“Be careful Bilbo, no wandering off!” Bungo was a Baggins through and through, he had only ever done one out of the ordinary thing in his life and that was to marry his wife Belladonna, the very same Belladonna who had a habit of wandering off herself. Bilbo, their son, was unfortunately gaining some of those habits. He would run off into the woods in search of elves and adventure.
Bungo personally thought that too much adventure upset one’s stomach.
“Oh do let him have some fun Bungo.” Belladonna laughed as Bilbo waved tripping over his own feet in his hurry to get to the Gamgees; their eldest Hamfast was Bilbo’s closet friend. “You know Ham won’t let him get too far.”
Bungo’s lips thinned but he nodded reluctantly; Hamfast was a smart lad, always looking out for Bilbo.
Bilbo grinned as he dragged Ham further into the woods, he was looking for fairies today, ‘Doc Brandybuck had sworn that there was no such thing and Bilbo was determined to prove him wrong. It was well known after all that the Tooks had fairy blood in them from Old Took’s dalliance with a fairy wife.
“Bilbo we’re getting quite far out.” Ham worried as they approached the edge of the woods and into Farmer Maggot’s farms and Bilbo rolled his eyes, Ham was a great friend and really very kind but he was an awful coward. He was much too afraid of his own shadow to ever really be a good adventure companion. But Bilbo wouldn’t think of letting Ham miss out on the chance to find fairies.
A sudden howling noise had them pulling up short; they knew only one thing that would howl. All fauntlings knew the stories about the large wolf attacks but they hadn’t been seen near the Shire in at least seventy years.
“Bilbo we should turn back.”
“Don’t be silly Ham! We’re on an adventure!” Bilbo hissed before sneaking forward towards the sound, it wasn’t long before they saw the cause of it.
Farmer Maggot was famous for hating poachers, and he often set traps around the edge of his pumpkin patch to dissuade thieves. There caught in a net that had fallen from a tree nearby was a wolf pup.
Its coat was a strange mix of browns, reds and golds and its snout was twisted in snarls as Bilbo got closer.
“Bilbo! Leave it! Farmer Maggot will kill it when he finds it! And good riddance too!” Ham squeaked from where he was hiding back in the trees. Bilbo ignored him.
The pup’s howling quietened the closer he got and finally only a low growl could be heard coming from the net.
“Hello there, it’s alright. I’m Bilbo.” The pup fell silent and watched Bilbo with glowing amber eyes. It really was a strange colour for a wolf. “I’m not going to hurt you, I promise.”
“What on earth are you doing Bilbo!? It’ll take your hand off!” Ham cried.
“Don’t be silly, it’s just a baby.” Bilbo said with all the confidence of youth.
He bent down slowly, like his Mama had showed him to do when they found an injured rabbit once in the woods. The wolf was watching him accusingly but he sat for a long while with his hand held out in reach of the pup’s nose. Finally the pup’s curiosity won over and it snuffled its nose into Bilbo’s palm. Bilbo grinned and carefully stroked its nose wary of the teeth, just because he wasn’t scared didn’t mean he was stupid.
“I’m just going to lift the net okay?” Bilbo moved ever slower until his hands were in the net, the pup’s eyes never left him as he gradually untangled its paws from the mesh and then after what felt like hours he pulled the net up and off of the pup.
To his surprise the cub didn’t move straight away, instead it stayed lying where it was on the floor. Now that the net wasn’t disfiguring its image Bilbo could see that something was wrong with it. Its head was slightly larger than seemed right and its paws seemed too big for its legs. It also had a long wound down its hind leg like another larger wolf had caught it in its jaws.
“Are you hurt?” He asked clucking his tongue softly; he couldn’t very well leave a baby here if it was hurt. It must have been forced out of its pack for its odd looks and had come to the Shire looking for food, Famer Maggots chickens were the best in Hobbiton if rumours were to be believed. “Ham! Come help me carry it!”
Hamfast looked like he would rather curse in front of his mother than ever go anywhere near the cub but after Bilbo called him a few more times he grew more brave. Surprisingly though, the cub started growling fiercely whenever Ham came within a few feet.
“It doesn’t like me.” Ham whimpered gratefully and Bilbo rolled his eyes, of course it didn’t. Bilbo could smell Ham’s fear with his nose; he could only imagine what the cub was smelling.
“Okay then! You go back to my Mama and get her to come here and help!” Bilbo said importantly. His mother always knew what to do and she would most definitely help. Ham nodded gratefully and ran away into the trees. Bilbo shook his head at his friend’s back before turning to the cub. “Don’t worry, he’s always like that.”
The cub growled softly, but it seemed to be more of an agreement that anything.
“Do you think you can move?” He asked gently stroking the cub’s side. It huffed and tried to climb to its feet and after a few tries managed to get its legs under it. Bilbo didn’t even think it odd that the cub could understand him; in a child’s mind all animals understood him.
The cub was bigger than it looked and when Bilbo stood it came to his hip, he was short for his age at seven but for once he was glad for it because it meant he could wrap his arms around the cub’s neck and hold it up when it stumbled.
