Howl's Moving Castle
Vignette


Disclaimer:
I own nothing except the story line. It would be nice to thought wouldn't it?
Note: Things in(these) are thoughts. Also, I have no beta reader. So...the only thing I have to go by is my own changes from reading and re-reading 1,000 times. Constructive critism is welcome. Flames will only be used to make s'mores. So...without further delay...Enjoy!

((Summary: Set 2 years after the movie. Sophie's stubborn nature and Howl's nonchalant attitude are constantly conflicting. They have very little in common and are always arguing. So what keeps them together? Well, when one last fight has them saying things they don't mean and a certain prince makes good on his promise to come back, it could spell the end for the couple.))


"Fine! Do what you want! See if I care! You're so stupid!" Sophie slammed her bedroom door in the light haired man's face.

"Good! I will. I didn't ask for your permission anyway! You're the most annoying woman I've ever known!" Howl turned on his heels and strode to the magical doorway of his rebuilt castle. "Calcifer, I'm going out!" The wizard announced in a very agitated manner, making sure it was loud enough to penetrate the door that had just closed.

"Uh…alright, Howl. See you later." The fire demon replied, not willing to comment much for fear of retribution. The couple had been arguing for nearly 2 hours and neither had given an inch on either side of the debate. By the end of the first hour everyone, including Howl and Sophie, had completely forgotten what they were arguing about and still the battle had raged on. It was only when Howl left and Sophie locked herself in her room that things calmed down. Neither person was seen again until the next day.


"Oh come on Calcifer! Please! I'm so hungry!" Markl begged, holding up a strip of bacon and an egg that he was currently trying to get the fire demon to cook.

"No way! I've said it once, I'll say it again, I. Do. Not. Cook. I'm a big, scary, fire demon!" The flame did a little dance, increasing his size and making an odd growling noise.

"Oh please. You're just lazy." Markl said with a sigh, sitting down on the chair in front of the fire. Just then the sound of a door opening came from the side of the room. Both boy and fire glanced at the bedroom door where Sophie had just appeared.

"Sophie!" Markl cheered, jumping from his seat towards the young woman, who he'd come to consider a mother. "Will you please cook this for me? Calcifer is being a jerk." His tone was filled with childish pleading, giving the flame a dirty look. Sophie laughed softly as Calcifer stuck his 'tongue' out.

"Come on now Cal. Let's get cooking." Sophie stated, rolling up her sleeves.

"No! I won't! You can't make me!" The demon protested, but as always, Sophie tamed the little demon, smothering him with her pan, and made quick work of breakfast.

"Curse on you." Calcifer remarked in mild irritation as Sophie placed the eggs and bacon on plates.

"Oh, so then you didn't want breakfast?" Sophie asked, feigning innocent sarcasm.

The fire demon cried out, "Ooo! Ooo!" and leapt for the bacon that was being waved in front of him, just out of reach.

"That's what I thought." The woman stated matter-of-factly, tossing the item into the waiting mouth.

"Thank you so much Sophie!" Markl said graciously, his mouth half full with bacon.

"You're quite welcome." She replied, laughing quietly again.

It was silent then for a few minutes while the trio ate their breakfast. Markl was the only one to have seconds and Sophie wound up giving her last bit to Calcifer, who was all too happy to assist. Then, while they were cleaning Sophie broke the silence.

"So…. has Howl come back this morning?" She asked, trying to sounds like she didn't care as she continued picking up plates and bringing them to the sink. Markl and Calcifer exchanged glances.

"Uh, no, Sophie, he…uhh…left last night. He hasn't come back yet." Calcifer replied. Sophie's face took on dark look but it was so brief that both Markl and Calcifer wondered if they'd really seen it at all.

"Oh, I see." She remarked curtly, dumping the dishes into the sink water.

"I'm sure he'll be back soon though." Markl added reassuringly. "Howl doesn't stay out all night usually. Well, he used to. He used to do it all the time. But you know…" Markl glanced at Calcifer who was making desperate motions for Markl to shut up. Markl looked back at Sophie and saw the young woman was now clearly very sad. "Oh! I didn't mean it like that! I just mean that Howl….I mean I'm sure he…"

"No, that's quite alright Markl. I understand and I don't care. Howl is a big boy. He can do whatever he likes." Sophie clenched her hands tightly by her sides. She was just about to say something else but the doorbell chimed.

