Hi there, everyone! Here I am with a brand new series that I'm so happy to have started! It was inspired by the amazing emotional rollercoaster, The Rehabilitation of Dawn Bellwether and its sequel, A Lamb Among Wolves, both written by the wonderfully talented author, WastedTimeEE! I guess you could say that this is a fanfiction of a fanfiction. I hope that you enjoy it, and please feel free to tell me what you think!
Found (Chapter 1)
"Sweet sawgrass, Lamb Chop," the large grey wolf exclaimed. The two stepped up to a surprisingly well-kept building, the bronze lettering of the sign out front polished. "Can you believe how that lady was looking at us at the last place?"
"I know, Vernon, but that was to be expected," Dawn said, reaching up to rub her mate's arm. He let out a sigh before he leaned down to pull her into a hug.
"It's just not right. Here we are, ready to provide a loving home for some kids, and gods know that they have a surplus of 'em, and what do they say? No," Vernon said with a growl. Dawn frowned as she wrapped her arms around his neck, still having to reach up a little due to the height difference, and tightened her hold.
"I know, Puppy Love," Dawn said, making direct eye contact with her mate, "but we both have to remember that I've got a criminal record."
Vernon gave a snort to that. "Honey Lamb, you have more than made up fer that. Anyone who still holds it against you is even more stubborn than my old mam."
The couple had been looking to adopt for quite some time, finding the process to be long and difficult. Dawn's record had been a source of some concern for many of the potential adoption agencies. That, combined with them being a predator and prey couple, had been sufficient for refusal from most of the places that they had tried.
"Besides, this place seemed a lot more promising when I made the appointment. They did a full background check and everything on us and still called us back," Dawn said, smiling reassuringly up at Vernon, feeling elated to see his muzzle curl up into a relaxed smile.
"Well, hopefully we'll find us a little pup and lamb who'll wanna come home with us," Vernon said, leaning down a little further to kiss his mate. They stood like that on the sidewalk for a few moments before they broke apart. It had been five years since they had been properly tithed and had their caprid ceremony, mating them together for life, and yet the little ewe still felt the butterflies in her stomach return every time they shared a kiss. Vernon smiled at her, his wagging tail revealing his own feelings, before he looked at the sign on the manicured lawn out front.
"Warm Hearts, Warm Hearths Children's Center," Vernon read aloud. The building wasn't particularly big, located in a residential area not too far from Little Rodentia. It was a red brick building, with five stories in total. There were quite a few windows through which happy squeals of children's laughter could be heard. Vernon held onto Dawn's hoof, giving it a gentle squeeze, as they strode up the front steps and entered.
They had just stepped onto hardwood flooring, with Vernon closing the door behind them, when a voice called out.
"Be with you in a moment." It was a soft feminine voice. "Please take a seat and make yourselves at home."
Vernon and Dawn did as instructed, heading towards the two chairs sitting before a desk right there in the main hall. They each took a seat, with Vernon helping Dawn into hers, due to her size. They had only to wait for a couple of minutes before the smiling face of a kangaroo dressed in a cream colored blouse and jeans appeared from the hallway. She took a seat opposite the two of them, behind the desk.
"Now are you two the Hunters?" she asked, putting on a pair of wire-rim glasses as she consulted a piece of paper on the desk.
"That's correct, Dawn and Vernon Hunter," Dawn said, feeling a swell of pride once more at referring to herself as a Hunter.
"Ah yes, you two are a little early," the kangaroo said with a shrug, "not that that matters in the least. I'm Amanda Hopper, we spoke on the phone."
"Oh, yes," Dawn said, remembering her chipper voice.
"Alright. Well, since we're having this conversation here, obviously that means that you two have been approved to adopt," Amanda said, smiling a little at the look of happiness that was apparent on the faces of the couple before her.
"Oh my goodness, that's wonderful! Isn't it, Puppy Love?" Dawn said, leaning over to take Vernon's paw in her hoof once again.
"It sure is, Lamb Chop," he said, gazing into her eyes before turning his attention to the kangaroo. "You have no idea how much this means to us."
