Love for Leo and Trouble for Tigger.
Simba and Rowena lay together, surfacing slowly from a peaceful night’s sleep. Warm and contented, they drifted to full consciousness. Simba felt Rowena’s paw holding his and smiled to himself.
“I love her so much,” he thought. Simba smiled as Rowena’s paw tightened round his as she woke.
“Good Morning,” Rowena yawned. Simba kissed her nose.
“How are you feeling?” Simba asked Rowena. Rowena smiled:
“Okay thanks,” she replied, returning his kiss. Simba smiled as Rowena began to stroke his paws.
Meanwhile, Nala and Leo lay together, Nala feeling lost after the death of her own cub. Nala looked at Leo, examining him from his pinkie black nose to his pinkie black paw pads, taking in dirty brown fur and ill defined stripes on his body, to the spotted soles of his paws. Leo smiled and moved closer to Nala as she touched his paw with hers.
“I love your paws Leo,” Nala said. Leo smiled and rolled onto his side, letting Nala take each one of his paws in hers. Nala examined each one of Leo’s paws with care, both by sight and touch. Leo purred as Nala’s paws took his, curling his toes round hers at every opportunity he had, much to Nala’s amusement.
“You are so gentle Nala,” Leo purred. Nala, choked up by emotions she felt from Leo and felt herself, just nodded. Nala examined each one of Leo’s paws with infinite care, grinning as he curled his toes, the spots on the soles of his paws disappearing in folds of pinkie black paw pad. Nala massaged the bunched pads of one forepaw, working her toes into the pads to try and relax the clenched paw. Leo mewed with pleasure, slowly relaxing the paw she was working hard on. Nala lifted the slightly tense paw with its curled toes and kissed the bunched pads, Leo smiling and relaxing the kissed paw.
“I love that,” he mewed. Fleur and Samson watched Nala and Leo’s interaction, Samson smiling at the good progress Nala was making accepting Leo. Theo had decided to keep away so Nala could have total emersion with Leo, and his plan was working. Even so, Theo watched using the cameras, zooming in on Nala and Leo, examining Leo as closely as Nala was, and even examining his paw pads when Nala did. Theo loved Leo with everything he had, and felt an uncontrollable need to hug him as he watched. Curling his toes into the rug he was lying on, Theo fought down the urge to run to Leo and embrace him. The next thing Theo knew, he was downstairs, and racing into fleur and Samson’s lie up. Nala, seeing him, drew back from where she’d been stroking Leo’s paws.
“I know what he wants,” Leo said. Theo slowed his canter to a walk and looked ashamed.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I was watching, and I wanted to hug Leo. The impulse was so strong I tried to stop myself, but then I found myself down here.”
“Come, hug me, stroke my paws,” Leo said. Theo did as Leo asked; loving him with all the love he had for cubs. Theo was just getting down to stroking Leo’s paws when a lioness ran into the lie up with Simba hot on her tail, throwing herself down onto the rug in a heap of flailing paws and tail.
“Ajia, stop!” Simba yelled. Samson growled as he heard the name and crouched, ready to attack.
“No Samson, no! Please!” Ajia begged, “I come in peace, I’m no threat! I need help!”
“After what you did to us?” Theo asked crossly, “you deserve to die and be buried deeply!”
“No, please no!” Ajia begged, “I have left Nuru, he’s awful, going after tigresses now too, he, he had his way with a tigress while she was weak from illness, I saw him do it! He, he did unspeakable things to a Royal white tigress. So I ran, what he’d done horrified me! I know I attacked you, but Nuru is worse, much worse! I will do anything to show how sorry I am for what I did to Nala and to your community! Please! Samson, Simba Kizungu, please help me!” Simba looked down at Ajia now prostrate at his feet. Samson drew back a paw to kick Ajia in the shoulder, but Simba looked at him and he didn’t carry out the act.
“Now give me your paw Ajia,” Simba said. Ajia complied, giving Simba her right forepaw. Simba felt damp pads and tense toes.
“Now tell me what happened, in detail Ajia. Relate to me the whole thing, everything you saw Nuru doing to that tigress. I will know if you’re telling lies.” Ajia told him, hard though it was for her.
“The tigress, Tess her name was, was ill from an infection in a wounded paw. She lay tired and weak in her enclosure as she had for weeks, the Safari park vets giving her attention every day. I had refused to mate with Nuru since the fight here, and he’d given up asking me because I’d got violent with him once or twice, and he’s a wimp if really challenged. I didn’t care if I lived or died during those challenges, and he knew it, so he left me. Nuru knows most lionesses hold their own lives dear and will submit to his will rather than fight him, but I didn’t submit. I didn’t care if I lived or died in that place.”
“You care now though,” Samson replied, “you begged me not to kill you here and now, so why the change?”
“I hate that place and I hate Nuru,” was Ajia’s response. “In those situations, after all I’d been through, I don’t think I cared if I lived or died. Now though, now I’m here, I want to live, because I could have a life here.”
“Carry on with your tale,” Simba said.
“Well, Nuru ventured out of his enclosure one night, and went over to Tess’s enclosure. Climbing the outer fence, he leapt the electrified inner fence and landed on soft paws on the other side. He crept up to Tess, who liked to sleep in the open with her paw into the wind to soothe the pain it still gave her. It was then, then that I saw as well as heard the attack. Nuru, he, he leapt upon Tess, pinning her down and straddling her! He had his way with her, Tess screaming and begging for him to stop. She tried to defend herself, but she didn’t get far with Nuru who was bigger and stronger than her.”
“Why did you let it happen?” Simba asked, “Why did you not try to help poor Tess.”
“I was too scared, despite my outward bravery, I was terrified Simba! I, I must admit something now. During the confusion of the attack, I ran for my life. I escaped.”
“So you used Tess’s misfortune to your advantage?” Simba asked, though he knew the answer.
“I suppose I did,” Ajia said sadly.
“You shall die for this!” Samson yelled, you will die for not helping Tess and for using her misfortune as a means of escape! You are a truly horrid lioness!” Ajia shook with fear as Simba dropped her paw.
“You speak the truth, but you tell a despicable tale! You are as bad as Nuru Ajia, if not worse. Nuru took advantage of a tigress’s weakened state and so did you! I cannot put my disgust at your actions into words! You will die, die I tell you, and now too!” Simba leapt on top of Ajia, suffocating her with a perfect death hold. Samson wiped his eyes with his paw.
“We must find that poor tigress,” he choked, “I don’t care how long it takes, we must find her.” Fleur pricked her ears.
“Listen!” She said sharply. Indeed, there was the sound of dragging paws, three good, but tired paws, and one injured paw, which dragged almost uselessly. The sound came closer, down the passage from the outside door leading to the garden. Panting and sobbing could also be heard.
“I think the white tigress has come to us,” Simba said, as a bedraggled white tigress dragged herself into the room, her paws leaving muddy prints on the carpet. Samson made the mistake of looking into her eyes, the expression in them reducing him to tears. Unable to cope, he turned and left the room.
“I come in peace,” the distraught tigress whimpered, “Please, please help me!”
“We will help you Dear Tess,” Samson said, coming back into the room. Tess looked at him.
“You left the room because of what you saw in my eyes,” Tess said to the lion. Samson hid his eyes behind a paw.
“I’m sorry,” he sniffed.
“No Samson, I know you’re name’s Samson, for I heard Nuru and Ajia talking. You were right to be upset. What happened to me is worth crying over. I want to cry buckets and I’ve hung on so long, so long. Samson went to the muddy white tigress and embraced her, both tigress and lion crying into each other’s fur.
“The great wild Samson is not really as hard as he wants others to think,” Tess said when her tears dried. Fleur smiled:
“You aren’t the only one to learn that,” fleur said. Tess looked at her.
“What a fantastic big cat!” She thought, staring at fleur from her nose to her paw pads, which were just visible as she was lying down. Tess drank in Fleur’s appearance. Fleur smiled as Tess, mesmerised, padded over to her and touched her shoulder with her paw. Tess even touched the pads of one of Fleur’s hind paws. Fleur smiled and curled the toes of her right hind paw round those of Tess’s right forepaw. Tess smiled broadly, tugging playfully at her trapped paw, fleur holding on tightly to her toes with hers.
“I love that,” Tess said, her eyes alight with delight, the toes of her right forepaw still held in Fleur’s, “I have almost forgotten my pain,” Tess said, “this contact is so wonderful!” Samson smiled through his tears.
“We will help you Tess,” he sniffed, “if, if you have cubs from your encounter with Nuru, we will help look after them, but we will also look after you too. With all the love we have to give, we will help you.” Simba smiled and padded over to Tess, kissing her on her mud spattered right cheek. Tess smiled and Fleur released her paw. Tess then rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air. The carpet was now stained with mud, but noone cared as long as Tess was okay. Leo jumped to his paws and ran to Tess, grabbing a paw and tickling it, much to her delight and amusement.
“I love your paws and your personality,” he mewed. Tess kissed Leo’s nose and held his hairy paws in hers. By the time she’d finished playing with Leo’s paws, they were as muddy as her own. Fleur and Leo led Tess to the bathroom where all three got into the bathtub. Splashing about, fleur washed Tess, then Leo washed Tess, then Tess washed fleur, then Leo. Leo loved Tess’s touch, revelling in paw contact with her.
