IT'S FINALLY HERE!
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 third 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. It also helps if you read 'Matchmaker' too, cause that is the third part of the story. 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. The other day, I went onto and I'm bidding on a set of Howl, Sophie and Markl figures. I only want it for the Markl! Also, I bought the cutest little Heen doll on and it's so soft and cute and everything! There are loads of Calcifer toys and the figures of Markl there too… So if you have paypal… GET IT NOW!
Back to the story, of Markl and his crazy little adventures that bring a smile to your cheek cause let's face it… Markl's such a little cutie. Now, Sophie and Howl are getting married and it's going to be a nice simple wedding in the place of flowers and the reception at Star Lake. Markl can't wait, it's sure to be the best day or his life as well as Howl and Sophie's. However, Sophie's mother Honey isn't sure it's a good idea
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, Markl still doesn't know where babies come from and wonders about it for a little bit.
Here's the order you have to read these in for it to make sense: My Mother, Matchmaker and Confetti. Like I said if you want more Markl Tales, just ask. Give me some ideas! It was ideas that got Diana Wynne Jones writing Howl's Moving Castle. I'd like to know what adventures you want me to write about little Markl. Also, I know in the book Sophie's stepmother is called Fanny, but in the movie she called Honey for some odd reason.
Markl was probably more excited then Sophie and Howl were put together about the wedding. When you consider that Howl was so happy that he was yelling it, quite literally, from the roof tops of Market Chipping, it wouldn't be long before the whole land knew about the wedding of Wizard Howl. It was funny when Markl went out with Sophie to the early morning market, like they did every week, and everyone told her congratulations and many happy returns. Meanwhile, all the children in the town already assumed that Sophie was Markl's mother. Of course, in real life, Sophie would be too young to mother Markl, being only eleven at the time Markl would have been born… But that didn't matter.
"You must be so excited!"
"Oh bless you girl!"
The complements went on and on, and Sophie often remarked to Markl as the walked through the early morning market, "I've never been so popular!" then Markl asked if she was ever popular at school, to which Sophie explained with a laugh that she had been the target of many bullies. Being the elder sister meant you were unlucky and the girls at school made you remember it well. The girls at the old hat shop, plain and nothing compared to Sophie, had given themselves too much credit for looks they didn't have, had often bullied her. However, when they had to go out and take jobs, they were both upset and annoyed to find they had to take orders from Sophie.
It just goes to show that bullies never win.
Markl noticed that the strange lady who kept coming round insisted on sorting out the wedding for Sophie. It occurred to him now and again that he was lucky to have such a great mother like Sophie. Not that the strange lady Honey wasn't lovely too, but her over reactions often had him a little scared. And when Sophie's sister Lettie came around, Markl was somewhat embarrassed when he couldn't tell Honey from Lettie.
"The one trying to hide her winkles, is Sophie's mother" Howl pointed out to Markl while Sophie was practically being swallowed whole by the talk of her soon-to-be wedding. When the two boys came in, the room went quite as no one was thrilled about the groom being Wizard Howl, no matter how nice Sophie claimed he was. Howl tried to play it up to Honey and Lettie in his Howl like fashion. He'd flirt, but not in a gross way to Markl's relief, "Mum you're looking so nice today… If I didn't know it was you, I'd say you were Sophie's sister and Lettie, you're just as cute as you can be, if there are limits to your cuteness!"
Honey shook her head grandly and slipped the tea that Sophie had so kindly poured for her. She spoke plainly, and though no one else was listening, Markl heard every word that was said by Honey: "Wizard", she began, "I don't think you understand the seriousness of this meeting I've called here. I've come do discuss the dowry and what I'm going to get in return for you marrying my daughter. Since her father died, he has left both our daughters in my care. Sophie is only eighteen and by Ingarian law, a girl must be twenty-one before she marries freely of her own will. Currently though, it is my choice who she is marrying and right now I am allowing her to choose her future spouse. I've never been one to want to push either of my daughters into marriage. Their father, my first husband, God rest his soul, wanted them to choose their husbands, particularly Sophie… Back then she owned the hat shop, you see…"
"And she still does" Howl interrupted, he hadn't been really listening to what Honey had been saying, Markl could tell by the way he seemed to just be staring a nodding, pretending to listen. Howl placed his hand on Sophie's knee, and after a loud enough snort from Lettie who had noticed, Howl pointed out that: "Sophie still has the hat shop… Only now we call it the flower shop" he beamed and put another arm around Sophie.
"Why would you all a hat shop a flower shop" Lettie asked confused, Sophie pet her on the hand and explained, before Honey could, that they had turned the hat shop into a flower shop. Lettie beamed with delight, "Oh good! That's much better then a stuffy old hat shop. May I see?"
So Sophie and Lettie took one another's hands and Sophie led her to the flower shop next door. As soon as they had gone, Howl and Markl glanced at each other and then they both looked at Honey who was still just sitting there. She had taken out a golden watch and checking the time. "It's not mine, she owns the shop… I gave it to her. It's rightfully hers after all!" Howl added.
