It had been a long hectic week for Howl; it had only been a month since Howl returned to live with Sophie. Howl had been so nervous running around her and all that happened in the past week. Her head turned to the stairs before turning back to the door. She just knew someone was coming, and Sophie was certain it was Lettie that was coming.
The Moving Castle was once again using the door as a portal. Sophie was the one most excited about this because this meant Howl was going to stay with her but when she saw Lettie coming up the way to yell at her about leaving the shop Sophie just had to turn the door and appear in the beautiful city of Kingsbury or Port Haven both thousands of miles away for her sister. Both thoughts sickening enough brought her so much joy, it would only be better if she could see how distraught her sister stood outside yelling her argument to the door.
Lettie still insisted that Sophie live with her because Howl could not be trusted! But oh poor Howl had paid dearly for his absence! When Sophie told Lettie Howl was back and that Lettie had no need to worry about Sophie anymore she did not seem to happy about that, but Lettie while happy that Sophie was happy was not going to let Howl go seemingly unpunished as Sophie had. Yes Howl felt a great deal of guilt but now on top of that guilt was a massive headache.
Sophie pulled herself up the steps something Howl would have yelled at her for. She was right! Sophie was not going to be able to do anything until she had this baby! Howl would not let her feet touch the floor or her to clean or get up or do anything but sit and stare vacantly at Calcifer! It had been cute and romantic in the first week telling her in loving hums 'I can not let my princess walk! She is far too great!'
Sophie opened Howl's door and walked in. Howl was still lying in bed but when Sophie walked in Howl awoke. He was horrified Sophie had been able to leave him without him noticing but in a flash fury of covers and clothes he rushed to Sophie ignoring the horrible banging in his head.
"Sophie! You should have woken me! What are you doing? You shouldn't be--"
"WHAT WALKING?" Sophie yelled already in the bed with him standing over her. He winced at the volume in Sophie's voice but was not going to have any of it. He simply ignored her protests.
"Have you eaten? I'll go make you something, and then..." Howl rambled off but Sophie wasn't listening. He was half way to the door when Sophie called for him, "HOWL! I need something desperately!"
Howl instantly appeared at her side. "What?" He looked ready to go out and steal the moon down here for her. Sophie smiled and pulled him into the bed his arms automatically wrapping around her still swollen body.
Howl's smile spread through out his face. He pulled Sophie in closer to him. Sophie watched as his eyes started to droop but he intended to stay awake as long as Sophie did. Sighing, Sophie leaned into him more and closed her eyes it was only minutes before she could hear Howl's light snoring. Sophie pulled away from his chest to watch him sleep. He was so peaceful in his sleep, something Howl needed desperately to escape everyone. Sophie hugged on Howl tighter as her thoughts drifted to the past week.
While Sophie never had any intention to punish Howl for leaving as she still believed they were both at fault other people did not. Unknown to Howl, who kept waiting for Sophie's punishment that would never come some people plotted against him. While one evil mastermind's plan set the ball in motion many people helped with the execution, unknowingly.
Howl was depressed. Sophie was waiting an awfully long time to punish Howl, which made him worry that with every plan Sophie concocted she thought of something better the next day. Howl could only attempt to visualize the many things he knew Sophie could do to him. More importantly Howl wanted punishment from Sophie so to ease the guilt that still settled in his heart. He felt so badly for what he did, he could not think of a proper punishment envisioning many of the things he could have done to correct the mistakes.
Howl's head looked around the room; he was staring intently at Sophie while she sewed. One of the few activities Howl was sure could do no harm to the baby. Howl was watching for Sophie to even look like she wanted to fidget in her chair let alone walk. Howl was certain Sophie had not stepped on the floor in the past few weeks. He intended to keep it that way, Sophie must have every luxury. After Howl hurt her so, he was sure that she would be treated as a princess if not better!
"Howl." Sophie said. Howl had jumped up out of his seat and was half way to her by the time she pronounced the 'h' in his name. Sophie was too deep in her sewing to notice how close he'd gotten in such a short time but when she looked up it startled her which got Howl going. Sophie calmed down and pointed to the stairs lazily with her needle. "You must go check on the Witch of the Waste. I have not heard from her in a while, and I couldn't possibly walk up the stairs so you must go."