“If you have your cubs,” Leo said, holding onto her forepaws, “please Tess, let me be there and help you.” Tess kissed Leo and whispered to him that she would have her cubs if he would help her look after them.
“I will, I will, and so will my friend Silver,” Leo said. He then asked a sensitive question.
“When did Nuru have his way with you?” He asked, gently stroking her paws.
“It was two days ago,” Tess mewed, “if I have the cubs, it will be at least ten weeks from now.” Leo kissed Tess’s wet nose and Tess lifted a paw from the water, Leo kissing the dripping pads.
Once they’d dried themselves, they returned to the lie up, Ajia’s body having been removed and the rugs and carpet having been cleaned or changed. Tess settled down, her injured paw soothed by the massage and by a plant Fleur had given her to eat.
It was then Afua padded in, Saw Tess and smiled at her.
“Hi Tess,” Afua said, padding over to the tigress and hugging her, “what brings you here?”
“An event that will shock and upset you,” Nala said to Afua. Afua took Tess’s good forepaw and held it.
“Nuru has something to do with this,” he said, “I can feel his presence.” Tess flinched, her eyes telling Afua everything he wanted to know.
“I’ll murder him!” Afua yelled.
“No you won’t,” Samson snarled, “you will let the subject alone, and we will help Tess have her cubs.”
“But, but, they will be ligers!” Afua yelled.
“They will be two parts of what I am,” Leo mewed, “I know that, so if you can’t love them, I will!” Afua stepped back slightly at the force of Leo’s anger.
“Hey, Leo, that’s uncalled for!” He mewed.
“No it’s not,” Leo mewed, “Tess is young, she’s not had cubs before, and this happens to her!” Tess winced as the information came out into the light of day.
“Yes, yes Leo,” she sniffed, “this is true. Now, now I’m going to have Nuru’s cubs! I will have them and try, trying to love them.” Afua looked at Tess, and then covered his eyes with a paw.
“I’m sorry,” he mewed. Tess looked at Leo.
“Please, please,” she begged, “tell me Leo, will you help me? Will you help me give birth to the cubs and look after them? Will you remind me when I am cursing them because of their heritage that they are cubs and that the circumstances their birth is not their fault? Please, I am asking you now because I am of sane mind; please guide me through it so I can truly love my cubs.” Leo heard her plea and took her paw.
“I will help you have your cubs; I will even protect them from you if you go mad with rage.” Tess shook her paw free from his, embraced him tightly and burst into tears.
Snowy soon got to hear of Tess’s presence and learned quickly of her story. Angered, she vowed to look after the cubs as carefully as Leo was going to.
Silver, Ellie and Blackie’s cub soon learned of Leo’s adoption of Tess and her yet unborn cubs. Silver was touched by Leo’s love for the white tigress and her unborn cubs. She watched Leo and Tess without interfering in their business, feeling she had nothing to contribute. She knew it was Leo himself that had helped Ellie give birth to her. Silver remembered the long haired cub helping her mother birth her brothers and sisters.
Over the next few weeks Tess grew heavy with cub, weeks in which Leo was hardly away from her side. When she went into labour Leo was there.
Tess’s labour started one dark night. The tigress unsure of what was happening to her, despite all fleur had told her, was sure she would have freaked out if Leo hadn’t been there to soothe her. Tess padded round the lie up, occasionally stopping to bounce on her toes and squeal with pain, or beat the rug with her paws and roar with discomfort. Very soon she had to sit down during contractions, her toes curled and teeth clenched as she wailed and roared with pain. Tess ended each contraction by wriggling convulsively.
“Can I help?” Leo asked. Tess panted and pawed at the rug she was standing on, the toes of three paws curled into the rug while she pawed desperately with the fourth paw, her recently healed forepaw.
“Come and be with me Leo, feel me wriggle and hear me pant and roar, please!” Tess gasped. Leo padded round with Tess, holding one of her sweat soaked forepaws as she stumbled round, then as she sat down, so did he, Tess panting and gripping the rug with her toes, Leo following her example, both Tess and Leo groaning and roaring, Leo encouraging Tess to express her pain and emotions. Leo stamped his forepaws, Tess following his example.
“This feels so good!” Tess panted, “You urging me to express myself helps me a lot Leo! Do it again, do it again! Make me lose my inhibitions!” Leo tried to imagine Tess’s pain, having spoken to Fleur and Snowy about labour and what contractions felt like, as well as what the urge to bear down against a cub felt like. He tried to imagine having the contractions as Tess had them. He encouraged her by stamping his paws and moaning with imagined pain as Tess moaned and wriggled as her cubs forced their way into the world. Between the contractions Tess and Leo returned to pacing. Then, suddenly Tess lay down, growling and whimpering as the birth of her cubs drew closer. Leo watched Tess straining and pushing as she held onto his forepaws and crushed them from time to time. Tess threw herself about as her cubs moved lower down and closer to the outside world. Crying with pain and fear, Tess pushed and strained with everything she had, her toes gripping the rug and Leo’s paws. Leo watched Tess’s tail as it strained out of the path of a set of tiny paws as she pushed against her first cub.
“One cub on its way! Tess screamed,” Catch it Leo! Pull the cub if you need to!” Leo shuffled to Tess’s tail, touching her with one paw the whole way. He ran his paw down her right hind leg to the pads of her right hind paw and squeezed her toes as he got into position behind his new friend as he and she experienced one of the most wonderful, but most intimate and vulnerable moments in any lifetime. Tess, feeling Leo’s presence, put her soul into pushing the first cub into the world. Leo caught the cub as Tess strained and panted during contractions.
“The cub’s out, one cub born and it’s healthy!” Leo yelled. Tess yelled with triumph!
“One more to go, at least one more!” She panted, settling down to delivering her second cub. Squealing and growling, straining and wriggling, Tess gave birth to her second cub, Leo alternately stroking her hind; paws and checking on the emerging cub. He gently guided the cub out into the world and held it tenderly. It was then he realised the cub wasn’t breathing. He gently laid the cub down and opened its mouth with gentle care, hoping Tess was still busy coming down from labour and wouldn’t catch on to the crisis.
“What’s happening?” Tess asked, panting as she came down from birthing two cubs.
“it’s going to be okay,” Leo said, breathing gently into the lifeless cub’s mouth and nose, feeling the tiny chest rise and fall beneath the toes of one carefully placed forepaw. Tess, exhausted, watched out of the corner of her eye as Leo fought for her cub’s life.
“My first cub’s okay, but my second cubs not, is that it?” Tess asked, wriggling and shuffling round, pushing with her hind and pulling with her forepaws to get herself into a position to watch and hopefully help. She saw Leo breathing into the mouth of her second cub. As Tess watched, unable to help as the enormity of the situation hit her, she saw a lifeless cub seemingly brought back from the dead. The cub coughed, spat and began to breathe for itself. Leo massaged the cub’s chest, getting the tiny creature to cough up all the fluid in its lungs. The cub told him when it was ready to be left alone, bringing huge paws up to fend off Leo’s paw. Tess watched her second cub’s struggle for life as her first cub drank from her milk supply. Leo watched the cub as it rolled over onto its chest and crawled towards its mum, finding the milk for itself.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just done,” Leo cried, the tension leaving him in a rush. Tess beckoned to Leo, and then pulled him down beside her.
“Take a good look at your cubs, for they’re yours, yours because you care about them, about me, about all of us. Love me, love my cubs Leo!” Tess pleaded. Leo hugged Tess tightly.
“I love you and your cubs Tess!” He sobbed, “I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life before!” Tess kissed Leo’s nose. Leo looked down to find their first born cub holding his left forepaw in both of its large forepaws.
“I love you my cub,” Leo said with sincerity and warmth. Tess smiled and hugged Leo tightly.
“I love you and our cubs Tess!” Leo said softly. Tess nuzzled his ear:
“I love you Leo, and so do my cubs,” she whispered, “thank you dear, dear sweet Leo.” Leo cried into the white tigress’s fur.
“I love you Tess. I have grown to love you with all my heart during our time together over these last few weeks. I love you! I love you so much Tess!” The tigress smiled.
“I thought I loved you before my labour began,” she said, “but now, now, Leo, dear sweet Leo, my friend, my dear friend, I know I love you with all my being, my paws, my mind, my heart and soul. Please, love me and my cubs with all your heart and soul, if you can.”
“Please Tess, try to love your cubs too,” Leo begged. Tess smiled:
“I will try,” she said, “for if you love my cubs, how can I not love them too?” Leo smiled and kissed her nose and the toes of both her forepaws.
“I want my nose and forepaws kissed too!” Tess’s second cub mewed. Leo laughed and kissed the cub’s nose and the toes and pads of its large rather leonine forepaws.
“Do you want your paws kissed too little one?” Leo asked the first born cub.
“Yes please,” it mewed. Leo obliged, and the cub threw its paws round his neck as best it could, Leo weeping into the tiny creature’s long fur coat.
