When Harry Potter died (finally, after multiple attempts throughout his life), it was a peaceful death. A welcoming death. Well, at least it was until Harry met Death.
"Hello Master," Death greeted.
"What in the world are you doing Death? I am supposed to be dead and with my family while you take my soul."
Death shrugged. "Well, now that you're my Master, you can't exactly die. You're going to be reborn."
"Wha-" Harry began before a dark pit appeared below his feet and he fell in. "AAAAAHHH!"
"Have fun, Master," Death calmly waved as he peered down the pit.
When Harry opened his eyes, he was met with beautiful blue eyes and ginger hair. He blinked, yawned widely, and raised a hand to the face. Not consciously, of course. Though reincarnated with all his memories, he was still a babe, and their motor functions and emotions are quite awry.
"Aw, isn't she just a sweetheart?"
'She? Me? What?! NO!'
"What should we name her, Dear?" another voice rumbled, their hand combing through raven locks.
"Sophie. Her name will be Sophie."
The other hummed. "Sophie Hatter. Not bad. I like it."
Realization and doom dawned on Harry. "Oh no."
Harry, well, Sophie grew up well. Her father owned a small hat shop while her mother and her younger sister lived comfortably. That soon changed. It was so sudden that Sophie could barely comprehend what was happening. She knew it was going to happen, but not so quickly. Tears sprang to her eyes as she mourned the loss of a wonderful man who made the most wonderful of hats.
She mourned that he could never truly see his daughter, the place of which Harry took. Her mother ended up leaving her and Lettie, leaving to manage the shop in Kingsbury.
Sophie was independent, especially because of her memories of Harry. She was quick to adjust herself to life once her father died and mother left. She took control of the hat shop . . . by herself. She knew this was not the way the story or even the book went, but she didn't want to be molded into Sophie. She wanted to be her own Sophie.
Using Harry's memories, she trained herself in magic and gave Lettie the opportunity of education that she didn't get before. She worked day in and day out in the hat shop, working for herself and Lettie.
Sophie knew that it was the day she would meet Howl. She paused in her steps to visiting Lettie, to seeing Howl. Should she even go? Should she meet Howl? She shook her head and braved the crowd, hat covering emerald orbs framed by tousled brown hair. Looking down at the paper in her hands, she suddenly understood how she originally got lost. Though educated, Lettie was a terrible cartographer. She smiled to herself and began following the map to the best of her abilities.
With a deep breath, she turned into the fated alleyway. It was now time.
I spotted her in the distance. I had been quickly turning the corner, out of sight from the Witch of the Waste's henchmen, and saw her edging away from two soldiers. I took a small step back as I felt her emotions swirl...along with her magic. I watched her as she continued to edge away from the men and decided enough was enough. I came up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Where've you been?" I said, squeezing her shoulder lightly.
She looked up at me and I withheld a gasp as I met emerald eyes.
Sophie tensed as she felt Howl's hand on her shoulder. She forced herself to relax as he began his cover story. She watched, a bit amused, as the men marched away, their wills no longer their own.
He looked down at her and smiled. "Don't hold it against them. They're harmless. Where to? I'll be your escort."
Sophie shook her head and smiled. "Thank you, but I'll be fine. I'm just heading to Cesari's." She tensed as she felt the familiar hum of magic. She came closer, and she whispered, "You're being followed, quite a presence too."
Howl's eyes widened.
"Act normal," Howl whispered back, shaking off his surprise. He tucked her hand under his elbow and began walking forward.
Sophie shuddered as she felt the magic of the Witch of the Waste brush against her own. "They're getting closer."
"Sorry. It seems I've gotten you involved."
Shaking her head, Sophie replied, "You can't help being chased. They're coming from the front too."
"Are you ready?"
"Ready for what?"
Howl grinned widely. "Hold on." He jumped into the air and they were off.
With Howl calmly walking through the air, Sophie let her heartbeat to race. They were flying!
Now, though this flying could not compare to the high-speed flying she did, as both Harry and herself, it was still peaceful and amazing.
"You're a natural at this," Howl whispered.
Sophie blushed a bit. "Of course I am. You're a wizard, aren't you? You should be able to feel the magic within me. This isn't the first that I've flown like this . . . just, never over a town." She gazed down at the festivities with rapt attention.
Howl chuckled as they lowered onto the veranda.
Sophie jumped down from the sill of the patio and grinned. "Thank you, again."
"I'll draw them away. Stay here, alright?" Howl said as he slowly backed away.
Sophie nodded. "Be careful."
"You too, the beautiful witch," Howl murmured as he placed a small kiss on her hand. "Perhaps, you have cast a spell upon my heart."
Sophie laughed as he went away. She went inside and asked one of the waitresses to get her Lettie. Her smile widened as she heard the thudding noise on the steps.
"Onee-chan?" Lettie cried as she ran to her sister.
"Konbanwa, Lettie," Sophie smiled as she hugged her sister with a twirl. "How have you been?"
"How in the world did you end up on the veranda like that?" Lettie asked, clasping Sophie's hands in her own. "Are you an angel?"
"Lettie," Sophie giggled. "You've seen me fly before."
"But, never in broad daylight!" Lettie persisted.
"Lettie, would you like to use my office?" a man asked, stepping into the hallway.
"Thanks for the offer, but I should get back to work soon," Lettie responded.
Sophie faked an exasperated smile as Lettie dragged her down the stairs into the storage room for secrecy. Once they both were comfortable, she began recounting her morning adventure with Howl.
"Eh?" Lettie gasped. "You were with Howl the Wizard? Sophie, you know his reputation!"
Sophie laughed and grabbed her sister's hands. "Lettie, you know I am a witch as well. He could do very little to me without me undoing his magic and sending a retaliation of my own."
Lettie sighed. "I know, but Onee-chan! What if he steals your heart and devours it?"
"That's just a rumor, Lettie," Sophie said. "It's not true at all. The only ones who can eat hearts are demons whose payment are the hearts of contractors. Howl was not a demon. I know that."
After Lettie returned to work, Sophie walked home. She took a deep breath as she felt the nearing magic of the Witch of the Waste. It was time.
"Matte! Onee-chan!" Lettie shouted.
Shocked, Sophie swerved around to meet her sister. "Lettie? What are you doing here?"
"I've decided that since you aren't wary enough for yourself, I shall be wary for both of us! I'm walking home with you tonight and nothing you say will change that!"
'Oh no,' Sophie thought.
Lettie linked her arm around Sophie and began walking back to the hat shop.
Sophie knew exactly who it was when the door opened behind her and Lettie. She turned slowly and cringed at the sight of the Witch of the Waste.
Lettie gasped and said, "Excuse me Miss, but the shop is closed right now. Please come tomorrow."
"My, what a tacky little shop with tacky little hats," the witch said.
Infuriated, Lettie marched up to the witch. "Don't you dare call the hats my Onee-chan makes tacky! They are all beautiful!"
"What courage inside you. But, not for long," the witch grinned.
"Protego!" Sophie shouted as she pushed her magic forward.
Lettie grew wide-eyed as the barrier in front of her prevented the witch from coming near her.
"Oh ho~ Another witch," the Witch of the Waste purred. "How . . . magnificent."
"Lettie. Come here," Sophie ordered.
Without a pause, Lettie ran to her sister and tightly grabbed her hand. "Sophie, what's going on? Who's that?"
"That is the Witch of the Waste," Sophie murmured. She turned to the witch with an enraged look. "You may threaten me and insult me, but you shall never hurt my sister. Begone Witch, do not make me force my hand."
