Snowy lets it all hang out.
Elsa stared at Tembi in the paws of Snowy half tail. She’d run up the stairs at her greatest speed, which wasn’t much. Snowy glanced at the lioness, knowing she was larger and stronger than Elsa, so was safe from attack. Elsa rubbed her eyes with one forepaw and looked again at the scene before her. Tembi was snuggled up to Snowy half tail, the snow tigress holding the female lion cub in her paws as if she were her own cub.
“Snowy?” Elsa whispered, “hey snowy!” Snowy half tail stirred, opened one eye, saw Elsa, and shook herself awake.
“Oh, um, Elsa isn’t it?” snowy yawned.
“Yes, it is.” Elsa replied, watching Snowy half tail intently. Snowy looked down at Tembi cradled in her forepaws.
“I understand there were some goings on downstairs,” snowy said. Elsa nodded, watching Snowy all the time.
“There were, but what have they to do with you?” Elsa asked.
“When a cub comes to me, begging for sanctuary from her brother, it’s got everything to do with me Elsa,” Snowy half tail replied.
“Tembi came to you?” Elsa asked.
“Sure,” Snowy replied, “begged me for help she did, and when she snuggled down beside me, well, neither she nor I found the experience unpleasant, so she stayed and I didn’t try to drive her away.”
“I always thought you were a hard pawed tigress,” Elsa said. Snowy mewed in misery.
“I’m not hard pawed!” She said, “I looked after Whitie and blanche for ages. The only really horrible thing I’ve done is insult and wallop Tigger, and I’ve apologised for that. I just want a peaceful life Elsa. Now you go and tell all the cubs down there, that if they ever want a place to stay, they can come to me and I will shelter them.” Elsa breathed a sigh of relief as Tembi woke and looked round her.
“Let’s go Tembi,” Elsa said. Tembi looked at her mother.
“I’m not going down there if Tembo’s going to prod at and hit me mum, I can’t stand him!” Elsa looked down at her paws.
“Tembo is a bit of a pawful,” she said, “no Tembi, he won’t harm you.” Tembi reluctantly left Snowy half tail’s side, the snow tigress watching her leave, sadness in her eyes.
“I don’t want to be vilified for the rest of my life Elsa,” snowy mewed. Tembi turned back to the snow tigress and tried to embrace her. Snowy nuzzled Tembi’s ear, embracing the cub tightly in both forepaws. Tembi felt Snowy’s fur against her cheek, and it was wet.
“Are you crying snowy?” Tembi asked. Snowy, moved to tears by Tembi’s departure, clumsily wiped her eyes with one huge forepaw.
“I’m sorry,” snowy sobbed, “I miss my cubs, my snow leopard cubs, I miss all the cubs, for they hear I’m a hard pawed tigress, and I’m not Tembi, I’m not! I don’t want you to leave Tembi, I love you little cub!” Tembi stroked snowy half tail’s paw, now wet from wiping her eyes.
“Look snowy,” Tembi said, “I must go now, but I will be back soon, I will visit you every day, I promise.” Snowy embraced Tembi once more. Elsa watched all, wondering how a tiny lion cub could move such a huge snow tigress to tears just by staying with her for a few minutes. Tembi crept away, hardly able to lift her paws. The sight of Snowy’s tears affecting her deeply. Tembi briefly touched the pads of Snowy’s right forepaw with her tiny paw.
“I’m going to leave you now,” Tembi said, “but I will be back tomorrow.” Snowy buried her face in her paws, almost choking on her tears. Coughing, snowy gasped for breath.
“Snowy, please don’t cry,” Tembi pleaded. Snowy breathed hard, trying to calm herself and take control of her emotions.
“I’m sorry Tembi, Elsa,” snowy sniffed, “I don’t know what came over me. I’ll be all right in a minute.” Tembi stroked Snowy’s paw, Snowy nearly crying as she felt the cub’s paw stroking hers.
“I will tell the other cubs to drop by,” Tembi said, “I will ask Whitie and Blanche to visit, I’ll even tell Candy too, I’m sure she will visit you.” Snowy half tail watched Tembi walk away with Elsa, feeling as if her world was falling apart.”
Tembi, her paws feeling as heavy as lead, followed her mother downstairs. Feeling she needed time alone, Tembi crawled into a corner of the living room to think about what she’d seen. While she was piecing together the events of the last hour, Candy lay down beside her.
“Tembi?” The polar bear cub said gently, “I heard you visited Snowy half tail.
“I did,” Tembi replied, “and Candy, she was very upset when I tried to leave her. Please, Candy, if you can, try to give Snowy a hug when you pass her. She’s missing her cubs. She’s missing her role as protector of the snow leopard cubs. She just wants cubs round her. Please Candy,” Tembi pleaded, feeling her own emotions rising, “please go to Snowy, let her hug you.” Candy had always wanted to hug snowy, but Arki had forbidden it on the grounds Snowy was of bad character.
“I will Tembi, I Will.” Candy replied.
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