Servant for Howl

Chapter twelve: Relationship?

Sophie couldn't help but feel relieved when Howl finally decided to land on the wastes. "You did pretty well for a first flyer." He said grinning.

"Why are we here?" she asked him looking around the wastes.

"If you feel sick then you should-"

"Howl!" she said managing to struggle free of him and stand tall but she could only just about stand at all because she was trying not to shake. "Why did you go here?"

He still grinned, "I feel most relaxed out here and if you don't want to stay then you could always walk back, the town is in that direction" he said pointing in the distance, "about three or so miles and the castle is in that direction" he pointed to the opposite direction, "which might appear in about half an hour or so."

Sophie stared at him, he wasn't joking. "Why did you bring me here?"

"You just came along for the ride."

"I was arrested; you could have just walked me home and then come here." Though she already knew the reason why he didn't do that, "But that wouldn't be fun enough for you." she said trying to feel angry and not proud that she had figured him out so easily.

He looked at her surprised but smiled, "Hit it in one." He said "so you can figure me out so why can't I figure you out?"

"Excuse me?" she asked.

"I can guess and predict everyone's character and their next move but I can't do so for you."

"Why?"

"You tell me? Are you secretly a witch?"

"Sir!"

"Don't call me sir and it's a simple question and the only explanation I can come up with."

"I'm not a witch I can assure you that."

"Well than what are you interests, hopes, dreams and why can't I figure you out?"

"I think you would know, sir" she added the sir just to annoy him, "if you remember things I might have said before and how I acted…"

He brushed that away, "It doesn't work, trust me I've been trying to figure you out from everything you've said, done, every smile, every way you've looked at things and how you have reacted to things."

Sophie began to find the flowers, which were very pretty, around her very interesting, so much more than the conversation. She sat by a small river and started to gather them up in her hands making a small bouquet of pink, blue, white and purple haze.

Howl sat down on the grass next to her, watching her. Sophie kept her eyes away from him but she was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. She could feel Howl's blue eyes on her face and hands. She started to pick the petals off of the buds and throw them on the emerald green grass.

"When will we go back?" she asked looking at him.

"There's no rush."

"When will we go back?" she asked again.

Howl flopped back onto the grass letting his arms splay out on the grass which made him look like a child, "I will take you back" Sophie let out a small sigh of relief "when you tell me a bit about yourself."

Sophie blinked and then looked down at him "what do you want to know?"

"Why did you take your wages? And what did you need it for."

Sophie looked at him carefully "my sister. Lettie. She and mother needed money. So I gave them mine."

Howl looked at her leaning on his elbows "why did you do that?"

"She's my family. I have to help them. You'd help Calcifer, Markel…Your wife…If they needed your help" she felt it was important for her to point out to him he was married.

Howl put a head in his hand smiling at her in his angelic way; he seemed unphased by the mention of his wife. He patiently waited for her to finish.

"Anyway, I've done it before, my mother and sister like to believe they are rich and aristocratic so they buy things far too expensive which would land them in trouble. Also mother would allow men to go after her, men she knew would be trouble or hurt her. And they would use her for everything she had and then drop her. I had to use my savings so we could live on something, but it was only a matter of time before she was seeing more men."

Howl looked at her, Sophie eyes were hidden in her hat and grey hair, she looked quite small on the grass, he sat up and went close to her, so their shadows became one on the green velvet grass. "You are very brave" he said his voice tickling her ear.

She looked at him their face's so close together, she could feel his breath on her lips "I'm not" she said shrugging slightly "if I was brave I would have put my foot down for once and said no" she tried not to mumble this but it was very, very hard because all she could see was his blue crystal like eyes which always had the power to immobilize her.

Howl smiled at her, his lips very close to hers. He edged forward.

Sophie lost her nerve.

She stood brushing her dress down at petals, "look" she called pointing at a group of birds flying overhead.

Howl sighed and looked at them.

Sophie looked at the birds ignoring him, one was a huge eagle like bird that seemed to chase the others, he seemed powerful and deadly, the rest were small and fast and Sophie was sure that they could get themselves out of anything but maybe that was why they were in trouble all the time.

She looked down she hadn't meant to be clever or ironic.

Howl looked at her, "What do you like?" he asked finally. Sophie looked at him at the unexpected question, "You don't care about how you look, you don't seem to read much, you don't dance and you barely speak to anyone."

