AN: Little Bear is referred to throughout the story as 'Little Bear' rather than 'the dog'. This is to reduce confusion as to which character events are happening to, since technically Little Bear didn't get his name until after the Circle took him in.

The Former Life of Little Bear

Every day, Little Bear would try to hide. Every day, he would be found. And every day, the boys who tormented him would treat him more horribly than the day before.

Today, he was hiding underneath one of the stalls in the marketplace that sold fabrics. This was a good hiding place, as the fabrics were draped over the table edge, leaving Little Bear in shadow. If he curled up small, in a corner, he hoped they wouldn't find him. He could see under the edges of the fabrics, and felt despair. As he sniffed the air, he could smell the scents of the approaching boys. How had they found him this time? Or was it just coincidence that they'd come down this street?

He could see their familiar shoes coming closer, and hear the boys' laughter. He tensed, ready to run as they came in front of him . . . and then past him! He relaxed but stayed completely still as they went laughing between the rest of the stalls in the street.

As he lifted his head to scent the air, he felt a pain in his tail. The boys' cruel laughs surrounded him as he was dragged back and lifted into the air by his tail. How did they get behind him? They chattered amongst each other as they carried him out from under the stall table and into a side alley. One of them grabbed his neck, and Little Bear yelped as he felt his flesh tear. Then he was dropped on the ground with the boys surrounding him.

Little Bear tried to run, but the boys reached out to kick him and throw stones at him, bruising him and making him bleed. He yelped at the extra pain, only to discover that that meant more kicks, cuts and bruises.

Looking around for a place to hide and not finding one better than against the wall, Little Bear cowered from the blows given him by the boys. Their laughter followed him as he tried to escape and they stopped him.

Another voice entered the sounds he could hear, an angry one, but different to the boys' voices. This one was female. Noticing that the attention of his attackers was distracted from him, Little Bear crept slowly away from his tormentors, so that the boys wouldn't notice his movement. More people turned up to the fight, but Little Bear was in too much pain to move any further. He shivered, unable to do anything else.

Hands reached out to him, but they were not hands he recognised. Looking up, he noticed that one of the newcomers, a girl had grabbed him, and then he was squashed in her arms. Squirming so he could see, Little Bear noticed that the fight had almost ended. Another girl and a new boy were falling back to stand in front of the girl that held him.

Now, something new was happening. Little Bear hadn't seen anything like this before. It was water, but it was spinning, and it was coming up behind the boys who'd hurt him. One of them turned and ran away, but the water picked up the other two and spun them, spitting them against the wall.

Now the water approached his defenders. Little Bear didn't want that to happen to these people – these people had been nice to him. He wriggled out of the girl's arms, then ran towards the spinning water, barking at it, warning it off. It didn't seem to understand, coming closer. Before it grabbed him, a new girl appeared, running in between him and the water. This time it stopped. The first girl came up next to the new one and picked Little Bear up on the way.

More people arrived, older ones this time. Somehow it seemed like they made the spinning water stop spinning. Whatever happened, the water calmed down and flowed away. Little Bear, exhausted, decided that the best thing he could do now was rest in the girl's arms. For the first time since he could remember, Little Bear felt safe.

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