My Howl

Chapter Twelve: Baby Mine

Malcolm picked up scraps of the door the wizard Howl had smashed and fed it to Calcifer who happily chewed and chomped it down to ashes. Malcolm giggled his chin in his arms as he watched the fire eat; he had to stand on tip toes to reach the fire place.

Calcifer chewed and chomped noisily and opened his mouth for more wood. He was making a new door as he ate. "So Morgan" he said taking a big bit of the door handle.

"Yes?" Malcolm asked fishing out a big piece of wood and struggled to lift it.

"Do you know who your father is?" he asked, he needed to know if this boy was who he thought it was.

"No, I never had a daddy. Mummy said it didn't matter when I asked and that even if she couldn't say who it was he was wonderful and she loved him and she said he'd love me if he ever found us and he was going to be great" Malcolm garbled as he tried to pick up the heavy piece of wood and hoist it over his head.

"Where did you live when you were with your mother?" Calcifer asked.

"I don't know. In some field but we never left the house."

"Why?"

"Mummy said the wizards wouldn't let us out, I don't know why. I thought that's what people did."

Calcifer looked down "You're mother's name? What was it?"

"I don't remember" Malcolm said shrugging he didn't like talking about Mummy.

Calcifer huffed smoke coming out of his mouth. He thought as he ate the remaining chips of wood and door hinges. He gulped "was…Was it…Sophie?" He asked slowly his eyes popping out of his head.

Malcolm looked at him, and then he smiled Howl's perfect smile and said "yes. I think that's what she said her name was."

Calcifer chocked, little splinters and smoke coming out of his open mouth.

Malcolm stared at the fire daemon that turned from orange to red to purple. "Are you okay?" he asked putting his head close to the flame.

"Fine. I'm fine. I must have eaten a wood worm" Calcifer said taken a back, he then shook his head he had kept the truth for long enough "Morgan…There's something I need to tell you…Listen…"

Howl jogged down the stairs smirking "Good morning" he called.

"Morning" Markel said unsure about what Howl was so happy about.

Howl smirked he reached over and took Malcolm's hand and pulled him to the door; he leant on it and strode outside with Malcolm.

"Where are you going?" Markel asked sourly.

"Magic lesson" Howl called.

"Howl, wait!" Calcifer called, "I have to tell-" too late.

"He really doesn't care does he? It's just a new project for him." Markel said before going up the stairs.

~::~

"How much magic do you know?" asked Howl looking at Malcolm seriously.

"I've never actually had any lessons before." Malcolm said looking unsure.

Howl looked at him curiously at first but he supposed that he wouldn't know any magic by the sounds of his life before he came to him. "Well then let's start with the basics." He said think back as far as he could trying to remember what the basics were. "Well try to actually conjure up magic on purpose."

Malcolm thought hard and looked like he was concentrating. Nothing happened but Malcolm was beaming and looking up. Finally Howl looked up and saw one of the small clouds had turned into the perfect shape of a basic flower.

"No you have to try and do something big, that's the only way you'll learn how to control it."

Malcolm looked to the left and the right trying to think of something big enough to do. Howl sighed; sometimes the best was to do it was to see it. He suddenly caused lightening to appear and strike around them missing them by centimeters.

Malcolm immediately ran behind Howl and clung onto his leg shaking. Howl looked at him, "you don't like lightening?" he asked.

Malcolm nodded. Howl thought he'd better remember that. "Try and give it another try." Malcolm shook his head, he was too nervous now. "You're going to have to try sooner or later; it's in your blood."

"I wish it wasn't."

"Try it." Howl ordered.

Malcolm stayed still for a few seconds, raised his hands and then thought again because Howl asked him to do big. He finally raised his hands again and made it snow on him for a short time and only around them.

"Very good" Howl muttered genuinely impressed, Malcolm smiled proud of himself, "Try and do something else Morgan." Malcolm forgot his new name for a second and didn't react at first. "Morgan" Howl said when he saw that the boy was distracted by the snow.

"Yes?" he asked when he remembered what his new name was.

Howl looked suspicious when boy took so long to realize he was being spoken to, when he was that age he was telling everyone what his name was and making sure they never forgot it let alone himself.

