It was a warm summer’s day in Jasper Park. It had been five months since Kate and Humphrey’s unexpected trip to Idaho and the union of the western and eastern packs. As a result, the two packs remained in their respective territories since there were too many wolves for them all to live in one area. Garth, however, had moved over into the Western Pack to live with Lilly in the tall grass.
There was a small group of wolves from both packs who disagreed greatly with the marriage of the two alphas and omegas. It was a group made up of about ten wolves, led by one calling himself King, who were upset that such a long-standing pack law had been so simply and so willingly broken. Tensions between them and the rest of the wolves in the pack were small for the time being. However, Garth and Lilly were ridiculed from time-to-time by the group of wolves, but Kate and Humphrey received the brunt of the backlash and hate.
Winston and Eve had given their den atop the small cliff to Kate and Humphrey not long after the two had gotten married. Humphrey had been in it a couple of times before, but now that he was living in it, it felt strangely different.
Life with an alpha took some getting used to for Humphrey. Unlike himself, Kate could be a bit demanding sometimes, but that was part of why he loved her. She was kind, beautiful, and made him feel whole. She matched him so perfectly in some strange way despite them seeming like total opposites on the outside.
Kate was used to the fun-loving playfulness of an omega having grown up with Lilly, but Humphrey was something special. There was something he had, something he carried with him that she didn’t find in anyone else. Something that resonated with Kate and drew her to him.
His energy, his personality; it was what she looked forward to after a hard, stressful day. He always found a way to cheer her up and relieve the stress from her life if she was feeling down. He made her smile and laugh, and most importantly, he made her happy.
Before everything happened, she tried to deny it to herself, make herself believe it was never possible for them to be together and that they would only ever be just friends. But then they were taken away to Idaho and despite everything that was going on, Humphrey never stopped being himself, always trying to uplift the mood. Kate had found it annoying at first, that Humphrey wasn’t taking things as seriously as he should’ve. But as they spent more and more time together, she started to worry less and found herself having quite a bit of fun with him along the way and she finally realized that she really did love him.
The first few days they had started living together were strange. They’d been best friends since they were pups but being married and living in the same den together was a whole new way of life.
The very first day that they had the den to themselves, there had been an awkwardness in the air. With as much time as they had both spent there, Kate and Humphrey had never been in it alone together. It almost felt wrong for Humphrey. This was Kate’s den. He had only ever known it as that. But now it was also his den that he shared with her.
To Kate, it felt a little less strange. Humphrey had been there plenty of times before and she was pretty used to having him around. However, knowing that he would now be living with her made her a bit nervous. It was definitely going to take some getting used to.
Over the course of a few weeks, Kate and Humphrey slowly settled into their new life. Sometimes the ridicule from some of the other wolves was a bit much, but Kate and Humphrey didn’t let it bother them. They were finally together, something that was at one time nothing more than a far-off dream, and they weren’t about to let someone ruin it for them.
One day, everything suddenly took a massive turn for the two wolves. Kate woke up one morning and noticed that something felt off. She tried her best to figure out what was bothering her but ended up drawing a blank. The next day, she realized she felt a little bloated and from there, things only got stranger. Kate began to mysteriously put on weight, which she tried her best to deal with by running laps around the valley. And then one day, she utterly surprised Humphrey and he took note of it.
The two were relaxing in their den when Kate suddenly felt hungry. She stood up and began heading to the cave entrance.
“Where are you off to?” Humphrey asked.
“I’m hungry,” she simply replied. “I’m gonna go catch something.”
“Good luck,” Humphrey said back. “I haven’t seen many caribou around lately.”
“No, I’m not really feeling like caribou,” she told him casually.
At this comment, Humphrey looked at her a bit suspiciously.
“What?” she asked, laughing a little.
“Then, what do you feel like eating?” he asked slowly.
“I was thinking rabbit or something like that,” Kate replied.
Humphrey’s eyes went wide when she said this, and he gave her a very surprised look.
“Okay, who are you, and where’s the real Kate?” he asked.
“What are you talking about?”
“Kate,” Humphrey said, “you hate rabbit.”
“I mean…yeah,” she replied doubtfully. “It’s just weird. I’ve been craving a lot of strange food lately and I don’t know why.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Humphrey asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” she replied. “I’ve been really tired for the past week or so, among other things.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed,” Humphrey said. “Why don’t you come lay down and rest. I’ll go…get you a rabbit.”
Kate walked back over to him and laid down as he got up to go outside. She laughed at the thought of him trying to catch anything.
“You know you can’t hunt, Humphrey,” she said, smiling.
