I'm sorry I took so long to upload again! I just got a whole bunch of hours at work, but I hope everyone enjoys this chapter! -Rena

As the wound heal completely over, Cacifer breathed a sigh of relief, "Well...I'll allow Howl to explain that." he remarked casually.
Sophie, being less than pleased with his answer, huffed, but kept her focus on Howl, "Will he be alright?" She spoke with concern. Why was she feeling so concerned over this wizard anyways?

"Yes, he just needs to rest now...I imagine that he did a number on the Striffe fellow as well. Mind putting me back?"

Sophie grabbed the small demon and realized that something heavy was beneath him, that thumped ever so slightly, "You feel like a heart..." She remarked as she placed him back on to the wood, where he began to glow a marvelous red and orange color again.
He remind silent, and just stared at her with his round, simple eyes.

She looked back at Howl, and her eyes seemed to linger on his sculpted chest for a moment. She blushed again. Why was she getting so bothered by this man? A small voice crept into the back of Sophie's head , "Because he dangerous and charming, with am amazing body that you-" AHHH, Sophie began to blush terribly as she cut off her own thoughts. She shouldn't be thinking that way about her capturer! But from what she heard last night...he was rather doing her a favor...Was he actually saving her?

"Howl will explain everything when he wake up you." Cacifer muttered, already knowing what she was going to ask.

She sighed, and went back to her bed to retrieve a pillow to place under Howl's head. It'll be awhile before he awakes, she thought to herself as she carefully lift up the man's head, placing it gently onto the pillow, might as well do something productive.
With very little energy, Sophie tied her dress into a knot on one side and rolled up her sleeves. Nothing better do to than to clean, help past the time till she actually finds out whats really going on.

2 hours pass with Sophie sweeping furiously, washing piles and piles of dishes, and dusting profusely. All the windows in the house were open, revealing that the castle was placed in the mountains, a couple of times the brunette stopped what she was doing, just to stare at the beautiful, crystal clear lake just a few feet away from the castle. She could get use to this view, had it not for the circumstances she was in, she would want to raise a family in a place like this. She sighed once again...Was she ever going to be able to get that chance?

A small groan made Sophie stop in her tracks, and glanced down at two electric blue eyes staring back. A small smile crossed her lips, "Good afternoon." She was glad he was assuredly safe now.

Howl smiled back weakly as he lifted himself up, noticing his shirt still laid on the ground, "Well now, a very good afternoon to you as well Miss. Sophie." The wizard inspected himself, just to be sure he was completely healed, he frowned a little as he touched the dry blood on his hair and body"I must take a shower first, but when I come back, I believe me and you need a little chat." His voice sounded very smooth, like always.

Sophie nodded and felt a ping of excitement shoot threw her. She was finally going to find out what is going on. But before he went upstairs, Howl walked closer, a leaned down, only inches from Sophie's face, one of his hands encased her cheek, "Thank you, Sophie." he said in a low, seductive voice. And with that, he walked upstairs.
Sophie's face turned apple red, as she felt a warmth in her stomach and mentally cursed herself over and over for getting so flustered with this wizard! She had just met him 24 hours ago, but already she can feel an unfamiliar tug to her heart, she dared not recognize.

A small laugh escaped from the fire, "Who knew he'd be this into you."

"Hush you!" Sophie shot back as she picked up Howl's shirt and everything that laid on the floor, placing it back onto her bed, where she stood momentarily. Maybe this won't be as bad as I think...All these emotional ups and downs were driving Sophie insane! So many new feelings, and conflicting thoughts, hopefully Howl will clear up some things.

She just doesn't know what to believe anymore...

Going back to the main room, Sophie paused a moment to admire her work. She had done surprisingly a lot in those short few hours, there was much still left to be done, but now at least it looked lived in. Things were tidy, the sunshine seemed to add a certain warmth to the room. The dust almost all done now but sadly the fire place was still filled to the brim with ash.

The sound of footsteps traveling down the wooden stairs rang through the living room. Howl appeared at the bottom of the stairs, with a simple white towel draped loosely around his waist, otherwise naked with his golden hair freshly wet.

Sophie's heart began to beat harder, and her face glowed. She had never in her life seen a man so attractive, but a part of her hated that fact. The part who argued with her about how he took her away from her home. A mix of thoughts and feelings all laid hard on the pit of Sophie's stomach. After all he IS a wizard, they usually were very handsome creatures, to lure women in. But there was something very natural about Howl in the state.

"Howl, we have a lady here now, you can't be walking around naked!" Calcifer seemed almost upset.
He smiled sheepishly, "My apologies...then again Sophie doesn't seem to mind much, do you?" He obviously caught her gawking and relished the fact.

Her brown eyes widen from embarrassment, "Um, uh Sorry." Sophie didn't know what to do with herself, so she quickly turned her back to Howl, "Please get dressed soon." She squeaked out.
Even though she couldn't seem him, she could feel his smug expression.

Two hands laid softly on Sophie's arms, the wizard lips mere inches from her ear, "Just came down to get my shirt, Sophie." He was just toying with her now as he whispered her name so damn smoothly.

"It's on the bed. But it's dirty and torn." Sophie replied, fighting off her own feelings.

"So it is. Need not worry, I can fix it." Howl released the brunette and fetched his shirt, retreating back upstairs. The young girl sighed deeply and shook her head. Remember Sophie, he took you from home...he isn't to be trusted...