"Beware, I will be coming back."
"Lettie, pack your things. We have to hide," Sophie commanded as she began gathering her things. "We're not going to be safe here anymore."
"What? Why?" Lettie panicked. "Is the witch really going to come back for us? What did we do? Why does she want us?"
Sophie quietly sighed and placed her hands on her sisters' cheeks. "Hide with one of your friends, okay? Don't allow the witch to find you. She will most likely only go after me"
"Why? What does she want?"
"What she wants is simple. Howl."
"And...you were with Howl today," Lettie gasped.
"I'm so sorry," Lettie cried as she gripped Sophie's hand. "Because of me...Because of me!"
"This happens to all women who encounter Howl with the Witch nearby," Sophie said as she placed a comforting hand on her sister's. "I'll go only for a while. I'll be back soon. By then, she would have already forgotten me and moved on to the next person."
"Isn't Mother coming tomorrow to visit?" Lettie whispered.
"She is. Tell her I was called by the Wizarding Academy or something, off on some magic business. She'll believe it."
"I'm sorry Sophie."
"It's not your fault."
By dawn, Sophie was awake and on her way out of town. She gazed around the countryside, enraptured by the many flowers and animals. She slowly walked her way through the mountains.
She smiled as she noticed the large branch sticking out of a bush. 'Could it be?' She walked towards the twig and with a hefty heave, released the scarecrow from its encasement. "My, what a wonderful scarecrow. Too bad you're cursed."
The scarecrow's ever-present smile almost seemed to dim.
"Such a depressing matter. I'm afraid I cannot break your spell. Not a spell of love."
"Mister Scarecrow . . . hm, not the best of names to be called when there are so many like you. Turnip Head, would you guide me to a place I could stay for a while?"
Turnip Head's head bounced as it jumped beside Sophie. The two began traveling up the mountain, Turnip Head leading the way. Just a bit over the top, Sophie was met with the sight of a familiar structure.
It was a strange castle, matching Howl's eccentric ways. It was similar to a frog/dragon hybrid. It paused for a moment and then continued on its way.
"Thank you Turnip Head, and goodbye. I hope you are able to break your curse," Sophie stated before she walked inside. She gazed around the cluttered house. She sat on the chair in front of a familiar fireplace.
"So, you are the one controlling this castle," she said as she threw a few more logs onto the fire.
The fire grew and looked at her with wide eyes. "How did you get inside? Your magic . . ."
"Ah, that. Hm, I simply overpowered the barriers," Sophie replied.
"That's some spell you're under," Sophie continued. "A spell connected to Howl? How peculiar."
"How did you-?"
"Figure it out?" Sophie finished. "Well, that was easy. You have a magic link to something else and this house. Of course, since this is Howl's castle and you're moving it, it must be linked to Howl. Your name?"
"Calcifer, the great fire demon!" the fire shouted with pride.
"It's a pleasure to meet a great fire demon like yourself Calcifer," Sophie giggled. "I am Sophie, a witch without affinities. Heck, no one outside of my family knows I am a witch. You have no need to worry about people coming after me."
"Whew, that's a relief."
"Could you break our spell?" Calcifer asked.
Sophie hummed. "I could, but it requires a lot of work."
"Anything!" Calcifer shouted. "I'm an exploited demon here chained by a contract! You must tell me how to break this!"
"I don't think I will tell you," Sophie said.
"If I told you, it may break the opportunity to undo the spell," Sophie continued. "So for now, only l will know. Okay?"
Calcifer grumbled. "Alright. But, you better promise that after this, I'll be free!"
"Of course. No matter if it's witch or wizard, we are oathed to keep our promises."
Sophie awoke bright and early, used to waking a while after dawn from both of her lives. She sleepily rummaged through the kitchen and table, grabbing any foods she could find for a suitable breakfast.
"Calcifer. Calcifer, you must allow me to cook on you," Sophie urged as she poked the demon with a fresh log.
"No," Calcifer groaned.
"I guess your curse won't be broken then," Sophie sighed as she turned away.
"Wait! G-G . . . Go ahead," Calcifer whispered as he shrunk himself.
"Good demon," Sophie smiled as she placed the pan on top of Calcifer and began making breakfast.
The sound of knocking startled her out of her tranquil trance. She peered over at the door and then at Calcifer. "Calcifer, are we expecting anyone?"
"No, but they're probably messengers," Calcifer said, crunching on the broken eggshells in his mouth. "Markl will get it."
"Yes," Calcifer answered.
As if on cue, a little ginger boy ran down the steps and grabbed a blue cloak from the table. Once putting it on, he transfigured a beard onto himself and ran to the door. "Who are you and when did you get in?"
"Porthaven," Calcifer interrupted.
"Oh. Stand by."
Sophie peered down at the door and watched as Markl grabbed the invitation for Howl and gave a spell to a little girl. "Heh~ It seems Howl is well known all around. I didn't think he was close to the royal family nor stayed open for customers to buy spells."
"Now, who might you be?" Markl asked.
"I am Sophie. I was staying here for the night."
"She came in from the Waste during the night," Calcifer further explained.
"That's strange. You're a witch?"
"Indeed I am," Sophie smiles cheekily. "Just as you are an apprentice. Howl's I presume?"
"Calcifer's doing as he's told," Markl gaped, finally realizing she was cooking actual breakfast.
"Markl, be a dear and grab me a pot or a kettle, please. I'd like some tea as well," Sophie requested.
"Sure," he nodded. As he went to search for the kettle in the kitchen, he heard a familiar click.
The colored dial turned black, and in came Howl himself.
"Welcome home, Master Howl," Markl greeted. "You have letters from the king. To both Jenkins and Pendragon."
Sophie turned to Howl who walked in with his head down. "Well, this is a startling change from yesterday."
My head raised up abruptly. "Y-You!"
She laughed and placed a hand on her chest. "Yes, me. I apologize for intruding, but I came upon your castle the previous night while traveling and decided to take refuge for a while. Oh, I ended up cooking some food as well while here."
"How did you get in here?" I asked.
"She overpowered my barriers," Calcifer grumbled. "Stupid witch."
"You overpowered Calcifer?" I gaped.
She simply turned back to her cooking. "Hm, just for a moment."
"And Calcifer, you are obeying her!" I continued.
"Also just for a moment," she repeated.
"She bullied me, Howl!" Calcifer cried.
"Not an easy thing to do," Howl nodded. "And, you? Why were you out?"
"My name is Sophie, by the way," Sophie began, "and I was out in hopes of getting away from attention. Due to our previous meeting, the Witch of the Waste took some interest."
Howl's eyes widened. "Did she hurt anyone?"
"No," Sophie said as she placed the breakfast on three plates. "I responded quickly and prevented anything."
"I apologize. Because of me, she became interested in you," Howl said.
"It's quite alright," Sophie said. "It was bound to happen soon."
"Well, to the table," Sophie smiled as she placed the plates down. "Come, Howl, eat. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You must be famished."
Howl nodded and sat down at the table.
"Sophie! Chose of the three. All of our other ones are dirty," Mikl said as he presented two spoons and a fork.
She grabbed a spoon and wiped the remaining filth off. "You two certainly do know how to keep a home messy."
"It's rare that Master Howl is home," Markl stated. "And I don't really know how to do the cleaning spell yet."
"The cleaning spell?!" Sophie yelled indignantly. "Why, why not just clean for yourself? Markl, eat slower, please. You'll choke with how you're eating. In my house, I cleaned it all by hand. Nothing works best beside the work your own hands do!"