"Oh, I think I might have an inkling," Amanda said before turning a picture in a frame on her desk to face the two. The picture showed the kangaroo before them with a tigress, both wearing white dresses and embracing while facing the camera. "My mate and I know that it can be a bit difficult for pred-prey couples to adopt."
Vernon and Dawn both nodded at this. "A-And you're sure that m-m-my," Dawn gulped as she struggled to get the words out, "criminal record isn't an issue?"
Amanda looked down at the ewe and smiled warmly. "Mrs. Hunter," (despite her nervousness, Dawn felt that sense of elation again at sharing Vernon's last name), "not only do I believe in rehabilitation for inmates and not only have I received some amazing letters of recommendation from some equally amazing mammals, but I'm also well aware of the fact that, despite your past, you are a hero who put her own life on the line to save others. In summation, no, that little blip on your file will not be making any difficulty for you two whatsoever here." Dawn smiled at that statement, visibly relaxing as a wave of relief washed over her.
"Now, according to you two, you're not looking for infants or toddlers, correct?" Amanda asked, consulting a file she had pulled out from a desk drawer.
"That's right," Vernon said, "we know that Zootopia's come a long way in the five years since my darlin's first book was released, in regards to predator and prey couples. But we still do get some flak for it, from time to time," Amanda nodded at this, (her smile becoming one of sympathy), "and when we talked it over, we decided that it would be unfair for a child to have to deal with the same thing, fer havin' a pred-prey couple fer parents, that didn't even ask fer it. So we want to look around the seven to eight age range, so that we could ask a potential pup or lamb whether or not they wanna take the risk."
"I see. Well, just so you know, not a whole lot of couples looking to adopt usually look for children over the age of three, which is all fine and good, but that doesn't do anything to help the older children," Amanda explained.
"We had heard that too," Dawn chimed in, "which is why we think that this would be for the best."
"Alright, now is there a specific reason why you are only looking for a wolf or sheep to adopt?" Amanda asked.
"W-Well, we felt that it would be easier for us to relate to some of the things that they'll go through as they get older, like the headbutting phase in the early teens," Dawn said.
"Or the urge to howl," Vernon added.
"Oh, b-but please don't think that we won't be willing to take any other children who would want us for parents. We just ultimately want to have kids, of any species," Dawn said.
"And any child who wants to take the plunge with us, we're going to love and care for them, no matter what," Vernon finished, still holding Dawn's hoof in his paw. Amanda's smile grew wider at the sight of them.
"Well, as it just so happens, there's both a little lamb and pup who are in that age range," Amanda said, "and they both are pretty open to the idea of being adopted by you two."
Vernon and Dawn both looked as though they could barely believe their ears.
"But there is a bit of a catch," Amanda said, noticing the worry beginning to cloud the faces of the couple before her, "you see, Alice and Trevor are very close to one another, as well as to a younger child. They actually view each other as siblings. And they have both made it absolutely clear that they refuse to be separated from one another..." Amanda trailed off, the kangaroo not knowing that she was starting to hold her breath.
"Oh! W-Well, w-we we've only ever discussed having one child... but trying to split up siblings, even siblings not related by blood, just sounds horrible!" Dawn said, looking over at her mate. "Puppy Love, what do you think?"
Vernon squeezed Dawn's hoof once again, before answering. "Well, Darlin', three little pups sure do sound like a bigger committment than just the one, but you're absolutely right, it would be wrong to try and split 'em up."
"D-Do you think that we could do it? That we could be parents to three little lambs?" Dawn hesitantly asked.
"It might not be easy, but I think that we can do it," Vernon said after a moment's thought.
Dawn leaned closer to her wolf. "I think so too, Puppy," she said, suddenly feeling her excitement grow.
"So then, Darlin', us havin' a litter of three sounds just fine to me," he said, his tail thumping against the back of the chair, making Dawn let out a giggle. Amanda released her held breath.
"Well, now, before anything else gets said and done, I should probably show you the three," Amanda said, picking up a book on her desk and flipping through the pages. She came to rest on one before handing the book to the couple for them to see for themselves. On the page was a picture of a young midnight black she-wolf who had an arm wrapped around a little black sheep boy and a strange little mammal, all three of whom were smiling as they leaned in close.
