Just a silly one-shot about HMC the movie… that doesn't belong to me but Miyazaki… and Diana Wynne Jones of course who thought of the idea in the first place.

This is the second story in the three short Markl stories entitled 'Milk and Honey' stories. If you read 'My Mother', you'll understand why it's called the milk and honey series. Also, you'll see at the end of this chapter too. Now, I loved Markl in the movie… I thought he was sweet in the book but he's just such a little sweetheart in the movie and I just loved him. I'm a bad fan of the Sophie/Markl relationship, cause Sophie seems to love him just like a mother loves her child… So I write stories about it.

This one is a little different though. On Markl's quest for the perfect family, he found everyone to fit the parts and now his job is to make sure that the family are sealed together. Job 1: Make dad propose to mum!

PS: If these stories are popular enough, I'll write more Markl Tales, but for now. It's just three. Let me know if you want more. I'd also like to warn you… Like most six years olds, Markl doesn't know why Sophie doesn't share rooms with Howl. We know, but he doesn't… So… Just warning that that's going to crop up towards the beginning.

Note: I've changed 'threw' to 'through' as Grignard pointed out to me. Thanks! Sorry for the mistake.

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Matchmaker

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Markl was feeling a lot better now. It was as if Sophie had a healing touch. Milk and honey really was the best cure, not the yuck medicine he had to take. Sadly, to his disappointment, Sophie had switched her attention to Howl, who had caught Markl's fever. Quite on purpose, but Sophie didn't care. Now he was the one who got the attention and it was up to Markl to look after Grandmother Witch. However, this was a good thing, as Grandma Witch and Markl had decided to hatch a plan.

It was all Markl's idea. He'd been practising for it for years. He'd found his mother, now he was going to keep her. He knew that most mums and dads were married, though he didn't understand why they had to be married. Now, there was something else too. Markl may only be six, and had to divert his eyes when ever Sophie and Howl… you know, kissed… but he knew very well that all mums and dads are meant to sleep in the same room. Markl had noticed that Sophie still kept to her own.

"Sophie" Markl asked one day, wondering if he even had a right to ask, "Are you and Howl ever going to get married?"

"If he asks me" was all Sophie would say.

Markl knew that this was because Sophie was very respectable and pure and she didn't want the neighbours to start talking. However, to Markl, it seemed stupid. What was wrong with sharing rooms with Howl? There was nothing wrong with that. "Is there?" Markl asked Grandma Witch. It was then she explained that Sophie was a very good and respectable girl indeed, and that Sophie probably would share with Howl, providing that they were married.

"Sophie, is Master Howl ever going to ask you to marry him?" Markl asked again one day,

"I don't know" Sophie said calmly, "I'll have to wait and see, won't I?"

This was when Markl came up with his plan… He would convince Howl to ask Sophie to marry him. It was fall proof cause he knew that Sophie would say yes. The problem of course was convincing his master and father to ask such a question when you can't pin him down to anything, unless he chooses to pin himself to it. Still, Markl knew Howl very well, and decided that he would catch him when he wouldn't be able to get away from him. This was when the sadly part of Howl's illness became the highlight of the child's plan.

"What do you think, grandma?" Markl asked. He rubbed Heen's head as he waited for the old lady to speak.

"Its good" she answered, "How many parts are there to your plan?"

"Part one and part two… Part one is to get Master Howl to ask Sophie to marry him. It'll be easy about now, seeing as Master Howl can't get away…"

"And two is?"

Before Markl could answer, Sophie rushed down the stairs and smiles at each of them, including giving Heen a rub on the head. She then quickly grabbed her basket, her white hat and shawl and went off towards the door. Before she left, she turned and said, "I'm going out to get more milk and a few other things, make sure Howl doesn't leave that room. His feet can't get cold…" she then sighed and looked over at the empty grate. It was a shame that Calcifer wasn't there at the moment, she said, "I could have set Howl's feet on fire that way!" She then blissfully left through the door.

Markl grinned as he saw Sophie leave, this was his perfect chance to talk to Howl without Sophie coming in and either catching him, hearing them or just Howl calling out to her to save him. So, as Grandma Witch wished him luck, Markl snuck up to Howl's bedroom and knocked on the door.

"Master Howl?"

The room was still a shrine to Howl's childhood, crammed full of his childhood toys, art and features. The most childish thing in the room was Howl, who lay in silence looking very sorry for himself. Markl didn't back down, he came in here to get a mother and a father, and that's what he was going to get. He quickly went to his master's side.

"Master Howl?"

Howl turned his head and opened his eyes, "Oh, Markl… What's wrong? Did you want something? Sophie's gone out… Is Grandmother okay? I'm not feeling too good Markl, what's wrong?"

