Title: The Affairs of Wizards

Word Count: 686
Fandom: HMC Movieverse/Dr. Who
Summary: Howl's Moving Castle receives an unusual guest.
Disclaimer/Author's Note: I own nothing, being only a textual poacher. This was written for a crossover fic meme on LiveJournal at the request of "doctorwotwot".

Calcifer was agitated. This was not, in itself, unusual – fire demons are not known for their placid temperaments, after all.

This time, though, the fat orange flame's disgruntled attitude was being influenced by something other than yet another demand for hot bathwater from Howl. Calcifer peered up from his hearth and made a number of disturbed noises. "Something's coming . . ."

Howl and Markl both turned to glance at the fireplace. Markl's brow furrowed. "What d'ya mean?"

"What is it, Calcifer?" Howl asked – he'd come downstairs momentarily to grab a bottle – presumably of some bath product or another – from the haphazard pile of bottles, vials and boxes on his desk.

The snap-POP of kindling being burned by an irritated fire demon was loud enough to be heard over the muted roaring of running bathwater in the pipes upstairs. "What am I, a magic mirror? I don't know what it is, it's just somethi — "

The BANG of something huge being dropped and a sound which seemed suspiciously like the cracking of boards and plaster cut him off, and Howl dashed for the stairs with Markl hot on his heels.

The wizard was forced to stop short only a little ways down the upstairs hall, and Markl almost crashed into the back of his master's legs. The pudgy little apprentice glanced cautiously past the trailing sleeve of Howl's tunic (a red-green-and-blue patchwork number of which the wizard was especially proud).

There was a large, rectangular blue something wedged firmly into the hallway just before the door to the bath. The whatever-it-was took up almost the entire width of the hall (and, in fact, the slight angle at which it had landed or appeared had buried one corner of the thing several inches into the inside wall of the Castle) and bore the imposing label POLICE above what seemed to be a pair of doors.

Markl made an uncertain noise. "Uh, Master Howl?"

Before the wizard could respond, the doors of the Mysterious Thing opened, and the second or third most garishly-dressed person Markl had ever seen stepped out.

Of course, as Markl lived with the Wizard Howl, the second or third most garishly-dressed person he'd ever seen still managed to rate pretty high on outlandish; he wore yellow pinstriped trousers, a ridiculously large blue bow around his neck, and a long patchwork coat that almost (if not quite) measured up to Howl's own current garment.

"I'm very well aware that it's stopped working, Peri," This outlandish person was saying over his shoulder as he stepped out of the doors of the Blue Thing, "One can safely assume that to be the reason I am attempting to discover why."

He stopped short just over the threshold of his strange box and sized up Howl with a cursory glance. "You there." Markl ducked a bit further behind his master's sleeve, just in case the strange person was addressing him. "What's the meaning of all this?"

Howl drew himself up another few inches, summoning all the wizardly élan he was capable of. "Funny, I'd thought I should be asking you that. You're in my house, after all."

The stranger's eyebrows arched in a slightly disdainful expression. "I'm aware enough of that." He said. "It was your . . . your walking heap of junk that interfered with my controls and dragged us down here."

"Walking heap of junk?" Howl's expression darkened in a way Markl hadn't seen since the last time the King's soldiers had tried paying a call. "Now wait just a minute . . ."

The pair were so involved with bristling at one another that they both failed to notice the trickle of extremely well-scented, slightly sudsy water that had begun to seep from beneath the odd blue POLICE box. Markl, however, spotted it right off, and rapidly realized that the only thing Master Howl disliked more than wounded pride was an interrupted bath.

With as much haste and tact as he could manage, Markl backed his way down the stairs.

There were times when it was better not to meddle in the affairs of wizards.