In Which Markl Is Not Pleased

"Master Howl, something's wrong. Sophie's been acting different recently!"

Howl looked up from the spell he was working on, his apprentice only a few inches from his face due to how far the child was leaning over the table.

"Different?" Howl asked, arching an eyebrow, "How so?"

"She's been really tired a lot." Markl said, smacking his hands on the table, "Its been going on since this week started. She's also looking really pale in the mornings."

Resting the molar on the table, Howl folded his arms, peering up towards the ceiling for a time, Markl followed his gaze but saw nothing but a cobweb Sophie had neglected due to her recent strange behavior.

Neither of the men heard a sound from the room above, it was as still as it had been earlier and even the crackling of the real fire in the hearth hardly disturbed the silence as the two males stared up into the rafters. Markl was still curious why his master looked up in the first place.

"Markl...finish off this spell for me. I'm going to go see what's the matter."

The apprentice nodded and picked up where the wizard left off just as Howl wondered towards the staircase and ascended up them quickly considering his rather calm exterior. He turned off the steps and stepped up to his bedroom door.

Lifting a hand, he knocked softly as a warning before entering and was greeted by a rustle of sheets and he saw the blankets sink down about the form of his hiding bride.


She mumbled something.

"Now, Sophie…what's the matter?" he asked, approaching the bed that was once his own and was now both his and his cleaning lady's…not that he minded…

The wizard curled his fingers about some of the fabrics, drawing them away from her and seeing the young wife holding her knees, concealing her bare chest that was only covered in a sheen of sweat. He touched her back as he sank onto the side of their bed, her skin was clammy with nerves and he could tell that she was worried about something and she wasn't telling him about it.

"Sophie? Are you sick again?" he asked, brushing her bangs away from her sweaty brow. "Pretty clammy…"

"I'm alright…just…I haven't been feeling well." She said, turning her face away, touching her forehead.

"Are you certain?"

She nodded, pushing herself up and meeting her husband's gaze with her own.

"I need my nightgown…"

"Aren't you hot? You're covered in sweat after all…"

Sophie shook her head as Howl eyed her with a glimmer of concern as he reached down and removed her nightgown from the floor, handing it to her slowly.

"Markl is worried about you…you have been acting strangely all week after all..." he pointed out as she pulled the fabric over her head, yanking it down over herself securely and shifting into a sitting position.

"Can you blame me for being unable to face him immediately?" she asked, smiling wryly, "I feel so…strange now that…well, you know…"

The rising color on her cheeks made him chuckle.

"I understand, you're embarrassed." He reached over and pulled her toward him a little, kissing her forehead and then resting his brow against her own, "Don't worry about it so much. We made love like married people do."

Sophie closed her eyes, "How can you say it so easily?" she groaned.

"I'm a man and I'm vulgar." He chuckled.

Sophie pushed him away but she was not succeeding in hiding the smile that crept across her lips.

After a moment, Howl noticed that Sophie's smile was fading and she was beginning to look panicked. She started to climb to the edge of the bed and swung off past Howl. Standing, she steadied herself a moment before covering her mouth with her palm, closing her eyes as she took a few deep breaths, air hissing through her cupped hand.

Howl was barely able to stand before Sophie suddenly ran out of the room, the door slamming into the wall in her effort to push it out of the way. The wizard managed to move the swinging door aside and follow her but was met by the slamming of the bathroom door and the sound of the shower running immediately afterwards.

"Is she alright?"

Howl glanced over his shoulder as his apprentice paused on the stairs, peering up at Howl with concern all across his face. IT was obvious that the child was worried about Sophie and even the wizard Howl could see how sweet it was for the boy to worry about his motherly figure so much.

Stepping away from the door, the cowardly wizard turned to Markl, bracing his hands on his hips and smiling. "Markl…have you ever given much thought to the idea of becoming a sibling of some sort?"

"A sibling?"

"You know…having a brother or a sister around…"

Markl's eyes widened.

"Is that what's the matter with Sophie?" he asked, Howl uncertain that he was hearing any kind of emotion in the child's voice.

"The Witch of the Waste was able to predict it before myself, which is rather insulting to me since I have a reputation for being a powerful wizard to uphold…but I suspected that Sophie would have a child eventually…I suppose I simply speeded up the process last week…" he rubbed his chin a moment, "Looks like our family is only going to keep growing, Markl…I hope you're prepared."

Looking down at the stairs, Markl nodded slowly. "So Sophie is going to have a baby?"

Howl looked back at the door a moment, "I didn't know women experienced some ill effects from it though…but if it really is the process necessary for a developing baby…then I think this calls for some excitement!"

Markl moved out of the way as Howl descended the stairs past him, he managed to catch the look of utter happiness on the wizard's face as he wondered downstairs but in spite of this wonderful news to the father…Markl wasn't feeling very pleased…in fact, there were thoughts running through his mind that made him resent the news more and more.

A baby, huh? It's great…for them…but if Sophie has a baby, then Howl might not want to teach me magic anymore since he'll be doting over it all the time…and Sophie's attention will be stolen every hour of every day. All a baby knows how to do is want…I'll have to deal with those wants…horrible smelling diapers…mushy baby food in stead of bacon and eggs every morning…then there's the crying. I heard from villagers that babies are up all night, crying for things they don't know if they need…and it carries no matter how big the house is…it keeps you up all night and all day the next day.

Markl frowned at the idea of sitting up 24/7 with a screaming baby as company just so the happy couple could get some down time together. He was no babysitter…they weren't going to make him be one…

Stepping up to the door, Markl ignored Howl's merrymaking downstairs, hardly even noticing the explosion of the potion that they had been working on and was neglected in the time they were away. He pressed his ear against the door and listened but only heard the sound of running water.

"Don't worry, Sophie…you're not pregnant…you're just a little sick." He murmured to the door. "Just a little sick…"

((Sorry to disappoint, Markl...but Sophie IS pregnant and you'll just have to deal with it. Heh, Heh...

So, what do you think? I'd say..."It's an update." and shrug but that's just me. I hope that no one is angry that I took so long to update. Writer's Block is a horrible thing and I've been working so things have been rather hectic. Please Review or I won't finish the story.))