"It's the Kingsbury door." Calcifer announced, happy to change the topic. Markl quickly ran to the door and turned the magical dial to the blue color. Once it clicked he quickly swung the large door open.

"Good day." The man standing outside said in a formal tone. "I was wondering if the Lady Sophie was in?" He inquired.

"Yes, she is." Sophie answered for herself, approaching the door to see who it was. "Oh my! Is that really you Turnip-head!" She exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear, recognizing him instantly.

"It is indeed m'lady. As I said I would 2 years ago, I have come back and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to grant me the honor of spending the day with you." He asked hopefully, bowing politely, before coming to look up at her once more. Sophie was speechless to say the least. She couldn't, could she? She was dating Howl. Had been for 2 years, it wouldn't be right.

"Sorry, Princey." Calcifer said caustically from his fireplace. "She's spoken for. Better get out of here quick before Howl comes back or he's gonna –"

"Calcifer, please! I can speak for myself." She said, giving him a warning glance. But the demon was right. What would Howl think when he came back? Would he be upset? Then it dawned on her. Hadn't it been Howl who said if he could do what he wants? Well then, if he could, so could she. "I would love to go out with you today, Turnip-Head." Sophie replied happily.

"I'm happier then you could ever know." The blond replied. "And please call me Charles, or Charlie if you prefer. For that is my real name." Sophie blushed.

"Sorry." She said lightly and rather embarrassed.

"Quite alright." He assured her.

"Well, please, come in." She offered. "I'll only be a minute while I get ready." She explained.

"Take your time." The prince replied taking a seat at the table. Sophie nodded and disappeared back into her room. As Charles waited quietly in his spot, both Calcifer and Markl glared daggers at the newcomer.


"So, what would you like to do first?" Charlie wondered, taking Sophie's hand in his as they walked down the main street of town.

"Well, I don't know." She replied, blushing again. "I don't usually go into town." She admitted, glancing in the window's of a nearby shop.

"Oh, really? Why is that?" The prince wondered. Sophie shrugged.

"Howl likes his privacy and he's usually busy. He's been helping the kingdom's rebuild for a while now." She explained.

"I see. Well, if someone like you were my girlfriend I'm afraid kingdoms would have to wait." Charles said casually. Sophie laughed in embarrassment yet again.

"It's alright. I don't mind really. Howl is always bringing us on new adventures with him as well." She added.

"Yes, but I'm sure a woman such as your self must want to settle down eventually, stop moving about so much?" Sophie paused. Did she really want something like that? Is that why she and Howl were always arguing so much? Because they were so different?

"How about we buy you something from any one of these stores and then we go and get some lunch?" The young prince offered.

"Oh, no, I couldn't. That's quite alright." Sophie said quickly.

"I insist." Charles replied adamantly. Soon, Sophie's worries about Howl all but disappeared as her companion began to shower her with affection.


"SHE WHAT?" Howl's eyes went wide in shock, grabbing at his hair, as he collapsed in a chair.

"Don't listen to him Howl. It wasn't a date exactly. They just went…out for the day." Calcifer said, trying to correct Markl's terrible wording.

"Well, it seemed like a date." Markl said, folding his arms, not understanding his error. Calcifer sent the boy a quick glare. Howl suddenly felt a sick feeling creeping up on him as he imagined Sophie out with that little…. maggot. How could she! Fine! If that's how she wanted to be then… so be it! She could move off into his big palace and…….marry him. Howl suddenly felt even sicker.

"Calcifer, can you please run some hot water for my bath." The wizard asked, the expression on his face was one of defeat, rubbing his forehead with one hand.

"Of course buddy." The fire demon replied, ready to do anything to comfort his friend.

"Markl, you can take care of any customers who come right?" He glanced at the boy briefly with a dejected look.

"Yeah, okay Howl." The boy agreed quickly.

"Thanks." Howl nodded as he slowly made his way to his bath in depression.


"It's so beautiful! Thank you!" Sophie cried, marveling at the new dress her escort had bought for her.

"Anything for you." Charles replied, making Sophie blush once more. "Now you can wear it to lunch." He said, holding his arm out for her to take, which she did.

And as if the dress wasn't enough, Prince Charles decided to take her to the most expensive restaurant in the city. They walked through the pair of huge doors that were hand carved wood, leaving Sophie in complete awe. Everything, from the chandeliers to the silverware, glittered in the light and everywhere you looked waiters moved elegantly around the room serving wine and colorful dishes of food.