“I’ll feed these cubs and then try getting to my paws,” Tess mewed. She fed her cubs, and very gently got to her feet, Leo expertly picking up one cub, Tess picking up the other. Leo had the smaller cub, Tess the larger one. Their coats dark with sweat and paws hot from curling and stretching their toes for more than five hours, Tess and Leo padded stiffly from the den. Theo met them in the passage, smiling as he saw the two cubs being carried by their parents.
“I saw and heard everything,” he mewed. Tess looked confused, and Theo explained about the Cameras and microphones. Tess knew about cameras, the bit about the microphones she did not understand, but the lion looked gentle enough.
“I felt safe and protected with Leo in there helping me,” Tess mewed, speaking round the scruff of the neck of the cub she carried. The cub’s body dangled limply from its mother’s mouth, as cubs instinctively had for generations.
“Your cubs are lovely Leo, Tess,” Theo mewed. Leo set down the cub he was carrying before he choked on tears.
“Thanks,” he cried. Theo padded up to him and kissed his nose, before kissing the nose of the cub Leo had set down, then padding over to the cub Tess was carrying and kissing the tiny creature’s nose.
“Come to Samson’s lie up,” Simba said as he padded towards the little group, “and there, there,” he couldn’t finish; the memory of what he’d just watched making him tearful.
“Come,” he sniffed, “come to the lie up.” Leo and ~Tess followed, Leo picking up the cub he’d set down, the cub dangling from his mouth once more.
Entering Samson’s lie up, Leo and Tess met the long haired lion, who, by the expression on his face, had just viewed the video of the birth of Tess’s cubs.
“A more beautiful thing I’ve not seen for a long time,” the lion said. Tess smiled.
“It was beautiful; every second of my labour was wonderful, for Leo was so gentle with me and my cubs.” Leo thought back on everything that had taken place over the last few hours and agreed, it had been a beautiful time, if a little noisy and sweat soaked, but yes, it had been a beautiful time, and one he’d never forget.
“I’ve just heard Leo’s been helping a tigress have her cubs!” Perdy yelled barrelling into the lie up.
“Yes,” fleur replied, “he has.” Perdy shot her a look that would have killed her.
“Oh,” the female snow leopard said, staring hard at Tess and Leo who still looked tired and dishevelled from their experience, “well, that’s a real case of beauty meeting the beast isn’t it.” Leo growled at the snow leopard, his claws extending in anger.
“You shut your mouth!” He snarled.
“Big bad Leo!” Perdy teased, she hated the cross bred cat, loathing fleur for mating with Samson.
“Don’t push me too far,” Leo warned.
“You couldn’t hurt a fly!” Perdy goaded. Leo suddenly launched himself at Perdy, his claws digging into her shoulder and teeth biting her nose! Perdy squealed and begged for mercy as the cross bred cat with the anger and instinct of three defended his family! Perdy’s face was ripped by teeth and claws, Samson doing nothing to stop the confrontation.
“Okay, okay!” Perdy wailed, “You’ve made your point!”
“What a horrid creature you are!” Tess said to Perdy, back handing her across her mouth with her paw. Perdy, her face covered with blood, left the room for the bathroom to clean herself up. Leo looked down at the cub he’d dropped carefully into the rug when he’d sensed Perdy was going all the way.
“I think we’d better get these two into a secure lie up Tess dear,” he said. Tess wasn’t about to argue with his assessment of the situation. Running for the door with her eldest cub, Tess followed Leo back to their lie up. Bursting in, they found Tigger replacing the soiled rugs with clean ones.
“Oh, hi Tiggie,” Leo said, the blind tiger turning an ear in his direction.
“Hi Leo,” Tigger said, “and, well, you have a tigress with you? Cubs too?” Leo smiled.
“Yes Tigger, My, um, mate Tess and our cubs. Tigger smiled and nodded, for he knew of Tess and her story, but hadn’t met her or her cubs yet.
“Fine,” Tigger said, “well I’ll be off then.” Tess looked strangely at Leo, her eyes screaming a question she didn’t want to voice out loud.
“Yes Tess,” Tigger said, padding up to her and rather clumsily brushing noses with her, “I can’t see you that goes some way to explaining my hesitant start I think. Tess flinched away.
“Right, um, okay,” she gabbled, unable to handle the situation.
“I’ll go now,” Tigger said.
“No Tiggie, stay a while,” Leo invited. Tess’s eyes pleaded with him not to invite the blind tiger into their home, but Leo dug his toes in.
“Stay a while and meet your Grandcubs.” Tess growled deep in her throat but Leo shushed her.
“He’s, he’s Fleur’s father?” Tess whispered to Leo.
“Yes I am,” Tigger replied, “and if you can’t stop talking about me and talk to me I’m going to get bloody angry. I know what all this is about.” Tess shuffled her paws awkwardly.
“Come and lie down Grandpa Tigger,” Leo said. Tigger smiled at Leo’s words.
“I will, and thanks,” he said, settling down on the rug. Leo then gently placed the youngest cub in Tigger’s paws, Tigger gently caressing the tiny creature in his paws with Tess watching in horror, convinced the heavy pawed tiger would crush the cub.
“Hello there little one,” Tigger mewed, the cub snuggling close, much to Tess’s fury, “cuddle close so it’s nice and warm.” Tess watched as the cub curled up and tucked in his paws.
“This is nice and warm,” the cub mewed.
“What is nice and warm brother?” The oldest cub said, struggling so madly that Tess dropped her.
“Over here,” the male cub called, his sister crawling to him. Soon both cubs were curled up beside Tigger the huge tiger curling his body round them.
“My great Grandcubs,” Tigger said softly, gently holding their paws in his. The liger cubs purred with contentment as they felt Tigger’s gentility transmit through his paws.
“We like you big Tigger,” the cubs said. Tigger smiled and kissed their noses.
“I like you too,” he mewed. The male liger cub explored Tigger’s left forepaw with his tiny paws, Tigger smiling at the cub. The male cub then tickled the pads of Tigger’s paw, Tigger laughing merrily and catching the cub’s toes in his.
“You like me tickling your paw?” The cub asked. Tigger replied that he did, and this set an idea in the male cub’s head.
“Crawl round me sister,” the male cub said, and follow Tigger’s body to his hind legs; there you will find a hind paw to stroke and tickle. Tigger smiled, waiting as he heard the scuffing of the eldest liger cub’s paws as she made her way carefully to Tigger’s tail. Finding his right hind paw, she took it in her forepaws and examined it from toes to heel pad. Tigger wiggled his toes, the female and male cub patting the paws they held. Tess watched this, not sure whether to be relieved or anxious.
“We’re starving,” the cubs said, “but when we’ve had a drink, we’ll be back Tigger. Tess lay down and gathered her cubs to her relieved they were uninjured. Leo padded over to Tigger and lay down beside him, the tiger taking his paws in his.
“Hello dear Leo,” Tigger mewed, kissing the cross bred cat’s nose. Leo cuddled up close to Tigger, holding his right forepaw in both of his.
“I love you Tigger,” Leo mewed. Tigger wiggled the toes of the paw Leo held. Leo loved Tigger so much, though he rarely got the chance to tell the tiger. Now he could tell him, but Tigger already knew the depth of feeling the funny furred cat had for him. Tigger and Leo found themselves playing together, stroking and tickling each other’s paws while Tess fed her cubs. Soon Leo and Tigger were laughing helplessly as each tickled and stroked the other’s paws in a frantic rough and tumble game. Tess watched incredulously as Tigger rolled onto his back, Leo tickling the tiger’s paws and belly with evident enjoyment by both parties. Tess settled her cubs to sleep and then padded across to Tigger and Leo.
“You two look like you’re having fun,” she mewed. Tigger smiled and pinned Leo down; tickling the cross bred cat’s paws until he was exhausted.
“Want to try it Tess?” Tigger asked. Tess looked at the blind tiger’s huge paws.
“Why not take my paws in yours and find out what will be tickling your paws?” Tigger asked, Tess reluctantly taking his left forepaw in hers. Tigger kissed Tess’s nose, to her evident surprise.
“You have soft paws Tigger,” Tess mewed. Tigger smiled and rubbed her paw with his free one.
“Please try and understand me,” Tigger pleaded. Tess mewed softly, kissing Tigger’s paw.
“If you can’t see Leo, how do you play with him so energetically?” Tess asked. Tigger smiled.
“Did you notice how we played?” He asked, well, obviously not, sorry, that was a stupid question. Well, Leo and I never lost contact throughout all that. We kept in contact by paw throughout our play. This is a lovely way to play.” Tess looked over at Leo, who was having his paws soundly tickled by his cubs. Tigger asked Tess to lie down, and when she was lying on her side, he took each one of her paws in his and examined them one by one. Tess felt Tigger’s paws exploring her pads and toes, and couldn’t help smiling with pleasure.
“I like that,” she mewed. Tigger smiled, knowing how to stroke another animal’s paws for maximum pleasure. After all, he’d had a lot of practice.
“Follow your paws Tess my dear,” Tigger mewed. Tess loved every minute of Tigger’s examination of her paws. Loud purring told him she was enjoying his attentions. Leo noticed the change in mood and smiled at his mate, who didn’t see his smile, for Tess’s eyes were closed, the tigress concentrating on the touch of Tigger’s paws on hers.
