The Result in a Happily Ever After

Disclaimer: I do not own Howl's Moving Castle. And no, I do not own this beginning part of the chapter that introduces Sophie, because that part is in the book. And then some.

Summary: HowlxSophie, one-sided JustinxSophie; Howl and Sophie have a fight, and now thinking she isn't going to live a happily ever after, Sophie runs away, and is found by… the scarecrow prince?

Note: Sorry if some of the parts are so CHEESY it stinks :P

Just a reminder that I purposely mix up both the book and the movie in this, just like I said in the beginning of the last chapter!


Chapter Two

In Which Howl Wonders Where Sophie Went


&1&

"Master Howl…" came a small voice. Howl furrowed his eyebrows, his eyes shut very tightly. "Master Howl…" came the voice again, and the wizard just pulled the pillow over his head, trying to close out whoever was trying to wake him from his beauty sleep. The voice stopped calling him, and noticing it was safe, Howl pulled the pillow back under his head (eyes still closed), and sighed softly.

"MASTER HOWL!" The voice screamed, seeming very angry, with a tiny hint of worry. The dark haired man's eyes flew open as he jolted upright, almost screaming. When he noticed that it was just Markl who had been trying to get him up, he frowned.

"Markl… why wake me up at this hour? It's too early to be morning…" Howl said, putting a hand up to his own forehead, and falling back onto the bed.

"It's Sophie…. I went downstairs to get a glass of water, you know, and Calcifer was gone as usual, so after I drank my water, I went to see if Sophie was in her room, because you know about what happened at dinner…" the boy's eyes nearly filled with tears. Howl sat up in surprise, wondering if someone died (he was half asleep, so he wasn't so sure who Markl was talking about) "…she wasn't there!"

"Who?"

"Sophie!" Markl yelled.

"Oh…" the wizard lay back down in his bed, attempting to go back to sleep, but quickly opened his eyes once more. "what's wrong with Sophie?" the apprentice sighed, and rolled his eyes, and explained what happened to Sophie once more.

&2&

Sophie had woken up in a very large room, laying on a very comfy bed, with red and gold bed curtains surrounding it. The room itself was very elegant, the curtains like those on the bed, the windows very large, and the floor made of marble, with little paintings of angels on it.

The girl last remembered falling asleep right there by a random door, and then realized it was the gates of the palace. She let out a small gasp, noticing that someone must have seen her, and brought her inside the palace. Sophie wondered what Howl was doing at this very moment, but then decided not to, knowing it would make her feel guilty for leaving the castle.

"Ah, your awake, Miss Hatter." came a voice, snapping Sophie out of her thoughts. She glanced up, and saw a young man with blond hair, a yellow suit, and a red tie. The young woman remembered who the person was.

"K-Kabu! I, ah, mean, Prince Justin-"

"No, just call me whatever pleases you, my dear Sophie,"

"Sir Prince."

"If it pleases you."

"Would you please be so kind to explain to me as to what I'm doing here?" Sophie couldn't believe all those words had just come out of her mouth, yet she was glad they hadn't come out in a rude manner.

"Ah yes," Justin nodded to himself as he helped Sophie out of the bed in a princely fashion. "one of the servants found you sleeping, and told me, but I couldn't just let you sleep out there in the cold."

"I-Is that so?" the girl muttered to herself, and she stood. The Prince then led her out of the room.

"Please, tell me. Whatever happened to the Wizard Howl?" he asked. Sophie was silent for a moment.

"Nothing. I just decided to leave," she said. "I couldn't stand the fact that he was treating me as his cleaning lady all of the time."

"I thought you two were in love?" Justin sounded almost upset when he had said that, but the woman acted as if she hadn't noticed.

"Yes well…" Sophie didn't know what to say. Surely, they had been in love once before, but now Howl had been ignoring her. A lot. So there was no way he was now. "that's all in the past now."

"Hm." the blond haired man lead her into the dining room, where there was practically a feast for breakfast. Sure, there were the usual bacon, eggs, bread, and cheese, but also pancakes, coffee, tea, orange juice, waffles, toast, and other foods that were far more better than Howl could have given Sophie now. It was sad, really, that a Royal Wizard didn't get paid enough to get more food.

"Anyway…" Justin put on a smile. "…you just make yourself at home right now, and eat. I'll get some servants to prepare you a bath and clothes." he left Sophie to eat alone, and that's what she did. And was happily full by the time she was barely finished with all of the food.