Honey tucked her watch away and sighed, "I won't even discuss this until my husband is here… When it comes to money, he wants to make sure that my daughters are well provided for. Unlike my Lettie who is outgoing and a glamorous beauty, like myself, Sophie is very delicate and a fragile beauty. I won't have her going to a man who, in all fairness, has very little compliments about himself…"
Though Howl hardly ever raised his temper, he almost raised it and lost it with Sophie's mother. Markl felt angry too, as he knew Howl had only ever shown Sophie respect and love. He adored her, more then the rich man who her mother was married to probably adored her. Had Grandma Witch not told him to be polite to Sophie's mother, he would have told Honey straight to her face what a nice guy Howl was. However, to his surprise, before Howl could shoo him off into the place of flowers with Grandma Witch, and where Sophie and Lettie were probably going to go after Sophie had shown her the shop, Honey had turned to Markl and asked him something.
"Who are you? I've been here before and you were here. Are the wizard's son, or something?" she asked,
Markl suddenly didn't know what to do. All his anger had gone and he finally had the whole family thing screaming him in the face. Only last week he had called Howl the best dad in the world and he had even started to call Sophie 'mother', but could he really call himself their son, when he wasn't really. He was born of a noble fisherman and his wife. His real mother had died giving birth to him. Until he was four, he worked on the ship with his father. Then his father died after falling overboard and drowning. They never even found the body. After that, they took Markl back to Porthaven and left him to fend for himself. The little four year-old had lived off scraps found in the street and any odd piece of food he was given by people who pitied him. He soon began sleeping on people's doorsteps, until one day, someone coming out of their home awaked him. It was Howl. After Markl explained himself, Howl had told him to wait inside while he got some bread. Even now, Markl couldn't believe how nervous he was when he entered the castle for the first time. He'd never been in a wizard's home before. It was then that he sat in front of the grate and discovered Calcifer.
"An orphan, huh?" he'd said, after Markl had told him what happened. "Poor kid, Howl's an orphan too, you know".
"Really?" Markl had said, feeling a little better after explained about what had happened to him, "What happened to his mum and dad?"
"Well…" Calcifer explained, "Before he met me, his dad and uncle had travelled all over the world together as wizards, and Howl had to stay at home with his mother and elder sister. Then when he was only your age, maybe a bit younger, his mother died. His father and uncle came back for him and his sister. They travelled for quite a while together. Then one day, a few days after his sixth birthday, when they were coming back to here on a ship, his sister fell into the water. His father and uncle tried to get her back, but by the time they got her back, she was close to death, die a few days later when she was only thirteen. Howl and his sister were inseparable, and it took him quite a while to get over her death. She had been his best friend and on their family's travels there were no other children to play with. So, Howl started playing with toys rather then other children. He'd had such a disrupted childhood. It was all he wanted to do.
"After they had buried his sister, they were almost straight away off again. But there was a plague that hit the ship and many people died, including Howl's father…" Calcifer had stopped then, and Markl remembered that he had felt so sorry for Howl. He'd lost both his parents and his sister. Markl, having been an only child didn't know what it was like to have a sister. After that, it had been an ambition of his to have one. Obviously, it would be a younger sister, but if he got a sister, he promised himself he'd be the best older brother he could be. When Howl came back, he fed them both and told Markl he could stay as long as he wanted.
Markl never left and within time became his apprentice. Once he and Howl started to get on, Markl looked on him as a father. He liked to think Howl cared for him as a son too. This was when Markl started praying that Howl would find a girl who wouldn't ditch him after two dates.
He snapped out of his trip down memory lane when Howl ruffled up Markl's hair and smiling said to Sophie's mother, "Yes… He's my son. Not biologically of course, but after knowing him for so long, I can't think of him as anything else, if I'm honest. Sophie loves him too, we're a family really".
"Yeah" Markl added, "Miss Honey, ma'am, I love Sophie a lot. She's the kindest, sweetest and friendly girl- woman I've ever known. She looks after me in a way I've never known and she makes all of us happy!" He then looked at Howl and smiled, "And though Master Howl has his faults, there is no one as kind and as giving as he is, as surely you wouldn't deny two nice people a life together. Everyone else in this place know that they belong together and that they will have a happy life together. Please let Sophie stay with us, we love her more then you could ever know!"
Honey, to Markl's surprise, seemed utterly touched by those words, though simple and stupid they sounded to everyone else who might have heard it, it touched Honey in such a way that she let out a cry of job and flung her arms around him, crying in the same fashion as she had the day she came to see Sophie when the war was still on. "OH MICHAEL!"
"M-Markl, ma'am" he corrected her,
"Whatever" she said quietly, but then threw herself into sobs again, "THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL! WHAT A LOVELY LITTLE BOY YOU ARE!" She then looked towards Howl, who looked very pleased despite the fact he hadn't really done anything. "Now, you say something to impress me like your little boy has, and I'll happily let you marry Sophie".
Howl wasn't sure what to say or do, he knew in his heart what he wanted to say and he had never spoken with his heart before. It was really strange but Markl knew straight away what Howl would say as it was the only thing that Howl could say without milking it or messing it up.