“Now I know where Leo got his amazing paw massage technique,” Tess mewed. Tigger smiled at her observation.
“Yes,” he mewed, “he knew instinctively how to massage paws, but I taught him how to play with the paws of other big cats, as well as those of other animals. Of course, stroking his own paws is a challenge, but he can do it. He curls up and massages his hind paws with his fore, though it is a struggle.” Tess smiled at the thought of Leo stroking his own paws, then thought of how he’d stroked her paw during her confinement and her smile broadened.
“Now, let me stroke your paws Tigger,” Tess mewed. Tigger happily submitted to her touch on his paw pads and toes, settling down to enjoy Tess’s attentions.
“You are certainly following your paws,” Leo thought, while his two cubs set to massaging and playing with his forepaws. Leo, his eyes half closed, enjoyed the way his cubs played with his paws, working their toes over and between his pads and toes. One ear on the cubs and one on Tess and Tigger, Leo felt contented. Leo curled the toes of both forepaws, the cubs toes caught in his. The cubs mewed and tugged playfully at their trapped paws, enjoying their sire’s playfulness. Leo kissed each cub on the nose, then let go of their toes, the cubs grabbing his toes in their tiny paws and holding on with grim determination. Leo made a huge play of struggling to free his forepaws, the cubs loving every minute of his act, while Leo’s mind was consumed with not overdoing the thing and hurting the cubs. After a little wile, the cub’s tired, and Leo’s toes were freed. Leo crossed his paws under his chin and watched the cubs curl up beside him to sleep. He then transferred his attention to Tess and Tigger, who’d been watching and listening to the game between him and the cubs ever since the cubs had taken control of Leo’s forepaws. Tess, realising the blind tiger whose paws she’d just massaged could not see the action, described what Leo and the cubs were doing, for which Tigger was grateful. Once her narrative was complete, Tess took Tigger’s paw and held it in hers.
“Tigger,” she said, “I must apologise to you for the way I treated you when we first met. I shouldn’t have taken you on face value that was inexcusable behaviour on my part. I’ve had three months with Leo, and know better than to judge on sight. He’s told me that if in doubt, go to a stranger and ask them to give me their paw, or if I’m feeling really brave, to go up to a stranger and take their paw in mine. I still can’t work up the courage to do it though.” Tigger could feel Tess’s sincerity through the contact between their paws and smiled.
“All is forgiven,” he said kissing her nose.
Leo stretched his paws and got up, much to the annoyance of the two cubs, who woke now their living heater decided to move. Yawning, the larger female cub curled her body round her younger and smaller brother, much to the male cub’s relief. Tess, seeing this, padded over to her cubs and settled down, Leo padding over to Tigger and hugging him.
“I know we don’t often touch paws Grandpa Tiggie,” Leo said, but I love you all the same.” Tigger hugged his Grandcub with tender care, running his paws through Leo’s long topcoat.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” Leo said, “here, take my left forepaw.” Tigger took Leo’s paw and explored it with his.
“I find nothing amiss here,” he mewed.
“How about the hair on the sole of my paw?” Leo asked, “Anything strange about it?”
“You used to have hairy soles to your paws, and now you don’t?” Tigger asked. Leo licked his ear.
“That’s wonderful!” Tigger mewed, for he knew Leo had been troubled by the hair on the soles of his paws.
“The hair around the edge of the sole of my paw is still long and can still tickle my pads, but nothing like what it used to,” Leo mewed. Tigger kissed the pads of Leo’s left forepaw, Leo laughing happily.
“I wish I’d been more paws on with fleur when she was young,” Tigger said, “but I was too scared to do much, and I was busy screwing up my life at that time. Now all the time for playing with my cub has gone, and I can’t play with her now.” Leo felt Tigger’s sadness.
“Why don’t you ask her if you can play with her?” Leo suggested, “Fleur might be all grown up, but she might play with you still.” Tigger couldn’t imagine her even considering it.
“No Leo my dear friend, she will never consider playing with an old codger like me,” was Tigger’s sad reply.
“How old are you Tiggie?” Leo asked.
“Seven, eight, nine, ten? I don’t know,” Tigger said, “but sometimes, sometimes I feel a lot older than ten. I know I’ve got my own cubs now with snowy, but even so, fleur holds a special place in my heart.” Tigger gulped hard, trying not to cry. Leo padded away from Tigger, the tiger whimpering with misery as he left.
“Please leave Tigger,” Tess said. Tigger left the lie up on heavy paws, feeling he was at a low point in his life. Snowy didn’t want him near her cubs, and Fleur was all grown up and he hadn’t held her in his paws for so long. Tigger padded down the passage, tears rolling down his nose. Whimpering with misery, Tigger continued his paw dragging progress along the passage until a paw touched his. His nose told him who the paw belonged to, and he could hardly believe it.
“Fleur?” He asked. Fleur smiled and kissed her sire’s nose.
“Yes,” she said, squeezing the paw she’d covered with hers, “now, please, tell me what’s wrong?”
“I, I, I feel, old, useless and unwanted!” Tigger sobbed. Fleur led her sire down the passage and out of the house. From there they walked down the woodland path.
“I don’t think snowy wants me near our cubs, and I’m realising I haven’t touched paws with you for ages, and we don’t cross paths any more, and I want to play with my cub, and I’m old and useless!” Tigger sobbed. Fleur hugged him tenderly.
“Your cub, and by that I suppose you mean me, has grown up Tigger. You can’t expect me to remain a cub forever.”
“No fleur, I know that, and I am so proud of you my dear. Sometimes though, well, a lot of the time, I feel isolated, totally alone! I know Whitie’s as blind as me, and I’ve spoken to her. She doesn’t feel alone at all, but she’s got Blackie who loves her for who she is. Snowy, well, she loves me, I think, but now the cubs are here, she doesn’t want me around!”
“I will talk to her about it,” fleur replied, “but first, have you spoken to her?”
“I tried last night, but she wouldn’t listen. I tried to explain why I wanted to touch my cubs, that I can’t bloody see them! But she wouldn’t let me! She told me, told me to go find some other cubs to hug, for hers weren’t touchable.” Fleur couldn’t believe this of snowy, but Tigger believed it.
Meanwhile, up in Snowy’s den, Whitie was screaming at the white tigress.
“You horrid bitch!” Whitie yelled, “Snowy, how could you do it? How could you deny your mate physical contact with his cubs! He can’t see them, so he needs to touch them.”
“They’ll go to him when they’re older,” snowy snapped.
“How can they go to him if they don’t know he’s there?” Whitie yelled, “You let Fleur be paws on with Bianca, and she was nothing to do with her birth other than helping you out. Now you won’t let the sire of your cubs near his own cubs!”
“Let me think on this,” snowy mewed.
“No snowy, no!” Whitie yelled, “I won’t! You have to let Tigger touch his cubs, or, or, he’ll disown you and the cubs and you’ll have really busted your relationship with him! Do you know he’s played with Tess’s cubs? She and Leo let him play with their cubs, and Leo’s not even related to Tess or the cubs! You raised me, but I adopted Tigger as a life long friend. I’ve touched his paws, embraced him and kissed his nose. You might have given up on him, but I won’t! I refuse!” Whitie whacked snowy across her nose, the snow tigress squealing with pain.
“Now I will go and find Tigger!” Whitie yelled. Snowy lay on her rug, whimpering and mewing with pain and anger.
Meanwhile, back in the wood, Tigger and fleur padded back to the house. Meeting Whitie in the passage, they each kissed her nose.
“I’ve spoken to Snowy about her conduct regarding you and your cubs,” Whitie mewed. Then she lost her rather formal manner and exploded!
“I think its bloody awful Tiggie! How could she treat you like she is now! You have every right to touch your cubs, to hug them and stroke their paws twenty four hours a day if you and the cubs want. Now I will do something that you might not agree with. I will take the cubs from Snowy and bring them to you if that’s what it takes! I won’t have her separating you from them! Blackie will help, I know he will! I won’t have snowy barring you from seeing your cubs!” Hidden from sight around a bend in the passage, Snowy listened to all this. She could feel Whitie’s anger and determination, and it made her wary. She knew that if Samson got to hear of her ban on Tigger seeing his cubs, she’d be punished. Padding away, snowy returned to her lie up to think.
“I blame Tigger
for the horrible birth of my cubs,” she thought, “but now I’m extending that to
barring him from seeing his cubs. If I
carry on like this,
“Maybe Whitie’s right, maybe Tigger does need to see his cubs away from me,” snowy thought. Padding back to Fleur’s lie up where fleur, Whitie, Tigger and Samson all lay on rugs, snowy stood before them and told them what she wanted.
“I will let Tigger see his cubs, but not when I’m about,” she mewed.
“Do you love Tigger?” Samson asked. Snowy nodded, but her eyes told him she was lukewarm in her affections.
“The conclusion I’ve come to,” Samson said, “is Tigger’s more leonine when it comes to his cubs than a tiger should be. Snowy, you need to respect that! Tigger’s paws on, he needs to be! His eyes don’t work, so he uses his paws! Now snowy, you will let Tigger have access to his cubs whenever he wants. If you don’t you will have your cubs removed to the care of another big cat that will let you and him have access equally. Now leave here!” Samson leapt to his paws and chased snowy out of the lie up.
