By Lady Mac
Time: immediately following the conclusion of Howl's Moving Castle. Yeah, yeah, it's a sequel, so sue me. (actually, please don't! I don't even pretend to make money!) However, it starts before the bit with the kiss on the balcony. I plan to incorporate that into this. So as of now, only the one kiss. Not the Disney-movie-ending kiss (not yet). (I find it kind of ironic that they ended a Miyazaki movie with a kiss like from the end of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc., especially since it was dubbed by Disney. Didn't they do a great job, though? I have no complaints.)
Thus, you won't understand this at all unless you've seen the movie, and it has some spoilers. So what I recommend is going out and seeing it a couple times, then reading this. I won't be offended. But what I won't do is explain the whole film. The only explaining I'll do is in little tiny bits for things you might have missed/forgotten, but I'll try to keep those to an absolute minimum.
Additional disclaimer: The only bit of Howl's Moving Castle that I own is the ticket stub that proves I paid $8.50 for the 4:30 show at a Landmark theater. What sucks is that I drank a large raspberry iced tea, and I held it for an hour before the movie got to a spot that I felt I could afford to miss in favor of relieving my bladder (all I missed was the bit when they take Calcifer out of the castle, so it wasn't hard to catch back on). Remind me never to do that again, especially with a Miyazaki film. (Revision: I saw it again! It was so cool! I totally recommend seeing it more than once.)
In Which Howl and Sophie Express Themselves Very Clearly
Howl awoke to a gentle knocking on his door and the mouth-watering smell of frying bacon. "Come in?"
Sophie opened the door and cheerfully poked her head in. "Good morning! I just made breakfast; you should come down and eat with us!"
He smiled at her as he pushed his blankets back and sat up. In all the time they'd been together – and especially since their curses had been broken – her seemingly boundless energy never ceased to amaze him. Even in his room, filled as it was with bright, shiny baubles and things, her face always drew his eye. It always had, he realized – ever since he had first laid eyes on her in that alley, he had felt drawn to her, compelled to be near her. He supposed now that this was love – something he thought he had known in the past, but he had never experienced quite as he did now. The only problem was, he really had no idea how to tell her.
She raised a silver eyebrow at him, snapping him out of his stupor. "Hello? Are you going to come eat?"
"Oh! Yes." He stood up and stretched. "Just let me pull some clothes on."
Her laughter reminded him of a wind chime. "Too self-conscious to eat breakfast in your nightshirt?"
"Quiet," he said, pushing the door gently closed.
Sophie glanced back at him when he appeared on the stairs a few minutes later. "Oh! You're wearing something else!"
He laughed a little, throwing his head back to shake his dark hair out of his eyes. "I beg your pardon?"
"I've never see you wearing anything but those black pants and a white shirt." She looked approvingly at his beige trousers and red tunic shirt, then pulled the frying pan off of Calcifer and moved to the table, where Markl and the witch were already waiting. "I mean, you've worn other things over the top, but I've never seen you not wearing that. So I'm glad you're finally branching out in your wardrobe and wearing all those things I've washed for you."
Howl sat down at the table and picked up his fork with mock haughtiness. "Whatever do you mean, my dear girl? There's plenty of variety in my wardrobe. I seem to recall, the time you rearranged my bathroom, I came rushing down here in nothing at all."
Sophie couldn't help the blush that crept into her cheeks as he dug into his bacon and eggs, and Markl snickered a little. "You had a towel on at the time," she said brusquely, trying to ignore the images that were creeping into her mind. Images of him wearing next to nothing, and … well, she had certainly not forgotten that the towel had fallen off on their way up the stairs, and she had seen a fair bit more than she wanted to while trying to heft him into the bath.
"What do you think of my hair this color, anyways?" he asked, looking up at his bangs as he chewed.
"I like this fine," she said. "It's your natural color, isn't it?"
He raised his eyebrows. "It is. How did you know?"
"When … after I threw the water on Calcifer, and what was left of the castle crashed, I went into your past, and I saw you. That's how I knew how to save you then, because I saw you swallow the falling star. But anyways, your hair was dark then."
"And your feathers are black, too," Markl chimed in. "Even when your hair was blond, they never changed color."
Howl sighed and sat back. "I do miss being blond. That color was so beautiful."
