Nightmares For A Pendragon
Nightmares For A Pendragon
"Calcifer?" Padding down the stairs in her nightgown, Sophie Pendragon stole glances through the banister of the staircase at the sleeping fire. She didn't really know what she was expecting to get out of this, maybe some closure, some sort of reassurance from her out-spoken fireball of a friend. She made her way to the lone chair that always stood in front of the fireplace and grabbed a log, throwing it onto Calcifer and startling him into waking. As she sat on the wooden chair, Calcifer watched her cautiously from the hearth. Whatever had made her come down here at two in the morning couldn't have been good, especially since she had chosen to confide in him rather than Howl.
"Whatd'ya want Sophie?" He spat tiredly. "It's two in the morning for God's sake,"
"You're a fire Calcifer," Sophie groaned, rubbing her face with her palms. "Time shouldn't exactly be important to you as a being of the demonic world," She lay her feet up at the edge of the hearth and sighed.
"Well, I see your point, but I still want to know why you're down here talking to me instead of up there talking to Howl,"
"Howl's always been one for his beauty sleep, I couldn't wake him if I tried," She waved it off as if it were no big deal.
"You could set off a bomb, y'know, right underneath-,"
"Calcifer!" Sophie interjected, shooting daggers at the now grinning fire demon. He raised his arms and shrugged.
"I'm just trying to help a damsel in distress,"
"By telling her to blow up her husband? I think not," But Sophie gave a giggle at the thought.
"Welcome to the dark side, all theories are welcome," Calcifer beamed, grabbing for another slab of wood to keep himself ablaze. In the midst of her laughter, Sophie blinked.
"You know what Calcifer? I think you made me feel a lot better," She smiled her thanks to the cherry fire.
"Why were you feeling down in the first place?" He tried again, she always had been one to give a roundabout answer.
"Oh, just some nightmares I've been having recently. I know they're silly but they always get to me." Sophie shook her head in fake amusement but Calcifer knew her better than that, or so he'd like to think. He caught the glimmer in her eyes, the small sharp sign that she was afraid.
"You're afraid," He pointed out, as if it were the most common known fact about Sophie that had ever been brought into existence. Sophie's eyes widened a little before she shook her head in denial.
"No I'm not," She proclaimed, trying to make her voice even and steady. Calcifer rolled his eyes.
"Tell me about the nightmares then," He pressed watching Sophie's eyes flicker around nervously. Finally, with a sigh, she gave in.
"Every time," She began, her breath catching in her throat, tears threatening to well up in her eyes. "It's a new way for Howl to die, a new way for him to leave me for someone more worthy. I know it's stupid Calcifer, I mean, we're married for God's sake! A girl would think that counted for something. But I'm just so afraid, despite it all, that my dreams might come into existence, that something bad is going to happen," She nearly choked on the end of her sentence, rubbing vigorously at her eyes.
"Come on Sophie, stop crying. You'll drown me at this rate," Calcifer teased light-heartedly, knowing that being serious would only make her doubt herself in this case. But maybe that was just what she needed; a stern stretch of words to reassure her of Howl's love for her. Sophie sniffled at his response and gave him a sad smile.
"It's stupid, right?" She murmured, looking towards the door. If Calcifer knew her well enough, he'd say she was staring at the garden portal.
"Go on then, you know you want to. It might help you cool off a bit," With a determined nod, Sophie rose from the chair and made her way across the surrounding stretch of floor towards the door. She grabbed a stray coat of Howl's that he'd left on one of the kitchen chairs and slipped her arms into it. It was a size or so too big but that didn't matter, it was warm. And better yet, the dark blue coat that was trimmed silver with white fur lining the collar made her feel like she was being hugged by Howl himself. She skipped down the steps to the front door and flicked the lock so that the dial spun around to pink and clicked open the door. The soft breeze that hit her was rather warm for a winter morning and in no less than two seconds was she completely enveloped by it as she stepped out onto the concrete slab that served a pathway to the door from the garden. She shut the door behind her hastily and trudged down the meadow, sitting at the edge of a pool of bright aqua water and watching her reflection. Sophie let out a relieved breath and inhaled the sweet flower scented air. She lay back and watched the shooting stars run across the sky, as if they were racing each other to the ends of the earth for her amusement. Letting out a small yawn, Sophie closed her eyes.