&3&

"What happened here?" Calcifer asked, when he got back to the castle. Howl had thrown everything in every direction, yelling Sophie's name. Markl stood by the fire place, and explained to the demon what had happened to Sophie. "ooh, burn." Cal added, almost making fun of the wizard.

Howl made his way to the middle of the room and dropped to his knees, as if he were in a dramatic play, where the main male character had to act in the cheesiest way possible. It was a sad sight, really, yet quite funny at the same time. The wizard crawled his way to Calcifer.

"Where do you think she has gone?" he asked.

"Listen, I feel for you, I really do, but if you drip on me, I'm going to go out and no one's ever going to see me ever again, and you're going to be twice as sad." the demon said, then he thought back to the question Howl had asked a few seconds before. "I'm thinking she went to see her mother, or one of her sisters."

"Oh, of course!" The wizard said, pounding a fist into his hand. In times like these, he completely forgot he had location spells, and could have found Sophie in a snap, but Calcifer decided not to remind him, just for the heck of it.

"Calcifer, I plan on visiting a certain bakery in Market Chipping. Markl, you stay and make sure Calcifer isn't dumb enough to burn anything down." Howl ordered, walking towards the door. He ignored the fire demon's grumblings and angry words, and changed the portals to Market Chipping, taking a step out after doing so.

His first stop was to the youngest Hatter sister, Martha.

&4&

"I do hope you plan on staying for a while, Sophie," Prince Justin said, leading the young woman around the castle, showing her all the rooms. Sophie looked out all of the large windows that let in the sunlight, wondering what Howl was doing at that very moment: looking for her? Or just being the usual slither-outer he was and staying at the castle? The blond haired man noticed that she hadn't answered. "Sophie?" This snapped her out of her thoughts.

"Yes?"

"I was wondering if you were going to stay for a while?" Justin blinked several times.

"Ah, if it won't be too much trouble…" Sophie was worried that if she stayed at one of her family members' houses, Howl could find her, or maybe it would be the other way around: Her sisters and mother would barge into the castle with pitchforks and chainsaws. Possibly. And start that second war Sophie thought about the day before.

"Oh no, not at all. Stay for as long as you want, you're always welcome here," the prince smiled, his sparkling teeth made the woman try her best to hold back a small snort and burst out laughing. She didn't want to be rude.

Not that Howl's teeth were always dirty, they were sparkling too, but she never really did notice.

"And please, stop thinking about the Wizard Howl for now," Justin added. "I don't want you to worry about people who don't worry about you."

Sadly, Sophie couldn't help but think about the dark haired wizard.

&5&

Wizard Howl let out a sneeze, and then sniffed. He didn't feel like he had a cold, so it was probably just the pollen in the air. Or something around those lines. He stood in front of Cesari's, the bakery shop Martha worked at. He grinned at the site of all of those men at the counter, begging for the youngest Hatter sister to serve them, as the said youngest sister just giggled, and turned down any offer to marriage or date. If Markl was a tad bit older, they'd be perfect for one another.

But that was what Howl thought. Finding Sophie was priority one (1). And so, the raven haired man walked into the bakery shop.

He made his way through the crowd of men, all who were head over heels in love. They all protested angrily when Howl 'cut in line,' but all the wizard did was smirk. He got to the very front of the crowd, and placed an arm on the counter, leaning on it in a casual sort of way, other hand on hip.

"May I help-- oh!" Martha exclaimed, noticing who the man was. "you're Howl, right? Sophie's friend?"

"That's right," the man let out a small laugh. The angry crowd of males behind him all yelled out and wondered why Martha never remembered who they were, instead of the dreaded man who stole women's hearts. "I would like to speak with you concerning her…" Martha nodded, and decided to take Howl to the back of the kitchen, where they wouldn't be disturbed. The crowd changed from an angry mob to a sobbing swarm, wondering why Martha was leaving them for Howl, while they were 'better looking' then him.

Martha and Howl got to the back of the kitchen, behind all the carts and crates, and she motions for him to sit on a box, who did so.

"Well, what did you want to talk to me about?" the girl asked. "did something happen to my sister?" Howl shook his head a little, then switched to nodding, then back to shaking, then nodding again. He sighed, and just shrugged. "what did you do?" Martha almost gasped, when she figured out that the wizard meant Sophie was missing.