“Well then, you won’t be there to say, ‘I told you so’,” Humphrey replied jokingly before leaving.
The next day, while Humphrey was out logboarding with Salty, Mooch, and Shakey, Kate started to think hard about what could be going on with her. She was laying down in the den, her head laid flat on the cold stone ground, deep in thought.
At first, Kate had thought she might be sick, but that didn’t explain her sudden weight gain. She didn’t understand why that was happening, either. She was still a young, twenty-four-year-old wolf. She was nowhere near the age where this should start happening. Unless…
She lifted her head off the ground and looked at her slightly distended abdomen. She thought for a moment, considering everything she had done in the past few weeks. Then it finally clicked. Her eyes suddenly widened and filled with tears as she realized what was happening.
Humphrey came back around a half hour later to find Kate laying on the floor of the den. She had clearly been crying and he rushed over and laid down in front of her.
“Kate?” he asked. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“I know what’s going on with me.”
“What?” he asked.
“Humphrey,” she said, looking up at him, her eyes welling up with tears again, “I’m pregnant.”
Humphrey said nothing at first in response to the shocking news he had just received. His eyes widened as he looked at Kate, almost as if he was asking if it were true. She looked back and the smile of joy on her face told him it was.
Humphrey took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his rattled nerves.
“You need a minute?” Kate asked.
“No, no, I’m fine,” he said. “It’s just, well-“
“A lot to take in?” she finished. “Yeah, I know.”
“I-I-I don’t feel qualified,” Humphrey stammered nervously. “I don’t feel ready for that responsibility.”
“It’s okay, Humphrey,” she said. “I’m scared too. We’ve still got time to prepare.”
“Yeah, two months isn’t a whole lot of time,” he replied.
Kate paused for a moment, thinking about what they should do next.
“We should probably tell my parents,” she said.
“No, your mother’s gonna kill me if she finds out,” Humphrey protested.
“Do you remember what she did to me last time she thought I got you pregnant?”
“You were fine,” Kate said, casually.
“Because you were there to save me.”
“Humphrey, you’ll be fine,” Kate said again. “They deserve to know.”
“Alright, let’s go,” he said, sighing.
“Right now?” she asked, surprised.
“Yeah, let’s get this over with.”
Kate smiled happily as she stood up and followed Humphrey out of the den. They headed down into the rest of the territory to find Winston and Eve. It wasn’t hard to find the two and Kate and Humphrey nervously walked up to them.
“Kate, Humphrey,” Winston said when he saw them, “what are you two doing here?”
“Mom, Dad,” Kate said slowly, “there’s something I have to tell you. Something we have to tell you,” she emphasized when she saw Humphrey starting to shrink back.
“What is it?” Eve asked.
“Um, I’m, uh,” Kate stammered. “I’m…pregnant.”
Winston and Eve both looked over at Humphrey who smiled awkwardly and gave out a nervous laugh. There was a moment of silence and Kate tensely looked between her mother and Humphrey. But then Winston broke the tension when he smiled warmly.
“Jeez, you two, you’ve only been married for five months, slow down,” he joked. “You’re both still young, you can take your time.”
“You want some parental advice, from one mother to another?” Eve asked. “Take it slowly. Having pups is the one thing no one can prepare you for. Now you two go home and relax. We’ll let everyone else know.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Kate said before she and Humphrey started heading back to their den.
“And Humphrey,” Winston called, “you better take good care of her.”
“I will,” Humphrey quickly replied.
The day was almost over when they got back and the two laid down next to each other and began discussing what the next few months of their lives would look like.
“I’m gonna be unable to hunt pretty soon,” Kate said, “and the hunting party can’t afford to be down a wolf right now. Which means you’re gonna have to take my place.”
“What?” Humphrey said, confused. “Me? I can’t hunt, I’m not an alpha.”
“Garth can help you learn,” Kate suggested. “He can be your wingman during hunts.”
“Okay, Garth and I didn’t exactly get off on the right foot,” Humphrey said.
“Then it’s time you two started playing nice,” she replied, a bit sternly. “He’s your brother-in-law now, Humphrey, you guys need to get along.”
Humphrey suddenly felt guilty and it showed on his face.
“Come on, Humphrey, please?” Kate continued. “I need you to support me on this. I need you on my side right now more than ever.”
“You’re right,” Humphrey said, apologetically. “I’m sorry.”
“We’ll go see them tomorrow,” Kate told him, laying her head down. “Just get some rest.”
As the next day carried on, Kate and Humphrey left their den to go and talk to Garth and Lilly out in the tall grass. The two were very cautious when they arrived. Even though they didn’t know exactly why Garth and Lilly had chosen to live in the tall grass, they had some pretty good guesses and they didn’t want to interrupt anything.