"Mm, beautiful." The witch nodded absently.
"I liked it red!" said Calcifer, and they turned around to look at him.
"That's because you're red," Howl said. "My hair was a horrible shade of ginger."
"Well, I liked it, too," Sophie agreed. "Better than the blond, anyway. It was a very nice color."
Howl turned back around and scowled at his plate. "Well, I didn't like it."
"You were just in shock. You're too vain." Calcifer snapped and popped aggressively.
"Do you want me to pour water on you? It won't hurt me any more."
"Oooh, I'm so scared. You kill me, your castle doesn't move and there's no hot water for your bath."
"I happen to like the castle where it is, and a plain old fire can heat water just as well as you."
"Oh yeah? Wanna bet?"
Sophie stood up and stalked over to the sink to wash her plate.
"You're sooo petty!" She turned around and glared at him. "What's the big deal, anyway? It's only hair color! It's not like it will make me not love you or anything!"
All five pairs of eyes in the room fixed on her, and she snapped her mouth shut.
Howl stood up gracefully from the kitchen table. "Will you come with me, please?"
His manner was stiff and formal, but Sophie didn't miss the glint in his eye as he gestured up the stairs. All the same, she couldn't help but feel embarrassed as she followed him up several flights of stairs and out onto a balcony on the front of the castle, pulling her new hat off its hook on the way. The wind whipped through his hair as they flew through the clouds, and when he reached the end he turned back, offering his hand to her. When she hesitated, he smiled gently. "Don't be afraid, Sophie."
"I'm not." But she refused his help, and moved up the railing to stand beside him. Her bright yellow dress fluttered gaily around her legs.
"Sophie …" he began, then stopped and shook his head. "Look, you don't have to be afraid of what you said down there."
She felt his bright blue eyes watching her, but kept her eyes averted, fixed on the fluffy cloudscape they were traveling through. "I … I know."
He sighed. "Sophie, I know you love me. You couldn't have done what you did for me and Calcifer if you didn't. I really, truly appreciate that."
Her heart clenched in her chest, and she felt as if she couldn't breathe. Was he turning her down? She fought back the lump in her throat.
She looked up into his face, its usual beauty marred by worry.
"Sophie, I – "
"Why do you keep saying my name?" she interrupted.
He stopped, straightened. "Well, I … I don't know, really. I like to say it." When she looked like she didn't believe him, he finally threw all cautions to the wind, bent down to her, and planted a firm kiss squarely on her little, surprised mouth.
Sophie's brain froze when his lips touched hers, but gradually she became aware that she should do something. Letting go of her reservations, she allowed her eyes to close, her arms to encircle his neck and shoulders as his were across her back.
He broke the kiss then, pulling back only far enough so he could look into her eyes. With a playful grin, he lifted her to sit on the railing. She squealed in surprise, but he smothered it with another kiss, more passionate than the last. Her arms clung to his slender waist, and he held her to his chest, pressing their bodies together.
Howl had never known a kiss like this one. Magic exploded in his veins, and he felt it pouring into her, electrifying them both. He couldn't get enough. He held her against him, felt her heart beating against his. He moved one hand and fisted it in her hair, his body crying for more of her. Her fingernails caught his shirt as he changed the angle of the kiss, leaning in, trying to taste her. She opened to him effortlessly, and they tasted each other, reveling in the passion of their embrace.
After what seemed like lifetimes, their lips finally parted. Howl stumbled backwards, catching Sophie against him as he leaned on the opposite railing. She held his hands together in hers as she leaned on him, her radiant face beaming up at him. He was smiling so broadly he felt his face might split in two. "I love you, Sophie."
She couldn't tear her eyes off his face. "I love you, too."
He leaned down again, and as her lips rose to meet his, he knew he was the luckiest man in the world.
Ende Kapitel Eins
A/N: So what did you think? My biggest concern is if Sophie, Howl, and the others are in character. I'm also not sure if I've got all the events (particularly minor ones) correct. I've only seen the movie once, but I mean to see it again soon. Please, PLEASE review! Also, please go to http / ladymac (dot) deviant art (dot) com (take out spaces, of course), click on my deviation entitled "Howl's Hair Color Challenge" and VOTE! Heh heh heh …. This should be fun. Thanks for reading!