(A/N: I'm back again. You've been asking for my 'Howl's Moving Castle' fanfic and here it is. It has a very minor crossover with the book, but don't worry, you don't need to read the book; in fact, you won't even know I crossed over with the book unless you actually read it. Ah, I'm rambling now. Please enjoy the story.
Disclaimer: I own nothing familiar.
"HOWL'S FLYING CASTLE"
Chapter 1: The Mysterious Customer
Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Howl's moving castle!
Actually, Howl's flying castle would be a more appropriate name, since the castle actually was flying. The large bazaar structure, that almost seemed to be in the shape of a strange creature, flew through the air on large mechanical wings.
However, these wings, unlike other flying aircrafts, did not run on fuel, electricity, or any other manmade power source. This castle's movements were powered by magic.
Howl Jenkins, also known as Howl Pendragon and many other names to keep his freedom and privacy, was a wizard, the most well known one in all of Ingary. This much everyone knew, but it was known that it was not his own magic that provided the castle with movement, but the magic of another more powerful being. It was, in fact, powered by a fire-demon named Calcifer. And the only ones that new about the secret to the castle's power source were a few select groups of people. Most of them lived in the actual castle.
The first person was, of course, the infamous wizard Howl. He had first met Calcifer when he was a child, still in training to become a wizard. Calicifer had originally been a shooting star. Such creatures would live 1,000 years before falling from the sky and perishing. Calcifer had been no exception. After his 1,000 years, he too fell from the sky, right into Howl's hands. Calcifer did not want to die, so he and Howl entered a magical contract. Howl had literally swallowed the fire-demon, giving his heart to the dying star. Their lives had become linked. As long as one lived, so would the other.
Of course, things hadn't turned out the way either of them had expected. Calcifer had become bound to Howl, and was unable to move unless Howl himself moved him. Calcifer had been reduced to nothing more than a living flame, stuck in a fireplace as he provided Howl's castle the ability to move.
Howl had also gotten in over his head. He was literally heartless, something very dangerous for a being with magic. The more he used his magic, especially when he changed into a flying bird-like form, the more he would begin to change. Eventually he would become a monster, something he definitely didn't want to happen. He was able to avoid his transformation, but unless he found a way to break the spell he and Calcifer had placed upon themselves he would soon become a monster, unable to turn human ever again. And to make matters worse, neither of them could ask anyone for help because the spell prevented them from speaking of it.
Still, the two of them managed pretty well on their own. Well, Howl did anyway. Poor Calcifer was left to provide the castle with power and heat while he sat in a fireplace, unable to do anything but burn wood like an ordinary fire. Howl on the other hand could pretty much live a normal life, for a wizard anyway. Still, he chose a rather interesting life. He took on an apprentice, a young boy named Markl, to pass on his knowledge of spells and to do things he was too cowardly to do.
Yes, Howl was a coward. He was also a womanizer. He would woo women, but never stay with them, for he was afraid of getting too involved with anything. This led to problems. Especially when he attempted to lead on another person that was capable of magic. He attempted to woo the Witch of the Waste, who had disguised herself as a beautiful young woman to lure Howl. A very big mistake. It turned out that she was nothing that Howl thought she was, so he ran away like the coward he was.
But the Witch of the Waste wasn't about to let Howl get away. For her it was love a first sight. Unfortunately for Howl, she was the type of witch that took the hearts of her love interests. And she wanted Howl's heart. So far this was the only thing good that came out of the magical contract Howl had entered in with Calcifer. The Witch of the Waste was unable to take Howl's heart as long as Calcifer remained hidden. Thus was the reason why Howl spent so much magic and spread so many rumors to keep everyone away. He began a rumor about how he ate the hearts of the women he wooed, getting the idea from the Witch of the Waste.