"That's Alice in the center, she's eight, and that's Trevor on the right, he just turned seven, and on the left is little Lily, we believe that she's six. Their unofficial little sister," Amanda explained. Dawn and Vernon both looked at the picture quizzically, trying to figure out the species of the third mammal.
"Lily looks like a cutie, that's for sure," Dawn said after a minute of examining the picture. Both of the girls were wearing matching yellow sundresses, while the lamb was wearing a yellow shirt and blue shorts. They were standing in a garden, a fountain right behind them. Dawn's eyes traced back to the picture of the little mystery mammal, her curiosity piqued. "But, uh, wh-wh-what species is she, exactly?"
Amanda frowned and leaned back in her chair. "That's just it, no one's been able to determine her species. She doesn't match anything on any registry whatsoever. All we know about her is that she's a mammal, and she was picked up off the streets at around three or four."
"The poor dear!" Dawn said, suddenly feeling an ache in her heart for the girl. She looked at the picture, taking in Lily's lack of muzzle and small nose. Aside from the long brown fur on the top of her head and her eyebrows, her face was completely furless, and the neck and exposed arms and shins suggested that she was devoid of fur all over. Dawn noticed her paws, yet another mystery. They were clearly not hooves, though she thought that they looked a bit like pale and furless versions of a raccoon's paws. Since Lily was at an angle, the ewe also noted a lack of a tail.
"So then... there's absolutely no record of a species like this, anywhere?" Dawn asked, feeling a small pit of worry form in her stomach.
"Not anywhere that we've looked into," the kangaroo confirmed. "She even had a DNA sample taken and tested, when she was picked up, and it just came back as an Unknown Species."
"That's gunna make relatin' to her a little difficult," Vernon said, scratching his chin. Dawn looked to her mate for any kind of sign of second thoughts, suddenly worried that their chance to become parents might have hit a slight snag. Dawn looked back to the picture, touching her hoof to it.
"Well, whatever she is," Vernon said, snapping Dawn out of her study of the picture, "she's more than welcome to join the Hunter clan, right, Honey Lamb?"
Dawn looked up at Vernon and smiled, before turning back to Amanda and handing her the book of photos back. "That's right," she said.
Amanda hopped up from her seat and clapped her paws together.
"Well, then, all that's left to do is the meet and greet. Feel up to it, you two?" Amanda asked.
"You bet," Vernon said, his tail thumping the chair again. Dawn had to stifle another giggle before she hopped down from her own chair, Vernon standing up right next to her. Amanda started to lead them down the nearest hall to a room with two couches sitting across from one another. She motioned for the two of them to take another seat, before going off to gather the three. Amanda returned a short while later, gently shepherding the three children, who matched their picture in the photo perfectly.
Alice, the little black furred pup, was holding the paw and hoof of the other two, apparently the leader. She was wearing a bright red shirt and grey shorts, her two yellow eyes looking over the couple warily as she stood in front of the other two in a protective fashion. The little lamb, Trevor, his wool also midnight black, was smiling hopefully at Dawn and Vernon. He was wearing a green Adolescent Mutant Samurai Snakes shirt, depicting all four of the main reptile characters, and green shorts. Little Lily was the most timid of the three, glancing at Dawn and Vern from behind Alice, peeking over her shoulder from time to time. She was wearing a violet sundress, with her brown headfur in a ponytail, tied with a white ribbon in a bow. Her deep blue eyes were filled with worry, but also a twinge of hope. Her skin was almost a complete contrast to the other two, being very light and pale. They then all clambered up onto the other couch, with Lily tucking herself just behind Alice once more, looking out with those wide eyes.
"Alice, Trevor, Lily," Amanda addressed the children, who all turned to look at her, to see the kangaroo motioning to the couple on the opposite couch. "This is Mr. and Mrs. Hunter."
"Hello," Alice started, her voice cool and steady, but also friendly. Trevor simply waved, suddenly feeling shy, while Lily continued to stare, before being nudged by the wolf pup and squeaking out a polite hello as well.