Howl frowned; Sophie was really pushing for this whole 'I can walk for myself' thing. When people walked they tripped, and if Sophie tripped she could hurt the baby! Howl refused to let that happen but still he did not want to go up to check on the witch. His eyes flashed to Markl. Howl opened his mouth to protest saying that Markl should be the one to check on her but when Howl's glance met Calcifer's glare Howl closed his mouth. He moved swiftly but broodingly up the stairs to check on the witch.
After conjuring the witch some water Howl returned down the stairs. He was fully prepared to spend another two hours staring at Sophie but Howl found Sophie had disappeared. He looked around spotting Sophie nowhere. Howl looked to Calcifer but the fire was low in the almost non existent logs. Howl rushed over and threw two more logs on. When Calcifer did not rise he threw on a third, then a forth before picking up the iron rod to poke Calcifer with. Nothing seemed able to raise Calcifer. Was it even Calcifer? Had something happened in the few minutes he'd gone upstairs?
As usual the worst thoughts crept into Howl's mind only thinking of the trouble Sophie could get in normally, and now that she was expecting a baby any time soon. Howl forced himself to double his pace; Oh! The trouble Sophie could be in now. Howl remembered the first time he met Sophie, she was being harassed by two young army men but she'd been deathly afraid and only wanted to go to the bakers. Howl could only imagine what a field day thieves and robbers could have with Sophie being slowed down by her belly.
Howl pushed himself out the door farthest from Market Chipping. If someone had taken Sophie, (Howl considered it an option since Calcifer seemed to be unresponsive someone could have given Calcifer something or hurt Sophie), then he'd go farthest from the town. Howl would search all night if need be!
Sophie let the door bang loudly on its hinges. She pulled herself up the small set of stairs thinking that Howl would be there waiting for her twice as cross as Lettie was. Sophie had snuck out with Markl to go around town. Sophie could not handle being locked up in this house another second and she knew Howl would never permit her outside. So she sent Howl upstairs and was ready to take off when Markl followed along. Everything had been fine until Lettie found them. Lettie was out shopping walking around town as Sophie wanted when she saw Markl. Lettie rushed over to discover Sophie was there too.
Lettie took her new umbrella and used it as a weapon as she pulled Sophie and Markl back to the house like children, (Yes Markl was a child but Sophie was not and Lettie acted worse to her). Lettie lectured them all the way home about being safe and the due date. How Markl shouldn't let Sophie push him into things, and Markl and Sophie heard a great deal of how the talk between Lettie and Howl would go. Lettie was not too happy and was prepared to lecture Howl's ears off!
Sophie felt bad for Howl. Lettie was going to yell at him for something completely out of his control, though Sophie wondered why Calcifer had not told Howl where they went. Perhaps Calcifer was still angry with Howl, Sophie knew Markl was. Sophie was now looking for Calcifer he had not spoken when Sophie smashed into the house. Sophie saw a small fire hanging on with only a little log left. Perhaps Howl went out and forgot to leave Calcifer fire wood? How forgetful that man was, but Sophie was too exhausted from her little exercise and told Markl to add the wood.
Sophie was wondering where Howl went. Did Calcifer tell Howl where they darted off too and Howl was still looking around outside, or was Howl upstairs being moody and such that Sophie deceived him all the while trying to get his thoughts sorted out for when Howl got his chance to lecture. Sophie sighed and looked over to Calcifer who should have been burning happily now but he was not.
Markl stood over the fire hefting what seemed like a forth log onto the fire. Markl poked the fire with the iron bar hoping to wake Calcifer but that had no effect either, and when Markl blew on then embers beneath the fire all it did was raise it up but no happy Calcifer face came.
"It looks just as a normal fire wood Sophie. I don't know what is wrong with Calcifer" Markl said, more to himself than Sophie. This also worried him, what could have happened to do that to Calcifer. Markl looked back at Sophie to notice the color drained from Sophie's face as she pondered. Did Howl leave-leave this time? Would he come back? If Calcifer was away what did that mean?
Sophie thought of the night Howl left over six months ago, but then there had been no fire and no Markl. Maybe something happened? Sophie couldn't see why Howl would leave for good again, what reason did he have? Sophie was more worried about Howl's safety rather than if he went out to meet girls, or to leave Sophie for good. The person who was worried about the latter had a big yellow umbrella in her hand ready to swing for the wizard's head the second he came in the door.
Lettie watched as tears spilled down Sophie's eyes. "I. Will. Kill. Him." Lettie said harshly through gritted teeth. Sophie wanted to hold her sister back but she was in no position to try. Lettie had given up her seat to walk around the room loudly smacking the umbrella into her hand.