Trodding down the stairs, a dark-haired male came to a stand still in front of a fire, blazing bright in its hearth.
"Calcifer!" Howl yelled at the fire. Calcifer raised his eyes up at his master.
"Where is Sophie?" He demanded, with all the fear that he had lost his wife. Calcifer rolled his eyes. 'A drama queen, as per usual,' He thought to himself.
"In the garden, bright eyes." Howl quirked his eyebrows.
"Why is she in the garden?" Calcifer knew he had to think quick. If he told Howl about Sophie's nightmares by his own leeway, he'd be in a world and a half of trouble with Sophie.
"She got bored of the scenery," He shrugged. Hopefully, Howl would buy the excuse without another bat of his eyelashes. And lucky for Calcifer, he did exactly that. Without another word, he walked swiftly over to the door and clicked it open to the garden portal.
"Sophie my love," Howl called, clicking the door shut and turning to make his way down the meadow towards Sophie. He stopped beside her and sat down, watching her peaceful sleeping face as he stroked a stray strand of hair away and tucked it behind her ear. "Sophie," He murmured, kissing her forehead as she stirred.
"Howl?" She whispered, her eyes fluttering open. She sat up suddenly, looking around her. "I.. I fell asleep?" She blinked, turning back to Howl. He gave her a gentle smile and leaned forward to give her a kiss. He grabbed her hands and pulled her to her feet.
"Come inside love," He said gently. She gave a nod and let him lead her back inside. Marco was setting up the table when they got inside.
"Morning Master Howl, Sophie," He beamed. Howl nodded and Sophie smiled his way.
"Good morning Marco,"
"Sophie, go get dressed and then come down for breakfast," Howl instructed and Sophie rolled her eyes.
"What are you, my father?" She teased. His eyes widened but he soon saw she was joking. He rolled his eyes back and tapped her hip.
"Cheek," He smiled as she winked, heading up the stairs. "Marco, get the bacon and eggs for me," He said, turning to grab a pan. He set the pan over Calcifer and sensed Marco by his side.
"Here you go," Marco smiled, setting the basket of eggs and the rashers of bacon on the chair beside the fireplace.
"Thank you. Do you think you can make the toast?" Howl asked, placing three rashers of bacon into the pan. Marco nodded eagerly.
"Of course Master Howl!" He smiled, scurrying of to grab the loaf of bread from the table. Howl smiled, shaking his head in amusement as he cracked the first egg on the side of the fireplace and set it in the pan, throwing the egg shell into Calcifer's open mouth. Over Calcifer's rapid chewing of the last egg shell, he heard Sophie coming back down the stairs. He looked up at her and his eyes widened. She wore a pale cream sun dress with a gold bow tied around her waist. Her silver hair, now coming down to the bottom of her shoulder blades, fell loose in ringlets and she smiled as she caught Howl's eyes.
"You're burning the bacon," She noted with humour, causing him to hastily yank the pan off Calcifer and set it in the middle of the table where Marco was putting a slice of buttered toast on everyone's plate. Sophie sat down and watched as Marco thrust a knife and fork in front of her face, her eyes widening. Carefully, she took the cutlery from the young boy and put her share of the food onto her plate, cutting into a rasher of bacon. They ate in mostly silence as Calcifer cackled in the background and Marco stuffed his face with food faster than anything Sophie had seen before, a small smile lighting up her face. Her mind wandered to her nightmares and she shivered, watching Howl walk away from her in the back of her mind as a hand fluttered itself in front of her face.
"Sophie?" It was Howl.
"Oh, sorry, I spaced out for a minute there. What were you saying?" Sophie asked hurriedly, biting into her slice of toast. Howl watched her closely for a second before repeating what she had missed.
"I was wondering where you'd like to go today," He murmured. And that brought Sophie's attention to the fact that it was Lettie's birthday today. She clapped her hands together, giving both the boys quite a fright.
"Oh Howl, please can we go see Lettie? It's her birthday today!" Sophie exclaimed excitedly. In all honesty, she'd never much gotten to see Lettie on her birthday; she'd always be working in the hat shop or Lettie would've had work and had nothing planned, always waving it off saying that birthdays were just things to make you feel old. But this year, Lettie was turning twenty one, surely she'd be having some sort of party. Besides, Lettie knew everyone in Market Chipping, a twenty first party was inevitable.
