Author's note: I've only seen this movie once, so if some things are wrong, please let me know and I'll correct them.


Howl lay alone in his room, staring at the ceiling. Golden trinkets glittered and clicked all around the room, casting odd shadows on the few empty spaces of wall. Slowly, Howl shifted forms, becoming his black-feathered self. He wasn't startled as his room shifted forms with him, becoming a cave blanketed with broken dolls and toys.

Raising an arm, he stared at the feathers lining the skin as they reflected the light of the room. "Is this truly me?" he asked the air. Howl knew his other form quite well, and also knew the dangers it held, as well as the extent of its ugliness. "How can someone as beautiful as me be this creature?"

Concentrating hard, Howl shifted back, feeling the feathers on his arms retreat back into his skin. He stepped out of his room and down the stairs to the kitchen. The only sounds were of Calcifer's fire crackling and the creaking of the castle.

Pulling up a chair in front of Calcifer, Howl put his legs up next to the sleeping demon. Putting his head back, he closed his eyes. Relaxed at last, her let his mind drift to the land of sleep. Howl's thoughts barely clung to consciousness when his eyes snapped open. Something had made a noise.

Standing, Howl scanned the room, his eyes finally coming to rest on the colorful circle above the door. It now pointed to red. "Curious," Howl whispered to himself. He had been sure he had left it on blue. Bracing himself, he stepped towards the stairwell, ready to hex anyone that wasn't supposed to be there.

It was empty.

Puzzled, Howl turned again and headed back towards his chair, only to nearly run over a young boy. They both screamed, Howl's grown voice clashing with the young, high-pitched one of the boy. Howl fell backwards, but the boy seemed paralyzed.

"What are you doing here, boy?" Howl asked, glaring at the child before him. The boy, however just continued to stand, rooted to the spot, his mouth hanging open. "What?" Howl asked again, recoiling slightly from the terrified gaze.

The boy seemed to regain feeling, for he replied in a string of indecipherable words. "Don'thurtmeIwasjustlookingforaplacetostayforthenightandyouwerehereandit'scoldandyou're-you're-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" The boy fell to his knees, obviously afraid to look up, tears speckling the wood beneath him.

Now, Howl was used to people respecting him, or being slightly scared of him, but never once had he ever terrified anyone like this. Looking around, he spotted Calcifer who had been awoken by their screams. Calcifer's mouth was hanging open, and a slight smile danced in his eyes. "What?" Howl demanded.

"Look at yourself, idiot!" Calcifer shouted, growing larger with every word.

Startled, Howl looked down at himself and swore. He was still partially in his feathered form. Confused, Howl concentrated on turning back, but to no avail. "Calcifer, help! I-I'm stuck!" Howl yelled, his emotions getting the better of him. He'd always been able to get in or out of this form easily.

"Howl! Howl! Just calm down!" Calcifer yelled across the room, completely ignoring the boy. "Just focus!" Howl noted he was low on wood to burn.

With the most effort he had ever put into anything, Howl focused all his energy into transforming back into his human form. Slowly and painfully, he felt his feathers melt into his skin again. When the transformation was done, Howl fell to his knees in front of the boy, exhausted. The child still squatted, face down.

"Howl, you've got to do something about that kid. His crying is giving me a headache," Calcifer shouted, not a patient demon. Gradually, Howl stood again, towering over the child. He reached down and attempted to pick him up, or at least get him to look at him, but the child was unexpectedly strong and stayed where he was. "How heavy are you, kid? Calcifer, look out."

Howl crossed over to where Calcifer burned. Grabbing the shovel, he slowly coaxed the demon onto it and headed towards the kid. "I'm too tired to do this alone," Howl informed him, standing before the child. "Ready?"

A light surrounded the child, and he was slowly brought from the floor, a wind whipping his red hair. Suddenly, a red glow burst from him and light the entire room before the boy was lowered slowly to the ground, where he lay on his side.

Howl placed Calcifer back on the hearth and knelt next to the boy. "He's so young," Calcifer said from his perch. "You know that by making him forget what he saw, magic will follow him forever." Howl nodded, gently turning the boy over so he could see his face.

"Did you hear his name when we were connected to him?" Howl asked Calcifer, wondering where the boy was from.

"It's Markl," Calcifer answered, retreating under his logs. "Now let me sleep."

Howl stared at the boy. "Markl, eh? You'll make a fine apprentice."