“Garth!” Kate called out. “Lilly!”
“You guys busy or-“ Humphrey asked.
“No, we’re good,” came Garth’s voice.
“Pft! How can you guys stand to live here?” Humphrey asked as he blew some of the blades of grass out of his face. “You can barely see in all this.”
Kate and Humphrey emerged from the forest of grass to find themselves in a pretty big open area where Garth and Lilly had padded down the grass to create a strange den of sorts.
“It’s not so bad once you pad it down a bit,” Garth replied.
“Hey, sis!” Kate said happily as she and Lilly gave each other a quick neck hug.
“We heard about your pregnancy,” Lilly replied. “Congratulations, guys.”
“Well, it doesn’t exactly feel like winning the lottery,” Humphrey commented. “A piece of advice; take your time to get settled first.”
“So, what are you guys doing here?” Lilly asked.
“We could use your help,” Kate replied.
“Sure,” Garth said, “anything.”
“Well, Humphrey and I were talking-“
“Oh, here we go,” Humphrey said dreadfully.
Kate stopped and jabbed him in the side with her elbow.
“Anyway,” she continued, “I’m gonna be off the hunting team, and with the pack still coming off the back end of the food crisis, we can’t afford to be down a wolf. So, Humphrey is going to take my place for a bit.”
Garth and Lilly looked at each other in surprise after hearing this.
“And we figured you could train him, Garth,” Kate finished.
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Garth replied. “I’d be happy to. Does Winston know?”
“I was planning on telling him right after we came to see you guys,” Kate said.
“I’ll come with,” Lilly offered. “It’s been a while since we’ve had some alone time to talk.”
The four of them split up, Kate and Lilly going off to find Winston, and Humphrey and Garth heading toward the valley.
“Good luck, Humphrey!” Lilly called behind her as she walked away with Kate.
Humphrey tried to smile positively but Garth could tell he was nervous.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll go easy on you.”
“Thanks,” Humphrey replied, a bit sarcastically.
“And besides, it’s only for two months,” Garth said. “Not much can happen in two months.”
“Really, because last I looked, Kate and I took an entire trip to Idaho and back in four days,” Humphrey replied.
“You will be perfectly fine, Humphrey,” Garth reassured him. “I’ll be shadowing you the whole time.”
Over the next two weeks, Garth slowly and patiently trained the new alpha. At first, Winston had been against the idea, but he had learned to trust Kate’s judgement, so he eventually agreed. For two weeks, Garth and Humphrey trained hard. Unsurprisingly, Humphrey was not very good at first. The high endurance running was something unfamiliar to him. Sure, he was fast, he was a wolf after all, but even for a wolf, this was tiring. As the need for food grew again, Humphrey became a temporary alpha in training of sorts.
Three days after being accepted into the hunting party, Humphrey was finally put to the test as the group set out on their first hunt. They left in the early morning, another thing Humphrey was not a fan of as he usually slept until noon.
Garth stayed by his side the entire time, just as he had promised, watching Humphrey and making sure he was doing okay. The hunt was a fairly simple one and Humphrey didn’t have too much trouble. They easily found the caribou and Garth led Humphrey around to cut it off rather than letting him run after it. In the end, it was a success and the group returned to the pack with their kill.
Unfortunately, with Humphrey’s acceptance as an alpha and a member of the hunting party, tensions between King’s wolves and the rest of the pack grew even higher. One day, the rising tensions grew to a point where a line was nearly crossed.
Humphrey was minding his own business, wandering around the pack when he was suddenly and harshly confronted by the wolves.
“Hey, you!” King shouted at Humphrey. “Omega!”
Humphrey stopped and looked at the group of approaching wolves.
“Where do you get off just joining the hunting party like that?” King demanded loudly. “You have no right to hunt beside a true alpha.”
The group slowly advanced on Humphrey, backing him up against a cliffside.
“You have no right to be called an alpha.”
Humphrey hit the back of the cliff and stopped. He instinctively looked behind him at the cliff, but then turned and looked back at the wolves when they started viciously growling at him.
Humphrey crouched back in fear, shrinking back against the side of the cliff, trying desperately to get farther back than he could. His ears were flat against the back of his head and his eyes were wide with terror.
Humphrey looked over in the direction the voice had come from and saw Garth standing behind the wolves. They stopped advancing on Humphrey and turned around to face Garth.
“Is there a problem here?” Garth asked sternly.
“No,” King said a bit aggressively before walking away with his wolves following him.
