“Sophiiiieee!!!” Loud, wet footsteps slammed against the wooden floor boards as he ran along the corridor and burst into the living-cum-dining room. Despite the sheer number of towels he was wrapped in, there was still a trail of water behind him.
“Yes, Howl?” was Sophie’s calm reply, given with an air of someone who had this conversation every single day and wasn’t sure why they still had it.
“What. Did. You. Move? I told you not to move things in the bathroom!” Howl complained in distress, at both his current condition and her insistence on cleaning his bathroom.
Calcifer’s snickering and finally his descent into loud raucous laughter made Sophie look up.
“Look what you’ve done to my body!” Sophie was allowed a brief glimpse of a very female body before Howl was wrapped up tightly in his several towels once more. “You never listen to me!” he whined, still sounding like a small child - even if he no longer had the same temper tantrums.
She shook her head, smiling softly. “Then perhaps you should do your own cleaning. Come on Markl, we need to go to the market.”
Markl smiled brightly. “Ok, Sophie!” he replied happily, pulling on his cloak and casting his disguise.
“But – Sophie –!” the towel clad wizard spluttered as he followed her to the front door, waiting for her to come and fix this mess, but she only continued.
“Goodbye, Master Howl~!” Markl bid him happily, slipping past him to disappear out the door too, and soon he and Sophie were gone.
“Oh shut up, Calcifer,” Howl muttered sullenly when he’d had enough of the fire demon’s laughter. He was still stood in the middle of the room in towels and dripping.
“Sophie has a point though,” Calcifer stated, pulling a piece of fire wood towards him, hoping the wizard wasn’t about to regress back and throw one of his tantrums, which would only end up drowning the poor fire demon. Or he’d leave and not come back this time - so he told himself at any rate. “If you cleaned the bathroom yourself then your hair wouldn’t keep changing colour… Or you wouldn’t change into a woman… or a cat or…” Calcifer continued the long list to himself but Howl wasn’t listening.
After long moments of thought – mostly spent ignoring the fire demon’s list - Howl nodded. “You’re right, Calcifer,” he interrupted him. And with that the wizard disappeared into Sophie’s room to raid her wardrobe.
The fire demon was soon laughing again as Howl came out several times in different outfits, which somehow suited Sophie but looked… well they left a lot to be desired on his, still, much taller frame.
Each time he emerged, Howl was muttering to himself about being sure he had bought Sophie better clothes than this. He sighed and finally decided to give up. “Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter if I’m cleaning.”
Howl stepped over to the cupboard with the cleaning things in it and began pulling out buckets and mops, along with bottles of products. This task accomplished, not helped by the new weight on his chest, he stepped into the middle of the room, trying to decide where to start.
“Calcifer, do me some hot water!” he finally announced after several moments’ thought. “If Sophie is only going to keep interfering with my potions, then I’ll just clean the bathroom. There’s no need to bother cleaning everywhere else too.”
“Finally! Fine then, hot water coming up for you,” the fire demon told him before muttering to himself: “Not even so much as a please though, Sophie wouldn’t be happy~”
“Please!” Howl called from inside the bathroom as he twisted both taps on, water soon going hot as it gushed out of the taps.
Calcifer watched in amusement, munching on the cut up logs left for him, as Howl crashed and banged around the bathroom; he knocked over bottles and made more mess than had been there in the first place.
Of course the bathroom being recently cleaned made this rather easy.
“Hooooowl!” the fire demon called, rather bored now. This wasn’t nearly as amusing as he thought it would be. “Hooowl!” he tried again at getting no answer from the wizard.
There was an annoyed yell as, in his haste to turn around, Howl had sent several more bottles flying. The contents flew out and mixed together, creating a nicely coloured mess on the floor to go with the nice set of splatters from bottles he’d knocked over earlier. The dark haired wizard sighed and flopped over the edge of the bath in despair.
“Sorry, Howl~ Maybe you should leave the cleaning to Sophie.” Calcifer ‘helpfully’ pointed out.
“I don’t want to be a woman forever,” he answered back sulkily, seemingly ignoring the fire demon’s words. “As much as I make a very beautiful woman!”
“Isn’t it going to wear off eventually?” Calcifer asked curiously.
“If it was the potions that I think it was which made me this way …. Then yes.” he answered happily, perking up a bit. He hadn’t really thought about it. Howl sighed and got to his feet, surveying the bathroom. “Sophie can clean this up when she gets back.”
The wizard at least tidied away the cleaning things into a corner before going into the pantry, gathering together something for lunch. Cooking was something he knew he could do.
Sophie and Markl returned a few hours later to the smell of bacon and eggs filling the kitchen.
“Master Howl! You’ve changed back,” the young apprentice stated happily as he helped Sophie set the shopping on the table. Howl smiled back at him, quite happy it had worn off so quickly.
“Did you do any cleaning, Howl?” Sophie asked, perhaps a little cautiously.
“He tried but he just made more of a mess, Sophie~” Calcifer happily told her just as Howl started portioning out the food onto three plates.
Sophie raised an eyebrow at Howl, who had the decency to look rather sheepish, before disappearing into the bathroom. She sighed in frustration as she came back out again. “I’ll clean it after lunch, for now we should eat.” the young woman murmured as she took her seat at the table, making sure not to throttle the wizard; she promised herself that she’d never make a comment like that again.
Howl smiled sheepishly and sat.
Perhaps he should simply label the bottles from now on.