But fate works in mysterious ways. Now the Witch of the Waste was actually living with Howl in his castle. She had changed, a lot. Not too long ago, she had been stripped of her powers and brought to the age she actually was, when the magic she used to retain her youth was taken away, by a powerful sorceress named Madam Suliman. Like Howl, the Witch of the Waste had fallen prey to a demon and had her own heart stolen, contaminating her body and soul into the cruel person she was. Madam Suliman knew it was too dangerous to allow someone like her to be allowed powers such as that, so she removed the threat.
But it turned out for the best. The Witch of the Waste, now known as Grandma Witch, had become a kind, caring, somewhat senile, harmless old woman. She had even given up on taking Howl's heart. In fact, she actually freely gave it up when it was literally in the palm of her hands.
However, before she changed for the better, Grandma Witch, back when she was still the Witch of the Waste, had seen Howl in the company of a young woman named Sophie Hatter. Fueled by jealousy, thinking there was something going on between the young hat-maker and the handsome wizard, she had cast a terrible spell upon poor Sophie, turning her into a 90 year old woman.
But Sophie didn't just take this lying down. She set out to find a way to break the spell, which, to make matters worse, she was unable to speak of. On her journey, she came across a scarecrow, and not a regular scarecrow, but one that was alive, as strange as that sounded. Turnip-Head, as Sophie dubbed the scarecrow, became very fond of Sophie and led her, ironically, right to Howl's moving castle; back when it still traveled on the ground rather than in the air of course.
The first person Sophie met was Calcifer. He immediately knew Sophie was no old woman. He sensed the spell upon her, and was more than capable of breaking it. The problem was that he couldn't do much of anything while under the magical contract with Howl. So he and Sophie made a deal; if Sophie helped break Calcifer's magical contract, he would break the spell on Sophie.
In the end, Sophie managed to break the spell herself, without Calcifer's help. The only thing that remained of the spell was the fact that her hair had remained a silvery white, rather than turning back to brown, serving as a magical scar. Sophie didn't mind in the least. In fact, she liked her hair like this and decided to keep it, even though she could have easily dyed it with one of the many hair dyes that Howl had.
Though Sophie had broken her own curse, she still kept her promise and broke the magical contract Howl and Calcifer were under, returning Howl his heart and removing his fear of becoming a monster while Calcifer received another 1,000 years to live as well as the ability to do what he pleased again. However, the fire-demon never did return to the stars. He decided to stay with Howl and the others.
They certainly did make a very unusual family. A wizard who had given his heart to a fire-demon, an young boy learning magic from said wizard, Heen, the dog of the sorceress that removed the Witch of the Waste's powers, and a silvery white haired young woman who fell in love and was loved by Howl.
Yes, Howl and Sophie were in love, as in love as two people could be. No one saw it coming, but it had happened. Howl, after all his years as a womanizer, had fallen in love with a hat-maker who had been turned into an old crone, and Sophie, who had never had a single relationship, had fallen in love with a 'heartless' wizard that had been slowly turning into a monster.
But now their problems were over and they couldn't be happier. There were only a few minor things that disrupted their happy lives. The first being Madam Suliman. Not too long ago, she had been hunting Howl. Such as the case with the Witch of the Waste, being without a heart was very dangerous for someone with magical powers. She offered to help him recover his heart if he would help fight in the war. But Howl was against such acts of violence and refused. In response, Suliman attempted to force him to turn into a monster so she could control him. She would then use him to help fight in the war that had been going on whether he wanted to or not. A war that had been started between the town of Kingsbury and Porthaven because Prince Justin had disappeared, both sides blaming the other for his disappearance.
Strangely enough, Prince Justin hadn't disappeared. He had been placed under a spell. And as ironic as it may seem, Prince Justin had been transformed into a scarecrow. And not just any scarecrow, but Turnip-Head.