But first he turned his head back to Humphrey, who looked back at him fearfully.
“This isn’t over, omega,” he growled before walking away.
Garth watched as they left before walking up to Humphrey.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
Humphrey said nothing, only taking many deep breaths of terrified relief. He then silently walked up to Garth and put his head around Garth’s neck in an extremely grateful hug. Humphrey quickly pulled away and slowly went back to his normal self.
“Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean for it to get weird, I just-“
“It’s okay, Humphrey,” Garth replied, laughing a little. “I told you, I’d be your wingman through all of this. That includes the ridicule that comes with it. I know these guys can be harsh, but I promise, as long as I’m around, they will not lay one tooth or claw on you. I promised Kate I’d keep you safe and I don’t plan on breaking it.”
About a month after Humphrey’s first hunt, Kate was drawing near the end of her pregnancy. In that time, Humphrey had become a pretty good hunter and had even gotten the chance to pull down a couple of the caribou they had caught. However, this only made King and his wolves even more upset.
And then the day came. It was a peaceful afternoon in mid-autumn. Humphrey had just returned from another hunt and went up to his den to check on Kate. Almost as soon as he arrived, she started going into labor and not long after, she had given birth to three pups, all mere minutes apart.
Two of them were males, the other was a female. The eldest they had named Stinky, as his nose had begun twitching the moment he was born.
The middle pup, the female, they named Claudette. The youngest pup was born smaller than his siblings. He was a runt, but Kate and Humphrey still loved him, and didn’t care if he was different, so Runt is what they named him.
Throughout the course of the day, most of the pack went to Kate and Humphrey’s den to see the new pups. All but King’s group of wolves, whose anger only rose even more in light of the event. The next day, Humphrey was unfortunate enough to run into them again. Once again, they cornered him against the back wall of a cliff.
“Well, this feels vaguely familiar,” King taunted, his wolves growling behind him. “I told you this wasn’t over. And now that Garth isn’t here to save you, this is going to be much easier.”
He viciously bared his teeth and leapt at Humphrey, jaws open wide and paws outstretched. Humphrey’s entire body suddenly tensed. He shrunk back, resembling a helpless pup confronted by a predator.
He closed his eyes tight, his snout wrinkled up, and his ears laid down on the back of his head as he flinched and turned his head away in fear. Time seemed to slow as Humphrey braced himself for the feeling of the wolf’s sharp teeth tearing into his throat and his claws ripping into the flesh of his abdomen.
But nothing happened. As Humphrey prepared for the end, he suddenly heard a sharp, high-pitched yelp followed by a hard thud. Humphrey slowly opened his eyes and was shocked to see Garth standing in front of him with King laying on the ground. As King slowly stood back up, Garth turned and looked at Humphrey.
“Not one tooth or claw,” he reminded him.
It wasn’t long before Winston and a few other wolves showed up and after Garth explained what had happened, Winston banished King and his wolves on the spot. As King and his now exiled group of wolves walked off into the forest, Winston turned to Humphrey.
“Humphrey,” he said, “I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that you are officially relieved from your responsibilities as an alpha.”
Humphrey released all of the tension in his body with a large sigh before heading toward his den to spend time with his new family.
One cool night, about a year later, Kate and Humphrey were on their way back to their den. It was beautiful out. The sky was clear and the moon full and bright. And Humphrey was being his normal, playfully persistent self.
“Come on Kate. I’m just asking you to howl at the moon with me,” he pressed. “I mean…just look at it.”
“Humphrey, I’ve got things to do,” Kate replied as they crossed over a small crevice on a fallen tree.
“Pft, like what?” he asked.
“Well, let’s see,” she said, beginning to rattle off her to-do list, “tracking the caribou, checking the borders, survival class with the pups-“
“Boring!” Humphrey interrupted, jumping in front of her. “You so need some fun.”
He cracked his lovable smile at her, hoping that might change her mind. But she just blew him off and leapt past him. Humphrey looked back at her and smiled, knowing exactly how to get to her when she was like this.
He lifted his head into the air and let out a long, harmonious howl that stopped Kate in her tracks. The fur on her back stood up and she turned and looked at him with a somewhat blushing smile on her face.
He began dancing around on the log, trying to help relieve some of her stress when he suddenly lost his footing.
“Humphrey,” Kate said, trying to warn him, but it was too late.
He slipped off the log and fell the short distance to the ground below.
Kate rushed back across the log and looked down at him.
“Humphrey?” she asked.
“I’m okay!” he called up.
“That was fun,” Kate said, a smile spreading across her face.
“Uh, I was-I meant to do that.”