"Hello there," Dawn said, smiling at the trio before them, her excitement barely being contained. She could feel and hear Vernon's tail happily thumping the couch, and she knew he felt the same way. She watched as all three of the children seemed to visibly relax, although Lily was still tucking herself behind Alice a bit. Dawn had to stop herself from cooing at the cuteness of it all, which was especially difficult considering that she could now see that Lily was a bit taller than Alice or Trevor.
"Hey there," Vernon said, making sure not to expose his teeth and potentially frighten them.
Unsure of how to proceed, Amanda politely guided all of them through the proper introductions. After a while of speaking, Dawn and Vernon told the children a bit about themselves, and the children did the same. That was how Vernon and Dawn came to learn that Alice loved playing soccer, Trevor enjoyed reading, and Lily loved to draw. It seemed that all five had become comfortable around one another when Trevor asked the question.
"Are you two gunna adopt us? Because we're not gunna leave Lily behind," Trevor stated firmly; "she's our little sister."
Amanda looked shocked at the suddenness of the question, looking to the couple to see how they reacted to it. The ewe and wolf looked to one another and smiled, before turning to the trio.
"Well, if'n you three don't mind the idea of us adoptin' ya, we'd be more than happy to take all of ya," Vernon said, almost chuckling at the look of surprise on the three faces.
Dawn then went on to explain that because they were a predator and prey couple they were sometimes harassed, and how they didn't want to potentially subject any children to that that didn't want to risk it.
"But," she added, "if you still would like us to adopt you, we promise that we'll do everything to make sure that you know you are loved and cared for and protected." Dawn held her breath and squeezed Vernon's paw as the children huddled up on the couch, whispering to each other. It was a short talk that ended with them turned back to face the couple, Alice speaking for the three.
"Okay... just so long as me and my brother and sister get to stay together," she said, hugging them close to her for emphasis.
Dawn and Vernon both simultaneously broke into happy grins, Dawn once again finding it hard not to coo at the cuteness of the three of them. They all excitedly spoke some more for nearly a half an hour before it was time for Dawn and Vernon to go. On their way out, Amanda assured them that the adoption process was going to be much quicker from that point on and that, in a few days, they'd be able to take their new children home with them.
It wasn't until they were back in the car, a safe and family-friendly SUV, with the windows rolled up, that Vernon let loose a howl of pure joy, excitement, and relief. He normally was very good at suppressing his urge to howl, but this was a rare exception. Before Dawn could say a word, she was scooped up into his arms as he held her tight and kissed her passionately. Their lips broke apart and they cuddled each other closely for a moment, sharing in their happiness.
"This is really happening," Vernon said, his tail a blur of excitement as he spoke; "we're really going to get to be parents!"
"I know, Puppy Love," Dawn said as she rested her head on his chest, his scent flooding her nostrils and bringing with it the usual comfort that it brought, "this is like a dream come true."
"Oh, wow... oh, Darlin'," Vernon said as a thought suddenly struck him, "we gotta lot to do now. We gotta get the rooms all ready for them, gotta double check to make sure that the house is safe for them gotta, we gotta," Vernon said faster and faster as he became more and more nervous. Dawn wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed the side of his muzzle, calming him instantly.
"Everything's going to be okay, Puppy, all we really have to do is clear out a third room, which will be simple, and get another bed. We already checked, and double-checked, and quadruple-checked to make sure that the house is a safe place for children," Dawn reminded him.
"Right... I just... I don't know how to describe what I'm feelin' right now, Darlin'," Vernon said, receiving another peck on the muzzle before Dawn slid back into her own seat and buckled her seat belt. Vernon did the same before turning the keys and starting up the car, soon driving them to the house they had bought two years ago in one of the residential areas of Savanah Central. It was a two-story building with a garage, a small front yard and a large backyard. There were three bathrooms, a master bedroom and five other rooms, not counting the kitchen and living room. Vernon had converted what was the former owner's personal study into a home office, having finished his internship at the city's architecture department and earned himself a full-time position.