Markl didn't listen to most of what Howl said as he said it too quickly as if he was talking to someone who might have understood his babbling. He noticed how Howl had also started to call Grandma Witch, 'grandmother' too. Still, Markl kept to his plan, though he decided to be tactful cause he didn't want to make his master feel worse… even though Master Howl was a famous drama king.

"Grandma's fine, I'm fine, nothing's wrong, I know you're not feeling good and yes, Sophie has gone out. In fact… That's why I came up to talk to you, Master Howl!" Markl explained. He then went closer to Howl's face to make sure there was no way that his master would pretend he couldn't hear. "Master Howl… you love Miss Sophie, don't you?"

Howl's eyes shot open and he looked straight at Markl, "Huh?"

"Are you going to ask her to marry you, Master Howl?" Markl pestered. It was then that Howl shut his eyes and pretended he couldn't hear. This was where Markl would pester him, until he got his answer. "Master Howl! You were fine a minute again… Answer me! Are you going to marry Sophie?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Cause I'm curious!"

"Go and help your grandmother, Markl!"

"Answer my question!"

"No!"

"I won't go until you do!"

Howl groaned and turned over to her was face down in his pillow as Markl went on asking the same question over and over. There no way he was backing down, and he knew that his master would give in if Markl kept pestering him. How do you think things got done before Sophie came along?

"Why do you ask? Would you like it if I married her?"

Markl found himself jumping up and down, "Yes! That'd be great! Then we'd be a great proper family!"

"Why should I have to marry her just so we'd be a family!"

"Grandma said that you're never going to get anything from Sophie unless you marry Sophie…" Markl began. He paused a little bit when he saw a sort of shocked look on Howl's face. "I don't know what it means but the Witch told me to pretend I didn't hear that…"

"Yes… it's better that you didn't say it again…"

"What's it mean?"

"I'll tell you when you're thirty!" Howl explained. He pulled himself up so he could sit up to look at Markl. He then sighed, "Okay… If you want to know… I was planning on asking her…"

"When?"

"Later…"

"Do it now!" Markl said excitedly, he then found himself jumped up on the bed and staring his master in the eye. "Do it now! Better now then later… and you know she'll say yes and you do love her, don't you?" He then realised where he was and quickly slipped off the bed, "Okay, do it in your own time. Still, you know, I love Sophie a lot… I really wish I could be her son. You know? I never had a mother. Sophie's the coolest mum in the world! Sophie's says I'm like a son to her and I think she's like a mother to me. Even she agrees…"

Howl nodded, he fell a backwards into his pillow again and a small laugh could be heard coming from him, "Yeah… she said something like that before… Okay… I'm going to sleep for real now, Markl… Remember to work on that invisibility spell I left for you… Grandmother can help you if you get stuck…"

Markl turned to leave. Then he remembered why he was there, "Do you promise you'll ask her soon?"

Howl didn't answer, he just raised his thumb up and Markl and that told Markl everything that he needed to know. He went skipping towards the door, and finally he found it in his heart to say… "You know, Master Howl, you really are the coolest dad in the world!" He then left the room with both but Howl's faint laughing in his ear.

So he worked on his spell, trying to perfect it in a way that Master Howl would be proud. He tried not the leap up and dance when Sophie finally came home and he tried to not listen in on what was going on up stairs. Within time, he heard laugher coming from upstairs as Howl, dressed in his pyjamas; dressing gown and slippers ran down stairs like a child. His heart was technically still that of a child but his mind was that of man.

"She said yes!" Was all he said…

Markl laughed as he ran up and hugged everyone, even the Grandma Witch, who took the hug with a giddy look on her face. Probably half happy and half thinking about Prince Kabu at the time. Still Markl went on laughing as Sophie came down, half laughing and half worrying… "You're fever is going to get worse, Howl!" she called after him as she ran after him into the garden.

Heen coughed and smiled as he ran out into the garden also. Within time everyone was out in the garden looking down towards the ground. The flying castle had picked up and was flying. That meant that Calcifer has to be near by!

"Hey, what's all the yelling for? What'd I miss?"

Yes, surely enough it was Calcifer. He blazed up in front of everyone and seemed to chuckle as the whole story was explained. Markl felt that the family has never looked or felt so much closer. All Grandma Witch could say was how pretty Calcifer looked and then he patted Markl on the head. "Good job, Markl! So what is your next plan of action?"

That was where Markl just smiled and winked, it wasn't something he could really fix up, and it was all up to Howl and Sophie now. So as he drank the warm milk and honey that Howl never got round to drinking himself, he thought about what it'd be like if his plan did go into perfect action.

Want to know what part B of Markl's plan is?

Sorry! Sadly, that is another story for another time.

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Seriously, I normally write better then this! Anyway, like I said, this is part 2 of the Milk and Honey series. I didn't think that they should be one big story cause they're all little stories. Anyway, the third one will be coming soon. Like I said, if they prove to be popular and you want me to, I'll write more. Please review this story. Thank you.