In Which Sophie and Howl are Wed
When Howl and Sophie were married, Howl insisted on setting off fireworks for an entire week. Sophie said she despaired to imagine what they said about her in Market Chipping, but secretly thought that she didn't care one bit.
The wedding was a small affair, or at least it was meant to be, for the couple soon discovered that they had made an awful lot of friends. Fanny came, and Michael and Martha, Lettie and Wizard Suliman were there, as well as Mrs Fairfax. Even Calcifer flickered in the grate. Sophie looked around at her friends and family and felt a certain amount of pride and pleasure at their presence.
“Not such a poor fate after all, being the eldest of three,” declared Sophie, mostly to herself.
“Silly girl,” Howl admonished fondly, and clasped her hand. The newlyweds beamed at each other.
“Should we have invited Meghan and her family?” asked Sophie, struck by a sudden attack of conscience.
“No, we'll visit in the winter. They celebrate a lovely holiday in Wales, called Christmas.”
“Christmas?” repeated Sophie, “it sounds strange.”
In Which Sophie Begins to Feel Like Part of the Family
The holiday Howl had mentioned began to torment Sophie. She was nervous of Howl's severe sister Meghan. Worse, by that time Sophie was some months pregnant, and feeling extremely guilty that she had not presented herself to the Howl's relatives sooner. She was afraid that Meghan--such a stern sibling to Howl!--would not like to hear that he had started a family without telling her.
She was wrong. Meghan was nothing but gracious, and everyone was delighted by Sophie's condition. At least they all acted as though they were. Sophie had not forgotten the talking-to on 'accepting responsibility' that Meghan had given Howl the last time Sophie had been in Wales.
After Sophie was kindly asked to enter the living room she let out an astonished gasp. The scene that met her eyes was utter chaos. Paper floated everywhere, toys and gadgets Sophie was sure she could never identify were strewn carelessly about the floor. Sophie watched wide-eyed as Neil tore into a present he had previously left half-unwrapped due to his aunt and uncle's entrance.
As she looked up at the gigantic pine tree filled with baubles that had over-taken the living room, Sophie wondered if she would ever become accustomed to this strange, foreign place.
While she was contemplating this, Neil's sister Mari looked silently at Sophie's wide belly, then splayed her hands on it without asking.
“A baby is growing in there,” she said solemnly.
“I know,” replied Sophie, just as soberly.
“Will I like him?”
“I don't know,” hesitated Sophie, betraying a little of her own fear. “I hope so. He's going to cry a lot, and need a lot of attention.”
Mari wrinkled her nose, “Mum says it's naughty for me to cry, and that when I do it I am being bad.” She considered the problem some more, “But I'll love him anyway!” she exclaimed rapturously.
Sophie smiled, but before she could thank her niece for this statement of devotion there was what sounded like an explosion on the other side of the room. Neil had unwrapped his latest present.
“Wicked! Thanks Uncle Howell, Aunt Sophie!” he burst, and pulled her in for an unexpected hug. Sophie smiled at Howl from where his nephew was crushing her ribs, heedless of her swelling stomach.
Once Sophie had righted herself from where Neil had nearly knocked her over, she smiled. Maybe she could come to like this place after all.
She unconsciously hummed Calcifer's saucepan song at the thought.
In Which Sophie Prepares for a Baby
Soon it came time to start thinking about preparing for the baby's arrival. Sophie had some clothes she had made put away, but she compiled a list for Howl of the extras they would need to accommodate their son.
“All this for a baby?” Howl exclaimed in disbelief.
Sophie raised an eyebrow, “They don't come easy, you know,” she said. It was not the first time that she had grown concerned about Howl's future parenting skills.
“I know that,” said Howl, with a tone of superiority Sophie thought he rather hadn't earned, “I just thought... they're just so tiny, how much can they need?”
One look at his wife's face and he demanded indignantly, “Why are you laughing?”
“Surely my eyes deceive me?” Howl asked, as Sophie showed him the cupboard full of baby clothes she had been hard at work knitting throughout the winter.
“These are just for the first few months. He'll need more as he gets bigger,” she warned.
“Sophie, I can make the clothes bigger to fit him as he grows,” said Howl gently.
Despite his kind tone Sophie still felt chided. She flushed at his words, and did not admit that she had not considered the possibility. She still wasn't used to life with a wizard. Or her own magic, for that matter.
“No baby of mine will be sitting around in a charmed suit!” she retorted.
“My dear Sophie, I believe that was your doing,” he grinned.
“Doh!” grumbled Sophie.
In Which Howl and Sophie Admire Their Child
But nothing went as planned. The Djinn came and stole their castle; Howl turned Sophie into a cat to protect her, and he in turn became trapped living as a genie. At first life was frantic, adjusting to new shapes and rules. Sophie took to it sooner, having borne the enchantment of a different form once before. Her only regret was that she had to give birth without Howl being able to witness it. But all went smoothly without him, and their son appeared ordinary and unharmed, whatever his shape. He was able to enjoy his kittenhood in a way Sophie knew he would not have as a baby.
Once they had reclaimed the castle and gotten all the princesses home, Sophie prepared for her final task: getting her crying, wailing infant to sleep.
“He misses being a kitten,” she told Howl for the dozenth time. “He's not used to being so restricted by clothing or in his movement.”
Once she got him to sleep, however, their son looked like an angel.
“So, what do you think?” Sophie asked, nodding toward the figure of their sleeping son.
“I liked him much better as a kitten,” said Howl, deadpan.
“Howl!” Sophie swatted him.
Howl clutched his arm and adopted a deeply wounded tone. “If you must know, I think he's a terror!”
“Just like his father,” said Sophie fondly.
“Sophie,” Howl whispered, suddenly serious. “I want you to know that I love you and Morgan more than anything. Watching you, being helpless to save you...” he trailed off as Morgan awoke and began to cry.
“I need a log,” Calcifer complained over the noise. “That Djinn made a mess of my grate!”
Sophie smiled at her husband and pecked him on the cheek. “We love you too. And never fear, all's back to normal again. But I daresay we'll be having many more adventures before too long!”