"Sophie," Howl abruptly said.
"In return for making you leave your town, why don't you stay here?"
"What?" Sophie blinked. 'I actually wasn't sure how I was going to find a way to stay here. This actually works.'
"You can help us keep the house clean as well," Howl sheepishly admitted.
"Alright, I accept," Sophie nodded.
"Sophie, in the pocket of your dress . . . " Howl began.
"Hm?" Reaching down, Sophie pulled a piece of paper out of her dress. "What? When did this get here?" Her eyes widened when she saw the symbol. "The Witch of the Waste. But, how did I miss this getting on my person?"
"She's a tricky one," Howl said. "She must've made it similar to your own magic to block off the feeling of hers." A malicious smile began to spread on Howl's face. "Would you give it to me?"
Sophie nodded and gave it to Howl. The paper crackled and fell.
"It's ancient and powerful," Howl murmured.
"So, it is the Witch of the Waste?" Markl asked.
The paper burned into the table, leaving a scorched mark.
"He who catches a falling star, oh heartless man. Your heart shall be mine," Howl read.
"How ominous," Sophie commented. She placed a hand on the table and, with a quick swipe, the mark was gone in an instant.
"Uwaa! Instantly, the magic is gone!" Markl gaped. "Sophie! How did you do that?"
"The spell is even gone," Howl continued. "Sophie, you-"
"I am a small, self-taught witch, Howl. No more."
Sophie stared in silence as Howl got up and fed Calcifer the last of his food. "Calcifer, please move the castle about 60 miles." He speedily went up the steps while shouting, "And heat up some water for my bath."
"What, that too?" Calcifer whined.
Markl turned to Sophie. "Sophie, you don't work for the Witch of the Waste, do you?"
"No," Sophie said. "As I said, I'm an unaffiliated witch who was self-taught. I am freer than most wizards and witches. I have no oath of service to bind me nor other people who know of my abilities."
Sophie worked tirelessly through the front room of the castle. She cleaned the dining room and kitchen, making a small space for her to sleep for her stay. She turned to Calcifer and sighed. "This'll be difficult."
Rolling up her sleeves, she placed Calcifer onto a nearby shovel with a large, new log. "Stay here while I clean your fireplace Calcifer. If you begin to burn out and need more wood, yell for me." She quickly worked her way with the ashes and placed onto a large piece of cloth. She nodded, satisfied and returned Calcifer to his previous spot.
"You are unusually careful with Calcifer," Howl commented as he came down the stairs.
Sophie continued her way to throw out the ashes, not minding Howl trailing behind her. "Of course I am. I know the dangers of a contracted demon dying. It dooms both the demon and the contractor. Besides, I consider Calcifer a friend. What kind of friend would I be if I caused him to burn out?"
Howl tilted his head to the side. "Your views are very different."
"I'm self-taught," Sophie laughed. "I hold little judgments to what I have little knowledge and understanding of."
"Markl, make sure Sophie doesn't get too carried away with her cleaning," Howl said as he turned the dial to black. He leaped out and the door closed behind him.
"Well, let's get to work," Sophie smiled. "Markl, please put up any warnings upstairs for me not to touch. I have no idea which objects you all use for magic and potions and such."
"Ah! Alright," Markl nodded. He ran upstairs and began to put things in order, leaving signs of warnings for Sophie.
Meanwhile, Sophie turned to Calcifer and a sad smile replaced her previous one. Her eyes closed.
"He's off to the battlefield, isn't he?" Sophie whispered as she sat down on the same chair from the previous night. "I know that look he had before he left, and that landscape. He's going to the middle of the battlefield."
Calcifer nodded. "How did you figure it out?"
"Calcifer. What I reveal, you must tell no one, including the Howl."
She waited for his agreement and continued. "I remember my life previous to this one. In a world where wizards and witches stayed hidden in fear. I was the martyr of their war. I was a, no, the general."
"I lived as a boy named Harry Potter, a boy fated to destroy the dark lord that instilled fear into the magic community. That is how I knew about magic and taught myself here. Our war was brutal. Magic against magic, no one knew who was on what side. People were betraying each other left and right. Many people were murdered, all who were close to me died, even innocent, little Teddy. I was their martyr, but at the same time, I lead to their doom. Their racist views and fears made all of England's wizarding world cave into itself."
Sophie smiled sadly before heading upstairs, leaving Calcifer to ponder on her previous life. She yelled, "Markl! Have you labeled everything untouchable?"
"Hai!" Markl shouted.
"Okay," Sophie grinned as she opened the first door. She winced at the messy bathroom, taking note of the different colored splashes of color and mold growing on the bathtub. She gulped. "Alright. Let's get started."
She paused at a set of bottles and blinked. "Isn't that the same potions that the original mixed up causing Howl to panic? It seems that Markl forgot to mark them." A wicked smile grew on her face.
Sophie closed the door to the bathroom, taking a large breath. First room, done. She perked up at the next door and swung it open, admiring the view of the beautiful lake and the fresh air. She stepped onto the balcony, the air blowing furiously through her hair.
Wearily, she looked around to ensure there wasn't any civilization. With a grin, she leaped off the balcony rails and fell.
"Sophie!" she heard Markl shout in shock and panic.
With a swing of her hand, she began to air walk, shouting out in exhilaration as she flew beside the moving castle.
Sophie paused, ignoring Markl's gaping face, to see a familiar stick sticking out of the chimney. She laughed heartily and tugged the stuck out, grinning at the familiar turnip head. "Well, hello Turnip Head."
With glee, Turnip Head leaped from her grasp and onto a pipe hanging out of the castle's side. He jumped and twirled in happiness.
"It seems that although I cannot break your curse, you have grown an attachment to me. How you did so in such little time astounds me," Sophie laughed. "Oh, well. Welcome to Howl's moving castle, Turnip Head."
Turnip Head jumped once more.
The castle huffed and screeched. It lurched forward and came to a stop. It slowly lowered itself onto the grass, just a bit away from the beautiful lake.
Sophie and Markl came out from the castle, carrying a load of clothes needing drying. Turnip Head and the castle held the string as the woman and child strung up the clothes.
Once finished, Sophie whipped up some treats and tea for the duo to enjoy.
"Turnip must belong to demons," Markl claimed. "Calcifer doesn't seem to mind him."
"That's cause they are very similar," Sophie smiled secretly, slowly sipping her tea.
I stared at the flaming city in sadness, mourning the innocent lives taken. The wind brushed through my blonde locks and black feathers.
A sudden explosion caught my attention, and I watched as blimps dropped bomb after bomb onto the crumbling city. Another fleet approached, and suddenly, they were just balls of fire. I flew through the remains before noticing several of magicians.
I smirked as they flew towards me. I launched through a horde of them and flew straight to the blue expanse. Once I passed the dark clouds, they closed behind me, not allowing a single summon through.
Sophie stiffened as the dial turned black and in stepped Howl. He was dripping black and was almost entirely a bird besides his face. He slumped into the chair set by the fire and lifted his talons to Calcifer.
"That's a dangerous spell," Sophie murmured, careful to not startle Howl.
The man abruptly turned to face Sophie with wide eyes. "You're still awake?"
"Of course," Sophie said. She walked to Howl's side and scrunched her brows. "This'll hurt."
Howl gasped in pain as his feathers slowly receded, and then he sighed as Sophie's healing magic flowed throughout his body soothingly.
Sophie's lips stayed in a firm line. "If you keep flying like this, you won't come back one day."
"I know," Howl murmured.