"But of course," Howl agreed, grabbing his now empty plate along with Sophie and Marco's and heading into the kitchen to rinse them off.
"I'll help you," Sophie insisted, pushing her chair back and standing up.
"No, you go get Marco ready and then we'll go find a gift for Lettie down in the markets,"
"Oh, don't worry about a gift, I have just the thing," Sophie beamed. "Come along Marco," She said, leading the young boy up the staircase. At the top of the stairs, Sophie stopped. "Right Marco, you go and get dressed into something nice and meet me back downstairs,"
"What are you going to do Sophie?" Sophie pressed a finger to her lips.
"It's a secret. You'll see. Now run along," He ran off to his room under command and Sophie turned, going into her and Howl's room. She clicked the door shut behind her and made her way towards the closet. Digging around she pulled out a jewellery box from the very back depths of the closet and smiled to herself, entering the combination on the lock. Now this was something she'd been saving for Lettie for years. She pulled out a diamond necklace that shined a million different shades in the sunlight and checked each diamond was still in place before setting it back in the box. Seeing no further use for the padlock, Sophie set it aside on a set of wooden drawers beside the closet and clicked the jewellery box shut tight. She pushed herself up off the ground and turned just as Howl opened the door.
"What's that?" He asked, peering at the unknown box in his wife's hands.
"Just a gift Father wanted me to give Lettie when she turned twenty one. It's a diamond necklace," She explained.
"We've had a diamond necklace in here all these years?" Howl looked surprised. "You sure know how to hide things from a man,"
"Why Howl, did you want it?" Sophie giggled, kissing his cheek. Her lips lingered a little while on his skin just to make sure he was really there before she pulled back and they made their way out of the door, closing it behind them.
"Of course I want it, diamonds are a man's best friend," Howl said after a few moments of thought. Sophie let out another laugh.
"Howl darling, it's dogs not diamonds,"
"I know, but it's fun to see you laugh," He smiled as they headed back downstairs and met Marco at the front door.
"Such a gentleman," Sophie smiled back. "Right, away to Market Chipping we go," She said determinedly, flicking the dial to yellow and clicking the door open so that the rays of sun from Market Chipping bounced off their faces and greeted them like an old friend.
"I suppose she'll be at the bakery," Sophie concluded after several moments of thinking about where her sister would be. "I mean, that's probably the most likely place,"
"To the bakery then," Howl agreed, striding along the pathways of Market Chipping, Marco by his side. When they reached the bakery, Sophie opened the door and the little bell let out a chime at their entrance.
"Sorry ma'am but we're closed-," One of the men that worked alongside Lettie cut himself off in the middle of his sentence. "Oh, Lettie's sister... Sophie was it? Glad you're here, we've just started the party. Who'd you bring along with you?" He asked, peering at Howl and Marco. Sophie smiled at the man who's name had evaded her mind and gestured towards the two males she was being accompanied by.
"This is my husband Howl Pendragon and this is his apprentice, Marco,"
"Howl, as in the great wizard Howl?" The man asked in disbelief as Sophie nodded politely.
"That's me," Howl waved. Sophie could tell he wasn't much a fan for any attention so she decided to take matters into her own hands and change the subject.
"The party, it's upstairs I presume?" The man nodded, still watching Howl.
"Ah.. Yes, please do head up there. I'm sure Lettie will be thrilled to see you," Sophie nodded and led the two upstairs and into the hall that was situated between the many rooms that lay on either side of it. She pushed open the door into the wide open space and a few heads turned at their entrance, including Lettie's.
"Oh Sophie, you came!" She squealed, running forwards and attacking Sophie with a big hug.
'Well of course I came Lettie, you're my little sister," Sophie smiled in return as Howl tapped her arm, handing her the jewellery box. "Oh, yes," Sophie nodded and took the box from Howl as Lettie let her go. She held it out to an excited Lettie and smiled once again. "Happy birthday Lettie, this is from all of us," She gestured to Howl and Marco. "And initially from Father." Lettie's eyes widened at the mention of her father but she opened the box without hesitation. Sophie watched as Lettie let out a little gasp. "Do you like it?" She asked as Lettie stroked several of the diamonds.
"Oh Sophie, it's beautiful," Lettie murmured, giving her sister another hug. "I'll go put it in my room, you guys wait right here and enjoy the party a little. I'll be right back," She promised, hurrying out of the hall.
