Troubled times for Aslan.
Samson first took fleur on night time walks, getting her used to the sights and smells of the outdoors. The lion found the cross bred big cat had very few illusions as to what went on when prey was caught, her only problem with the whole thing being she’d never eaten, let alone caught her own dinner. Samson decided he would introduce things nice and slow, making learning fun along the way. This first exploration was to acclimatise fleur to the outdoors. Samson knew fleur had work inside the house, but thought he might be able to get her a few days off to live as wild as she could. That would come later though.
Now they padded through the wood, Samson encouraging Fleur to investigate everything, from what her nose told her, to what her paws felt beneath them. Fleur felt exhilarated when out on the hunt with Samson, the huge lion showing her tricks of his trade, from catching squirrels, to swimming after ducks on a nearby lake. Even though he left fleur out of the catching and killing on the first night, Samson wasn’t leaving her out entirely. At the end of the night, he brought her a duck.
“I’ve never seen this bird before,” fleur mewed. Samson smiled, his teeth gleaming in the moonlight.
“A gorgeous bird, very good eating,” he purred, loving his subject.
“I’m still full from my tinned meal earlier on,” fleur protested, but she knew she’d eat the duck.
“We’ll take it home and pluck it in the light from the security lights,” Samson mewed, “there you can see, as well as feel what you are doing.”
“I’m going to pluck the duck?” Fleur asked.
“Of course,” Samson mewed, “I caught it, you pluck it, and we both eat it. You catch the food, I prepare it, and we both eat it. You see?” Fleur saw.
“None of this lion thing where the female catches the food then?” She asked.
“No, no,” Samson mewed, “its equal share here, equal in work, equal in the spoils of the work. I wish you’d teach me how to bathe properly though, I’m still feeling embarrassed about how I looked when I first came. Dirty paws, what was I thinking of?”
“You said dirty paws were a good thing,” Fleur mewed.
“Yes, to a point,” Samson replied, “but what I mean is good bacteria, as that which you get from the ground, a sweet, fat, well fed duck for example will give you good eating, but good protection too. Eat a potato straight from the soil and it’s wonderful, radishes, chillies, sweet corn, peas, beans, all good stuff!”
“So you could go vegetable hunting with Petra?” Fleur asked.
“Hunting for veg?” Samson replied laughing, “Vegetables don’t run! Except those beans, now they’re dam quick they are!”
“Beans?” Fleur asked, “You need to catch beans?”
“Yes, runner beans!” Samson replied. Fleur groaned inwardly at his terrible joke.
“Back to Petra’s vegetable gathering,” Samson said, “for she gathers vegetables, she doesn’t hunt them. Yes, I could take her out gathering food. Of course, I’d have to prepare myself first, Wash my paws and mouth with care, so I didn’t make her sick, either when handling the vegetables, or with the smell of meat on my breath. Washing my fur wouldn’t go amiss either, for I always smell of blood when I’ve been hunting, and I understand she doesn’t like that.” Fleur could hear Samson’s concern for Petra in his voice. He liked the white lioness a great deal, and Fleur was sure he would enjoy gathering vegetables with Petra as much as he enjoyed hunting with Fleur herself.
“Now let’s get back to the house,” Samson said, “mind you don’t’ wash your paws before we pluck and eat this duck. You lot can be so clean it’s dangerous.” Fleur could feel the soil clogging her paws, but made an effort not to dip her paws in water, she just got the worst off on the grass. Once under the bright illumination of the arc security lighting, Samson showed fleur how to pluck the duck. Fleur hadn’t seen how Samson physically killed the bird, but she could see he’d broken its neck. She watched as Samson held the bird down with one forepaw while raking the claws of the other through the feathers, pulling off great pawfuls. Imitating him, and hoping she didn’t look too inexpert, fleur had a go. She got small amounts of feathers off, but nowhere near what her friend had.
“Pluck the duck until the skin is smooth to the touch,” Samson mewed, “follow your paws fleur.” Fleur smiled at hearing her own phrase repeated back to her.
“You do all this by touch don’t you?” She asked, “For you need your eyes and ears free to listen for danger I suppose.”
“Danger is something you lot in the house know virtually nothing of,” Samson mewed, “you lot lead a pampered life in there.”
“I know Sammy, I know,” Fleur mewed.
“I will have you catching, killing and eating your own dinner before the month is out,” Samson said, “you see if I don’t.” Fleur grimaced at the thought of eating the duck.
“Now,” Samson said, turn the duck over and pluck the other side. Leave the wings; they’re too difficult for a first attempt. That’s it fleur, nice even strokes with your claws, not too deep, you don’t want to wreck the flesh.” Fleur scraped away, feathers flying in all directions. Petra put her head out into the pool of light cast by the arc lamps, saw what was going on and ran past to the garden to try and stop herself being violently sick.
”Poor Petra,” Samson mewed, as his ears picked up the sound which told him Petra did not quite avoid the smell of the meat.
“It’s all in your fur!” Petra gasped, trying to remain down wind of the duck, “you two are dreadful! You could have plucked and eaten that somewhere else!”