Calcifer glanced at the two. He grabbed a log from the pile beside him and grinned. "Isn't this great? Sophie did it for me!"
Howl glanced down at the demon. "The war is fierce."
"When is war ever gentle?" Sophie interjected.
Howl turned his gaze to emerald eyes. "Everything is ablaze."
"As expected, no matter how tragic," Sophie continued. "That's how war works."
"I hate the fire of gunpowder," Calcifer interrupted, trying to lighten up the mood.
"My own attacked me," Howl said, the grim line on his face turning into a smile, "as monsters."
"Hah, they'll cry later on when they can't turn back," Calcifer scoffed.
Sophie chuckled. "To think, you wizards and witches have yet to master animagus. What irony."
Both of them turned to Sophie. "You can?"
"Of course," Sophie said. With the slightest of movement, she became a snowy white owl. She stretched her wings and lifted herself into the air, wings seemingly emitting an ethereal glow. She blinked emerald eyes at Howl and Calcifer before reverting back to normal. "See? Not hard."
Howl's face lit with glee. "Sophie! You must teach me how to do that!"
Sophie smiled. "Hm, sure. But, I want something in return."
Pausing, Howl asked, "What?"
Sophie mischievously grinned. "I want a favor. Anytime, anything, just a single favor."
"Alright," Howl nodded. "That's fair. When can you teach me?"
"I promise to teach you after the war," Sophie said, "so you better survive." With that, she walked to her cot and lied down to sleep.
Howl blinked in surprise. He shook his head, turning to Calcifer. "Heat up my bath, will you?" he said as he headed upstairs.
Sophie and Markl were out in the market the next day when it happened. A badly damaged navy ship had come into port, men jumping off to nearby ships. Suddenly, the ship exploded, an enemy ship flying ahead and dropping flyers.
Sophie inhaled sharply before grabbing Markl's hand tightly. "Don't let go. Don't look back." She calmly walked away from the commotion, keeping her magic wound tight. "The Wicked Witch of the West is near and she's using this attack as a distraction. Keep near."
Markl nodded rapidly, tightly clinging to Sophie's hand. "Sophie . . . I'm afraid."
"We all are, Markl."
"Sophie!" Howl shouted as he stormed down the stairs. "You touched my potions! You've ruined my spells!"
Sophie smiled. "No, I simply readjusted it. You'll be a pretty redhead for a few minutes before it reverts to your original color."
Howl slumped into the chair, head hung low.
"Come on Howl, cheer up. Honestly, if the Weasleys were here, they would've done worse," Sophie stated. "You have no need to worry."
"I'm no longer beautiful," Howl howled as his hair reverted to its original shade.
"Now, now," Sophie admonished, "I think black hair suits you much better than blonde."
Black smoke began curling around the room as Howl sulked.
Sighing in exasperation, Sophie raised her leg. She kicked Howl's chair, knocking him out of his seat, and forced Howl to look at her. "Seriously, the spirits of Darkness? Are you kidding me? What are you, a wizard or a big baby? Honestly, you look much more handsome with black hair. Stop worrying."
"He did this the last time a girl ditched him," Markl commented.
"Oh Merlin, you are a big baby," Sophie groaned. "Come Howl, finish your bath. You look absolutely fine. Markl, do you mind helping your Master?"
Sophie knocked on the wooden door, calling, "I'm coming in!" before opening the door. She stared in awe at the splashes of color throughout the room. It looked like the Room of Requirement when asked for all loss things. She shook her head and went to Howl's bedside. "Here, some milk. perhaps it'll make you feel better."
Sophie blinked. "Hai?"
He opened his eyes, staring at the gem above him emitting light. "The Wicked Witch of the West is searching for me."
"Yes, she was down at the port at the time of the attack," Sophie said, head bowed.
"I"m such a coward," Howl muttered as he looked away. "All this junk just to keep her away."
"Why is she after you?" Sophie asked.
Howl softly answered, "She seemed interesting, and so I approached her. She terrified me and I ran away."
"Wow, you are a coward," Sophie said.
"You're supposed to reject my claim."
"Nope, I'm an honest person."
Howl sighed heavily. "What do you think I should do? The kind has asked for both Jenkins and Pendragon."
"You cannot refuse? One would think you hold enough names and power to do so."
"I took an oath."
"Why not just visit, then?" Sophie suggested.
"What?" Howl exclaimed.
"Just tell him straight up that you cannot stand violence," Sophie said. Then, she thought, 'That did do much for me. But, my situation was much different from Howl's.'
Howl sighed heavily once more. "I wish. You don't get how they are."
"Um, hello? Still a witch," Sophie scowled. "I may not invest in the magical world, but I sure know about its rotten people and stubborn power-hungry heads."
Howl laughed. "Only you, Sophie." Suddenly, a grin spread on his face. "I know! You do it for me!"
"You can pretend to be Pendragon's sister" Howl exclaimed. "Say that I am a good-for-nothing and maybe even Madame Suliman will give up on me!"
Sophie deadpanned. "You really think that's going to work?"
"It doesn't hurt to try!" Howl said.
And so, Sophie was off.
"You're going to visit the king like that?" Howl asked.
Sophie scoffed. "Of course. I'm your sister and you're a good-for-nothing. If you're not a wizard, a good-for-nothing means you don't make enough bread for the family. I must dress poor and look so to convince the king."
Sophie was just about to open the door when Howl's body cloaked her. He slipped a gold ring onto her finger, a small red jewel glinting.
"This will be your assurance home. It'll protect you," Howl whispered.
Sophie looked back at him. "I'm a witch."
"Just making sure," Howl smiled. "I'll follow you in disguise."
"Do I want to know?" Sophie asked, giving the man a coy smile.
"Alright," Sophie said. "I hope I don't mistake you for an ugly woman or old dog."
Howl gasped. "Sophie, you wound me! As if I would choose such a lowly disguise!"
As Sophie passed the castle gates, two thoughts ran through her head. 'Why is the palace so far away? And why was it so easy to get into the palace?'
She withheld a smile as an old dog strolled beside her, recognizing it. She withheld a gasp when the Wicked Witch of the West rolled up beside her. She withheld a laugh when her ride was forsaken and she was forced to climb the stairs on a hot day wearing all black. She withheld a sigh when she grabbed the witch's hand and helped her up the wretched stairs.
Once they entered the palace, they were left in a single room. The witch instantly took the chair, hair and all droopy and saggy. Sophie blinked in surprise when her dog companion launched off into a separate door. Though she knew this would happen, she honestly hadn't noticed the other door.
She followed and hid back a jump as the wall opened to reveal a small, blonde boy.
"Madam, this way please," the boy bowed.
Back with the witch, she was surrounded by large light bulbs and surrounded by a ring of figures, her power slowly sapped way from her.
They walked through a long corridor before arriving at a greenhouse. Tightly winding her magic close to herself, she looked around in wonder before meeting the gaze of Madame Suliman herself.
"You are Howl's sister," she said.
"Hai," Sophie nodded.
"I'm sure you're weary," the Madam smiled. "Take a seat."
Sophie walked to the chair and sat down.
"I am Madame Suliman, the King's witch," the woman smiled.
"Ah, I remember your dog," Sophie smiled warmly. "He was quite kind and guided me here."
"Yes, I asked Heen to do so," Madame Suliman nodded. "I'm glad you enjoyed his company."
"So, Howl won't be joining us?" Madame Suliman asked.
"No," Sophie shook her head, "he's too much of a good-for-nothing to come himself." She sighed in exasperation. "Honestly, my brother. I do not understand how he's made it this far at all."