It had been hours and still Lettie waited still smacking the umbrella in her hand. Sophie was about to go nuts but still continued working on her sewing distracted about Howl's safety. If something had attacked and Howl went after it Sophie was scared she would not see Howl again, but as Sophie eyed her sister Sophie wasn't sure Howl would be safe at home in the castle either. Sophie just sent Markl upstairs to check on the witch of the waste when Sophie heard the ping of the door opening. Markl ran quickly upstairs as Lettie settled to the side of the stairs.
"SOPHIE!" Howl's face lit up when he saw Sophie knitting at the table next to the still no show Calcifer fire burning brightly. Howl walked up the stairs and went to Sophie when he felt a hard whack on the back on his head, Sophie's eyes widened as she pushed herself up. Howl wanted to go over and stop Sophie from getting up when he felt that pain again. It hurt, Howl spun around angrily shoving his arms up in the nick of time to block a third blow.
Howl saw who was at the other end of the hits, Lettie. She was using a huge yellow umbrella to smack him with, as she came to hit him a fourth time Howl blocked again and shakily asked, "What ARE you dong?"
Lettie was not into actually talking to Howl but more like shouting at Howl. Howl had to keep his arms up for in-between each sentence Lettie once again tried to smash him. "How could you –WHACK- leave like that? WHACK How come you let her go – WHACK- out! SHE IS DUE! LIKE –WHACK- ANY TIME THIS –WHACK- SECOND! –WHACK WHACK WHACK-"
"But I was looking for Sophie; she sends me upstairs and then disappears. Calcifer has been no help all day! I started searching for her but I couldn't find her. It seems by time I got to Market Chipping you already arrived home!" Howl cried before Lettie could whack at him again. Sophie was quite impressed because Howl had said it all in two breaths while still being able to be understood. Sophie was enjoying this time Howl was distracted to walk over to him. Sophie wrapped her arms around him and gave him a kiss. Howl smiled at her but then quickly walked her back into her seat.
Howl took only two steps towards Lettie before he fell to the floor unconscious. Lettie almost laughed at the sight but the look on Sophie's face was utter horror. Lettie called her husband over from the shop to carry Howl up to bed it didn't take long before Howl was in bed with Lettie's husband rushing back to the bakery. Sophie wanted to fret around for him but Sophie could not run the stairs so she sent Lettie to get things for him, seeing as Lettie was the one that knocked him out.
When Lettie returned home, Sophie sent Markl for them. Sophie was becoming worried and ready to call for a doctor when Howl started to wake up. Sophie was so happy; Howl might be a powerful wizard but he was still only human. Concussions were still serious and Sophie was sure you could get one from two major whacks on the head from an umbrella.
"Sophie." Howl said weakly looking up into her eyes, "I am sorry to say that I am not umbrella proof, and if any crazy person comes to attack me with an umbrella you must run."
Howl's glossy eyes looked serious but Sophie added his silly words to the fact his brain probably shook around inside his skull, at least twice today if not more. Sophie smiled and persuaded him back to sleep.
Sophie looked up at her love. Howl seemed to be awake now and staring at Sophie, Howl was ready to move and get stuff started. Get a proper breakfast into Sophie, and Howl had to yell at Calcifer. It had scared them all when the fire didn't say a word to them. It seemed that Calcifer went out to look for Sophie also but got caught in the rain and had to hide.
Howl seriously doubted that since the castle had still been moving in the wastes when Howl arrived from that way. Calcifer had to be in the castle somewhere; Howl was still not strong enough to get the castle moving by itself. As long as Calcifer or Howl stayed in the house it moved but when both were gone it stood stationary where ever it was. At least Howl stopped it from breaking down when they left.
Howl was staring down in Sophie's eyes; he was ready to get up and out of bed. He really needed to get Sophie something to eat and start the days work load but the look in Sophie's eyes made him stay. Something wanted to reflect through her coco brown eyes but Sophie wouldn't let it shine through. This worried Howl, it mean t something was wrong. Things were not supposed to be wrong so close to Sophie's due date. That could cause major problems.
Sophie's eyes snapped from his eyes to look at his full face slightly shocked by the sound of his voice. Could he tell something was wrong? Sophie cast her eyes downward than back to Howl who was waiting patently for her answer. Sophie let out a breath.
"I'm so sorry for what Lettie did. Are YOU alright?" Sophie eyes were scanning his face for any flicker of emotions but he held his face.
