an: Chapter updated December 11th.
Also, I don't really see the point in this seeing as everyone knows this is a fan fiction website, but I don't own Howl's Moving Castle. I will be using dialogue from the book, as well as other key phrases. I know that bothers some people, so you have been warned.
Chapter 1: In which Howell comes to Market Chipping
The land of Ingary was a place that fascinated Howell when he first discovered it, though some of that wonder went away when he realized he wasn't the only one from his world who knew of it. The fact that it no longer was his little world made it somewhat less desirable. None the less, that was years ago and was no longer important. Ben Suliman was missing, and there were much more important things on his mind nowadays.
The Wizard Howl lived in four places at once. He was also known by different names in all four of those places. The most notable place, wherein he was known by his most notable name, was his moving castle. He found this rather convenient as it allowed him to make sudden disappearances in order to hide from unwanted guests. Which came in handy when relatives of past lovers came looking for him, or when dangerous beings like the Witch of the Waste decided that he must pay for her broken heart. He was actually quite afraid of her, and he often wondered what it was he saw in the Witch of the Waste in the first place.
And so it was that Howell had his castle moved to the hills just outside of the prosperous town of Market Chipping some months before this story really begins. He didn't do it alone. His fire demon named Calcifer was the one who actually moved the castle.
Not long after making the move, Howell sent his apprentice down to Market Chipping in order to blacken his name. The wizard very well didn't want curious villagers knocking on his doors. Rumors spread rather quickly that the Wizard Howell ate young girls' hearts, or something to the like of that. The reality being that Howell was a rather fickle young man who never loved for long. The wording of the rumor amused him, though he found it unfortunate that it could make it harder for him to make the girls he loved fall back in love with him. This was easily remedied by using false names, something Howell had no discomfort in doing. In Kingsbury he was known as Wizard Pendragon, At Porthaven he was Wizard Jenkin, and at home in Wales his was simply known by his real name: Howell Jenkins.
The day this story really starts Howell had no idea it had started. In his opinion, the story would have began long before, when he first stepped foot in Ingary, when he finished his studies with Mrs. Penstemmon, when he traded his heart to save Calcifer's life, or even when he jilted the Witch of the Waste. To him, the only spectacular thing about that May Day is Market Chipping was that the streets were filled with brightly dressed young women waiting to be accosted. And while this was typical of May Day in Ingary, he saw no reason to not celebrate by making Calicifer shoot off blue balls of fire while he browsed the streets for his next girl. Besides, it was his apprentice's 15th birthday. He set out at seven-o-clock in his blue and silver suit, after spending two and a half hours in the bathroom getting ready. The weather was clear and he was grateful – he did not look his best drenched in rain, and the ladies wouldn't risk ruined make-up or a cold just to meet young men, even if they all were as spectacular looking as he. Market Chipping was busier than usual, the streets crowded with colorful costumes and tipsy men. He immediately set to work. He flattered women, many of which wore finely charmed hats. This made him slightly curious but he made his mind to focus on other matters. The day wore on and he found himself at Market Square accosting girls, one after the other.
At one point Howell spotted a particularly pretty young lady with ginger hair, dressed in a drab gray dress with a matching shawl. He thought it a waste for such a beautiful girl to be wearing such a plain outfit. Finding her more interesting than those currently around him, Howell approached the girl. He could easily see himself falling in love with someone like her.
She looked timid and afraid, and quickly backed into the shadows of the entrance to a bookstore. All at once he regretted scaring her. "It's all right, you little gray mouse," he said with a slight laugh. The girl still looked afraid and he pitied her. "I only want to buy you a drink. Don't look so scared."
The girl looked down, obviously feeling ashamed. "Oh, no thank you, if you please, sir," the girl stammered. "I—I'm on my way to see my sister."
The poor girl appeared so uncomfortable, adding to his guilt, but Howell quickly replied with a laugh, "Then by all means do so. Who am I to keep a pretty lady from her sister? Would you like me to go with you, since you seem so scared?"
"No. No thank you, sir!" she gasped as she fled away past him and out of his sight. He spent a moment looking for the adorable girl before deciding that it was a lost cause and that he should set his sights upon someone else. In this crowd, it was unlikely that he'd see her again. He found this rather regrettable. If he had known more about her he may have been able to use a finding spell.
It was about this time that he ran into his apprentice. Michael Fisher, along with Calcifer, was the other occupant of Howell's home. The wizard wasn't sure how long he had been there, but was certain it was some time after making his home to Porthaven and meeting Calcifer. Michael had simply shown up one day and one way or another became Howell's apprentice. The boy eventually proved himself to be useful and by the time the castle was moved outside Market Chipping Howell actually believed it might be strange if the boy was gone.
At the present moment, Michael looked a bit distracted, despite having seen Howl standing in front of him. "Happy Birthday," Howell said in an attempt to push Michael's attention onto himself.
Michael simply nodded in thanks. Wondering on what could have distracted his apprentice, Howell asked, "Have you been working on your spell?"
This seemed to get his attention. "Of course, but not today. I spent most of yesterday working on it." Then the kid had to make Howell regret his question by turning it around to, "Does the King have you working on anything right now?"
If there was one thing Howell disliked, it was being pinned down. That's why he studied magic and left Wales in the first place. He wanted freedom. Freedom to do what he wanted when he wanted, and to take his time doing it. And so the fact that he was gaining favor in the eye of the King was something the scared him. He did not want to be pinned down to being the Royal Wizard, no matter the fame and glory that may come with that name. And so Howell conveniently forgot the latter part of Michael's words and changed the subject, asking the boy if he noticed anything interesting about the hats.
Michael had been his apprentice long enough to know when Howell was purposefully changing the subject. But Michael let it go for chiefly two reasons: Howell did not want to be recognized for whom he was, and Howell was painfully hard to deal with when he got upset.
"No, I haven't noticed anything odd," Michael replied, not even knowing which hats Howell was referring to.
Howell shrugged his shoulders and said, "See if you can. That's your assignment for today." Feeling rather out of the mood to be chasing skirts, he turned and walked back towards his moving castle.
The streets were still full as he walked back. Calcifer's fireworks still shot high above the rooftops, but Howell stopped paying conscious attention to his surroundings. Despite this, he managed to successfully avoid any collisions due to his magic. It was after a few minutes of walking like this that he stopped suddenly, feeling the presence of a familiar charm. Looking around he noticed a hat shop.
"Ah, so this is where they come from," he said to himself. The windows were filled with colorful hats with charms set upon them; charms such as dimples, youth, and mysterious allure. A dark blue sign that clearly read "Hatter" in gold paint dangled above the shop's entrance. He wondered who the wizard or witch who charmed the hats was, and considered that charming his own clothing might not be such a bad idea.
He continued on and out of Market Chipping, crossing over a bridge and right to where Calcifer had parked the castle.