The spell was broken though, thanks to Sophie. After saving her life, and the lives of her friends, she had kissed him in thanks. True love's kiss. That was what broke the spell. Turnip-Head/Prince Justin had fallen in love with Sophie, and her kiss returned him to his human self. However, Sophie did not return Justin's feelings, so the young prince returned home and stopped the war, but he would occasionally return to visit Sophie in an attempt to win her heart, not the same way Calcifer took Howl's heart though. This was, in fact, the other thing that disrupted Howl and Sophie's happy lives. Howl didn't like Justin constantly flirting with his girlfriend, now fiancé. Sophie was flattered, but she did not return Justin's affections. She cared for him only as a friend. Her heart belonged to Howl and Howl alone, but this did not stop Justin's attempts to woo her. After Howl ad Sophie had gotten engaged, Justin basically stopped his attempts to win Sophie's heart, but that didn't stop him from flirting, much to Howl's irritation.
But to Sophie, she had already found her prince and was living happily in her own castle. A magic castle no less. One of unique things about Howl's castle, besides the ability to move, was the front door. This door was, in fact, a portal. It led to 4 different locations. The first being a place that seemed to be a black void of nothingness. Only Howl knew where this door led to and he would occasionally turn into a bird-like creature and go through it, disappearing from time to time. The second portal led to the Wastes, which was where Howl's castle actually was, flying over the land. The third portal, which had formerly led to the royal city of Kingsbury now led to the very place Howl and Calcifer had first met. Here there were fields of flowers that went on for as far as the eye could see. The forth portal, formerly leading to Porthaven, now led to Sophie's old hat shop in the town of Market Chipping. But thanks to the previous portal's location, the old hat shop was now a flower shop, which made more money than either Howl's old spell shop or Sophie's old hat shop did.
It was here that Sophie and Markl currently were, the latter in his old man disguise. Calcifer, Grandma Witch, and Heen were still in Howl's castle while Howl himself had once again disappeared through the mysterious black portal. Sophie always wondered where the portal led to, but Howl always seemed sensitive around the subject. So she left it alone, assuming that Howl would tell her when he wanted to.
But right now she couldn't worry about such things. Now she had to worry about her customers. Not that that was much of a problem since today was rather slow.
"Pick up for Jones." Said her current customer.
Sophie nodded. "Yes, Mr. Jones. One moment please. Markl-"
"Already got it!" cried a young boy, talking in the voice of an old man to make his magical disguise more convincing.
He handed Sophie the wreath of flowers. "Thank you, Markl." She said, taking the wreath from him and ringing it up.
Taking his order, Mr. Jones left the store, leaving it empty except for Sophie and Markl. The 8 year old apprentice pulled his hood back and his magical disguise vanished to show the real him. "Things are pretty slow today." He said. "Think we can close early?"
Sophie looked at the clock. Normally they wouldn't close for another 40 minutes, but business had been slow today. "I suppose so." She said. Just then the bell rang, indicating that someone had entered the store, and Markl quickly put his magical disguise back on. "After this customer."
The person that entered was a young woman with long black hair and pale skin. Sophie couldn't see her face since she was walking around the store, looking at the displays on the shelves. She casually walked all around the store, her long dress dragging on the floor. She didn't seem to be actually looking for something, merely browsing, but eventually she made her way over to the counter.
Markl's mouth dropped open when he got a good look at her face. She was very beautiful. Not a flaw on her perfect face. Markl's own face turned red with a blush, causing Sophie to smirk at the young boy's reaction. Looks like Markl had a little crush. The little boy was growing up.
But then Sophie's smile became a frown as she looked at the young woman again. Sure she was pretty enough and looked innocent, but the eyes were wrong. They were so intense, so cold, almost cruel. Sophie couldn't put her finger on it, but there was something about this woman she didn't like.
"Hello, may I help you?" she asked politely.
The woman smiled, her cold gaze fixed on Sophie. "Perhaps." She studied the silver haired woman a moment. "You are Sophie Hatter, aren't you?"
Sophie looked confused. "Yes. Is there something I can do for you?"
"Perhaps." The woman repeated. Her gaze shifted to Markl, who instantly froze, turning a darker shade of red. "Nice disguise, kid."