“Fleur needs to learn how to pluck ducks,” Samson mewed, “and how can she learn by touch alone? She needs to see what she’s doing at first, until she gets the feel of the thing.” Petra looked sick in the glare from the arc light.
“I put my head out to see what you two were doing, and it makes me ill!” Petra mewed, retching onto the grass.
“I feel awful!” Petra moaned.
“Let’s take the duck somewhere else Samson,” fleur mewed, “this is serious, it could kill her.”
“We’ll be done soon,” Samson replied, “Petra dear, take a walk that will clear your head. Go and find some garlic, that is good for settling things down I think. There’s some in the next garden. Petra plodded away miserably, her nose almost brushing her forepaws. Finding the garlic, she ate as much as she could, and then returned to the house via the outside route, without going past the duck or its devourers.
Samson and fleur ate the duck, ignoring the internal organs, for, though Samson would have eaten almost the entire duck, he was conscious fleur might not be up for it. Even so, fleur had her first taste of real meat, a bit cold now, for Samson said that for the best eating; meat should be eaten freshly killed. This duck was two hours old now, and stone cold. Even so, fleur tasted real meat for the first time, real meat, which had been on the wing only a few hours ago. Fleur felt something change in her with the taste of real meat. She knew this was for her, catching and killing her own meat was the way she wanted it from now on.
“I suppose I will consider squirrels and other woodland creatures as food from now on,” fleur mewed, “how will I be able to care for them if they’re unwell?”
“You don’t care for them now do you?” Samson asked.
“No, it’s mainly bears, tigers, otters, lions, that kind of thing,” Fleur replied.
“So no problems then,” Samson replied, “tell you what fleur, I did see some very fat capybara around here. They are good eating.”
“I must admit, noone would miss those,” fleur mewed, “they’re a thorough pain in the backside. Never grateful, never integrating, never giving us the time of day. They’re horrid animals and always have been, ever since Brock and Constance took them in, long long before my time.”
Finishing the duck, Samson and fleur adjourned to Fleur’s bathroom, where they both washed themselves from nose to tail, finally chewing minted bark to freshen their mouths after the meat feast. Samson had never before used the wood bark, and didn’t much like the taste, but the thought of Petra crouched miserably on the grass as she retched and vomited kept him chewing the bark and spitting it out.
“Poor Petra,” he mewed, using a twig as a toothpick, “she really doesn’t get the best deal does she.”
“I know,” Fleur mewed, “now, let me examine your paws, just to make sure they’re clean.” Samson gave fleur each forepaw in turn, and she massaged oil into his pads and toes. The oil was pungent, and hid any lingering scent of the meat they’d just been consuming.
“This was really an excuse to massage my paws wasn’t it,” Samson said.
“Yes, but also it’s a chance to rub in the oil we all need to use after eating meat, so we don’t upset Petra.” At the sound of scuffing paws, Samson looked over at the doorway, to see Petra padding in, she looked less than happy.
“All this!” She mewed, waving her paw at the minted tree bark and the paw oil, “all this, just because I have a meat allergy. I understand that stuff’s hard to come by, and is expensive too. I don’t know why I just don’t’ leave and save you all the hassle of rubbing that gunk on your paws and chewing that rubbish, all on my account. I saw how you hated the tree bark Samson, and I don’t blame you, I’ve tried some, its’ disgusting!”
“Petra love, my dear sweet lioness,” Samson purred, “We wouldn’t want you to leave. Why do you think we do all this? If we didn’t care about you we wouldn’t go to all this trouble, and, talking of trouble, it’s no trouble at all. So please, please Petra my darling, let me hear no more about this. For we love you, fleur, Theo, everyone, including me love you with all we have.” Samson got out of the water and lay down on the tiles.
Come here Petra love, please,” Samson invited, beckoning her with one huge forepaw. Fleur hoped Samson had bathed well, for otherwise Petra would be violently ill.
“That’s it, gently now,” Samson mewed, as Petra padded closer, menthol steam rising around her, “take each step gently, gently now.” When Petra reached his side, Samson rolled onto his side and gathered the white lioness to him in both huge forepaws.
“We truly do love you Petra,” Samson purred, the sound bringing tears to Petra’s eyes.
“Petra,” Samson mewed, “do you want to know something special?” Samson was talking to Petra as if she were his cub, which indeed, in some respects, she indeed was. The lioness nodded, tears rolling down her nose.
“You are the most special lioness I’ve ever met,” Samson mewed, “I knew you long, long before you set paw on me. I knew your life, your struggle to be good and kind when others made you do things that were unnatural to you, and finally your courageous escape from the prison you were in. You and now fleur too, are the main reasons why I came here. I wanted to love a white lioness for being herself! Not many animals round here do that. You became revered by all because you were chosen by eohippus, and many of the lower animals only thought of you as worthy because you were chosen. The otters, squirrels, badgers and dogs do not care for you at all Petra. They don’t believe in Petra the lioness; they want to be told what to do by a higher power. So when you fought Eohippus and won, that was a mistake in their eyes. They don’t care for you now. We lions, along with the tigers, bears, pandas and other big cats, we do care for you. We love you dearly, and will do anything to protect you. This includes using oil on our paws and chewing tree bark. The dogs and other lower meat eating animals don’t do this. Fleur’s constantly arguing with them to make sure they use the tree bark especially, but the dogs and otters don’t care much.”