"Like it?" Charles wondered, smiling at the woman on his arm.

"Charlie, it's so amazing." Sophie replied. She knew that this was possibly the most breathtaking place she'd ever been in. Actually, that wasn't true. But at that current moment she didn't seem able to recall the secret garden a certain wizard had given her.

"Your highness? M'lady?" A man in a very formal suit approached them, giving a curt bow. "This way please." He motioned with one arm for them to follow him. Charles smiled at Sophie again before leading her off. Sophie had the sudden urge to take her arm away and insist that she could do it herself, but then she realized that wouldn't be very lady like of her. So she simply followed quietly. It just wasn't in her nature to have people do things for her.


Howl fingered a small item in his hand, sighing for about the millionth time that day. He trudged down the stairs, pulling the towel from his bath tighter around his waist as he went.

"Umm, Howl? What's wrong with you're hair?" Calcifer asked, when Howl reappeared after his nearly 2 hour bath.

"Huh? Oh…" The wizard shrugged indifferently. "Must have mixed up the potions." He stated dispassionately. Calcifer and Markl glanced at each other worriedly. They knew Howl well enough to know that when the wizard wasn't concerned about his appearance then something must be really bothering him. Especially when the man's hair was a very neon green. "I'll be in my room." Howl commented when he reached the bottom of the stairs. Without another word the wizard disappeared into his room and closed the door with a soft click.

"At least he's not summoning the spirits of darkness this time." Markl remarked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Something tells me that just makes this 10 times worse." Cal stated, reaching for another log of firewood, staring at where Howl disappeared with a sad expression.


Through the entire meal, which turned out to be a sickening 5 courses, Sophie had sat in relative silence while her escort had proceeded to inform her of all the things he'd accomplished and everything he could give her. He was so gentle and kind and a multitude of other wonderful things. It was because of this that Sophie found it so peculiar that the only thing she was thinking about was how Howl would never have ordered the type of food that the man across from her had no trouble consuming. As a result Sophie couldn't help but crack a smile which, she was afraid, only proved in convincing the prince that she was increasing in interest. Sophie also realized that Howl never talked so much while they were out, in fact it was usually she who did all the talking. Howl had always been a bit more mysterious, but somehow always completely open.

Perhaps it was the fact that she'd held his heart in her hand that made her feel this way. Or the way he always smiled approvingly even when she did something wrong or the way his eyes lit up when he was excited or….

"Sophie? Sophie?" Charles interrupted her thoughts.

"Huh? Yes?" Sophie replied, shaking the dazed look out of her eyes.

"Nothing I just thought I'd lost you there." The prince explained. "Well, I ordered your desert and now where was I?" The man began to ramble again.

(Ordered my desert?) Sophie's mind processed these words in disbelief. (Am I incapable of doing that myself? Howl would never have….!)

"I'm sorry! I have to go!" Sophie suddenly shouted, standing from her chair. The prince, cut off in mid sentence, stared at her in shock.

"Leave? But we're not even done eating." He remarked in a concerned tone.

"I'm sorry I have to." That was the only reason she gave before dashing out of the restaurant, turning quite a few heads in the process. Charles sat in utter confusion, blinking in silence for long minutes. Then a waiter appeared at his side.

"Shall I get you your check sir?"


Howl lay on his bed, still playing with the item in his hand, thoughts of Sophie plaguing his mind. Perhaps he'd been too hard on her. Forcing her to follow him around the country and being too occupied with the rebuilding and magic. What if she'd always been unhappy and he never knew? The thought made Howl feel even worse as he sunk down into his pillow, closing his eyes. Howl wondered what that little leech was telling Sophie now or where he was bringing her. He could imagine him buying large amounts of jewelry and giving her the grand tour of his palace.

Howl made a short sound, almost like a grunt, as he tried to wipe the image from his mind. But try as he may that picture continued to burn a hole in his consciousness until the young wizard could feel his depression swallowing him whole and then he….BANG! Howl nearly fell off the bed in his surprise and tried quickly to regain his footing and dignity.

The door of the bedroom had swung open, hitting the wall with a resounding thud, and Sophie now stood in the doorway, breathing only slightly harder than normal. Howl blinked in saddened surprise.