“Okay, okay I’m going!” Snowy yowled. Tigger lay with his head buried in Fleur’s shoulder, crying into her fur.
“All I want to do is play with my cubs!” Tigger sobbed, banging his paws on the rug in frustrated anger.
“Tess and Leo will let you play with their cubs,” fleur said, that’s for certain.” Tigger smiled.
“Dear Leo and Tess. They and their cubs are so gentle and paws on,” Tigger said, “Tess described how Leo and their cubs played together. It was lovely fleur!”
“Describe it to me,” Fleur said, so Tigger did. Fleur smiled at Tigger and gave him her paw.
“Do you want to play that game now?” She asked. Samson looked at her strangely.
“But that’s cub stuff,” he said.
“And we’ve never played this game Samson?” Fleur asked. Samson looked down at his paws, knowing he and fleur had played often and his comment was a silly one. Indeed, the paws Samson was looking down at had, only a few hours before been part of the very game Tigger had described to fleur.
“We massaged each other’s fore and hind paws and then each held onto the others toes pretending we were unable to free our paws from each other’s grip. Of course this means a lot of rubbing of paw pads and tugging at trapped toes. We loved the game; indeed, you didn’t want to end it, getting me to hold your paws for longer than normal. Samson, you really fought me, forgetting the whole thing was a game.” Samson smiled as he remembered his and Fleur’s game.
“Your paws were damp with sweat after the game,” fleur said to her mate, Samson smiling with pleasure and love for his mate.
“We had a furious and fast game didn’t we,” he mewed.
“So let me and Tigger play the game,” fleur mewed. Samson smiled.
“I will,” he replied, “and may the best imagination win.” Fleur and Tigger explored each other’s paws, Tigger loving the feel of her paw pads beneath his pads and toes. Tigger could also feel Fleur’s positive reaction in the way her toes pressed against his. She wasn’t rubbing back against his pressure, but pressing her toes against his pads and toes as they came into contact. Fleur mewed and purred as her sire worked on her paws. fleur mewed that Tigger could massage her entire body if he wanted, which Tigger did, rubbing fleur down from her ears to the end of her tail, kissing her nose as well as her paw pads and toes. Fleur mewed and wriggled with pleasure, Samson watching her with undisguised enjoyment. He loved seeing his mate pleasured in any way at all, be that by him stroking her, or by others stroking her. He knew she loved physical contact, and seeing Tigger’s expert paws working over her body and the ecstatic pleasure this gave her. Fleur wriggled through Tigger’s paws, just as Pakshalika had when she was newborn. Tigger let Fleur guide his paws, so they encountered her body from her nose to the end of her tail, from her ears to the pads of her large fat paws. Fleur was attempting to go back to cubhood during this game, and to Samson and Tigger, it felt the right thing for her to do. Samson watched as fleur paused when each of her paws reached one of Tigger’s paws, once as each of her forepaws encountered his, then twice as her hind paws encountered first his hind, then, as she wriggled and squirmed along her path, a second time as her hind paws came into contact with his fore. Tigger purred, keeping his paws still, letting fleur work her body into a position for her paws to make lingering and positive contact with her sires. Tigger let fleur run the game, stroking her how she wanted to be stroked.
“Hug me Tigger!” Fleur said when his paws had traced her entire body from nose to tail. Tigger embraced his cub, holding her tightly in his forepaws, while using his hind to hold onto and massage her long tail.
“Now for another game!” Fleur panted, “Hold on tight to me Tigger! Take a good hold of my tail!” Fleur pulled hard against the grip of his hind paws on her tail, dragging her tail across his paw pads. Tigger thought his cub was anxious to free her tail, so he let go of it. Fleur mewed and slapped her tail against his paw pads, Tigger holding onto her tail again, while fleur struggled to free her tail by pulling hard. Tigger realised the game was Fleur’s fight to free her tail. Fleur pawed at Tigger with all four of her paws, her damp pads and toes scrabbling at his fur while she mewed pitifully, but this was all for show. Fleur wriggled hard and tugged at her tail, the tail slipping against Tigger’s damp paw pads. Fleur mewed, arched her back and curled her tail, pulling it free. As her tail came free, fleur rolled away forcibly so she curled round and caught her tail with her forepaws. Playing with her tail, fleur mewed and panted. Tigger realised she was playing a game that would stretch her mind as well as give her physical pleasure. He’d enjoyed the game, for his mind had been stretched too. Smiling he crawled over to his cub and took her forepaws in his.
“You won the game little cub,” Tigger mewed. Fleur kissed his nose.
“I loved every minute of it,” she said, “I was a cub again Tiggie, I loved every minute of it!” Tigger smiled, for he too had got the contact with his cub he’d longed for so long.
“That was lovely.” Samson said, “You might not have realised it, but your eyes were shining throughout,” Samson said. Fleur kissed Tigger’s nose and took his paw.
“We forgot to play the paw resistance game,” she mewed, “shall we play now?” So they did fleur holding Tigger’s paws first while he struggled against his own imagination, then he holding Fleur’s while she did the same. Both cats mewing spitting and snarling as they got carried away by the intensity of their game.
“””that was wonderful!” Fleur mewed, panting hard, even though she’d hardly exerted herself.
“Fleur,” Tigger asked, “How do you re-enact a cubbing? How does it work?” Fleur smiled.
“It’s all in the mind,” she replied, “I pant and growl, as well as stretch and curl my toes. My antics are mainly a result of imagination. I will imagine having a cub, groaning as I pretend the cub’s on its way. Also when I push against the cub, I’m not pushing in the normal way, I’m pressing down with all four paws. I love the challenge Tigger. Can you understand that?” Tigger smiled, he could.
“So when Arki pretends to have a cub, she’s resisting herself and play acting?” He asked.
“Yes,” Fleur replied, “holding onto her own hind paws, she’s pretending to push against her cub. It’s all a lot of fun.” Tigger smiled at his cub and kissed her paw.
“How about if I show you how it’s done?” Fleur suggested. Tigger looked uneasy.
“Are you sure?” He asked. Fleur kissed his nose.
“If I can’t trust my sire to help me give birth to a cub when my mum’s run off, than whom can I trust,” she mewed. Tigger knew this would be intense and as realistic as fleur could make it, if her previous games were any guide. Samson smiled at fleur, for he’d seen and experienced a mock cubbing, helping fleur through hours of pain and effort.
“I hope you don’t sanitise things for him,” he said, “Tigger needs to know what it’s like, in safety this time. Enjoy the experience Tigger, learn and go with the flow. I know your previous experiences with cubbing have not been good ones, but maybe Fleur can change that.”
“What do you want me to do?” Tigger asked.
“Rule one,” fleur replied, “don’t let me go, whatever you do, keep paw contact with me at all times. Others can see what I’m doing, you can’t. I want you to feel everything within reason.” Tigger took his cub’s paw.
“Good luck fleur,” he mewed.
So fleur showed Tigger how she re-enacted a cubbing from start to finish. Tigger paced round with fleur, stayed with her while she coped with contractions, and felt her body tense and relax as she bore her pain. Fleur let Tigger touch her as she squatted during contractions, Tigger touching her laid back ears, tense fore and hind legs and the curled toes of all four paws. When the toes of his forepaws brushed over her nose and mouth, fleur would open her mouth if it wasn’t already and give his paw a reassuring lick, just so he knew she was in control. Sometimes she would clench her teeth during a contraction and let Tigger feel them locked together. She would then growl and pant, letting him feel her whole body vibrating with the intensity of her imagined cubbing. when his paws reached her fore or hind paws during one of her contractions, fleur would sometimes bounce on her toes, feeling Tigger’s paw slip beneath one of her own paws and hold it carefully, fleur leaning over onto her other three paws so she could have a little paw contact with Tigger. When Tigger touched her paws, or stroked her, fleur would sometimes give him feedback on how his stroking was affecting her mood. Was it soothing her pain, or encouraging her to bear down against the cubs for example. Tigger knew he could stroke Fleur’s paws or belly if he wanted, and vowed to try anything that would help ease his cub’s pain. Fleur paced and pawed at the ground, squatted and panted, or sat down and roared with pain during her worst contractions. Throughout all this, Tigger was with her, holding her paws, stroking her, or just talking to her, while Samson, watching some way off, tried to keep his mouth shut. He wanted to encourage his mate to do her best, but kept reminding himself this wasn’t for real. What made him forget this vow was when fleur, during a particularly strong contraction, fell onto her side, dragging Tigger with her. Before the tiger knew what was happening, she was embracing him with tremendous strength! Wriggling, she panted, and then gave vent to a yell of pain, holding onto Tigger with her forepaws and pressing her hind against his with all her might.