"Well, we got into this little argument, although Sophie was really the one yelling at me…" Howl twiddled his thumbs, not noticing that that was what the sister he was talking to usually does when she talks. "and then she barged out, leaving me, Markl, and Calcifer alone… to fend for ourselves, and probably to die with nobody to cook for us, nobody to shop for us, nobody to clean for us… oh, it was horrible…" Martha gaped at him, and his dramatic story. It seemed pretty true at the beginning, but as Howl almost started… sobbing…. When he got on with the rest of the story, it seemed he could do all those things himself.

"She ran away?" Martha asked. The wizard nodded, and magically took out a handkerchief, wiping his nose. Maybe if he kept acting, she'd have pity on him and give him a hug. "…with someone like you at the castle, it's not wonder she ran!" Howl choked and looked up.

"Pardon?" he blinked.

"You act as though you always need someone to take care of you, as if you're still a little child!"

"Technically, I--"

"You were probably always asking her for help, or… or maybe you were just being lazy, always finding reasons to not do any work around there! Sophie was right, you are a slither-outer." Martha frowned, as the man stared at her with wide eyes.

"Sophie talks about me?"

"Every time she visits-- You're changing the subject!" the girl stood up. "if you'll please excuse me, I have to get back to work. I hope you have a nice day, Mr. Jenkins." Martha turned and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Howl there.

"Sophie talks about me?" he repeated, cocking his head.

&6&

Now, since that little visit didn't go very well, it made Howl wonder what Lettie would say, or worse…. Her MOTHER. It made him shudder at the very thought of it, and he could see the headlines on the newspaper clearly:

Famous Wizard Killed by Angry Step-Mother with a Bonbon: Possibly from Fact that He Tried to Pursue Her, or Because Mother was Under Stress

Howl almost got drawn to tears. What a horrid way to die.

Well, better now than never…. Actually, never would be good, but he's got to find Sophie.

Howl asked for directions to the Smiths' home, and then found it. It was like a castle, only a tad bit smaller, and not as many servants waiting to escort you to the main man of the home. It was quite possible that Sophie would be here anyway, they had far more luxuries than he himself could give to her.

The wizard knocked on the large door, only to be greeted by a maid.

"Yes, Sir?" she asked.

"Ah yes, I would like to speak with Mrs. Smith, if she is home?" Howl said, trying to look as important as he could. "I happen to be a friend of one of her relatives."

"I'll let the Missus know," with that, the girl let the wizard in, telling him to take a seat, which he did. Howl took note of his surroundings, the environment was the exact opposite of how the castle used to look like before 'Grandma Sophie" came along. The inside of the place was almost like that of a castle…

…which made Howl wonder why he felt the need of going to visit the King.

"Ah, Mr. Jenkins." a blond woman in elegant clothing walked into the room, making the wizard look up. If Martha were there, and both females stood beside one another, you'd almost think they were sisters.

"Mrs. Smith…" Howl nodded his head in response to what she had said. The woman sat in a chair across from him.

"So tell me," Fanny smiled at her guest. "there's got to be a reason why you're visiting here on this nice day, and without my daughter, Sophie, for that matter." The wizard sighed, and looked around the room a few times.

"Well…" he paused, and decided to start off by asking her a question. "since it's obvious now that I know Sophie isn't staying with you, I just wanted to know: Have you seen her around here? Somewhere around last night and early this morning?" The mother shook her head.

"You two haven't gotten into a fight have you?" she asked. Howl looked to the ground. "I see…. Well, whatever were you two arguing about?"

"I… haven't really been paying much attention to Sophie lately, you know? But that was because…"

"Because what?"

Howl covered his face with one hand. "I'd…. rather not say."

"Is it another woman?" Fanny scooted up closer to the dark haired man with her chair, hoping to get the full details.

"Agh, that's what Sophie thinks too!" Howl threw his hand back. "fine… I'll show you…." he reached into his pocket and pulled out a box, but the older woman stopped him before he opened it.

"I get it now, I get it," she then smiled. "and then what happened after the fight? Did she run away?"

"Yes, but no one was awake at the time to follow her, or figure out she was going," Howl sighed once more and put the small box away.

"Let me tell you this," Fanny said. "if you don't find her, Sophie might be taken by someone else. If you do find her, and you're still keeping your distance, she'll think you're seeing someone else, and then her heart will be broken, and you get the rest." the woman leaned forward and pat Howl's hand. "so you better buck up and stop being a slither-outer."