That broke Markl out of his trance. "What? How… how did you…?"
"Markl, isn't it." The woman interrupted, surprising the boy again. "Yes, I know of you. You're Howl's apprentice." She turned back to Sophie. "And you're Howl's new love interest." She smirked. "I wonder how long he's planning on keeping you around."
Sophie's eyes narrowed in irritation. Now she really didn't like this woman. Who was she anyway? Sophie had never seen her before, but this woman seemed to know her, and Markl and Howl. Well, everyone knew Howl, but not Markl.
The woman's eyes left Sophie's face and settled on her hand. There a sparkling engagement ring lay on her finger. The woman's eyes widened as she focused on Sophie's face again, smiling more broadly. "I see. So it's true then. Howl really did find his true love. I had thought you would be just another girl he would go after for awhile and then run away from again. Apparently not."
"No, apparently not." Said Sophie, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. She was just itching to say something back, but the last time she was rude back to one of her customers she had ended up as a 90 year old woman.
The woman backed up a bit, making her way over to some flowers, which she sniffed. "So, how is Howl doing? Things certainly have changed. I never thought he would actually settle down. But I've been wrong before."
"Do you know Master Howl?" Markl asked, not bothering with his old man voice.
The woman snickered. "Who doesn't know the great wizard Howl?" She looked over Markl's head at the door behind him. "He wouldn't happen to be around, would he?"
Sophie shook her head. "No, he left this morning. Said he had something he had to attend to."
The woman picked up a flower, holding it close to her nose as she walked back over to the counter. "Really? And would you happen to know where he went?"
As Sophie looked into the woman's eyes, she felt a tug at her mind and suddenly she wanted to tell this woman everything. "I'm afraid I don't know."
The woman's eyes narrowed. "Oh, you don't? Are you sure?"
There was that tug again. Sophie wanted to shake her head to get rid of the unusual feeling, but didn't want to do so in front of this woman. "He didn't say. Sometimes he disappears from time to time. No one knows where he goes."
"Not even you?"
The tug was stronger than ever. Sophie felt that if she spoke again she would end up telling all her life secrets, so instead she just shook her head.
The woman held her gaze for a moment before finally backing off. "Very well then. I suppose I'll just have to see him when he returns. Any idea when that would be?"
That stupid tug! Why was it that when this woman asked a question Sophie felt obligated to answer. "I don't know."
The woman waited a few seconds before turning questioningly to Markl, who shook his head. The woman just smiled. "Then I'll just have to hope I get lucky and run into him when I come back."
She opened the door and was about to leave when Sophie stopped her. "Ma'am, could you tell us your name so we can tell Howl who's looking for him."
That was only part of the reason why Sophie wanted to know the woman's name. She was also curious as to who this woman was, then perhaps she would be able to get some answers of her own.
The woman paused halfway out the door, before looking back, giving them one last smile. "Call me Angorian."
With that she left, leaving a very confused Sophie and Markl behind. They each shared a look, wondering just who this Angorian was.
"Do you know her?" asked Sophie.
Markl shook his head. "She could be one of Master Howl's past girlfriends."
A past girlfriend? "Why would she be looking for Howl now?" Sophie wondered out loud.
Markl shrugged. "Guess we'll have to ask Master Howl. Or maybe Calcifer will know." He blushed again. "She sure was pretty though."
Sophie humphed. "I guess."
Markl gave her a smile behind his beard. "Don't worry, Sophie. I think you're prettier."
That made Sophie smile. "Thanks, Markl."
(A/N: Well, there's the first chapter. Was it good? I know that half of it was a recap; I tend to do that sometimes. But onto the actual plot, who is this Angorian and what does she want with Howl. There is a lot coming up that you won't want to miss. When I first start out a story, it normally takes me about a week to update until the story really gets going, then I normally update every 3-4 days. I'll see you next time for the next chapter. Please review and thanks for reading.)