Malcolm kicked the snow with his foot and stared to play in it. He loved snow, Mummy would let him out as long as he was wearing three layers of clothing and had a scarf wrapped around his neck. Howl watched the boy kicking in the snow screaming with laughter; Malcolm even flopped down onto his back and did a snow angel.

Howl smiled despite himself watching the small boy be so full of life, he had just existed for the past couple of years, floating from place to place looking for…Her. After last night he couldn't even think of Sophie right now. He looked down biting his lip: that dream of her had been so real, he awoke today trying not to think of it but he had.

Malcolm carried on laughing; he smiled up at Howl not noticing that the man was depressed.

Howl closed his eyes and as he thought back to Sophie, he listened to the boy's laughter and there was something there that reminded him so much of her. He opened his eyes as he thought of something…

SMACK!

Howl's head was hit with a huge snowball. Malcolm giggled covering his laughter with his hands. Howl pushed the snowy flakes off of his face grimacing. Malcolm began to run away as fast as his little legs could carry him. Howl watched him go, his grin came back, he crouched down pulled all of the snow on the ground into a massive ball of snow. He was going to see that the boy was going to have a cold for five months solid.

He ran after him his graceful strides out doing Malcolm's little scamps. He screamed as Howl approached him with the basketball sized ball of snow. He tripped on one of the mounds of grass under his feet.

Malcolm landed flat on his face on the mud. His wails of excitement turned to cries of humiliation. Howl dropped the snowball and crouched down beside him, he picked Malcolm up from the mud which the poor boy was covered in. Malcolm carried on crying, Mummy would always pick him up and hold him and ask him where it hurt. Howl had a different approach though, he held Malcolm up and held him at arm's length (this might be because he didn't want his shirt dirty) and examined him to see if he was hurt.

Malcolm wasn't hurt he just wanted to be held, when Howl loosened his grip for one second, he threw his arms around Howl and held him for all he was worth. Howl still held his arms out stretched, he looked down at Malcolm and tried to get the boy free of him, this wasn't easy because the boy had the grip of a boa constrictor.

Howl sighed; he hadn't thought he'd be the one who had to be the maternal figure for this boy now he was separated from his mother.

Something caught his eye in the muddy field. He managed to wriggle free from Malcolm and ran along the field followed by Malcolm. He looked down and he saw Turnip Head on his back wriggling feebly.

"What's wrong with Turnip Head?" asked Malcolm worriedly.

Howl ran over to the scarecrow and tried to pull him back upright, but the scarecrow couldn't keep his balance and fell back as if he was a normal scarecrow.

"Howl!" Malcolm called pointing over the field. Howl looked up and saw birds all ground bound unable to flap their wings and start to fly but they could only make a couple of inches before gravity claimed them again.

Howl ran over and stared at the fallen scarecrow and stared at him, "Help me get him up." He ordered grabbing Turnip head's arms and Malcolm grabbed his legs, he was easy to pick up even for the little boy.

Howl began to carry him back to the castle with Malcolm holding the stick up so that it didn't drag in the mud.

"What are you doing?" asked Markel who was reading a book.

"He can't stand" Howl said leaning Turnip head against the wall, "Calcifer I need you to tell me if there are any spells I can use." Calcifer was silent. Howl looked at him, Calcifer was trying to speak but no sounds came out.

"What's wrong with Calcifer Howl?" Malcolm asked looking at Howl.

"I don't know." Howl muttered, he was busy piecing everything together, the birds, Turnip head and now Calcifer. "The magic is dying in the world." He whispered his eyes widening.

"Oh come on Howl" Markel said in denial.

"It's the truth." Howl snapped looking at him.

"What's going to happen to the world?" Malcolm asked.

Howl wasn't listening he was too busy searching his books for something, "Markel I need you to get the charm I have that looks like a star."

"The gold one?" asked Markel.

"Yes!" Howl snapped, Markel walked towards the under the stairs cupboard.

Howl continued to search, "Where is it?" he asked grabbing half a dozen books and placing them on the table. Malcolm watched him, "Morgan I need you to go to my room and find a book that is made of purple leather." He ordered.

Malcolm nodded and ran up the stairs to Howl's room. There were a lot of books, and possibly even more because Howl's room was very messy. Malcolm began shifting through all the books, there seemed to be none that fitted the description.