"What a shame," Madame Suliman smiled wistfully. "He was my last apprentice . . . A student of marvelous gifts. I rejoiced in finding a worthy heir. But then, a demon stole his heart, and he abandoned me. He turned his magic to selfish uses. Madam, that boy is dangerous, his power too great for one with no heart."
"If he continues down this path," Madam Suliman continued, "he'll end up just like the Witch of the Waste. Bring her."
Strolling a hunching figure came the same boy who escorted Sophie to Madame Suliman. The figure was dressed the same as the Witch of the Waste but was wrinkled with a face shaped similar to a pumpkin. Pimples were scattered on her face. She looked ancient. Sophie noticed her breathing heavily when she was strolled up beside her.
"What happened to you?" Sophie gasped, carefully inspecting the witch.
"I just restored her to her real age," Madame Suliman explained.
Madame Suliman looked at the witch with a smile. "All her powers are gone. Once upon a time, she was a magnificent witch. She made a bargain with a demon who consumed her body and soul a long time ago. Our kingdom can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the disreputable. If Howl comes here, I will teach him how to break with the demon. If not, I'll strip him of his powers as I have hers."
Sophie looked downward, her long hair shadowing her face. Her shoulders shook and a hand rose to cover her mouth.
Sophie burst out laughing. She laughed and giggled as Heen and his master gaped. She calmed her laughs and stared straight at Madame Suliman with vibrant, emerald eyes. "I can understand why Howl refused to come here. What foolishness. You remind me of Britain's wizards and weren't they just dimwits!" Her eyes sharpened she rose from her seat. "You commend them for contracting with demons, but you are no different! Those little figures, your magic, it is tainted by a demon far worse than either Howl's or the Witch of the Waste's. You call Howl selfish, but you're no different!"
"Cowardly, yes," Sophie stated, "but under enslavement, that is to be expected. He only wishes for freedom. You claim to be able to free him, but being in a contract with a demon has given him more freedom than you have ever. Howl's not going to turn into an evil monster because of a contract, but rather because he is chained. I believe in him to fight his way to freedom and never become the monster of which you and all others will force him to be!"
"Madam . . . You're in love with Howl," Madame Suliman smiled.
Sophie huffed in exasperation.
"Howl . . . Howl's coming?" the Witch of the Waste asked, finally reacting to the world. "His heart. Howl's heart. I want it."
Sophie lowered herself to the Witch and rose her from her desperate kneeling. "That's enough. Howl's not coming."
"He will most certainly come," Madam Suliman said calmly. "I've found his weakness."
An aircraft sounded from above before slowly nestling itself onto the grass. From its perch came a tall man. He wore a green and white suit and had a jolly nature. He was greeted by Sophie's escort and approached Madame Suliman, blocking Sophie from the witch.
I saw Sophie safe and sound and sighed in relief. I walked to Suliman (the wretched woman) and greeted, "As you are. How are you?"
"Thank you for asking" Suliman nodded.
"Meetings bore me," I grinned. "I flew out for a breather."
I turned to Sophie and felt something within me flutter when my eyes met emerald orbs. "This is . . . ?"
"The sister of Wizard Howl," Suliman answered.
I looked towards Sophie, putting on a curious farce. "I appreciate it, but I don't intend to win any war with magic."
She stiffed in surprise. Uh oh, did she notice?
"While it's true that Suliman's powers shield our palace from bombs, they just end up falling on neighboring towns," the King said, shaking his head. "That's how magic works. Right, Suliman?"
"Such eloquence today, Your Majesty," Suliman smiled.
'Oh, I remember what happens next,' Sophie thought, stifling a giggle.
"Suliman!" the King shouted as he entered the garden. "This is the final battle! This time, we'll beat them to a pulp!"
Sophie held back a sigh. Howl was kind of easy to see through. Their king did not act as respectful or gracious as the front he put up.
The king looked to his side to see his double and burst out in laughter. "Suliman, you've outdone yourself with that double! I await good news."
"Thank you kindly," Suliman calmly responded, nodding her head.
'Huh, now that I'm actually looking at her,' Sophie thought, 'Doesn't she look like . . . a queen? Oh God, why didn't I notice this before?'
As the king left, he asked the guard, "Are my generals ready?"
Of course, the guard replied confirmation.
A moment of silence passed.
"Howl, it's been a while," Suliman greeted kindly.
"I'm delighted to see you doing so well."
"I saw right through you," Suliman revealed.
Sophie scoffed behind her hand. "Kind of hard not to."
Howl immediately turned with a pout. "Sophie! You're supposed to take my side!" He sighed and turned back his attention to Suliman, wrapping an arm around Sophie's shoulders. "I've kept my oath. I've no wish to fight you. I'll be taking my sister."
"I won't let you go," Suliman said, her grin widening to the point of cruelty. With a thud of her staff, water surged forward and encased the trio before it turned into an open sky, the floor miles below them.
The old Wicked Witch clung tightly to Sophie's dress, slowly slipping towards the ground.
"Don't look down, you'll be dragged below," Howl said.
A small smirk spread on Sophie's face. "You know I'm a witch, no need to warn me."
"Just in case. Wouldn't want you to accidentally fall."
"It's time I showed your sister what you really are," Suliman darkly stated, shadows erupting on her face and her voice seemingly echoing.
Sophie clung to Howl's midriff, knowing the next events would pain him greatly. The stars fell as tiny, sparkly figures before circling the trio while singing their chant.
Howl's hands turned first, growing out from the cloth into talons. Then his hair grew into raven feathers. His teeth grew sharp and his feet grew into more talons, large wings sprouting from his back.
Sophie watched him writhe in agony and could bear it no more. With her hands on his face, she soothed away some pain from transformation. His cries weakened as the transformation continued with less pain. She threw a maxima protego around them as Suliman appeared behind the figures.
The staff, light a pale red, pierced through the circle before barely impaling the barrier around them.
"Howl, we have to go!" Sophie shouted.
I came to my senses as the staff nearly pierced the barrier, and wrapped my arms around Sophie. With a great push of my wings, I launched us out of the circle and out of the illusion.
Glass flew around us, and I ensured no glass would cut Sophie as I pulled my transformation back and landed in the aircraft.
Sophie plopped with a soft squeak before I quickly started the engine and flew off. "Hold tight!"
I barely noticed the dog flying to join us, cuddled by the Witch of the Waste.
"Sophie, sit up front," Howl commanded.
Sophie blankly stared at Howl. "You're expecting me to drive, aren't you?"
Sheepishly, Howl asked, "How'd you know?"
Rolling her eyes, Sophie climbed up front and quickly took the wheel. "Just to warn you, this is gonna be a bumpy ride." With that, she took an immediate dive and twirled through the buildings, knowing their enemy was behind them.
"Sophie! We have the whole gang with us!" Howl scolded.
"Well, it helped get them off our trails."
"Nice doggie," the Witch grinned, answered by a hoarse bark.
"It's fine. Just focus on getting home."
"I'll handle our pursuers," Howl said. "Just fly straight to castle in the Wastes. The ring will guide you. Simply summon Calcifer with your heart."
With a quick thought, the ring began to glow, a small red spike pointing towards the waste. "So, an item point-me. Nice."
"If you follow the light, you'll be there by nightfall," Howl stated.
"Why did you send me if you were going to come anyway?" Sophie asked.
"You gave me courage for it," Howl responded. "She's terrible faced alone."
"I get it."
"You really saved me back there. Thank you," Howl whispered.
