Author's Note: Wow, I haven't written a fanfic in quite a while and certainly not anything this short. It's probably the closest thing I'll get to a drabble, but I think it's too long to be called that. This was completely spur-of-the-moment. Howl's Moving Castle is one of my all time favorite movies and I also immensely enjoyed the book. I only decided to write this now when we watched and analyzed it briefly in my Storyboarding class. This is a Howl/Sophie one-shot and is movie-based, though there's very subtle book elements. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Howl's Moving Castle belongs to Dianna Wynn Jones, Studio Ghibli, and all that jazz.
By Youkai Yume
Sophie wasn't worthy of Howl Jenkins (or was it Pendragon? She was never sure…). She wasn't beautiful or even pretty—at least not the kind of beauty that she was sure Howl liked. She was plain, and ordinary, and possibly even boring if she thought about it. She had no real talent besides cooking and cleaning (and if that was the most she could do, she was damn well good at it), and had no magical powers at all to call her own. Though, she was pretty sure once she told the broom to sweep the house itself out of sheer tiredness and returned downstairs thirty minutes later to find the floors spot on.
Calcifer didn't tell her a thing.
She didn't like to wear extravagant clothes that Howl bought for her (for what use does a cleaning lady need for such fancy clothing?) and thought someone as plain such as herself had no place to be wearing such gorgeous fine silk and golden embroidered fabrics and lace. And so, Sophie fears she didn't look like she belonged with Howl at all when she stood next to him when they went out. She still wore her plain, boring dress, and the most daring she had ever been on her wardrobe was wear the same dress in a different color.
Sophie isn't delicate, or as ladylike as most girls were. She hated the feeling of make-up on her face and didn't like being rescued too often as she was sure someone as vain as Howl sometimes liked to do. She spoke with a rather cutting voice, and said things to him when he annoyed her that probably hurt his ego quite a bit and supposes that the kind of girl Howl likes would pepper him with compliments and fawn over his charms.
Sophie knows Howl thinks that she is terribly practical, but she still finds it impractical to try to get rid of her practicality.
She also knows that she is not even close to the type of woman Howl prefers, and couldn't possibly compare to the dozens that he's courted in the past, all of which were probably pretty and talented and completely unSophie-like.
She's a terrible kisser because once Howl had kissed her on the balcony—and it was her first kiss, so she hadn't had any experience at all so of course it must have been horrible because he had made no move to kiss her again since.
She wonders if Howl loves her just because he feels obligated to (she did save him after all) and not because he's really in love with her. And of course, if that were the case, she can't really blame him. For who could really fall in love with plain, untalented, and unladylike Sophie?
No, Sophie isn't worthy of Howl Jenkins (or Pendragon?) at all, but she loves him so much that she supposes she shouldn't complain that he loves her too…for now at least.
Howl wasn't worthy of Sophie Hatter (her name is Hatter, and she makes Hats. How completely literal, he always thought). He wasn't a knight in shining armor, and certainly not a prince charming like Justin, and his own castle wasn't anything like a real castle with grand marble walls and sparkling chandeliers (though his could fly, so HA!). He wasn't brave or courageous as he believes he should be—quite the contrary, he's very good at being a coward and prefers to run than to actually fight. He wasn't a normal, good, stable man as he thinks Sophie really wants. No, he was an anything-but-ordinary-Wizard, who happened to be a slitherer-outer, and hides behind his own spells and magicks to avoid real work.
Howl isn't as handsome as he lets everyone believes. In fact, in actuality he's rather plain and needs several potions and hours in the bathroom to get himself perfectly perfect and still prefers his hair blonde over his natural raven. It makes him look so ordinary, he still thinks.
But he remembers the first time he had thrown a fit over his not so gorgeous raven hair and Sophie had been so upset over his vanity that he never thought he'd feel so ashamed of his own desire to be beautiful. And now, Howl tries not to be so vain but it's a terribly hard habit to break, and he wonders if she is disappointed sometimes because he knows that she'd like him even if his hair were booger green (heaven forbid!).
Howl will admit (to himself only and certainly NOT to Calcifer) that despite his vast experiences with women, he found that he had…well, no real experience with women. At least, not the women (or woman) that counted—and there was only ever one that he had trouble with and that happened to be his former ninety-year-old-cleaning lady. The one who he happened to be in love with whom also happened to be the one that didn't fall for his usual charms.
He knew how to woo a girl with pretty words and pretty gifts, giving them pretty promises and pretty kisses. But he could not woo dear Sophie Hatter, who would sooner scoff at his pretty words than swoon over them. The more he wants to spoil her with gifts the more he realizes that she isn't like normal women who want silk dresses, jewelry, and lace. He can't make false promises to her, because she would know if he could keep it or not right away and is terrified at the fact that he wants to keep every promise he makes her, even though sometimes they seem quite impossible.
He's only kissed her once on their balcony, which had been entirely spontaneous and unplanned and they hadn't done it again since because he was so terribly worried over if she liked the kiss enough to want more.
Howl thinks that should it ever occur, he would make a terrible Father, because he had no real Father growing up and thus had no idea how to go about taking care of a child. And he could hardly say that Markl qualified as some sort of parenting experience because half of the time, the little boy seemed more responsible than he was.
Sophie might not ask for much, but Howl knows that sooner or later she will want to get married and have children. He figures that she'd want a normal, quiet life with a good stable husband who could give her a good stable house (flying castles were stable, right?). And knowing this, Howl doesn't know if he could give her all of these things…even though he desperately wants to.
If you took away the magic, the flying castle, Calcifer, and his charm, he would be nothing but just plain old Howl, who had nothing really of any merit to offer someone such as Sophie. Sometimes he wonders how Sophie could love him at all (she seemed to be annoyed with him more than half of the time), or if she was only staying with him because she had nowhere else to go.
He hasn't had his heart for very long, so he doesn't know how to properly love someone—and Sophie deserved to be properly loved.
No, Howl wasn't worthy of Sophie Hatter (who makes hats!) at all, but loves her passionately all the same. He can only hope that she doesn't notice all of his shortcomings because now that he has a heart, it would surely break if she realized loving him was nothing but impractical.
"I don't think I deserve you," Howl tells Sophie one day as they were strolling through their meadow of flowers. He's not sure why he admitted so, for surely she would agree and pack up and leave at once, breaking his heart on her way out. But her warm hand is in his and he thinks that for once he shouldn't be a coward and tell her what she deserves to know.
Howl braces himself for her inevitable agreement but is surprised when she smiles, goes up on her tiptoes and quite boldly for someone such as Sophie, gives him their second kiss. "Oh you vain, peacock of a man," she sighs. "If it makes you feel any better I don't think I deserve you either. But I think I would like it very much if you'd still love me."
And of course, Howl couldn't think of anything else to do but to smile rapturously in return and give her their third kiss, and fourth, and fifth…
"I think I should like that too, Cariad."
Author's Note: "Cariad" means "love" or "my love" in Welsh—in which Howl is Welsh (in the book at least). Hope you all enjoyed it, since I procrastinated on homework to write it (slap. Bad Yume).
PLEASE READ AND REVIEW! (even you lurkers)
It's the only thing I ask for my sweat and blood. I would love to hear what you think (feedback good).