Presently, he was working on a new library being built in Sahara Square, something that he was very excited about. Dawn had dedicated an entire room to writing, having published another two books and currently working on a third one, this one being a fantasy romance, which was a bit different from her other books. That had initially left the remaining rooms to be guest rooms or storage rooms, whatever was convenient. But when they had first decided to adopt, they started renting a storage unit, and transferred all of the excess items there.
Only after the car was safely in the garage and the two were inside did they let their excitement get the better of them once again, with Dawn being picked up and perched on Vernon's shoulder as he let loose another howl. She laughed and lightly smacked her hoof against his head.
"Vernon, how many times have I told you to stop doing this?" she asked, an excited giggle in her voice. Vernon just smiled slyly.
"And how many times do I have to remind you that you know you love it when I do this?" he asked back. They were brought out of their excitement by the ringtone coming from Vernon's pocket. He fished out his phone and confirmed that the caller was his mother. He set Dawn down before answering it.
"Hey there, Ma," he said.
"Hi Vernon, didja have any luck today with making me a grandma?" Audrey asked; while she knew when to be tactful, she sometimes chose to be blunt. In her desire to have one of her children finally give her grandpups, her default was usually bluntness.
"Actually... yes... we've got three pups that we're gunna be takin' in," Vernon said, wanting to add more, but the excited howl coming from the other end of the phone cutting off all further conversation. Dawn smiled, loving how excited her mother-in-law was at the news. Then her own phone started to buzz, and she checked to find that her own mother was calling, most likely to also ask about the adoption. Vernon and Dawn made eye contact, their joy apparent for anyone to see.
After further explaining the details to their parents, and another passion filled kiss, Vernon swept up Dawn into his arms and ran upstairs with her perched onto his shoulders. They came to a stop in the hall, both peering in to the open door immediately on their left. Aside from a small bed and dresser it was bare. But for a moment, to their hopeful eyes, they both shared a vision of a room with some toys scattered about, the sheets and quilt on the bed a rumpled mess. A true child's room.
"Vernon?" The ewe's voice grabbed the wolf's attention, and he turned to face Dawn.
"Yes, Darlin'?" he asked in his deep voice.
"We're really going to be parents." It was a statement, not a question, a tear in the corner of her eye. Vernon reached up, gently nudging aside her glasses, and wiped away the tear.
"It's really happenin', Lamb Chop, it really is," Vernon said. That earned him a tight embrace from his mate around his neck as he led the two of them to the bedroom. He sat down on their large circular bed, with Dawn slipping down into his lap, pulling his muzzle close so that their lips could meet. He wrapped his paws around her waist, letting her guide him. Once again, their phones started to buzz, interrupting the two, who gazed into each other's eyes and smiled.
"And that would be Gus callin'," Vernon said as he looked at his phone.
"Judy's calling too," Dawn said.
Rather than answering their phones, they laid down with one another, Vernon curling his body around Dawn, enjoying the scent of her, his tail thumping down on the mattress.
"That little pup seemed like she was pretty used to shielding the other two," Vernon said, thinking back to how Alice had continually stayed a little bit in front of Lily and Trevor.
"I know what you mean, Puppy," Dawn said, inhaling Vernon's scent and snuggling closer into his exposed chest fur, "she seems like a good big sister."
"The little lamb, Trevor," Dawn started after another moment of enjoying her wolf's presence, "I think that he's going to be quite the bookworm."
"Just like his new mother," Vernon's voice rumbled, his chest vibrating against her muzzle as he spoke. Vernon could feel Dawn's bright smile, even though her face was obscured.
"Lily," Dawn said, hesitating for a moment, "I don't know what species she is... but the poor dear just seemed so scared... I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her that everything is going to be alright."
"I know what ya mean, Darlin'," Vernon said as they moved a bit apart, their phones buzzing some more, which they both continued to ignore, just laying side by side and enjoying the comfort of each other. "I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to live in an orphanage, and on top of that, to not even know what you are. That couldn't have been easy."
