Elsa thinks things over.
Elsa padded along the woodland track, her head and tail drooping with tiredness. She felt drained of all strength, physically sick and dreadfully lonely. Tembo’s death had shocked her, even though she was now completely honest with herself, she’d seen some kind of retribution coming his way for a long time. There were only so many times a cub could spit in the face of a community and get away with it. Elsa realised then that Theo had tried to save her cub. He’d fought Tib and she’d won flying at Tembo and killing him. Were Theo’s actions to save Tembo’s life, or to save Tib from possible eviction, Elsa didn’t know. Elsa lay down, wondering if she’d ever feel whole again.
Elsa must have slept, for the next thing she knew was something warm and soft lying down beside her. Elsa, now realising she was freezing cold, snuggled up to the warm thing. It had fur, and when she touched it, she realised it had paws, big soft paws, which embraced her tenderly. Elsa felt the paws embracing her, and knew whomever it was meant her no harm. Resting her head on the shoulder of whomever was hugging her, Elsa breathed deeply, trying not to be frightened. Opening her eyes, she looked quickly at the thing holding her in its soft warm paws. It was Theo.
“Elsa,” Theo mewed, “please, listen to me.” Elsa twitched an ear.
“About Tembo’s death,”
“Tib murdered my cub!” Elsa mewed.
“I know,” Theo replied, “but no matter what you felt for him, you must understand this. Tembo was responsible for his own actions. He was no longer listening to you or Tembi. He didn’t care about either of you! He wanted to destroy Aslan and Tembi. Tib doesn’t know the rules, she was defending a cub who’d been kind to her even when he didn’t know her. I was wrong to do what I did.”
“Try and save my cub you mean?” Elsa asked.
“Yes,” Theo replied, “for it was useless, and maybe Tembo wanted to have a run in with her, he made remarks to Tib, spoiling for a fight.”
“That Tabby’s dangerous Theo!” Elsa mewed, “all right, I might be larger than her, but I wouldn’t dare fight her! Tembo was stupid to challenge her!”
“Tembo was a spiteful cub Elsa,” Theo mewed, “I don’t like speaking in this manner as he was your cub, but it can’t be denied, he hated everyone, including his younger sister, whom he tried to kill many times.” Elsa remembered rescuing Tembi from her brother’s unprovoked attacks on her. Now that was ended forever.
“You are right Theo,” Elsa mewed, “Tembo was a danger to his sister, and your cub. I’m not surprised you and Tembi went into the woods so she could give birth to Aslan. I would have done the same.” Theo licked Elsa’s ear.
“Come back to the house, please,” Theo pleaded, “there we can try and work out where we go from here. I saw you bury Tembo.”” Elsa looked into Theo’s face. The young lion’s eyes were red from weeping. He’d wept for Tembo, but why should he weep for a cub who nearly killed his mate and his cub?
“You’ve been crying Theo,” Elsa said gently. Theo looked away.
“I wept not for the cub Tembo was, but for the cub he might have been. He turned bad through long suffering and hating. Now he’s gone, and we have to carry on.” Elsa got to her paws and shook herself.
“Let’s go back to the house,” she said, “and if I meet Tib on route, I’ll tear her paws off!”
“Tembo picked a fight with Tib, not the other way round,” Theo reminded Elsa.
“You’re right,” Elsa replied, “no matter how much I try to deny it, you’re right.”
“Let’s go,” Theo said, briefly taking Elsa’s paw in his. Elsa looked into Theo’s face.
“You would have done what Tib did in the end,” Elsa stated. Theo looked down at his paws.
“yes Elsa,” he replied, “I would have. For there’s only so much a lion can take.” Elsa hugged Theo.
“You were protecting your cub,” she said, “there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Tembo made his own way,” Theo mewed, “I’m sorry it ended like this Elsa.” Elsa looked down the track.
“Let’s go,” she said. Theo released her paw and they walked back to the house. entering through the back door, Elsa came face to face with Tib. Elsa’s fur bristled and she bared her teeth.
“Get out of my way!” she growled. Tib walked backwards, conscious of the old rule, never turn your back on an enemy. Elsa knew what she was doing and cursed her for it.
“You horrid animal!” Elsa yelled. Tib slunk away, feeling more dreadful than she could put into words.
“if the truth be told Elsa,” Salty said, “Tib did what most of the animals here would have done in the end. Tembo had overstepped the mark and he wasn’t safe any more. Tembo’s number was up, and it was only a matter of time until he was killed. With the new cubs about, there’s no way the community could have a dangerous individual like him on the scene.” Elsa knew what the snow leopard meant, even so, it was still terrible. Elsa lay down, feeling something move inside her. She knew then, she was in cub. Tommy and Elsa had been close for some time now, and they’d been trying for cubs of their own. Now Elsa was sure she was in cub, and this realisation made her fear for their safety. For one dreadful minute, Elsa feared that Tembo would harm her cubs as soon as they were born, but then she remembered what Tib had done. Relief flooding through her, Elsa looked over at Tommy, who grinned at her, for he’d felt her cubs moving too.
“In cub Elsa?” he asked, though he knew very well what her answer would be.
“yes,” she replied.
“How long until we see them?” Tommy asked.
“A few weeks yet I think,” Elsa replied, “but we’d better make plans for their arrival. I don’t want to have them in the woods if I can at all help it.”
“No you don’t want to have them in the wood mum,” Tembi mewed, “it was cold and uncomfortable!” Theo hugged Tembi.
“When we have another cub,” he said, “I’ll make sure you have a soft bed to lie on.” Tembi smiled and nuzzled his cheek.
Elsa wasn’t so sure how soon it was until her cubs were due. She knew they were active inside her now, so their birth couldn’t be that far off.
Elsa began to plan for the arrival of her cubs.
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