Sophie took another dive down, swerving to hopefully lose some of the soldiers from their trail.
"You know, despite your crazy methods, you're pretty good at this! Got some experience?" Howl questioned.
"You could say that."
"We've got a pretty good lead now. You've got five minutes of invisibility. Now's your chance!" announced Howl.
"Come back home safely," Sophie said calmly before they separated, one invisible and the other a diversion.
"Of course," Howl saluted.
Back at Madame Suliman, her escorts were calmly serving her and giving her her staff. "Thank you. That's the most fun I've had in ages."
"Howl really assumes he's gotten away," Madame Suliman chuckled, fiddling with her wand.
At the front of all of his doors from the castle to the towns were soldiers aplenty, banging on the doors and forcing their way in.
However, all they found were abandoned plots of land and buildings, no castle to be in sight.
With Sophie, she worriedly watched the sky, the rumbling of thunder and rolling black clouds signifying a storm. She sighed, and put a protective barrier around them and the aircraft, preventing any water from soaking them. "Ah, magic, how you always come in handy."
Sophie glanced down at her finger before spotting the town below them. "We'll be home soon, my hometown is right below us." She glanced back at the town once more, thoughts on her sister and praying to Lady Magic and Merlin for her safety.
When she glanced back up, she saw the castle. "Look! They've come greet us!"
"Sophie!" Markl shouted from the balcony at the side.
With the marksman of an old broom rider, Sophie landed the aircraft. She assisted the witch out of the craft and lead her inside. She sat in front of Calcifer, slowly warming up.
"Sophie!' Markl shouted, throwing his arms around her waist. "You're not hurt aren't you?"
"Tadaima, Markle, and no, I'm not injured," Sophie said, caressing the boy's spiky locks. "Are you alright as well," she asked the witch.
"Doggie!" the wicked witch responded.
"I'm so glad you're not hurt," Markl whispered, bringing his face impossibly closer to Sophie.
"Thank you for meeting us," Sophie smiled.
With that, the castle continued on its way. Deep into the night, when all were asleep, Sophie calmly watched Calcifer, her hands wrapped around a still steaming cup of hot chocolate (thank you heating charms).
The door slowly creaked open, a black mass of shadows dripping blood onto the floor.
Sophie turned her attention, nearly gasping at Howl's state.
"Oh, no, you've gone too far," Calcifer groaned.
Sophie stood, standing in front of Howl. "Sit," she commanded.
The creature shook its head.
"I said, sit!" Sophie said harshly.
Taken aback, the creature slowly sat on the chair previously occupied by Sophie.
She sighed and placed a hand on its right cheek. "Why do you do this to yourself? Then again, I can't say much. Pot, meet kettle." She shook her head and began healing him.
"Honestly, you're so lucky I know healing magic," Sophie pouted.
The creature made a sound that seemed to be a mix between a groan and a croon.
Rolling her eyes, Sophie gathered the mass of feathers and murmured a chant. With her fingers, she traced runes onto his wings and slowly, the creature returned to Howl. "I can't do this every time, so don't come to me when you are completely transformed. I don't even I can fix that." 'Not without the Deathly Hallows.'
"Thank you," Howl whispered, voice hoarse.
"Yeah, yeah. You're an idiot Howl," Sophie said.
"No, seriously, you're an idiot," Sophie growled.
Howl nodded slowly, gradually leaning his head against Sophie's collar.
"Drink some hot cocoa for your throat before you pass out on me," Sophie scowled. She raised her cup to his parched lips.
"Really Sophie, thank you," Howl murmured, voice a bit more clear.
"I get it. Let's just get you to bed."
The two slowly made their way to his bedroom. Sophie carefully laid Howl onto his mattress and covered him up with his thick blanket. "Good night Howl."
"Stay for a bit?"
"Just for a bit" Sophie nodded.
Sophie sighed, looking around the castle. "They call it a castle, but once you get inside, it's a junk heap."
"Ah! Sophie, so cruel," Howl dramatically cried out.
"It's time to eat!" Sophie yelled to the playing Markl, dog, and Turnip Head.
She fed the old witch porridge as she stared unblinkingly at Calcifer.
"Sophie, Howl, get her to stop staring at me," Calcifer whimpered, shrinking under her stare.
Howl boasted out laughing. "Calcifer, scared of an old witch without her powers."
"Come on, eat your food," Sophie said, the witch turning her attention to the food. "That's right Calcifer."
"Master Howl," Markl began, "Can we keep this puppy?"
"Hm, an old Witch and Madame Suliman's dog . . . Sounds like a good idea!" Howl cheered. "Why did you let them in Calcifer?"
"Don't look at me! You know Sophie can overpower my barriers for a while," Calcifer scowled.
"But I didn't~," Sophie sang.
Howl burst out laughing.
'He kind of seems to be forcing himself,' Sophie thought, staring at Howl's too wide grin.
"Always such a delight, Sophie," Howl said before walking to the scarecrow. "So you're Turnip, huh? Hmm, you're under quite a spell. Seems everyone's a bit complicated."
"Now! Today's going to be a busy day! We're moving!" Howl announced.
" . . . What?" Sophie remarked.
"Oh, good! There aren't any shops here in the middle of nowhere," Markl replied.
"Madame Suliman can track us down here in no time," Howl stated. "But you'll have to stay behind. The magic in your spell's too tricky."
With that, they began drawing a magic circle around the castle and a smaller version on the floors within the castle.
"Want help?" Sophie offered.
Howl grinned. "No, it's fine. I can handle this."
The castle slowly moved into the circle's center, ready for the move.
Howl scooped Calcifer from his ashes to stand in his own magic circle. Channeling his magic, a sudden wind beginning to billow around his body, and Calcifer turned into a flaming rage of blue. Sophie and the others sat at a table nearby, watching the events.
The castle slowly stretched, repairing any damage and adding new, and far more comfortable, changes to the decor. Once satisfied, Howl reigned his magic in, and the wind slowed to a stop while Calcifer returned to his original size.
"We've moved. You can get up now," Howl stated.
Sophie slowly moved to the window.
"This is my hometown, isn't it?" Sophie asked quietly.
"It is," Howl nodded.
"My shop too," Sophie continued.
She turned to Howl with a deadpan stare. "Are you an idiot? Won't Madame Suliman find us much easier here?"
"Maybe. Better than the Waste."
Sophie facepalmed, now understanding her previous comrades and their reactions to her own reckless decisions. "You're an idiot."
"Sophie, you've said that so many times now, is it an endearment for me?" Howl smiled.
"Amazing, Master! It's so huge!" Markl shouted in glee, running around the enlarged area.
Sophie quickly stifled a giggle.
"Sophie!" Howl shouted as Markl and the others played in the courtyard. "See that new color on the dial? That's a new exit." He flung the door open and Sophie gasped.
She knew this was coming, but seeing it real life made it enchanting. She ran outside and gaped at the miles of flowers a variety of colors. Streams twisted through the field and made their way to the ocean afar. The sky was bright blue and a small cottage could be seen a distance away.
"It's my gift to you, Sophie," Howl said as he walked up to Sophie.
"Thank you, Howl," Sophie gently returned before her eyes took a mischievous gleam, and she ran through the hills.
Howl laughed and followed after, relishing this moment of peace away from the war and its terrors.
Nearing the water's edge, Sophie twirled herself around and pushed Howl into the water.
Sputtering, Howl rose to the surface, glaring at the giggling Sophie. He smirked and grabbed her ankles, dragging her down towards him.
With a startled cry, Sophie plunged into the water, resurfacing with a scowl. "Not fair."