“Must push Tigger, must push hard!” Fleur panted, pressing hard against the soles of his hind paws with her own, while at the same time ether crushing him, or squeezing his forepaws in hers. When the contraction eased, so did the pressure on Tigger’s fore and hind paws. Tigger now knew how fleur made it sound and feel so real. She was utterly unselfconscious, completely committed to her line of work. Tigger helped fleur give birth to two imaginary cubs, the cubs almost seeming real to both of them. Tigger knew how a cub should emerge, and talked fleur through the arrival of her first cub, which was greeted by a shrill yell of triumph from fleur, and shouts of encouragement from Samson. The second cub, harder to deliver, took a long time to come into the world, fleur and Tigger working equally hard to bring the cub into the world. Fleur decided the second cub was breach, so Tigger touched Fleur’s body to tell her how much of the cub was born with every effort she made. This way, fleur managed to have her second cub safely. Fleur lay exhausted but elated by her performance.
“That was amazing!” She mewed. Tigger was speechless.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just experienced,” he mewed, “I wish, wish though that,” his words trailed off.
“That it had been real?” Fleur asked.
“Yes,” Tigger replied.
“So do I,” Samson replied. Fleur grinned at her mate.
“Now it’s your turn to be on the receiving end of my strong paws!” She laughed. Samson was ready for it.
“I challenge you to do your worst!” He mewed. Fleur, still lying down, suddenly wriggled, [panted and struggled to her paws.
“Another cub, a third cub!” She wailed, “Its coming!” Samson paced with fleur, sat with her, felt her toes curl round his, and watched her ears flatten against her head with every passing contraction. Groaning and panting, fleur rolled onto her side, Samson rubbing her belly. Fleur drew her paws to her, curled into a ball and roared with pain.
“Got to have this cub, must, must push!” She wailed. Samson endured fleur squealing and crushing his paws as she fought to have her third cub. Samson yelled to her to try harder, to push with everything she had. Fleur did her best. Then she began to pant and press down to free the cub, Samson rubbing the pads and toes of her hind paws, while Fleur’s toes scrabbled at his paws.
“One more push fleur, one more effort, “come on!” Samson yelled, “You can do it fleur!” Fleur braced her paws and pressed down hard! Groaning and panting.
“Done it, I’ve done it!” She panted. Samson hugged his mate.
“I love you,” he whispered. Fleur smiled and kissed his nose.
“Now let’s get cooled off,” Tigger said, picking up a spray bottle from a shelf.
“Ah, the alcohol based paw cooler,” fleur said, recognising the bottle. Tigger squeezed the plunger and directed the resulting jet over Fleur’s exposed paw pads. Mewing with pleasure, fleur rolled onto her side, Tigger aiming his jet by guessing his aim, and doing it well too. Fleur mewed as the alcohol solution played over the pads and toes of all four of her huge paws.
“You deserve that and much more fleur, you did wonderfully,” Samson said. Fleur smiled.
“Thanks,” she replied.
Tigger and Samson led fleur to the bathroom, where they washed her from nose to tail before she washed them.
“That was amazing,” fleur said. Samson and Tigger kissed her nose and hugged her.
“Let’s eat, then go back to the lie up and settle down,” fleur suggested. The lion and tiger agreed whole heartedly.
Lying content in Samson and Fleur’s lie up, Tigger was dozing when he felt two tiny creatures crawl up and settle down beside him. The scent of his cubs brought tears to his eyes. Almost disbelievingly, he reached out with a paw and scooped a cub into a tiger sized hug, the cub mewing and snuggling up. The second cub soon followed, cuddling up to his sire.
“Snowy’s gone,” fleur Said, “she can’t stay while you have time with the cubs. She thinks she’ll go mad if she sees you with them. What you need is alien to most tigers, and she can’t cope with it. She could barely cope when Whitie and Blanche adopted you all those years ago, for there was a male tiger on her patch. Now she’s going through it again, instinctively she’s scared for the lives of her cubs. Snowy can’t cope.” Tigger was hardly listening, so absorbed was he hugging and stroking his cubs.
Snowy lay in her lie up, her whole body screaming at her that to let Tigger have any access to her cubs was wrong. In the wild, male tigers never got involved with the rearing of their cubs, it was unheard of. Snowy slapped her face with her paw.
“We aren’t wild here, and Tigger’s not either!” She reminded herself, “I suppose the lions lead this community, so we’re becoming more leonine in our ways. Everyone looking after everyone else’s cubs. I used to think this was a joke, but it isn’t!” Snowy thought. She remembered Whitie telling her of how Namir and Nemera had crawled to Sam and Allie’s lie up once, and the polar bears had taken great care of the two snow leopard cubs. Indeed, Whitie had even said that Allie had fallen head over paws in love with the cubs. Snowy remembered Whitie’s face as she told the story, and it was clear the female snow leopard didn’t think a polar bear adopting her cubs at all strange. Snowy gripped the rug she lay on with both forepaws.
“Think like a lion,” she told herself, “getting into the family way means really getting into it here, and I should know that better than most! It was me who considered, even wanted to steal the cubs of other animals! Now I have cubs of my own, I can’t stand others having time with them. Snowy, you are a stupid bitch, a really stupid bitch!” Snowy got to her paws, bounced on her toes to wake them up, then padded from the room. Padding along the passage, she met Theo. The lion was deep in thought and nearly walked straight into snowy.
“Oh, snowy!” Theo gasped, “I’m sorry.” Snowy looked at him with desperate eyes.
“What’s the matter?” Theo asked half his mind on Tess and Leo’s vivid description of the birth of their cubs.
“Make me think like a lion!” Snowy begged. Theo stared at her.
“What?” He asked, “I’m sorry snowy, let’s rewind a bit. You want me, to make you, think, like a lion?” Snowy nodded.
“Yes!” She mewed, “for if, if I don’t, I’ll be snapping at Tigger all the time, and I don’t want that!”
“Ah yes, I see,” Theo said, “lions look after their cubs in family groups, whereas tigers are single parents,” he mewed.
“Yes,” Snowy said, “I can’t get my head round the fact that Tigger could be, and is gentle to his cubs and wants to be part of their lives. They even want him to be part of their lives too!”
“I’m not equipped to show you how to do it,” Theo mewed, “but I know a family who are. Tess and Leo. If they will let you stay with them and observe their family life, you might learn a good bit.”
“Tess’s cubs aren’t Leo’s are they,” snowy mewed.
mewed, “this is what makes their bond so unique. Leo took Tess in his paws and loves her and
then her cubs as if he’d mated with Tess and the cubs were genetically
his. Leo loves his cubs so much. You know something else Snowy, Tigger, your
mate, is grandpa to Leo. He has played
with Tess and Leo’s cubs, who call him Grandpa Tiggie. Snowy paused for a moment, thinking of the
liger cubs playing with Tigger. The
thought of the huge
“talk to Little Leo and Tiny Tess, oh, they’re Tess and Leo’s two cubs by the way,” Theo mewed, “of course, when they grow up the prefix little and tiny will be dropped, as was with their adopted sire Leo and with Allie’s cub Arki. Talk to the two cubs away from their parents and see what they have to say about Tigger. Snowy padded away, determined to talk to the two cubs.
When she met up with Leo and Tess later that day, the white tigress and cross bred cat were only too willing to let snowy observe and share their family life. Snowy promised not to get in the way, but Tess said there would be no problem, as Snowy’s own cubs could get to know Little Tess and Little Leo. Snowy then broached the subject of her talking to Little Leo and Tess alone for a few minutes. Tess was wary, but Leo soothed her nerves.
“I think I know what snowy wants,” he said, “it’s got something to do with Tigger I think.” Tess was still worried though, and put her paw down.
“I will be there,” she said, “I will make it clear to the cubs they are to answer your questions truthfully, but I will be there watching.” Snowy didn’t expect anything else.
“Fine,” she said, “for tigresses have been known to kill their rival’s cubs.” Tess’s fur stood on end.
“No!” She snapped, “I won’t let you get anywhere near my cubs! Leo, this meeting is ended!” Leo rested his paw on his mate’s in an attempt to reassure her.
“Tess,” he said, “Snowy won’t hurt your cubs. Snowy, be careful what you say. Just talk to our cubs, then we’ll move on.” The meeting with little Leo and his sister was arranged for later that day.
The cubs, still as blind as the tiger they were discussing, listened to snowy question.
“When either of you first met Tigger, how did you meet?” Little Tess nudged her younger brother.
“Leo, our sire placed me beside Tigger. I knew he was family, because of his scent. I listened to the conversation going on around me to find out who he was, while his paws which embraced me told me I was safe with him. I called my sister Tess over and she came to me. That was how we met Grandpa Tiggie.” Snowy looked at the two energetic bundles of life, thinking how many community members Tigger had family ties with. Raja, his cub from a previous mate, then fleur, his cub from a brief fling with Perdy, who hated him for making her pregnant, even though she’d enjoyed mating with him as much as he had mating with her, Then there were his cubs from his current relationship with snowy herself, not to mention Whitie and now the two liger cubs he’d adopted as firmly as Leo had. Snowy thought Tigger to be a real family orientated tiger, something which at heart she wasn’t, but had been by agreeing to look after the cubs of other non feline community members. Snowy voiced her thoughts:
“My problem with Tigger is that he is leonine in his attitude towards our cubs and I am a tiger through and through. I know I had Bianca, I know I looked after Snow leopard cubs, but that was then. This is now, I’ve mated with a tiger, born his cubs, and now my wild side is telling me I don’t want the tiger anywhere near my cubs. Tigger though, he’s wanting contact with his cubs, as if he were a lion!”
