Quick author's note just to clarify that this chapter is a short introductory one, and that the rest of the work doesn't read like it. This particular chapter was designed to be somewhat philosophical, yet simple. The rest of the story reads normally. I should also note that the first third of this story was written in a heat-of-the-moment whim, back when I was a novice writer, so please excuse any wonkiness in quality you might encounter. The first 14 chapters are particularly guilty, which is why I encourage anyone who wants to jump to the true plot of the story with virtually no loss of context to start on chapter 15, "Old Habits". I only keep everything before then (which is mostly just romantic Wildehopps fluff with minimal plot) out of respect for those who enjoyed it. Regardless, I'm in the process of editing it all. I can assure you at the very least that the quality does improve drastically over time. This story certainly has a lot to it, and I hope you stick with me for what remains. The much higher quality sequel (When Night Falls) is also released, for those who'd like to check that out. I'd go so far as to say that it's written well enough so that even those who have sparsely/never read this story can enjoy it! Thanks for checking out When Instinct Falls, all the same! :)
Disclaimer: Zootopia and everything from it does not belong to me.
12:00 A.M - The witching hours.
Thousands of years ago, it would be the time when insignificant prey hid themselves from the glow of the moon; hid themselves from the fangs of the predator, vehemently searching for its next meal in total blackness.
But now, millennia later, things have changed.
Once, only the moon lit the vast expanses of their world once it past the reach of the sun. Now, the city they have wrought through rock and time stands as a testament; A challenge to those ancient ideals. At night the city gleams with the light of thousands of appliances, homes, and businesses. But this city stands for more than just a change in setting; But a change in heart, ideology, and perspective. During the old times, predator and prey mercilessly tore at one another beneath the blanket of darkness that was the night. But now - The city - Standing erect and shining with a luster incomparable to anything before it, says otherwise. Predator and prey live in harmony, peace, and cooperation. It boldly stated that anyone could be anything.
And what a lie that was.
Those who came to the city found out right away that this was merely a misnomer. You could only be what you are, they were told. They were expected. And those that stepped out of line; those that tried: They were looked down upon with disgust. Some with hate. Others with pity. The rest with a look palpable to that of disappointment.
The both of them were met with that and nothing else upon their entrance to this city. One looked at with revulsion and fear by all below it. Expected to be nothing more then a conniving swindler. Hustler. Thief in the shadows. The other, seen as a weak little thing - Nothing more than a morsel for some fanged superior to devour. The two of them met on opposite ends of the spectrum. Against the societal outlook, they became comrades. Then friends. And lastly, lovers. They believe that they had earned the right as well; through blood, sweat and tears. Any who viewed otherwise could feel free to express - The two of them didn't care. For roughly three and a half years following the conclusion of the Night-Howler case, they endured pressures from the outside. Those threats gradually lessened throughout that time as more and more citizens began accepting their relationship, siding with them. Forgiveness would follow - Admiration soon after. Soon enough, most citizens accepted the fact that their world has changed for the better. Inter-species relationships began popping up left and right. But none would forget the first. The two most unlikely animals to side with one another, much less adhere to a complex relationship: A fox and bunny, one born to shed the other's blood, the other born to flee and hide in fear from all that it saw as threats.
Oh, how the times have changed!
Now they strolled by one another, spoke with open-minded vigor about their thoughts, and expressed their love through one another's warm embrace. But all that aside, they had yet to indulge in a far more intimate ritual. Ever since their first loving acceptance, they both had wondered how this ritual in question would play out. Would they dare attempt it, in fear of themselves or fear of discrimination? For the longest time they simply wondered. These wonders ran rampant in their minds even greater after marriage followed. They pondered if it could even be done. Their mental questions were answered with silence, for neither truly knew the answer, but it mattered not, in the end...
For if they had to be the first to prove it, if only to themselves, then so be it - They would.
They loved one another greatly. Time had proven that much, at least. Society may not approve one way or another, but they didn't really care. To bend a knee before these ridiculous expectants would be to surrender to everything that they had worked so hard to fight against for the past three and a half years: Injustice, discrimination, racism.
They sought alms for their troubles. They sought for one another's warm embrace, yes, but far more intimate. The city they lived in called for it - Zootopia, where anyone could be anything. The two of them had spent the last three and a half years proving that statement true to the best of their abilities, both to themselves, and those around them, even their fellow colleagues at the ZPD. They believed that the both of them, perhaps more than anyone else, had the means to express this seemingly unalienable right.
After all... If anyone can be anything, then who says a fox and bunny couldn't become mates?