"I love her" was all he said,
"Is that it?" Honey asked, finally letting Markl out of her grip.
"Isn't that enough?"
"It isn't always" she explained, "Marriage can not be passed, built or accepted on those three simple words. It needs commitment. I can't let my daughter marry you just on those words. I need to know just how much you care for her…"
Howl smiled, "I love her more then anything. In my life, I never thought anything could be so perfect in my life… Except, maybe my hair… But even that doesn't fathom up to the perfection that your daughter has. Sophie is the single most important person in my life, I'd die before I'd let anything happen to her…"
"And that's fact!" Markl burst out,
"And…" Sophie said as she came back in with Lettie and Grandma Witch with her, "If I were denied life with Howl, Markl, Grandma and Calcifer…"
"Yes, I'll explain later" Sophie said, she then went on, "Then my heart would slowly break into a thousand pieces. Please, Mother, don't subject me so such unhappiness. I don't want much, except to live here with my new family… I have had such real happiness in my life, please let me take this happiness now!"
And that was it.
As soon as Honey's husband arrived, the filthy rich and cheesy Mr Smith turned up, the debating started. After a long, thriving fifthteen minutes, the deal was made – and Mr Smith and Honey walked away with two bouquets of roses, two-piece of silver and a pint of milk.
"Milk and Honey?" Markl said to himself once the pair had left, "What a wonderful duo!" And they were, not only was it the name of Sophie's mother and the milk she had taken away, but it was the warming drink that made Markl remember that he was never alone and the wonderful motherly scent that Sophie had.
"Indeed they are Markl!" Sophie agreed, smiling in her warming way.
Despite what Honey said, Sophie got her way with the wedding. Nice, plain and simple, like she'd always wanted. Everyone was there; Grandma Witch, Honey, Smith, Lettie, Bessie, a few people from Market Chipping and even Madame Suliman sent her best wishes to Sophie, but nothing was said of Howl.
The most unwelcome ad yet welcome guest was Kabu, who Markl found himself very weary of. He'd made a promise with Heen that should Kabu even dare speak when the vicar said, "If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace", that Heen would bite him. However, despite Kabu's clear distress, he behaved himself and didn't say a word or speak anything against Sophie marrying her 'true love'. He was clearly upset though, as he was convinced that Sophie was his 'true love' and not Howl's. Still, she just smiled, shook hands with Howl and kissed Sophie on the cheek. No strings attached.
Flowers weren't a problem, the wedding itself was held at the private study that was covered in so many flowers, most of which had yet to be named. Sophie's bouquet had been perfectly cut and simple, just as she had always wanted. She was dressed simple in white and wore her real mother's old veil, which Honey had kindly lifted out for her to use. It was Honey who gave her away, and she cried thought the whole service. From beginning till the end, Sophie had stood confident and not once seemed to back down like most brides that ever one thought it was wonderful.
Nobody would ever know, but Sophie had had cold feet just before the wedding began and Markl had talked her around. "I'm so scared, Markl!" she said pacing up and down fearing the task she had to do. "What is he back out? What if he regrets it? How am I meant to stand there and be the centre of attention?" she kept asking Markl though she was more talking to herself. "I have to think straight otherwise I might do something silly!"
"No one would judge you" Markl told her as he took her hand, "And there is nothing in this world that will ever feel better then being the centre of attention in the best way possible!"
After everything was all over and the last glass of wine had been drunk and the last flower had been stepped on and the last piece had cake had been eaten, the castle suddenly went quite as it swept through the clouds. Calcifer was up all night chewing on many piles of wood that Sophie had left for him as a reward for being so well behaved at the reception. When it was early morning, Markl came out of his room and looked out the window to see the beautiful Market Chipping. He had never felt more part of a family.
His family was official and he was the official son of the family. His mother and his father awoke not long after him and once Grandmother Witch was up they all sat around a table like a family. Sophie cooked the breakfast and served it with milk for drink and honey on the toast, fed Calcifer the eggshell. Howl sat there reading a newspaper telling of how the new Treaty of Allies had been signed and they all hoped that peace would keep it's place in Ingary. Sophie sat down and fed Grandma while Markl fed Heen from the table, and no one minded. Every now and then Sophie would stop to clean the messy face of her adopted son.
It really did seem like a family…
It felt like a family…
But Markl knew that it wasn't Howl and Sophie being married that made them a family. They had always been a family, long ago. It was written years ago that they would end up like this. No, it was part two of the plan that was going to come true next.
"What is this part two of your plan?" Calcifer asked that very night before,
"The only other thing that will make my average family complete" Markl said grinning as he gazed into Calcifer's flames.
"Oh yeah?" Calcifer asked chewing on another log, "And what might that be, I wonder?"
Markl smiled as he took a slip of sweet milk and honey, "I need a sister!"
There we go. The long awaited third part of the Milk and Honey series. Due to popular demand, I will write more Markl stories. I hope you liked this. More coming soon, bye!