"Neither were you."
There was silence before they burst into laughter.
However, this peace did not last. A large aircraft flew by and the two slowly got out of the stream. They watched in silence as it flew past slowly, armed with rows of bombs.
"Look at all those bombs," Howl said, a mischievous look on his face. With a wave of his hand, he turned off the engines and an alarm rang through the air.
Sophie glared at Howl. "You idiot. Don't overuse your magic after moving an entire castle." She extended her hand. "Give me."
Reluctantly, he placed his partially-transformed hand on top of hers.
"You're an idiot."
"Oops, looks like they're onto us," Howl claimed.
"This is your fault idiot. And I can't even make it fall either less it hurt the animals here," Sophie pouted. "Let's say . . . temporary sleep and a soft landing." With a wave of her own hand, accessing a sliver of the Hallow's power, she did just as she said. "You're so lucky, you idiot."
"I'm going to check to make sure they won't continue on," Howl said, guiding Sophie back to the door to the castle.
"Just be careful and don't be an idiot. Well, you'll probably still act like one."
"You better come back safe and whole," Sophie said, "Well, whole enough for me to heal. I swear, if you go too far, I will make you regret it."
Howl laughed heartily. "I don't doubt that. Now, stay inside Sophie. It'll be a bit bumpy for a while."
"Right, bumpy. More like chaotic," Sophie drolled. "Lucky for you, I thrive on chaos as a witch. If I was a simple mundane, this would be a much bigger problem."
"Yes, aren't I lucky you're a witch," Howl chuckled. "Now go. Do be safe Sophie."
"And do come home Howl."
It was just a bit after dusk and Sophie was preparing for the final battle, gathering her gear and potions stored in a secret, expanded pouch.
"Goodnight Sophie," Markl said.
"Goodnight, Markl. Have sweet dreams tonight."
Markl started closing the door, before opening it once more. "Don't worry about Master Howl, Sophie. Sometimes, he's gone for days on end."
"Markl, I don't think that makes me worry any less."
"Ah, right," Markl sheepishly admitted. "But, he's always okay after those, so he should be fine again this time!"
"If he isn't, I'll be sure to beat him up," Sophie grinned.
"You're in love," the old Wicked Witch announced calmly as Sophie patted her in bed.
Sophie paused before smiling gently. "Yes, I suppose I am."
"Sighing away like that, it's quite obvious," the witch teased.
Sighing, Sophie nodded. "Were you ever in love?"
"Of course I was. I'm still in love," confessed the old lady.
" . . . What?"
"Men, why ever should we want them?" the witch asked. "But a young man's heart is so delicious! And so adorable, too."
"Okay, then . . . I'll just be heading off for tonight," Sophie excused herself.
Alarms pierced the talk.
"An air raid siren," Sophie sighed.
"It's not for here, but best no go out tonight," the witch said.
"Suliman's creatures are searching high and low for our house," the witch commented. "What a good fire, hiding us so well."
"I worry about Howl," Sophie admitted. "He's pushing himself too much. Soon, it's going to be too late. I might not be able to save him."
"When the time comes, you'll figure out what to do. You're a good girl, Sophie," the witch said.
Sophie smiled. "Thank you. Good night."
"Sleep well," the witch nodded.
With that, the night ended with the sound of sirens.
When Sophie awoke that morning, she knew what was coming. Her mother was coming to visit, a spy sent by Madame Suliman.
She paused Markl from heading out, and gently shook her head. 'Should I stop this? I have to. For me. And for Howl. Madame Suliman may end up finding us anyways.' With that, she placed a protective rune around the house, permitting only those with good intentions that would not harm the family to pass through.
She watched from an isolated window as her mother gaped in surprise when the building she expected was nowhere in sight.
"But the paper says we won," Markl remarked.
"Only fools swallow such lies," the witch said.
With a swipe of her hand, Sophie took away the cigarette and cleared the smoke from the room. "Please, do not smoke with children or pets present." With a sigh, she puffed Calcifer, fanning his flames. 'This means, he'll be stronger while on the run.'
"Why do you deny an old lady her pleasures?" the witch asked.
"Because it's unsafe for others," Sophie replied. "Plus, it's time."
With that, the house rumbled and shook. Sophie quickly grabbed Markl into her arms, steadying him.
"We have to go," Sophie shouted. "Gather what you absolutely need!" She quickly ran to her room and put on her gear. It was simply, a pair of black jeans and a black t-shirt. She wrapped the invisibility cloak around her, willing it to stay out of sight, but keep her in it, and putting the Resurrection stone in the ring was put on her finger beside the "point-me-home" ring. She put the Elder Wand into its holster on her forearm and emerged from her bedroom, potions and such secure in the expanded pouch. "Let's get going."
She ran to the courtyard and took her wand out. She levitated the bombs in the air before redirecting them to the aircrafts. She scowled when Suliman's minions began seeping through her barrier, the numbers and the aid of Suliman's magic starting to break down her barrier.
She whipped out the Elder Wand and quickly shouted "Maxima Protego !" before any could reach the entrance.
When she sighted Howl swooping to her, she released a breathy sigh of relief. 'He's okay.' She ran to him and placed her hands on both of his cheeks. "Oh, thank Merlin. There's been so many."
"Sorry, you're right. There's been a lot," Howl hoarsely responded.
"Oh, Howl, you're so close to the brink," Sophie whispered. "You mustn't push too far."
"It's okay," Howl murmured. He slowly guided her to the house, glancing back to the barrier reflecting all attacks from Suliman's minions.
He turned to Calcifer. "Calcifer, stay strong for tonight. We'll need all the strength we can get."
"Why, if it isn't Howl," the witch said smiling. "I feel we need a nice, long chat."
"Likewise, Madam, but we've no time now."
"How unlike you. You're not running away," she remarked.
"No, I'm not."
I felt my heart race as I raced to Sophie. I wasn't going to make it! I breathed a heavy sigh when Sophie redirected the bombs to the aircrafts and put a shield against Suliman's minions. I swooped down and leaned into her hands as she placed them on both my cheeks.
"Oh thank Merlin, there's been so many," Sophie sighed.
Warmth filled me, and the weight on my shoulders lightened. "Sorry, you're right. There's been a lot."
She inhaled sharply. "Oh, Howl, you're so close to the brink. You mustn't push too far."
I smiled gently. "It's okay."
"Until later, then," Howl bid farewell. "Stay here, Sophie. Calcifer will protect you."
"And who will protect you?" Sophie remarked, frustrated with his self-sacrifices. She took the Elder Wand out once more, pointing it towards him. She placed a tracking spell on him and slowly healed the wounds he sustained.
"It's okay. I'll see to things outside," Howl remarked.
"Just come home soon," Sophie replied.
"I will," he promised. "I've finally found someone I want to protect, someone to come home to." With that, he flew out of the house and into the burning sky.
"Keep your promise, Howl."
Sophie watched the door before running to it when it started banging. She turned the colored dial and let out a breath when all the chaos stopped. "We have to move."
She ran outside and sadly watched the destruction. It was just like her own world. She shook her head and gathered her magic. She searched for Lettie and breathed a sigh of relief. She was out of the town, away at one of the safe havens in the mountains. She searched for Howl and found him in front of her in the distance.
He was fully transformed and raging.
"Oh, Howl, you've gone too far," Sophie whispered. "The Hallows are the only way." She turned back inside and asked Calcifer to reduce his load. "We need to move fast and that's not possible with all of this weight. We need less."
