wasn't allowed to get involved in personal lives of customers, just keep him paying.
"He couldn't even get your name right once, Joe... Joe, have I told you about the time my girl..."
Edward sighed. Only 4 in the afternoon and people were getting sloshed. It was going to be a long night.
"...and-and-and I just don't know what's wrong with me! What's wrong with him! What's wrong with both of us!" Sophie cried, half-bawling, half-shouting, feeling particularly odd and out of sorts.
"Sophie... I think you're blowing this out of proportion. It's perfectly normal to feel wedding anxiety. You're about to take one of the biggest steps of your life." Lettie said, not unsympathetically. "I've just come out of a huge row with Ben myself, and it was perfectly horrendous... all the good china smashed to pieces before we mended..." Lettie laughed. "I've found that the key to it is admitting you were both wrong and learning to accommodate each other. We both know Howl is a dirty bastard- oh all right. Ben's been rubbing off on me. We both know Howl isn't the most honest of men, but his heart's definitely in the right place. At least, now it is. You should go back and give him a chance. But let him know firmly that you won't take his cr-I mean, you won't take his garbage."
"Thanks, Lettie. I feel much better now... I should go back now. It's getting late, and I should make dinner."
"Be careful on the way back. I hope things get better."
"I will. Give my regards to Ben."
It was about midnight when Howl walked in, only slightly off-balance, bearing a large bouquet of chocolate kisses.
"Howl! Where have you been? Do you know what time it is? I was so worried..."
"Sophie. It's alright. I'm fine... I just... I want to apologize. I know I'm a selfish cad"- "Recognition of a problem is the beginning of-" "Shut up, Calcifer. As I was saying, I know I'm a selfish cad and don't deserve someone as good as you, but I will try to make this work. And I promise I won't pull any more stunts like the one from this morning."
"Oh Howl... And I promise to try accept your moods. But I will not be a doormat. Just ask me how I feel about things before you decide to rush headlong into them?"
"Fair enough... These are for you. They're chocolate flowers."
"Oh Howl..." Sophie put them on the table and kissed him.
"Howl... you reek of alcohol. Have you been drinking?"
"Well... I think we've acquired a bartender for the wedding..."
I decided I shouldn't leave without leaving a morsel... enjoy!