"Well, let's enjoy this party while it lasts shall we?" Howl asked, grabbing Sophie's hands. "And by that I of course mean you are going to dance with me Sophie. Marco, I'm pretty sure I saw a dessert table at the back, go have some fun." Howl smiled gently as Marco's face lit up and he ran off through the crowd and started attacking the desserts. Sophie's arms found Howl's neck and she wound them around it as his hands came to sit upon her waist. She had a feeling she was going to enjoy this party.
When the family got home, it was almost eleven and Marco bid them goodnight, heading straight for his room. Sophie did the same and watched Howl as he sat in front of the fireplace.
"You're not coming to bed?" She asked as his dark blue eyes looked up to search her's on the staircase. He shook his head with a smile.
"I'll be up soon, I just need to chat to Calcifer, that's all. You go ahead," Howl insisted and Sophie nodded hesitantly.
"Ok then, I'll see you soon." Normally, she would've stayed beside him and listened to him talk but tonight she was just so worn out from dancing that she found her body only supplied her with one choice in this situation. 'Go to bed Sophie,' She could hear her mind say. 'Sleep.' Howl watched as his wife disappeared up the stairs and out of sight before he turned to Calcifer.
"Right, Calcifer, Sophie talked to you last night, didn't she?" He watched as Calcifer averted his eyes, shrugging.
"I don't recall,"
"Calcifer," Howl bit through gritted teeth. Calcifer hid behind the log that was currently burning away beneath his touch and looked down. Calcifer's silence gave Howl some time to think. "Don't tell me," He said after a few heartbeats of silence. "She slept in the garden all night? No wonder she was wearing my coat. It wasn't even cold out this morning! Calcifer, tell me what's going on with Sophie," Howl demanded. Calcifer let out a deep sigh.
"She's going to kill me for telling you," He murmured under his breath and then a little louder this time added, "She's been having nightmares. 'Bout you leaving and dying or what not. She didn't want to tell you so she found it fit to confide in me,"
"Nightmares?" Howl murmured, getting up from his spot in front of Calcifer. "Thank you Calcifer," He added as an after thought, hurrying up the staircase.
"Be subtle Howl!" Calcifer called after him. "The woman's gonna kill me, I swear it,"
When Howl reached their room, he found Sophie was just slipping into the bed, her nightgown hanging off her beautiful figure. He slipped off his boots and hopped in beside her, not bothering to change into his night clothes, and hugged her close, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Howl?" Sophie muttered against his chest. Howl took a deep breath.
"Calcifer told me you've been having nightmares," He whispered into the silence. And a silence it was. Sophie's eyes widened and she buried her face farther into his chest.
"They're just silly little things, it's no big deal, really,"
"No big deal? Sophie, you got up in the middle of the night to talk to Calcifer and slept in the garden the whole night just because of these nightmares so don't tell me it's no big deal." He raised his voice a little to get his point across and lifted Sophie's chin up gently with his fingers. "Sophie, are you afraid of these nightmares?" Howl asked, pressing his forehead against her's. She let out a strained breath and nodded.
"I watch you die or leave me every night Howl, I can't take it any more!" She exclaimed in a tiny voice, tears glittering in her eyes.
"Oh Sophie," He murmured, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "Death may be inevitable but I can promise you, I have no plans to die any time soon. And leaving you? I'd actually prefer dying over leaving you. Don't you get it Sophie? I cannot physically live without you. I love you," And he brought his lips to her's, kissing her softly yet sweetly. He pulled away and kissed away her falling tears.
"I know, it was silly. But even though, I still have them,"
"Well stop," Was his simple reply. Sophie blinked. "Trust in my love for you and go to sleep. If you have another nightmare, wake me, I don't mind y'know. You're more important to me than sleep, I hope you know that," He smiled. Sophie gave a small nod and reached up to kiss him again.
"Goodnight Howl. I love you," She whispered as she buried her face into his chest once more and fell asleep. Howl watched her shallow breathing and closed eyes for a few minutes before beginning to fall asleep himself.
"I love you too Sophie,"
When Sophie awoke the next morning, she woke to sunlight streaming in through the curtains and Howl's arms wrapped securely around her waist, his breathing even and heavy in his sleep. She beamed to herself.
She hadn't had a nightmare.
She was cured.