“Our cubs don’t need to know all that,” Leo said gruffly, “and what the hell are you doing asking them how Tigger was towards them anyway? It’s disgusting! Why not ask me or Tess herself rather than dragging cubs into the whole sordid business?”
“We’re leaving!” Tess snapped, “Interrogating our cubs wasn’t the plan! Come on Leo, let’s go!” With that Tess and Leo left carrying a cub each. Snowy realised her little plan had blown up in her face somewhat.
“What the hell were we dong there?” Tess demanded of Leo when they were back in the lie up.
“I didn’t know what snowy was going to ask the cubs, of all the questions, I didn’t expect that! I thought it would be along the lines of a “do you like Tigger” question, not, “how did you meet him,” like he was some kind of criminal!”
“Yes,” Tess mewed, very upset, “Tigger isn’t a criminal, he’s a gentle tiger, anyone can see that!”
“You didn’t think so at first,” Leo reminded her.
“Oh shut it,” Tess spat, “I think so now, now I know him. The thing that tears me to bits is that snowy should know it better than most, and that should override her so called wild instinct. Snowy’s being bloody unreasonable!”
“What does bloody unreasonable mean?” Little Leo asked.
“Something I hope you and your sister will never be,” Tess replied.
“But Snowy is being bloody unreasonable now?” Little Tess asked. Leo could see where this could end up.
“You are not to use those words again,” he remonstrated with his cubs, which act gave him a strange feeling. The two cubs held paws, and Leo whispered to his elder sister:
“Do you think Snowy’s being bloody unreasonable?” He asked.
“Well, if being bloody unreasonable is like mum not letting Leo see us because she’s got a headache then yes Snowy’s being bloody unreasonable, for she hasn’t even got a headache, I don’t think.” Little Tess replied. Their mother sighed heavily.
“I should have watched my language,” she mewed.
“These cubs catch on fast don’t they,” Leo mewed, “little Tess has basically got the idea right over this. She knows snowy is talking rubbish.”
“Please don’t talk about this to snowy,” Tess pleaded with her cubs, “and don’t tell her she’s being, um, you know.”
“If she is being, you know what, can we tell her so?” Little Leo asked. Tess smiled but shook her head.
“You could be in danger if you did,” she mewed.
Snowy listened outside, the intelligent conversation between Tess, Leo and their cubs making her feel strange. These cubs were bright youngsters. Snowy walked into the lie up, collapsed on the floor and looked at little Tess and her brother.
“You know me I think,” she mewed, very ashamed.
“We do,” the cubs replied, “have you come to ask us silly questions again?”
“No,” snowy sniffed, “that was stupid of me. How could I try to turn you against Tigger?”
“You can’t!” Little Leo mewed, “We like him, he’s gentle and lovely!” Snowy smiled, for one of her closest friends was influenced by Tigger. Fleur was as gentle as her sire, and as paws on as he was too.
“I will let Tigger see his cubs as and when he wants,” she mewed, “I know these two won’t forget me saying these words.”
“Promise us something more,” little Tess said, “promise us you won’t be bloody unreasonable to him?” Snowy smiled:
“I’ll try not to be,” she replied.
“Now stop saying that!” Leo said, trying not to laugh.
“We will say it again if we think Snowy’s being it,” little Leo mewed. Tess put her paw over her young son’s mouth, little Leo playfully licking her paw.
“Now go to Tigger and guide him to your den, then let him hold his cubs for as long as he wants,” Leo said. Snowy embraced Leo and Tess’s cubs, then padded away to find her mate.
“I hope Tigger brings his cubs to see us,” Little Tess said.
Meanwhile, Fleur washed Tigger in the bathtub, Tigger loving
her attention. Splashing about, the huge
“I love you Tigger,” fleur mewed, Tigger smiling at her and kissing her nose.
“I love you too fleur dear,” he mewed, kissing her wet left forepaw.
“You can also extend your love to your newborn cubs too,” snowy mewed, “for I will bring them to you now.” Tigger and fleur danced for joy, the water spurting up around them as their paws whipped the water into confusion. Snowy brought the cubs to Tigger, the huge tiger embracing each one, now about four months old. Snowy hadn’t named her cubs yet, much to Tigger’s annoyance. Snowy and Tigger had two female cubs. Tigger embraced each one in turn, the cubs mewing and protesting about his wet paws.
“Your paws are all slippery and cold!” One mewed. Tigger kissed the cub’s nose.
Come into the water and they won’t be so cold,” Tigger mewed. The cub let him guide her into the water, where she breathed in the scent of lavender, which made her want to sleep.
“Mum hasn’t named us yet Tigger,” she mewed, resting her head on his shoulder, “Will you name us? Please?” Tigger felt for her paw beneath the water and when he found it, he squeezed it tenderly.
“I will name you both today,” he promised, “for it grieves me neither of you have names yet. Go and get your sister dear cub.” The young tigress kissed Tigger’s nose and released her paw. The little tigress waded to the edge of the bathtub and helped her younger and smaller sister into the water. Wading back to the huge male tiger that they’d hardly met, the two cubs looked into his sightless eyes, the youngest cub nervous and shaking from nose to tail.
“What’s wrong sweet cub?” Tigger asked, trying to touch his youngest cub’s paw, which she withdrew quickly.
“Tigger’s gentle dear sister,” the oldest cub mewed, kissing her sister’s nose.
“I love you both,” Tigger mewed to his cubs, embracing each in turn. The youngest cub squealed with fear as Tigger embraced her.
“He won’t hurt you dear sister,” the eldest cub mewed, “do you trust me dear sister?” The youngest cub mewed that she did.
“Trust your paws then dear sister, for they will tell you how things are.” Tigger’s eldest cub said. Tigger’s youngest cub breathed in his scent, Tigger holding her tightly until she calmed down.
“Let me touch your paws little one,” Tigger pleaded. The young tigress lifted the paw she’d withdrawn from Tigger and placed it on his under the water.
“let’s get washed and then we’ll go back to Tigger’s lie up so he can stroke our paws,” the eldest cub said, “then, when we’re calm and feel safe, which I’m sure we will, we will be named by this gentle tiger.” Snowy knew what had caused her youngest cub’s fear, and slunk away, fleur following her.
“You told your cubs about their birth didn’t you Snowy!” Fleur roared, “You instilled fear of Tigger into his own cubs!” Snowy mewed that she obviously had, then fled! Fleur left snowy to it, more worried about the cubs and Tigger. Fleur returned to Tigger and the cubs, watching as he washed his own cubs, snowy not there to help, not that they wanted her there. The cubs were washed from nose to tail, during which Tigger’s youngest cub even managed to rub back against his massaging paws,. Fleur smiled as she heard the cubs with Tigger, splashing him and playing with his paws when they came within their reach. After a long time, Tigger and his cubs emerged from the water, his and the cub’s coats dripping water. Tigger dried the cubs off, both cubs enjoying his attentions hugely. Now warm and washed, the cubs followed their sire on light paws and with light hearts.
Curling up in Tess and Leo’s home, Tigger drew his cubs to him, embracing each in turn, and then doing something that male tigers never did. He groomed his cubs in the old fashioned way, using his teeth and paws. Leo and Tess watched as Tigger ministered to his cubs, his two cubs astonished at his actions.
“This feels strange, but it’s nice too,” the oldest cub mewed as Tigger’s paws massaged her ears and stroked down her back, his toes ruffling her fur. Tigger was gentle with his cubs. When it came to massaging their paws, the male tiger worked with everything he had. Once his eldest cub was massaged from nose to tail and settle down comfortably, Tigger attended to his youngest cub. The young tigress was smaller than her older sister, with tiny paws and a short body, but she had a longer tail than normal. Tigger embraced his youngest cub, kissing her nose and the pads of all four of her tiny paws, the cub smiling and giving herself up to the amazing feeling of her sire’s attentions.
“May your paws show you the way,” Tigger purred. The young cub held onto Tigger’s paws with hers, loving him. Tigger began to groom the smaller cub, working over her with his teeth and the toes of his forepaws, once he’d freed the paw held by the young cub. Tigger mewed to his cub, the cub responding by pressing her paws into his at every opportunity. Tigger and his youngest cub ended up playing with each other’s paws. A frantic and joyful game followed, where both cubs set upon Tigger’s paws, Tigger laughing helplessly as the cubs tickled his paw pads and toes!
“Let’s tickle Tiggie!” Little Tess mewed to her brother, “let’s help the new cubs, come on!” Tigger knew he’d lost the game when four cubs took a paw each and tickled his pads and toes until he was shrieking with laughter and unable to defend himself. Once they’d one the game, the cubs settled Tigger by stroking his paws until he was purring.
“You have cubs who all love you Tigger,” Leo and Tess’s two cubs said, for we love you, and so do our two new friends!” Tigger laughed and curled round the four cubs, which snuggled close to him.
“What are the names of your two cubs Tiggie?” Leo asked. Tigger smiled and looked round at Leo and Tess, as well as little Leo, little Tess and his own two cubs.
“I will name my youngest cub Swarupa, which is an Indian name meaning truth, and my eldest cub will be named Sushanti, which is another Indian name meaning peace.” Sushanti smiled and hugged her sire, as did Swarupa.