“I live through these woods; my Mama is the best Mama in the Shire. She’ll get you better in no time. She always kisses my cuts when I get hurt and they feel better. I bet she’ll do the same to you!” The cub whined softly and pressed firmer against Bilbo’s side. “Don’t worry she’s really nice, and she comes with me on adventures sometimes because she’s been on real adventures! Not that my adventures aren’t real, but Mama went out of the Shire once, and she met elves! And a wizard! He promised to come for my next birthday and light fireworks for me, they’re really good! Old Took had them at his last birthday but I bet mine’ll be better!”
“Bilbo!?” Bilbo smiled as he heard his mother’s voice.
“Over here Mama!” He shouted loudly abruptly sitting down and letting the cub lean it’s head on his leg.
It didn’t take long for Belladonna to reach them and when she saw the creature resting against her son she stopped stock still, she had been frightened enough when Hamfast had come running into Bag End shouting about a wolf cub. This was no wolf, but a warg.
“Bilbo…” She said in a strangled voice and Bilbo looked up with a bright smile on his face.
“Mama!” He greeted before turning to the warg resting at his side. “See I told you Mama would come. Cub, this is Mama, Mama this is… I guess I don’t know its name. Oh wait, are you a boy cub or a girl cub?”
The warg snapped at Bilbo as he lifted its hind leg and Belladonna felt her heart leap to her throat but the warg didn’t even touch Bilbo; it was almost like watching a puppy scrapping with its littermate.
“Oh so you’re a girl cub. What shall I call you?” The cub snapped once more and Bilbo laughed. “How about Fang?”
The warg sniffed, seeming happy with her name and Belladonna finally snapped out of her shock long enough to take a few steps forward, stopping once more when ‘Fang’ growled. She slowly stooped down and held her hand out, inching closer and closer until finally the warg let her touch her flank.
“Bilbo… this isn’t a wolf.” She said softly, careful not to change her tone and Bilbo frowned at her in confusion. “She’s a warg.”
“Oh.” Bilbo said frowning down at Fang. “But I thought wargs were evil? Fang isn’t evil!”
“Bilbo…” Belladonna sighed and Bilbo glared at her.
“She’s not evil! She didn’t even scratch me! She’s just scared and hurt; like that time I stubbed my toe and yelled at you! You knew I didn’t mean it!” Bilbo cried tears filling his eyes as he hugged Fang’s neck. The cub didn’t even blink instead resting her large head against Bilbo’s shoulder. Belladonna couldn’t help but smile at her son, he was such a kind boy, and he still had no comprehension of danger. She had been the same at his age, although she never quite went so far as to adopt a warg cub.
“Okay then.” Belladonna said matter-of-factly slapping her hands against her thighs decisively. “There’s only thing for it then. Madam Fang, I would greatly appreciate if you would follow me and my son home so I can fix up your leg.”
Fang lifted her head and watched Belladonna with a wary amber eye before she nodded her head regally forcing herself shakily to her feet once more. Belladonna watched as her son scrabbled to his feet and kept his arms around the warg’s neck to hold her steady. Belladonna didn’t dare touch the warg herself and instead walked close by in case the creature had a sudden change of heart.
Even as young as Bilbo was, he would never forget the reaction their appearance caused. For the first few seconds it was as if he had gone deaf. It was the middle of the day so a lot of hobbits had just finished lunch and were making their way out of their holes for an afternoon soak in the sun on their front porches, so it was that almost the whole of Hobbiton turned to see young Bilbo Baggins and his mother exiting the woods flanking a warg pup.
The shouts of outrage soon followed the silence. Many of the older hobbits remembered the attacks by the wolves and few were willing to relive it, and their fear had imprinted itself in the minds of the young.
“Saving a wolf!”
“Well I never!”
“That’s not a wolf! It’s a thrice cursed Warg!”
“Those Baggins have always been an odd bunch but I never thought they were suicidal!”
Bilbo frowned at the comments but resolutely ignored them, Fang was leaning heavier against him now and he had to focus on not falling over from her weight.
They reach Bag End in what felt like the slowest time imaginable and thankfully Bungo had gone for a smoke at the Gamgees for there was no way that he would have allowed the warg into their home.
Belladona set about making a fire and boiling some water while Bilbo led Fang to lie down and get warm before rushing into the larder to get some of the leftover ham from last night’s dinner.
When all was done and Fang’s leg was bandaged Belladonna sat down in her armchair and watched her son carefully.
“Bilbo.” He turned to her grinning widely. “I am going to allow this warg to stay with us for as long as she needs to heal…”
“Thank you Mama-”
“No, I’m not finished.” She said sternly. “I will allow her to stay, and I will convince your father to do the same. However, if there is even the slightest hint of danger to you, or us, or any other hobbit in the Shire. I will not hesitate to kill her.”
Bilbo knew that his mother had been adventuring before, he had heard many of her stories, but he had never quite realised how dangerous she could be, how hard she had to become to survive in the world beyond the Shire. He nodded solemnly.
“I don’t think she’d hurt anyone, but okay Mama.” Bilbo said nodding emphatically and Belladonna smiled weakly at him, preparing to have numerous fights with her husband over this pup.