Dawn reached out and took Vernon's paw into her hooves. "It can't have been easy for any of them. In fact, that theory that Amanda said someone had about Lily, the one about her being some kind of deformed sheep, even if it's true, that's not going to stop us from showering her with the same amount of love and attention as her brother and sister."
"Not one bit," Vernon confirmed, before their phones both buzzed again, both the bunny cop and the goat showing the same amount of persistence. With a simultaneous roll of their eyes, they both answered their friends' calls.
"Dawn!" came Judy's voice from the ewe's phone, "Is everything okay? How'd the interview go?"
"Everything's fine, Judy, better than fine, actually. We're going to be parents," Dawn said. There was a pause as Dawn let the information sink in, before she started to wonder if they had gotten disconnected. Then there was a loud squeal of pure joy that made Dawn concurrently smile and wince a little.
"Oh, sweet cheese and crackers, FINALLY!" Judy said.
"Hello there, Gus," Vernon said, while Dawn filled Judy in on the details.
"Hiya Vern, how'd it go?" the goat asked.
"Surprisingly better than any of the other times. Dawn and I'll be a ma and pa," he said, holding back a chuckle as he heard Gus let out an excited bleat.
"That's wonderful, Vern, so what's your new kid gunna be?" Gus asked on the other end.
"Well, we're going to be takin' in three pups," Vernon said.
"Three?" Gus asked, surprised. "Three kids? Were they havin' a sale?" Gus joked.
"No, but they were a package deal," Vernon explained, "they wouldn't be separated, not that we were gunna separate siblings, even adopted siblings like these three."
"Okay... so what are they?" Gus asked.
"Well, two little girls and a little boy. They are a wolf pup, and little lamb, and a... well, no one really knows what species she is, but she's just the cutest little mystery mammal."
"Oh really? Well congratulations, buddy," Gus said, meaning it, "I can't wait to meet your new kids."
"Dawn!" Judy said after she had been filled in on the details, "you're about to become a mommy!" The bunny practically squealed in delight.
"And they're hittin' the ground running on this whole parent-thing, it would seem," came the voice of Nick, whose muzzle with his classic smirk poked into view for Dawn to see.
"I know, three little kits, it'll probably be like a dream come true for them!" Judy said, turning to look up at Nick, a dreamy look in her eyes. "Really makes you think, huh, Slick?"
Nick's face suddenly lost its smirk, the expression on his muzzle becoming very uncomfortable.
"Uh.. wh-whaddya mean, Carrots?" Nick asked, tugging at the collar of his police uniform.
"Well, we could also help make a wonderful difference in the life of a-" Judy started, innocently, before the fox cut her off.
"Oops, didja hear that call on the radio? Looks like I'd better go take care of that!" he said, his face suddenly disappearing.
"Oh, that dumb fox," Dawn heard Judy mumble before the bunny smiled at her and offered yet another congratulation, clearly chasing after Nick.
"NICK! I don't know where you think you're going, but you-" Judy's voice could be heard before the call cut off. Dawn giggled at the antics of her dear friends, Vernon having heard some of what had transpired and rumbling out another deep chuckle of his own.
"I have a feeling that they're gunna be adoptin' their own little ones pretty soon, Darlin'," Vernon said as he set his phone on the nightstand, his conversation with Gus having ended a little while ago. He then pulled Dawn back into his embrace, his tail wagging again as they cuddled closely. "Twenty bucks says that they'll start looking by the end of the week."
"Oh, Puppy, don't be ridiculous," Dawn said as she looked up into Vernon's gaze, "the end of the month will be much more likely."
"Heh... y'know, Honey Lamb, just because we're already adoptin' doesn't mean we can't try to become parents the old fashioned way," Vernon suggested with a wink.
"True," Dawn said, pretending to consider this, "but I don't remember ever hearing about a wolf and a sheep interbreeding before."
"Doesn't sound like much of an excuse to not try to me, Darlin," Vernon said, his voice growing huskier.
"You make a very compelling argument, Puppy Love," Dawn said just before she removed her glasses and set them next to their phones on the nightstand.
And there we go, folks! The very first chapter of a brand new series! I hope that you enjoyed it so far, and will keep on enjoying the future chapters!