A/N: Set around a year after the actual events of HMC.

Spiderwebs

Approximately six hours after the wedding, Sophie wonders if they should call it quits.

Stopping by his room once in a while to give him tea or check if he's really got a cold is one thing, but actually staying in that room is quite another – there are spiders spinning webs above a bed she wouldn't dare sleep in, and magic eyes upon the wall (all closed, thankfully, since the witch left, but they're still there, with their great long lashes). He has a weathervane and a dartboard and a broken cuckoo clock, and there's an inch of dust over everything lining the walls. "You said you'd clean up," and she crosses her arms as he smiles apologetically.

"Sophie, dear, that isn't a problem," he makes a grand gesture with both arms, and the room is suddenly cleared and sparkling clean – she rolls her eyes, she can fix things without cheating.

"And the spiders?"

He manages a smile, although a grimace might describe it better. "Yes, of course, the spiders..." He conjures up a glass case, and attempts to coax them into it, while Sophie checks the closet suspiciously to see where all his junk really went.

"All done, my love," he sings out affably. "Even the webs are gone!"

And indeed, they are. Howl busies himself looking for his pajamas (she can only wonder how he used to find them before – but then she has forgotten, he used to sleep in his robes all the time, the slob), and then he excuses himself for a nice, long, jasmine-scented bath (she had her own right after the party, she didn't like the smell of wine and silly string hanging on her). Sophie listens to him whistle away to the bathroom with something like uneasiness settling in her heart. She sits at the foot of the bed with her arms crossed, feeling annoyed, although she can't be sure why.

She looks at the ring on her finger (exquisite sapphire blue, like the jewel dangling on his ear, or the shade of his eyes now that he's got his heart back – the only expensive thing she'll ever allow him to get for her) and swallows. Maybe she isn't ready for this. Maybe she rushed into things. She's only nineteen, after all. Maybe she won't like being Mrs. Howl. She could give a hundred valid reasons why. Maybe she should have stayed old forever. Maybe he deserves someone prettier. Maybe neither of them have thought about this seriously.

She stands up, snatches the broom standing forlornly on one side of the wall, and starts sweeping the already-shining floor, muttering as she goes. "How could I forget all his nasty habits? He's a slitherer-outer. He drinks when he's worried, and then he sleeps in the whole day after because of his headaches. He feigns colds if he just wants to stay in bed, but when he gets a real cold, he won't let you touch him. He's so picky with the laundry, he might as well wash his suits himself. And the perfumes! The silly perfumes. They make my head spin. How can I spend the rest of my life smelling his perfumes?"

She fails to notice that the broom has swept out of her grasp and is dancing over the floor on its own, because her hands are on her hips now, and she is demanding things of the wall, which remains impassive and silent. She glares at it for a full half minute, then walks back to the bed and thumps down on it, staring up at the cobweb-free ceiling blankly. She sighs. The sound of the bathroom door swinging open, accompanied by the light scent of roses (so it wasn't jasmine at all, she thinks), makes her order the broom to be still and go back to its place on the wall.

"Still," she mutters to herself, and it sounds rather like defeat, "Still, I do love him."

She pushes herself upright just as he enters, handsome and noble with his hair still wet and one fragrant towel draped over his shoulders, and she can't bear to look at him. He's such a heartbreakingly beautiful sight, she'd liken it more to an eyesore. He sits beside her on the bed, smiling up at nothing in particular. "You know, I do believe this is the happiest day of my life." He holds her hand and plants a kiss on her cheek, because she hasn't yet turned to face him.

She stays quiet, heart beating furiously.

"Sophie?" He leans into her face, mock worry causing the faintest lines to show on his forehead. "Is something the matter?"

She looks straight into his eyes, frowns and asks, "Howl, do you really think this will work?"

His reaction is incredulous - his face flares up into drama-queen-depression, one hand against his forehead, aghast. "Oh, Sophie, we've only just exchanged our solemn vows and already you want to take them back!"

"Howl – "

"- and I thought, I thought, here I had at last with a woman true and fair, curse finally broken completely,"

"No, listen, Howl –"

" - I can give you anything, Sophie, anything, just please, please, please don't leave me!"

Somehow he ends up on bended knee before her, right hand dramatically outstretched, tears shining gallantly in the corners of his eyes. She stands and smacks him on the head, and there are tears in her own eyes, but that's because she's been laughing, hysterical and frantic to shut him up. "Oh, can't you keep quiet, you silly wizard! There's no need for theatrics. I was only worried," she shifts, suddenly blushing, and tilts her head down. "I don't know. I just don't think Sophie Jenkins suits me."

She hears the rustling of his pajamas as he stands, slowly, and then she feels her chin being lifted up carefully by his gentle fingers.

"That doesn't matter as long as you're happy. Of course, I can live with Howl Hatter, even if the initials wouldn't be quite so striking," and before she can object to that, or say something like that wasn't what I meant, and I personally don't think it's very flattering, either,he stops her breathing with a full-on kiss, and she can only try to box his ears to make him stop, but he won't. After a moment she ends up letting him.

They are married after all.

Still, she gives him a good flick on the nose when he's quite finished, because she isn't used to it, and because she feels rather choked and it's embarrassing to admit it but she's never been very good at romance. He laughs and pokes her nose back and says, "Well, aren't you sweet?"

Then he wishes her goodnight. She can't help sleeping at the very very edge of his (no, our) bed, on the opposite side – she has spent too many nights cramped under the stairs, and besides, the smell of roses is making her dizzy – but he sidles close anyway, and she lets him curl his fingers around her hand. His breathing is quiet in the room as she weaves her fingers into his.

Well. She could get used to this eventually. She has been living for him for quite a while, after all. This only makes it official.

Besides, who else could take care of a brat like Howl?

Eight hours after the wedding, Sophie decides she'd like it to stay this way forever.

-xx-

Half the kitchen and all of the dining table is cluttered with Howl's knickknacks when Sophie descends the stairs to make breakfast. The broom chases him out of bed, making him yelp and sputter all the way because of the dust. He spends the rest of the morning clearing his things away properly, and wonders what exactly he's gotten himself into.

Sixteen hours after the wedding, and they're both wondering if they shouldn't call it quits.

(They don't, of course, but there's still the thought.)


A/N: I haven't written fluff in ages...and I don't like the way I wrote Sophie at all. D: And Howl was more girly than I wanted him to be. Ahhhh! D:

Still, thanks for reading. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.