Thankfully, unlike canon, the castle was still pretty much intact besides some extra oddities. They traveled quickly away from the battle.
Seeing the stray airships, she fired spell upon spell to down them, putting her bitterness into each spell for their ridiculous war for power.
"Calcifer, I have a request," Sophie said. "Two actually. Can you do it?"
The Fidelius Charm, a charm that hides everything from everyone except those within it and its Secret Keeper.
"Calcifer, I'm going to cast the Fidelius Charm to hide you from Madame Suliman, and then, I'm going to find Howl," Sophie said.
"What!? That's insane!" Calcifer shouted.
"It's the only way. Will you be the Secret Keeper?" Sophie asked.
"I'm the only reasonable one," Calcifer grumbled lowly. "Go ahead."
With the Fidelius Charm placed, Sophie asked her second request. "This ring leads me home. That means it can lead me to Howl. Through this ring, can you guide me to him?"
Sophie traveled through the castle, following the light that seemed undecided on a direction. However, it finally stopped at the entrance. A confused look came upon her face before realization dawned her. How could she have forgotten?
She turned the dial and opened the door to darkness. Wind billowed from the entrance and she stepped inside. Heen, the dog, seeing the danger of it, ran in circles, fearing for Sophie, before scampering inside after her.
She came upon a small room with a stove and a table filled with notes, quills, and books. 'So messy, even as a child.'
Heen scratched the door, gathering Sophie's attention. She walked out, in a daze at the falling stars. Her magic trembled when a small boy walked among the fields, catching one of the many falling stars.
She ran to him, watching the stars slowly fade away, never stopping so the ground couldn't take her.
Her magic nearly burst as Howl consumed the falling star within his hands. His hands came to his chest, and a small flame began to burn in his hands.
With that, a vortex appeared below her. She looked back up. "Howl! Calcifer! It's Sophie! Wait for me!"
She fell, floating in the air and slowly began air walking.
Heen barked hoarsely, glancing back at Sophie in worry.
There, they came upon the entrance once more. And, there, outside of the castle, in the ruins of a fallen aircraft, was Howl.
A completely transformed How, who was heaving and nearly unrecognizable. And so, Sophie (who used to be Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-LIved, the Man-Who-Conquered, and the Master of Death) stepped forward and placed both hands on his face.
"Howl. I'm sorry I took so long. You've been waiting all this time, you stupid idiot."
"You idiot, you're so lucky the Hallows can undo this . . . You're so lucky I'm not Sophie who was a mundane that could only help by giving her love and support and courage. You're such an idiot. You're so dumb for doing all of this for me, the freak who travels dimension and time." She brushed away the feathers to reveal storm gray eyes staring listlessly. "You're an idiot for waiting for so long. Do you remember me? Or does the time paradox only allow you to remember after I've gone back?" After this, she gently placed her lips against his.
"Shall we go inside our home?" Sophie whispered. She expanded the doorway and gently guided him inside, accommodating to his growth in size.
"Master . . . Howl?" Markl gasped in shock.
"Markl, never be an idiot like your master. He decided to push the limits," Sophie scolded. "Now, move over a bit. We need to seat him, so I can help him."
Markl moved some of the objects out of the way and watched from the side in awe as Sophie pulled out the Elder Wand.
With a murmur and a will, the Elder Wand began its work on reverting Howl back.
"Calcifer, are you ready to break your curse?" Sophie softly asked.
The demon nodded, allowing Sophie to pick him up with her hands and bring to Howl.
"Do you know what I'm going to do?" Calcifer asked. "Did you know this from the start?"
"Not this exactly," remarked Sophie. "Just a hunch. If I do this, will it hurt you?"
"Not if it's you. Probably."
Sophie smiled. "I'm glad. May Calcifer live a thousand years and may Howl retain his heart."
With that, she pressed Calcifer to Howl's chest and worked on interweaving the too long separated heart and soul.
"I'm alive!" Calcifer cheered, returning to his former star form. "I'm free!" He whizzed around them and flew into the dawning sky.
With a groan, Howl twitched and let out a gasp of relief.
"He moved. He's alive!" Markl shouted.
The castle began to creak and slowly break apart. Sophie quickly placed a maxima protego around them, protecting them from the debris. 'There's only one last thing.'
The scarecrow twirled.
Sophie placed a light peck on its cheek and watched as it transformed into the blonde prince it originally was. "There you go, Turnip."
"Thank you, Sophie."
"I'm a prince from the neighboring country. A cruel spell turned me into a scarecrow," he announced.
"A spell that only your beloved's kiss could break," remarked the Wicked Witch.
"Beloved is also family and friends," Sophie responded.
"Exactly. If Sophie hadn't been here, I probably would've died," noted the prince.
"My, you're good looking."
Sophie turned her attention back to Howl who was slowly awakening.
"What a racket. What's the fuss?" Howl groaned as he lifted his head.
Sophie giggled. "Only an idiot like you would wake from a near-death experience and say those words. You stupid idiot."
He winced. "Ugh, I feel terrible. Like I'm trapped under a stone."
"Pretty sure that's just your body re-adjusting to the weight of your heart," Sophie explained. "They're quite heavy."
"Sophie, have I ever mentioned how beautiful your eyes are? Like the forest lit by the stars and fireflies," Howl complimented.
"I love you Howl, even if you're an idiot," Sophie grinned. "Okaerinasai."
"Tadaima," Howl responded before wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her down to him.
The witch covered Markl's eyes. "Now you see how Sophie feels."
"It's fine. I regard her as a beloved friend."
"You should probably go home now and make them stop this ridiculous war," Sophie shouted, though a bit muffled, from Howl's embrace.
"That's exactly what I shall do," the prince remarked, smiling in amusement at the couple's antics. "I hope you don't mind if I do drop by once in a while afterward."
"A friend is always welcome," the Wicked Witch replied for Sophie who was busy. "Besides, for such a charming man like yourself, I'll wait for your return."
Heen squealed in delight, contacting Suliman through her crystal ball.
"Why contact me now? What have you been up to?"
Heen gestured to the group behind him, bidding farewell to the prince.
"A happy ending, I see," Suliman commented. "You two-timer."
Heen squealed, uncaring, as he rushed to Sophie's side.
The ball dispersed the image, and she sighed. A smile slowly grew on her face. "Well, there's that. Who would've known that Sophie was such a powerful witch, hiding from my sight and being able to win against my magic? Bring me the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. Let's put an end to this foolish war."
"Of course!" her servant bowed, immediately heading to fetch said people.
Back with Sophie and the gang, Calcifer had returned to them.
"You didn't have to come back," Howl remarked as Sophie outstretched her hands for the star to land on, returning to his flame form.
"I really missed you all. Besides, it looks like it'll rain . . . "
"You're an idiot, just like your former contractor," Sophie smirked. "But, thank you, Calcifer." She gave him a light peck, making him turn a gooey, giggling pink.
"Hey! Sophie! Those are just for me!" Howl objected.
"Ahem," Markl interrupted.
"And sometimes Markl."
Sophie rolled her eyes in exasperation.
The Wicked Witch laughed heartily. "Men."
The castle now moved in the sky, enjoying the sights below and the wind dancing through their hair and clothes. Though, how it could fly was beyond mundane theories.
Markl happily enjoyed their small courtyard, often playing fetch and tag with Heen, another happy resident. The two were watched by the Wicked Witch who refrained from keeping another name for the sake of retaining and learning from her past.
Howl and Sophie were on the balcony, enjoying a languid kiss.
Howl separated slowly with a wide grin. "I really love you."
"I love you too, idiot."