“We love you Tiggie!” They mewed, kissing his nose and the pads of his large forepaws. Tigger smiled as four cubs ambushed him, rubbing down his belly and stroking his paws.
“I love you all, don’t you ever forget that!” Tigger sobbed, his emotions overwhelming him.
Fleur and Snowy watched, fleur stopping snowy from going to Tigger.
“Let him play with his cubs,” she mewed, “let him play with all four of them and them play with him. You tried to destroy their trust in him snowy! But, with my help and his love, he will regain the trust of his cubs.” Snowy knew she’d messed things up with Tigger. She’d told her cubs about their birth, thinking they’d never come into contact with him, but that was before she’d rethought her stance regarding Tigger and allowed him to see his cubs alone. Now her words were coming back to haunt her.
“I’ve messed things up with Tigger!” She wailed.
“Let your cubs and Tigger have time together snowy,” fleur mewed, “the cubs will come back to you. Did you hear what Tigger named your cubs?” Snowy had, and liked the names too.
“Truth and peace,” snowy mewed, “I could do with some of the second at the moment.” Fleur looked in to the lie up where Tigger, still emotional, hugged all four cubs to him, curling his body round theirs.
“Tigger clearly loves those cubs,” fleur observed. Snowy looked at her mate’s face. Tigger’s eyes were shining, the tiger crying with delight and relief his cubs accepted him.
“I won’t restrict his access to our cubs,” snowy said, turning and padding away, much ashamed of her conduct.
with everything Tiggie,” fleur mewed softly.
Because snowy was unreachable, Tess fed Swarupa and Sushanti. The tiger cubs seemed not to mind Tess feeding
them, something she was only too glad to do for them. Tess and Leo then played with the
Snowy lay in her lie up, her world falling apart. She buried her face in her paws and burst into tears. She knew her life with Tigger was over, that the stories she told her cubs about their birth were fanciful. Of course Tigger would be scared, who wouldn’t?
Meanwhile, Tigger and his cubs settled down to view the video of Snowy’s labour. Once they’d watched it, Sushanti turned to her sire, took his paw, and squeezed it hard.
“I would have been scared,” she mewed, “so you have nothing to worry about. You are safe with me and my sister.” Tigger kissed his cubs on their noses, Swarupa embracing his paws with urgent strength.
“Mum told us horrid stories about the way you acted during our births. She said you walked away, but you didn’t!”
“Dam her!” Sushanti yelled, “Mum’s bloody unfair!” Tigger flinched at the cub’s words.
“Don’t use those words,” he mewed, “while they’re true, they’re not nice words to use. You could say mum’s been unfair and leave it at that.” Sushanti took his advice and apologised for the words she’d used.
“It’s still unfair, mum making all those stories up,” she mewed.
“Cubbing looks stressful and awful,” Swarupa said. Tess padded in and looked at the two cubs.
“Show them the births of little Leo and Tess,” she suggested, “maybe they’d see another side of birth.” Tigger did, and his two cubs had tears in their eyes at the end.
“That was wonderful!” They mewed in unison.
“Fleur showed us what would happen during a cubbing,” Tess said, “even so, I would have freaked out if Leo hadn’t been there to hold my paw.”
“How can fleur show you what will happen during a cubbing?” Swarupa asked.
“She re-enacts one of course,” Tess replied.
“Fleur has a cub, without having a cub?” Swarupa asked.
“Yes,” Tigger mewed, “I’ve been with her throughout a mock cubbing, and it was wonderful!”
“I’ll bet she didn’t make stories up about how you walked away,” Swarupa said. Tigger knew how much the truth about Snowy’s confinement had upset his cubs.
“Mum lied!” Swarupa yelled, “That’s more painful than any cubbing!” Tigger knew what his cub was trying to say.
“Fleur loves her job,” Tigger mewed, “she’s a healer as well as a midwife for big cats who are about to have, or are in labour actually giving birth to their cubs. Arki, a polar bear, helps the bears and pandas. You’ll meet them sometime later.”
“Fleur is your first born cub isn’t she?” Swarupa asked, “The female big cat with the funny coloured fur and very soft paws.” Tigger smiled:
“Fleur’s lovely,” he mewed.
Snowy knew her cubs would learn of her fabrication of a story surrounding their birth. She told them Tigger had walked away from her in her hour of need, but video, the security system she once had dominion over, but now cursed fluently, had seen the whole thing and, Snowy was sure, would show the cubs what really happened. When the video was played, the cubs would surely hate their mother for her deception. Snowy knew she’d tripped over her own paws on another matter too. That of naming her cubs. She’d defied tiger convention and refused to name her cubs until after they’d been alive for more than ten days. The convention was to name tiger cubs as soon as possible, as mortality among young tigers was so high. If the cubs died, they could be remembered by name and honoured for years after. Snowy had tried bucking a trend, had gambled that with good food and good housing, the cubs would live past their ten day mark and live on. They did so, but snowy had delayed and delayed naming her cubs until Tigger had put his paw down and named them himself, which snowy knew he had a right to do. Now she could see Tigger becoming a huge part of the lives of his cubs, for snowy had to concede something to her mate, he knew how to press all the right buttons with the cubs. They loved nothing more than rolling on the rugs, then catching, holding and playing with his paws. Tigger would play with them in a similar manner, and all would be contented mewing and hugs all round before twenty minutes was out. The thing was, Tigger used his paws, snowy didn’t, or not in the way Tigger did. Tigger’s paws were his whole world, Snowy’s eyes were hers, but the community valued the paw, not the eye as a method of first communication of emotions. Snowy wondered why this was, for the community had never yet been led by a blind big cat. Maybe Theo had a lot to do with the paw play thing, loving it as he did. Theo was persuasive, even when he wasn’t trying to be, and Snowy could well imagine him introducing those he met to the power of his paws to soothe and heal their minds. Snowy knew she’d been given life by the powers that Theo knew so well. Eohippus had given her a fresh shot at life. Snowy thought of Bianca, the cub she’d had soon after the strange episode with the white mare. Bianca had been paw driven, and fleur had encouraged her. Now she and Duke were going to have cubs of their own, all down to the touch of her paw on his. Duke had fallen head over paws in love with Bianca, and snowy knew very shortly that she’d be a grandmother. Snowy sighed, accepting the leonine laws of the community that had treated her so well.
“Tigger was a lion with stripes, there was nothing much more to say about him,” Snowy thought. She admitted her affections had become lukewarm after the births of the cubs, and had heard from fleur and others that Tigger was a devoted mate and sire, not like other tigers. He loved snowy, and she knew it, the problem was, she didn’t love Tigger like she had once. Now she had wild bred cubs that was to say cubs born in the wild manner, her feelings towards her mate had changed. Snowy knew there was no turning back from here.
“I’m driven by my hormones,” snowy thought, “I will love Tigger, or any male tiger for that matter while I’m in season, but then I’ll push them away.” Snowy knew Tigger wasn’t like that at all. He mated for life, and would be devastated when snowy told him of her decision.
Later that day, snowy approached Tigger in the passage leading to the main room of the house. She decided to do it quickly, no beating about the bush, no build up, nothing.
“Tigger,” snowy said, “I can’t explain it, so don’t ask, but, well, it’s like this. You and I, we’re over. Our cubs will still be able to see you when they and you wish, but as for you and me. Well, it’s not worked out really has it?” Tigger swallowed hard, trying to take in what snowy was saying.
“I, I wanted to talk to you about you telling untruths about me over the births of our cubs,” he said, “but I suppose you’ve thought about that, and realised you’re a liar. You blackened my name to my cubs Snowy, and for that I can never forgive you! Your words, they caused my youngest cub to fear me Snowy! She was petrified of me, and it was only thanks to the love and trust she had in her elder sister that I got a second chance! You nearly bust my family wide open you selfish bitch! Now, now we’re happy, me, Swarupa and Sushanti. They love me; I adore and would do anything for them, and guess what? I also have gained two gorgeous, fantastic, brilliant, loveable liger cubs too! Now they, Big Tess and Leo, as well as fleur and our two cubs and the whole community, barring you, are my family. I will say this, for it is true and I’m enraged enough to keep control, that I don’t need you snowy, and that’s the honest truth. You thought you didn’t need me but you were wrong. Now I know I don’t need you! I can adopt cubs; I can love them and their parents with all my heart! I love Tess, Leo and their cubs with everything I have. I love fleur, Swarupa and Sushanti with all I have, and I will not give up on them for the entire world! Now let me go, let me grieve for what we had, for your news has torn me to bits snowy, and it is only my cubs which keep me together now. Tigger walked away, snowy realising finally that she’d finished forever with the only real mate she’d known.
Tigger returned to his lie up, for he’d made himself one
soon after the births of his latest cubs.
Flopping down, he cried for a long time, weeping for what he and Snowy
had once had together, but had no more.
Tigger’s self destruction was halted by the arrival of fleur, who’d
brought reinforcements in the form of Swarupa and Sushanti. The two pale
“We love you Tigger, and don’t you forget that,” fleur said. Tigger smiled and tried to hug all the cubs at once.
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