"Sophie I'm so sorry about what I said!" The young man suddenly blurted. "I didn't mean it I swear! You have to believe me." But Sophie said nothing. "I promise from now on we'll do exactly what you want. I can change I swea--" Sophie covered the distance between her and Howl in one blinding leap, kissing him deeply and wrapping her arms around his neck. It took Howl a whole moment to figure out what occurring before he wrapped his arms tightly around Sophie's waist and pulled her to him. Tentatively, Sophie broke their kiss and looked at her lover.

"Don't ever change Howl." She commanded. "I love the way you are. I love your vanity and your arrogance; I love to argue with you and to yell at you. I love your smile and the way you hold me. I love everything and I never want it to change. Promise me?" Howl grinned in satisfaction.

"I don't know…" He replied in stubborn playfulness. "You went on a date, so I think I should get to go on one too." He said matter-of-factly. "I actually saw this really cute girl yesterday..." Sophie caught on to his teasing tone and pushed the wizard back hard, causing him to fall once more on the bed.

"Oh you think so do you?" She remarked, crossing her arms as if to seem angry. He nodded, sitting up on the edge of the bed. "Well, I think that would be a very big mistake." She cautioned. Without warning she brought her hands up as if to push him back down, but Howl caught her wrists and they began to wrestle playfully.

"Howl?" Sophie paused after only a moment. "What's in your hand?" She had felt something slightly sharp pressing against her wrist from beneath Howl's grasp. Quickly the man withdrew his arm, closing his fingers quickly.

"Oh, nothing, sorry." He remarked quickly, heart suddenly beating wildly, though his nervousness didn't show.

"Howl…" The silver haired girl trailed off and reached for his hand quickly but he pulled it away. "Oh come on. Just show me." She insisted, pressing against him further, hoping to prevent him from blocking her. Howl attempted to wriggle away but couldn't and before long Sophie managed to pry his fingers apart. A small diamond ring fell onto the blanket of the bed. The whole room was suddenly still.

Sophie stared at the item in excited terror as she slowly reached out and gingerly lifted the item. "Howl…what is this?" She asked, barely breathing. Howl, who was rarely speechless, swallowed hard.

"It's a…well I umm….see…" He rubbed the back of his neck in an embarrassed gesture. Sophie looked up into Howl's eyes. "It's why I was going out last night." He finally replied, though quietly. Sophie's expression immediately turned from excitement to one of guilt. She'd been mad at Howl for going out last night, but he'd only been going to get… this. "I'd been thinking…" He said, taking the ring from her hand and slipping it onto her finger. "If maybe…you wouldn't mind…marrying me." Sophie inhaled sharply and blinked back tears as she stared at her hand. Her eyes lifted from the small glittering object to the eyes of the wizard.

"Of course!" She announced immediately, tackling Howl in a hug and knocking him back against the bed again, laughing happily.

"After we get you out of that silly dress." Howl said a moment later, rolling over and pinning Sophie beneath him.

"It's not silly! It's pretty." Sophie said defensively.

"Oh sure, want to keep the reminder of your 'prince' around?" He remarked sarcastically.

"Oh, shut up you." Sophie slapped him playfully. "Besides, it's no worse than your new hair do. Honestly, where did you get the recipe for that particular shade of green?" Howl froze.

"Oh no! My hair!" Howl cried, jumping from the bed immediately. "I have to fix this!"

"Howl get back here." Sophie demanded when her fiancé leapt away.

"Oh this horrible color." The man continued, seemingly oblivious to Sophie's demand. He rushed out the door.

"Howl!" Sophie shouted, taking off from the bed as well. She swore she was going to beat him when she caught up. Of course she didn't have time. Howl, waiting outside the door, had captured her in his arms once again and stole another kiss before disappearing into thin air. The young woman scowled as the wizard evaporated in her grasp and she immediately bounded up the stairs to Howl's magical bathroom, yelling indecipherably.

Markl and Calcifer just stared in shock as they watched couple interact.

"Come on kid, hand me another piece of firewood." The demon ordered. Markl did so absentmindedly, still looking up the stairs. "And stop staring, you're burning a hole into the wall." The flame added. Markl shook his head to clear his thoughts.

"Does this mean they're angry again?" The boy wondered. Cal laughed.

"Yup…isn't it great?"


((Please R&R. If you are an author on here then you know that reviews are what makes life go round and if you're not...well...then I've just told you...so...PLEASE! Also, if you're interesting in being a beta reader please let me know. I have a bunch of stories that I'd like proof-read. See my profile for the types of stories I'm interested in.))

----