After they said their goodbyes, the wizard left, wondering how many people Sophie knew, who learned that he was a coward.

&7&

Howl had made a stop back to his castle, to take care of his business and whatnot, and grabbed a pair of seven-league boots. He waved to Calcifer and went off once again, and quickly made his way to a small house where plenty of flowers were grown. This was going to be his last visit of the day, unless he found more clues concerning Sophie's whereabouts.

The wizard cleared his throat and knocked on the door, where an aged woman then answered it.

"Oh, it's you, Mr. Jenkins." she said. "Lettie's outside in the back right now, would you like to speak with her?"

"Yes, Mrs. Fairfax, but I would be thankful if I would have an audience with you, as well as her?" Howl put on the best looking smile he could, but couldn't help but grin instead. The woman let out a small laugh and let the man inside the house, telling him to sit on the couch while she fetched Lettie.

A few seconds later, Mrs. Fairfax came in, with the middle Hatter sister, who was obviously related to Sophie.

"I was wondering when you'd visit," the girl said. "but not without my sister."

"Yes, about Sophie…" Howl paused to think, and he let out the hundredth sigh that day.

"Is she hurt?" Lettie looked as if she were ready to pounce on the wizard. "is she dead? Is she sick? Did you get her pregnant against her will!" This cause Howl to turn several shades of red. "oh, I'm sorry…" the girl apologized. "I was just worried about Sophie, since I haven't seen her for a while… anyway, please, tell me where my sister is."

"About that…" Howl tried again, hoping that now Mrs. Fairfax wouldn't interrupt him, with more sickening comments that had a lot more detail. "I'm not so sure where she is. I was hoping that you two would have an idea…" Mrs. Fairfax shook her head, and Lettie's eyes widened.

"Did Sophie run away?" she asked with a worried look. Seeing the wizard nod, she added, "why?"

"There was this fight…" Howl began. He didn't want the story to become so dramatic that the two women listening would probably not listen to him, and yell at him just like Martha had. "it was a silly one, really, and then just this morning, I found out she was gone right when I woke up."

"I don't mean to meddle in your personal affairs but…" Mrs. Fairfax leaned in closer to the man. "…was the fight about romance?"

"…Partly…"

"Have you ever told her you love her?"

"…No…"

"Did she cry about that?"

"…are you psychic or something?"

"You should know Sophie…" Lettie decided to get in on the conversation. "…her heart is not as sturdy as you think it is. You know she worries about you."

Howl was mentally glad that this sister gave him advice, and did not yell at him, like two other certain sisters… but those were his fault anyway.

"But still," the girl added, making Howl suddenly feel his heart drop. "when you find Sophie, you should tell her how you feel."

Mrs. Fairfax then gave him a short lecture about love and women, most of which Howl had already known about. A few hours later, he felt glad that he couldn't stay, though he acted as though he was upset at leaving the two lovely ladies. Cough. Cough.

With that, Howl got back to his castle, landing on a chair with a loud 'Plop.' Calcifer looked at him.

"No luck?"

The wizard shook his head.

"Some people stopped by for some spells," the fire demon said. "they were all gossiping about what's going on with Prince Justin at Kingsbury."

"Is that so?" Howl grumbled. "why are you telling me this? So that I can pay my respects at his funeral?" the tired out wizard expected that the blond haired prince had caught some sort of disease and only had several minutes… hours…. Seconds… to live.

"Actually…" Calcifer rolled his eyes. "there's a young woman living with him now." this got Howl's attention, as he quickly jumped up in his chair.

"Did they say her name?" he asked.

"Nah, only that she appeared there, asleep, just last night." the demon picked his 'teeth' with a small piece of wood.

"You know… it wouldn't hurt to pay our favorite little prince a visit…" the wizard smirked, saying that in a sarcastic sort of way.

…The "favorite little prince" part, NOT the "pay a little visit" part.


End Chapter Two


(1) I just felt like putting that 'Priority One' thing in there, since it was what Mizuho almost always said in the anime Onegai Sensei! (Please Teacher!)… Dedicated to you, Ryu-Nii-San! XD

Please… Review…. I took notes in class for this chapter (from the cause of writer's block) just for you guys! You faithful readers for reading this… so please… just… drop a review… -eats a cookie-