Malcolm checked under the bed but there was nothing that looked like a book there. He sat on the bed and thought about where else it could be, Mummy always said it's always in the place you think is too obvious to look. Malcolm looked around the room again, maybe the wardrobe.

He stood up and opened the large wardrobe; half a dozen things fell on him. Malcolm screamed and covered his head. After the avalanche was over he swore he could hear Howl call to him downstairs but maybe he was wrong. Malcolm began digging around all the books, clothes and trinkets that belonged to Howl.

He saw the book finally under an old shirt and something wooden, as he pulled at the book out from the tangles of the shirt and other objects he saw that the wooden object was a picture frame.

The picture was of Howl and… Mummy?

His eyes shot over the picture. It was Mummy…She was wearing a long grey dress, and her hair was a lightish white, she also wore a long white veil over her hair (this is probably because the picture was in black and white) she smiled and even appeared to be laughing as Howl held her with his arm wrapped around her waist. She looked so young…so happy

"Morgan didn't you hear me I said…"

Howl broke off when he saw the boy sitting in the middle of his room holding his wedding photograph.

"Put that down" he said sharply although his tone was level.

Malcolm didn't move a muscle.

"I said put that down" Howl snapped trying to grab the photograph back.

Malcolm held the photo away from him. Howl's eyes widen in shock and then they narrowed.

"Give it back" he hissed towering over Malcolm.

Malcolm shook his head tears bleeding out of his eyes he mouthed something but his tears and saliva bubbling his words into nothing.

"What?" Howl asked turning his head trying to hear him although he seemed annoyed with his hands on his hips.

"…That's my Mummy…" Malcolm whispered pointing at Sophie.

Howl looked at him taken aback; he turned away from Malcolm turning his back…Could he? Would it be possible…He turned back and stared at Malcolm who still held the photograph in his hands…Was there a resemblance? Or was it in his imagination? He turned away again he needed to talk.

"How do you know my Mummy?" asked Malcolm in a little voice.

Howl opened his eyes growling "she is not your mother" he hissed. This hysterical child was looking for any woman to fill the void that was once his mother, he probably would do this to the Witch of the Waste if she hadn't been so old.

Malcolm looked at him through his tears, his cheeks turning redder and redder, "she is my Mummy" he said standing "believe me…She is my Mummy!"

Howl snatched his photograph away from Malcolm's hands "listen to me" he said grabbing the scruff of Malcolm's shirt, "she is not your mother. She had nothing to do to you. She is my wife and she is now dead."

Malcolm looked at him with frightened eyes but he couldn't stop himself from saying "Mummy is married?"

Howl roared shoving Malcolm away, Malcolm fell back and landed on his back, he tried to crawl away but he tried to reach for the photograph again.

"Please believe me, your wife is MY MUMMY!" he screamed trying to reach the photo which Howl was holding high above Malcolm's head.

Howl reached over and slapped him clean across his face.

Malcolm fell on his back; he held his cheek with both hands. His already tearful eyes grew large with fear.

Howl blinked taken aback. He looked down at his hand shakily. He was shocked at his actions. "Morgan" he whispered taking a step forward.

Malcolm crawled away from him scared stiff of Howl.

Howl tried to touch him dropping his photograph on the floor smashing the frame.

Malcolm screamed and ran out under his legs and to the door.

Howl watched him go; he saw his wedding photo smashed on the floor. He crouched down and took it in his hand and looked at Sophie's smiling face.

Malcolm ran down the stairs, holding his face in his hands.

Markel looked up from Calcifer's ashes as Heen looked over Turnip Head, "Morgan? What's wrong?" he asked concerned rising an eyebrow.

"Poor baby" the Witch of the Waste said smiling.

Malcolm ran to the door and flung it open "I can't stay in this house any longer" he screamed jumping onto the marshes "I'm going to find Mummy" he whispered running through the mists.

~::~

Howl looked up from the picture as he heard the door slam; his eyes brimmed with tears as he looked back down on the smashed picture frame.

"Sophie…What am I to do…I'm so lost without you" he whispered through the tears as he rested his forehead on the frame before starting to cry loudly.

~::~

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