Sophie shook her head, "What Lettie did was uncalled for. She didn't have to hit you! I mean yes, I was scared but mostly because Calcifer seemed to disappear…" Sophie trailed off memory of the dark room filling her head. No Calcifer meant No Howl. Sophie's heart had dropped, she had been worried but she wouldn't second guess Howl again. He wouldn't have run, but Sophie felt bad for a span of a few hours Sophie truly thought Howl left again. How could she mistrust him so easily?
Howl didn't respond just pulled Sophie close and mumbled into her hair; his eyes stared off into his room. Howl was fully unaware that Sophie could hear the words perfectly; Howl was fully unaware of how pissed off that sentence would make Sophie feel but Howl was fully aware of the tears streaming through Sophie's eyes and fully aware of the pain in his chest.
"What is your PROBLEM?!" Sophie yelled beating his chest again with a rolled up palm. "Why must you take everything onto yourself?" Sophie beat on him more but there was no longer any real effort behind them; Howl let them go giving Sophie time to get her anger out. Howl was ready for Sophie to stop crying once she calmed down but that only made the tears worse.
Sophie snuggled her head into Howl's shirt only causing it to get wetter. Howl was utterly confused, why was Sophie crying? Did he do something wrong? He pissed her off with only three little words; I deserved it. Did that upset her too, did she want to hear the other three little magical words; I love you?
Howl was about to say something when Sophie stopped crying, her hand ventured up to caress his face. "I just wish I could take away the five months of guilt."
"You can; I will never be guilty about leaving you again if I take your guilt about attacking me."
Sophie's eyes hardened, Howl made sure he would still have to feel guilty from it. Sophie was half tempted to lie and tell him she no longer felt guilt for that, but Howl would see through the lie. Sophie felt that since she ran it set the whole thing into motion.
Sophie fell into Howl's hug. She couldn't give up that guilt and Howl knew it. You may have won the battle Howl, Sophie thought to herself, but not the war.
Sophie never really put any thought in punishing Howl; he had never done anything to deserve a punishment in Sophie's eyes anyway. To Sophie, she'd been the one who started the whole thing. So why yell at Howl? Besides that would just feed into his self pity, and that was never a good thing. Howl had been increasingly annoying the past couple of days. Especially now, Sophie had been in labor for some odd number of hours and while the doctor had insisted that Howl leave Howl refused. Howl paced around the room or asked the doctor questions.
"Howl!" Sophie said in a harsh whisper once the doctor left to fetch something or another. Sophie's full attention was on the blacked haired man in the back she called powerful wizard man. Howl looked up, he seemed dazed and tired! The nerve of him! He was tired, HIM? He wasn't doing any thing; Sophie was currently trying to push a kid out of her who stubbornly refused to leave much like the father! He walked over to her there were bags under his eyes!
"If you are not too busy interrupting the doctor or walking around, because you look quite tired sweetie, could you please whipped up some type of PAIN KILLER?" Sophie yelled the last part startling Howl. Howl looked uneasy his head turned to the door. Sophie yelled as another contraction hit. Howl looked worried he looked all over her as though trying to find the source of the pain. Sophie felt like murdering Howl. He did this to her!
The doctor ran in a few minutes later during another screech from Sophie. The doctor informed Sophie and Howl that the baby would be coming soon. He could see the head.
"Sophie, I need you to push okay?"
What did it look like Sophie was doing? Sophie braced herself and pushed. Howl looked like he wanted to get out of there but Sophie now had a vice grip on Howl's hand. All the magic in the world and the Jaws of Life were not going to help Howl now.
"Howl. I swear to the heavens above if you ever touch me sexually again I WILL KILL YOU!"
Howl winced from the threat. Sophie clenched down harder on his hand, as if that was possible. Howl was certain his hand was broken in three places possible four when he heard it. The wailing of the baby reached his ears. The doctor was checking the baby while Howl fussed over Sophie. She was exhausted and covered in sweat. Despite her earlier threat Howl bent down and kissed her on the lips. She smiled, and Howl turned to receive the baby.
"A little boy," Howl told her handing her a baby in a blanket. The baby shrieked, and was a dirty mess just like his mother but Sophie smiled down at him.
"My Little Morgan," Sophie whispered, Howl put his arm around Sophie. It was a Kodak moment.
It's been forever. I'm so sorry. Here is finally the fourth installment. I currently had no intention of adding a fifth. Plus I'm sure there are some mistakes I missed, but I'll deal with that later. Thanks to everyone that reviewed, or added me.