The Dark War

Summary: The world is on the brink of another horrible war. Too much is on Sophie's hands, as it is, with her getting sick, Howl's insecurities, Calcifer's whining, and a missing Markl, things can get very hectic for the poor young woman.

Chapter One

DC: I don't own Howl's Moving Castle

Another burn mark on the floor. The Great Wizard, with his dark bluish-black hair and light blue eyes, looked at the floor with a hint of worry in his eyes. Howl desperately tried to make it go away before his lovely wife came bounding into the room. He hoped, this day, his magic worked wonders.

Luckily, just as she came through the door, a simple magic spell cleaned it right up. Howl stood up, straightening out his shirt, and gave the silver-gray haired woman an innocent smile. "Hello, love."

"I suppose you're up to something." Sophie crossed her arms and gave Howl an intense look. The look could even bring down the toughest of wizards. Howl's sweet smile faltered a little. "Please don't tell me you're burning things up again."

"If I did," Howl said. Sophie's eyebrows went up. "It wasn't intentionally."

"Sure it wasn't," Sophie said, looking at the floor. There wasn't a mark. "Did you clean it up? That saves me a little time."

"What were you doing?" Howl asked, stepping forward. He wasn't scared of the look now. "Making something?"

"I was making something when I heard a little yell." Sophie smiled as he wrapped his arms around her. "When you're done with, well, whatever you were doing. Come out and have a cookie."

Sophie untangled herself from his embrace, and left the room. Howl sighed, and turned back to his desk. "Now… Where was I?"

Sophie closed the door after her. Going down the steps, she went back into the kitchen. She went to the table, and continued with her baking. She picked up the sugar, the last ingredient for the cookies.

"Is the nice fire thirsty?"

"Look, lady. I'm a fire demon. We do not like water! Get it away! Get it—help! It's a murder attempt!"

Sophie looked up. The Witch of Waste, an elderly woman who lost all of her powers, had a little bucket filled with water. She smiled sweetly, for she didn't know any better of anything, and tipped the bucket the fire's way.

The fire demon, Calcifer, the one who moves the Moving Castle, leaped out of the way to another log. The wet logs weren't going to help him though. He did not want to be put out. "Sophie!"

"No, no!" Sophie set down the sugar, and went to the old woman. "Come now, the fire is not thirsty."

"It just looks so hot," the Witch said sadly. "I was trying to help it."

"I'm fire! I am always hot!"

"Come on now." Sophie led the Witch safely away from Calcifer. "Let's do something that's more…ahh…successful."

Sophie left the Witch to her book, and went back to measure the sugar. At this rate she wasn't going to get these cookies baked by the time Howl was done with his studies. She sighed and put in the sugar. She grabbed a spoon and started to stir all of the ingredients around.

The portal on the door changed colors, and the doorknob turned. In came a little man, with a long gray beard, up the steps. His cloak had a hood, which came over his head. He set down the basket of herbs next to Sophie.

"Hello, Markl." Sophie didn't even have to look up. She knew who came through the door. "Did you get all the herbs Howl needed?"

"Hello, Sophie!" The little man tugged on his beard and lifted it over his head. It disappeared when he put his hood down. Under this mask revealed a young boy, no older then ten, with red-orange hair that spiked up a little in the back. "Yeah I have all of Master Howl's herbs. What are you making?"

"Cookies," Sophie replied. "If you could, could you turn on the oven? I'm busy at the moment."

"Sure." Markl went into the kitchen to do the duty asked of him.

Sophie mixed up the cookie batter, and then sat down to take a little break as the oven heated up. It was nearing mid-afternoon, and already her stomach was making weird gurgling noises. Usually she never got so hungry, if it was hunger at all, but maybe it was one of those rare types of moments.

"Ahh! Not again!"

Everyone seemed to look at the steps. Sophie jumped up, ran up the steps, and went into the room she and Howl shared. There he was stamping out something on a piece of parchment he threw onto the floor. He stopped when he saw her in the doorway. The flame had stopped. "Hello."

"Do you need help?"

"No. I don't think so."

Howl and Sophie stared at each other for a moment. No one wanted to speak, but, finally, Howl stood up a little more firmly. "No, no. I don't need any help."

"Alright," Sophie replied, closing the door. She went slowly down the steps.

When she got back to what she was doing, Heen, the strange dog they had, was barking non-stop with its little raspy voice. Markl was frantically getting water into a large bucket. "Sophie, help me!" he cried.

"What is it?" Sophie asked. She didn't need to ask anymore. There was smoke billowing out from the kitchen. Sophie grabbed the heavy bucket that Markl had, and threw it onto the flames. "Get more!"

Markl and Sophie did a relay. By the time the fire died out, Sophie was slumped in a chair ready to sleep, the bucket sitting next to her. She felt a little dizzy all the sudden, and her stomach, which she concluded wasn't hunger, was making more sounds by the minute. It wasn't making her feel good.

Markl could tell Sophie was stressed a little. She even looked a little green. He didn't want go over to bother her, so he went to put the herbs in the basket away. He took his time.

Howl came out of their room, and came down the steps smiling broadly at everyone. "So, where are the cookies?" he asked.

Sophie couldn't handle it any longer. Her stomach was on the brink of turning over. She bent over and heaved the contents of her stomach into the bucket.

Calcifer made a gagging sound. Markl looked scared. Heen hid behind the now sleeping witch.

Howl jumped back a little, his facial expression in a shock expression. He got over it, though, and went over to rub her back. "Are you okay, Sophie?"

"I don't know," she cried. She wiped her mouth, and slowly got up. "I think I'm going to go lay down."

"I think that would be best." Howl took her hand and led her upstairs. She got into bed, not bothering to change, and cuddled up under the covers. "Just rest. I'll clean up." Howl left Sophie in the room.

Sophie sighed. This afternoon wasn't what she wanted it to be.

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Hullo, Lala Rue here! And this be my first Howl's Moving Castle fanfic!

I watched HMC for the first time like three weeks ago. It is now my second favorite, next to Spirited Away, from Miyazaki. I absolutly adored it.

This idea came to me the next day when I couldn't write anything for any of my other stories. I think the soon to be summer heat is getting to me. Today it was like 95 degrees. (Or so my dad said)

But anyway, hope you liked this first chapter. I'll update soon if I can get some reviews!

Love, Lala Rue!