A few minutes later, the wizard came downstairs again, this time with black pants and his newly fixed white shirt, "So, I guess it's time to have our little chat. Care to accompany outside? It's much too nice of a day to spend it here." Howl offered his hand to Sophie.
She paused for only a moment before she took his soft hand in hers. Do not trust. She reminded herself again.

Once outside, Sophie was able to actually get a good look at this 'castle' of his. A rusty metal ball almost, with a face made out of odd and end metal pieces, all together, a strange thing. Sophie never seen anything like that before. Not very appealing.
They walked along the lake bed, the sun now setting off in the distance, casting a reddish glow on the mountains and land around them.
Howl paused at a spot on a small hill, just over looking everything, and sat down in the grass. Sophie sat next to him.

"What would you like to know, Sophie?" Howl glanced over to her, his blue eyes aglow in the fading light, his blond hair shimmering to match.

"Everything..." Sophie frowned at him, "All I know is you came and took me from my home...And what I heard you say last night...tell me it all."

He paused and stared out at the lake, and sighed "Sophie, your mother summoned me...Richard Striffe is actually an old student of mine. He studied under me for quite some time. Very promising but used his magic in terrible ways. By the time your mother, Fanny, got romantically involve with this man, he had her under his control. The moment she agreed to allow him into her, her mind, body and soul, was his." He paused, to make sure Sophie was absorbing everything well, and continued, "She is marked by him now. Which means, Fanny is indeifantly under his control unless...her child is sacrificed, only then will she ever get free on her own will."

Sophie just sat there, and attempted to soak everything in, "So...your saying...the only way to save me was to give me to you?" She spoke so very softly, and almost felt guilty how upset she had gotten to everyone...this whole thing wasn't about getting rid of Sophie, no, this was about saving her. She was a little upset at her mother for the fact that she slept with him, but she couldn't be blame her. After all, Fanny must have been very lonely once her father passed.

"I knew Fanny previously, and that's why she trusted me. And I was more than happy to take you, Sophie...for when I first saw you, I knew there was something I could get from this as well. But I'll discuss that later." Howl now spoke softly too, not trying to upset the girl in any way.

A thick silence filled the air for a few minutes as the two just stared out in the sunset.

"Why is Striffe trying to get me then?" Sophie pondered.

Howl frowned and stared deeply into her eyes, sending a chill down her spine, "He wants to mark you as well. He wants to create a child in your family, that way the curse will forever engulf your clan, and since your mother is infertile now..." Howl turned and grabbed Sophie's hand a brought her closer, "I won't EVER let him touch you." his voice sounded very protective and reassuring.

Sophie found some comfort in Howl's voice. It seemed like he really wanted to protect her. Sophie paused and remembered the bruise on her side, and she bit her lip, turning away. She remember that night when she heard the loud thud against the wall coming from her mother's bedroom.

"He already tried...a few nights ago." She admitted painfully to Howl, "Mother was passed out, rather knocked out by the time I opened her bedroom door, and he stood there, like a wild animal." Sophie clenched her teeth together, "But I got away." She didn't wish to say all the details of the man attempting to rip her clothes off and have at her.

Howl pulled the small girl into his chest and held her tight, "It won't EVER happen again." He said in a assuring tone.

For some reason, Sophie didn't want to pull away, ever. The warmth, the comfort, the smell of him just were all too intoxicating. Her heart started to tug again and this time, she allowed her arms to wrap around his hard chest, laying her face on him. Why was she feeling so strongly for this man she met just a while ago? She almost wanted to cry.

Gathering herself, Sophie pulled away and there was one question left on her mind.

"When you were passed out, Calcifer said in order to not allow Striffe to ever get me was by bonding me with you. How is this done?" she asked curiously.
Howl looked down at the small women and smiled playfully, a big change in mood, "Well we first must preform a ritual of sorts," He paused again, thinking of a way to put it delicately, "Then, well, I must, for a lack of better words, claim your body as mine."

She attempted to mull over what he was trying to say, then it dawned on her. There was no stopping the rush of red that flooded her cheeks, "I have to have sex with you?!"
She spoke loudly in disbelief. Here came that rush of mixed emotions again too. Was she ready to do that? She's never even kissed anyone, let alone, give her body to them! And what if she didn't want that? Striffe would get her! But sleeping with Howl and doing that ritual would make her Howl's forever! All chances, gone!

"Sophie, I know this is a lot to take in, but give it time." Howl stood up and offered her his hand, "I'm here to help you, not harm you."

She just stared up at him. She was sadden, upset, hurt, fearful but all that was hushed when she was lifted up by the wizard and held tightly, "Sophie, I need you, just as much as you need me, if not, more so. I too have a curse on me." He admitted in a whisper and hugged her tighter. This fact surprised her. He needed her as well? A curse?

"And I hate to say this, but Sophie, you have until tomorrow at midnight to do this ritual. Time is running out on my curse, and soon, I won't be able to be human any longer."

"...Your the beast that chased me, aren't you?" Sophie was shocked.
He nodded, "It's become increasingly hard to fight the beast, and I fear tomorrow, under the full moon, I won't be able to do so anymore and that's why...Sophie, I need you."

Sophie had to make the biggest decision of her life in just 24 hours, to save Howl but at the cost of losing her future...

Do you want a lemon? Let me know! 3 REVIEW YOUR WANTS! -Rena