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Birthday fic: Appearances, 1/1

Title: Appearances
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Howl’s Moving Castle, movieverse
Rating: G
Word Count:  515 words
Author’s Note: A birthday fic for katsie. Her prompt: “something involving Howl's thoughts after he sees Sophie asleep as a young woman.” I’ve never written in this universe before, hope I did it justice. :) Thanks to van_el for both alpha and beta help.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


He breathed in and out, his breath only a whisper on the wind, but overly loud in his own ears. Every overuse of his magic seemed to bring him closer and closer to destruction, his body deformed beyond imagining. He was tired, so tired. He felt older than even the Witch.

Howl lifted a ghostly, feathered claw to open the door to the common room. He wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball somewhere, to recover from his wounds, physical, spiritual and magical. By now, everyone would be asleep…

The door creaked open, and he swiftly took stock of the room. Calcifer’s flickering light bathed the room in a warm glow. One wall was only a pile of rubble now, brick and mortar mingling with wooden beams. It was easily fixed, but not now. On the couch across the room, balanced precariously amidst the mess, the Witch of the Waste slept with an unattractively open mouth. Heen, the dog, slept curled up on the blanket beside her and Sophie did not stir either.

Sophie…?

Howl brought his gaze back to Sophie with a start. In sleep she had reverted to her young appearance. She seemed fragile, and out of her element… but yet, she also seemed stronger, and perfectly at home here at the same time. How odd. Strange that her grandmotherly form would seem so much more sturdy. Her confidence must be growing…

His heart – were it not trapped within Calcifer as part of the contract – would have gone out to her, this young girl who was under an unkind curse. Not once had she tried to explain to him what had happened. Not once had she reminded him of the time he saved her on the streets of Ingary.

And not once did she ask him to change her back.

His brow furrowed. This is what people expected of wizards – to solve the unsolvable, to do the impossible. But not his Sophie (had he just thought of her as ‘his’?) – she only wanted to make herself useful.

Suddenly he wanted to get to his room as soon as possible. He could not risk that she would wake up now, that she would see him in this… this horribly gruesome bird-form. That she might see the terrible toll his magic had taken on him tonight.

Howl closed the door behind him as quietly as he could, catching Calcifer’s attention. But he was in no mood to greet the fire demon. He moved across the floor silently, feathers drooping, unaware that he left a bloody trail of footprints in his wake.

The Calcifer lifted his eyes to the wizard in alarm. “Oh, no! You’ve gone too far.”

Howl did not respond. His only thought was to get past Sophie without waking her. He drifted up the stairs, ephemeral as a spirit. Reaching his cavernous sanctum, he moved through the door and closed it with a quiet click.

Safe.

Little did he know that the very girl he was hiding from, the girl whose courage had challenged his own cowardice, had just awakened.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
seacrystal
Mar. 31st, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
Howl, Sophie! Calcifer!

*melts into goo*

*composes self again*

LOVE this. That scene is definitely one that has really struck me in the movie -- a very quiet and very fleeting moment and yet so very aching too.

These lines are just perfect:

She seemed fragile, and out of her element… but yet, she also seemed stronger, and perfectly at home here at the same time.

His heart – were it not trapped within Calcifer as part of the contract – would have gone out to her, this young girl who was under an unkind curse.

htbthomas
Mar. 31st, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I had no idea when I posted this who on my f-list would know the book/movie! I'm very pleased you liked it. :)
seacrystal
Mar. 31st, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
Hee! Howl's Moving Castle is so totally my favourite movie (haven't read the book though), my journal name was even partly inspired from one of its scenes. *points to icon*
katsie
Mar. 31st, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
ThankyouThankyouThankyou.

You more than did it justice! I love how you captured the toll of his magic use, I could feel his weariness through the words, and his sudden desire to escape Sophie's sight so that he didn't worry or repulse her.

*bounces around happily*
htbthomas
Mar. 31st, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad! I always worry when I've never written in a fandom whether I'll get the tone and characterization right... :D

I hope you have a fabulous day!
handyhunter
Mar. 31st, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, neat. I've never seen the movie, but I love the book.
htbthomas
Mar. 31st, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
And I haven't read the book yet! :D Tell me, did I even come close to its tone? *curious* I completely based it on the Miyazaki version.
handyhunter
Mar. 31st, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
It's been a while since I've read HMC, but it doesn't seem out of character; although I think it's a little more introspective than book Howl gets.
professorjulia
Apr. 1st, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Oooo, so lovely!! It's perfect. Quiet and soft and, yeah, very sweet. (You should write another one. *begging* LOL)
htbthomas
Apr. 1st, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! And another one? Whew, this one was pretty tough... but I'll keep that in mind! You do have another birthday this fall, right? :D
jij
May. 6th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Oh! This is a beautiful capture of a moment and Howl's thoughts. Perfect. *beams*
htbthomas
May. 6th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I wasn't at all sure I got this one right, so it's nice to get lovely feedback about it! :)
laramoon
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Oooh! That was such a great take on this scene - lovely!

*hugs Howl and Sophie*

So glad you mentioned this, I'm sure I'd seen it in your TOC when I checked for your other fics a little while ago, but I had no idea what "Howl's Moving Castle" was. I'm glad I found out, and that you mentioned this fic to me! :D
htbthomas
Sep. 7th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
LOL, it's so cute that you just ran over here to find it! And thanks - I was pretty nervous, but it turned out nicely!

What did you think the movie was called before... or did you just discover it?
laramoon
Sep. 8th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
I had no clue the movie even existed until a few months ago, really.

And then, for some reason, a couple people on my f-list started talking about it -- and I realized that Christian Bale had done the voice for one of the characters, which obviously made me squee a little bit. *giggles*

So I bought the DVD a couple weeks ago -- I believe as my reward for posting the very last part of Kansas. *giggles* Oh, what a sweet reward that movie is. :D I absolutely loved it - every last minute. :happy sigh:
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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