愛 Kenjii Musings 愛

Journal of anime ramblings, fiction works and reflections

Howl’s Moving Castle: The Promise to Protect

A/N: Howl’s Moving Castle has always been one of my favorite anime. A top favorite, specifically. It was actually the first – and only – anime I ever watched with my mother. And we both cried at the end, it was a beautiful bonding moment between us at that point. If I think back to it hard enough, I think I was fourteen at the time when we watched it together. Every time it came on TV, I’d call her and we’d watch it together and still cry like jackasses at the end. 

I have written fanfiction shipping Howl and Sophie – by the way, they are my top favorite couple, if you haven’t seen it yet, then you haven’t seen romance in it’s truest form. It’s such a sad story. ANYWAAAAAY! The fanfictions that I wrote for it back then got lost and so, thinking about them during the course of the day today, I decided to build a story around one of my favorite scenes in the anime (though nothing of actual worth happened in that scene, haha, but it was really good for story inspiration.)

~*~

Sophie woke when she heard the soft click of the front door closing. It was so faint – near inaudible – that it could have just come from some distant imagination or dream that crossed her mind but she knew it was Howl; that he had returned. She pushed the thick comforter from her body and looked down at the nightgown that seemed to swallow her whole. The wrinkles and sagging flesh were gone. The aches in her bones were only lasting memories as she flexed her fingers and wiggled her toes. It felt a little odd; being back in the younger form of herself and she pressed her fingers to her face, the skin was soft – no longer coarse and was absent the gullies of old age.

She heard a heavy sigh and soft talking that she recognized as Calcifer’s voice. It brought her out her reverie and, gathering her skirts up to her knees so she could walk without the weight of it against her legs, she went out into the hallway.

Howl was there, head rested back and eyes closed – unaware of her presence. His face was bruised, his clothes dirty and torn in places and, his hands were still taking its human shape; the feathers shedding from his skin. His expression was pained and she saw him tense up as a soft groan left him. Calcifer noticed her but said nothing as he chewed quietly on a piece of log, his flames brightening.

“You’re hurt!” She came to him, waking him and frightening Calcifer; his flames sparking from the shock before returning to a low flame. Howl turned to face her but his gaze was distant as though she were just an apparition. His smile was gentle though; reassuring that he was okay but his bruises made a mockery of that lie.

“Sophie, I thought you were sleeping.”

“I heard you come in.”

He frowned slight and took his feet down from the ledge of the fireplace. “I thought I was being quiet,” he mused and looked her over as he leaned back.

“You were, but I’m a light sleeper. You know this.”

“Because you’re young again?”

“Yes,” she answered softly, knowing that it wasn’t really a question.

“Hmm.” He doubled over then, a searing pain burned through his stomach and he grimaced, pressing a hand there as if to stop the pain. She ran to him and knelt at his side, her hand covering his.

“It’s okay. I’m okay,” he said but his voice was strained and shook with the pain he only wished he could disguise and his face became shadowed by it.

“No you’re not.”

“I am.”

She opened her mouth to quarrel with him but was stopped by Clcifer. “Don’t argue with him Sophie. Just do what you have to.”

She looked down at him, her defiant frown softened and she nodded with a smile then got up; going to the kitchen to boil some water and get things from the medicine cabinet for his wounds.

Howl said nothing when she came back to him. She knelt before him and began unbuttoning his shirt. “Sophie-”

“Shut up. I don’t want to hear it from you. Now, sit back.”

He blinked down at her in mute surprise. He was only used to this authoritative side of her when she was an old woman. The fire in her eyes though made it clear she would entertain no tripe from him until she did what only she could do best. Take care of him.

He turned his gaze away when he heard her gasp, and saw the sympathy that dulled her eyes.

“Howl…”

He closed his eyes and rested back again. He was removed from this conversation; didn’t want hear anymore or see her sadness. Feeling it was enough and he never wanted to. He didn’t want to worry her but that was a consequence he had to suffer.

“I wish you didn’t have to fight in this stupid war,” she said softly. He stole a glance at her but she wasn’t looking at him, her concerned gaze was focused on cleaning the nasty wound on his belly. He couldn’t stop fighting for the Queen. He was indebted to her and he didn’t want to imagine what she’d do were he to forsake Britain. She had powers beyond the extent of his imaginations and he couldn’t risk the lives of those he cared for.

He clenched his jaw as the antibiotic stung into the wound; like a knife that pierced slowly and twisted. He swallowed each wince, clenched his fist so tight that the nails sank into his palm; drawing blood from the crescent imprints.

Sophie saw this flexing, felt the tremors that made his body vibrate beneath her hands. She said nothing though, until she was done. She leaned up, wiping his face gently with the washcloth and he opened his eyes then; feeling the soft brush of her braid against his cheek. She was so beautiful…why she thought herself to be ugly, he could never understand. He guessed it was one of those trivial little worries that tormented each girl. But that thought should have never crossed Sophie’s mind. He wanted to lift his hand to her face, to touch her hair that was back to its brown color but he didn’t.

“You should stop fighting. This war is only getting you injured.”

“It wouldn’t be a war if it didn’t,” he said, with a lop-sided grin. But she didn’t return his smile, nor humor him with as much as a giggle at his bad joke. He sobered, “I have to fight for the Queen, Sophie. It’s my duty.”

“But-”

“Sophie.” It was a soft interruption – a gentle calling of her name – but firm nonetheless. She looked down at him, their faces close. “It’ll be over soon. So don’t worry, please. And when everything’s over, we can go back to that garden I made you. We will leave here.”

The faintest smile glanced the corner of her lips but was quickly overshadowed by her concern, “And the Queen? What if she needs you again? You are bound to her.”

“She will release me,” he replied but his voice held no conviction. It was a fabrication of truth and they both knew it. “She will release me.” He said it again, more to himself than to her; a soft murmur – almost incoherent – that sought to console him in his misery.

She dropped the washcloth from his face and knelt, placing it back in the basin. Calcifer’s flames lapped at the logs; the crackles all that filled the silence. Howl looked down at her, waiting for her to finish her thoughts. He could see it on her face; how much whatever she was thinking depressed her. And it all began with him.

“Just don’t die.”

“He smiled and placed a hand on the crown of her head, tilting it back so that their eyes met.

“I won’t. You know I won’t. As long as you’re taking care of me.” He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Go back to bed,” he whispered. It felt he’d put a spell on her because she felt an overpowering drowsiness that dulled her senses. She blinked at him, her vision clouded by an encroaching darkness and her body felt like a dead weight. She swayed towards him then became unconscious. He caught her and lifted her up.

“She’d be upset if she knew you used your magic on her,” Calcifer said, his flame hands reaching for another piece of log.

“Well it’s a good thing she won’t know, right?” he said, his gaze narrowing on Calcifer, who shrank back into the furnace.

“She won’t,” he said quietly and Howl’s threatening stare became a beguiling smile before he walked away with Sophie in his arms.

He laid her down gently on the bed, carrying the sheet up to her shoulders. He watched her sleep and ran her thick braid through his fingers. Then he stroked her plump, soft cheek and bent to kiss her gentle there. He looked at her – how peaceful her face looked, how relaxed.

“You won’t have to worry anymore, Sophie. I’ll protect you, and then we’ll leave here. You, me, Markl and Calcifer. I promise.”

***

A/N (part 2): *sobs* I just love these two so much. 

Sophie and Howl

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