"I get shy" she said not caring he had insulted her at least once in that sentence alone.

"Are you shy now?" he asked staring at her with his large blue eyes.

Sophie looked away; she didn't want to lose herself in the moment again. "No" she lied, if she acted like she was in control than maybe he'll believe she was in control.

He edged forward, "Are you sure." Sophie tried not to think about his wonderful voice over and over again.

She had to say anything and quick, she could sense him relishing at looking at her this close. "I used to like to draw." She said it too quickly for her to realize what she had just said.

"What?" he asked confused pausing his advances on her.

Sophie blushed but she had to run with it now, "I used to like to draw" she repeated looking down at the ground feeling exposed, "You wanted to know what I'm interested in and I there's you answer."

Howl seemed confused, startled and disappointed all at once but sat back, "were you any good." Sophie twirled her hands in a way to show she was ok at it, "How come you never told me before."

"I had to give it up when I was 15."

"Then you must have been more than ok at it."

"I had to start working in my father's shop and I didn't have the time to do it."

"But your artistic skill still came out whenever you made one of the hats." He interjected.

She blushed, "No"

"Only a true artist would say that" he grinned.

"Do you want me to tell you about myself or not?"

Howl laughed at her tipping his head back. Sophie blushed and looked away, why was it whenever she tried to say anything serious to him he ended up laughing? Howl looked at her expression which only made him chuckle more, but then he composed himself and smiled at her with patience. "Yes I do want to know about you. Please be patient" he said with a genuine note to his voice.

She rolled her eyes "why do I need to talk to you? Why can't you tell me about your life?" she asked defiantly.

Howl looked down at the grass a grin on his lips "not much to tell really, I became an apprentice to my uncle, and then to the king's magician Suliman. I excelled at magic of course, until I left the apprenticeship and struck out on my own, and then I got married. That's been my life, hope you enjoyed."

Sophie rolled her eyes; the birds were all scattering because the grey clouds were gathering. "That's not a life Howl, you don't just float around from person to person, what about all of the places you used to go, the secret places that only a child would know?"

Howl looked at her, "that was my life."

"What about your parents, did you like them? Did you look up to them?"

Howl looked at her carefully before saying "I didn't know my father. And my mother died. My uncle was tolerable I guess."

Sophie sat next to him trying to make him feel better, "I loved my father, he was a brilliant man…but he died. I don't know how, one minute he had a cold and then he had something wrong with his kidneys. And then he was dead." She looked down slightly her hat covering her eyes, she felt Howl's arm go around her shoulders she laid her head against Howl's shoulders.

"This is a bit more macabre than I expected" Howl smirked resting his cheek on top of her head.

"How do you know this place?" she asked looking at the flowers moving in the breeze.

"I used to come here all the time when my uncle was keeping me as an apprentice."

"Why do you like me?" That was the main question that had been plaguing her since he had taken an interest in her.

Howl looked at her "why shouldn't I?"

"Well I'm not pretty, I'm not clever not very anyway, I can't play music, I'm not a wide reader and I'm the daughter of a dead hat maker. I can't imagine what I have that would attract any man let alone…" she let herself cut off for she had waded in too deep in uncomfortable waters.

"Let alone what?" he asked her, again their eyes were like magnets.

"Nothing." She said pulling herself away from him.

"I can take it, like what?"

She thought, there was no way to describe Howl without using the word beautiful. "Just you", that was the safest answer, "let alone you."

He smiled at her, had they just broken down another wall? "And by the way I like you because you are kind, pure and brave, very brave and be-" Sophie had to stop herself from listening to him anymore, she felt uncomfortable thinking about it.

He was suddenly very close to her again. She felt happy but uncomfortable with him so close to her suddenly. She should move now, right now.

She about to move out of his reach again like she had done earlier when there was a loud sound of rusted metal. She turned and to her relief she saw the moving castle walking steadily towards them.

"Oh come on!" Howl sounded annoyed, she turned to look at him. They were now nose to nose to each other. She should get up and go to the castle. He couldn't want to be this near to her. But she liked being this close to him. No she didn't, she couldn't.

Howl moved forward and kissed her. Sophie stared at him, he was mad, he really had lost it. Though she knew that no matter how many times she thought that she was madder for not moving away and enjoying it.

The heavens then opened and it started to rain down on them.

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