“I know the otters don’t,” fleur mewed, “one of their number tried to poison Petra when she was very young.”
“I know this,” Samson mewed, “for I was there, very briefly, when I knew nothing of the community. I didn’t know then what I know now, indeed, I recognise the wood from journeys I took as a young lion. They might have been dreams, but I remember a white female cub, stretched miserably on the grass, dangerously ill with fever. I saw her, and my prayers and thoughts went out to her.”
“How could you have known?” Fleur asked, “You told Theo and Petra that you’d never known England.
“I didn’t know what I was seeing was this place,” Samson mewed, “but it was this garden, and definitely this lioness, then a cub, which I cradle in my paws today.” Samson’s eyes filled with tears as he relived his dreams from over two years previously.
“I wanted to reach out to the tiny cub, for I knew she was in danger, I knew some of those who looked after her were trying to kill her! The worst of it was, the others who cared for her couldn’t see the under paw way those who didn’t care were plotting to kill the white cub! The white cub, once poisoned by an otter, the otter a mere cub himself, lay in the long grass, having dreadful nightmares! I can see them even now, snakes, huge coiling snakes, heading for the cub to strangle her! I want to reach out my paws and rip them apart, but I can’t reach!”
Samson! Samson!” Fleur yelled, smacking the huge lion on his nose, “snap out of it!” Samson’s whole body jerked, as if he’d been electrocuted. Petra, now held in Samson’s paws with such force she could hardly move, stared with horror into the lion’s eyes.
“How could you!” Theo yelled, bursting in, having heard everything, “Samson, I have a good mind to throw you out of here, right now!”
“No Theo, no!” Petra roared, “It’s, it’s not his fault. Please, Sammy only means well. If he had these dreams of me, then they were every bit as horrid for him as my nightmares were for me.”
“I knew a lioness once,” Samson mewed hoarsely, “she was a lioness, passing through the place where I was lying up. Her name was Elsa, and I knew then that something wasn’t right with her. I knew then that one of her cubs would be unusual, and that she’d abandon it. I’m no disciple of Eohippus, but I know what I saw, and dreaded. Elsa had two cubs with her, one a male, a spiteful little beast. He wasn’t my concern, for his nature, as a bully and a sneak was easily guessed and dealt with. The other cub though, a female, I saw the beginnings of resentment in her, young though she was. To keep up with her brother, she’d wave her paws at anything unusual, spitting at it. She even spat at me, when she didn’t understand a thing. I feared for Elsa’s future cubs!”
“How do you know all this!” Theo demanded, now more frightened than angry.
“I don’t know, I don’t know!” Samson wailed, “But it haunted me for years! Then, then when I heard of the community here, and that my long lost friend was the leader, and then, to top it all, all about Elsa and her cubs, and the white cub, I knew I had seen this place before. That the dreams I’d had of a white cub being tortured were real, I wept for days, hoping the cub was still alive. It was then I learned of the cub’s most recent struggles with Eohippus, and I was back at square one, fretting about a cub I didn’t even know! I frantically tried to get to the wood in my dream, but, but I knew getting in to the community to see if the white lioness whom I’d come to love more than almost anyone else was still alive, would be difficult. I was lost, I was alone, and all that is true. So is the bit about my male partner, but my reasons for coming so far were not solely to do with finding you Theo, it was to find the white cub too. The cub in my dream who suffered so much. I wanted to throw my paws round her, to love and protect her, love and protect her, like, like I’d not been loved or protected as a cub!” Samson wept into Petra’s thick fur.
“You tell a strange story Samson,” Theo mewed, “but I believe you, for I believe the wild gives those who reside there extra perception and you may have this gift as regards Petra and her mother.”
“Samson,” Petra mewed, “when did you realise you’d found me?”
“When?” The lion asked, “When you took my paw in the towel room and kissed it. I knew then, I knew I’d found the cub in my dream. Your blue eyes gave it away. You are the cub, but grown into a lioness.”
“Yes, I am a cub,” Petra mewed, “for I am learning to be Petra all over again. Petra the white lioness, not Petra who is Eohippus with paws.”
“I love you Petra!” Samson sobbed, “And don’t ever forget that.” Petra stroked Samson’s long thick mane with her paw, running her toes through it like a cub would.
“I wish I’d known you sooner,” Petra replied, “for you are so gentle, so very kind too. Theo’s been lost since Leo’s death, and to have you here with him is a real comfort. He feels his memories can be kept alive by you.”
“I didn’t really know Leo,” Samson mewed, his words crushing Theo, “he wouldn’t talk to me, because, because of who I was. I wanted to know both brother cubs, but Leo wouldn’t talk to me. I think he spat on me once when we met in passing.” Theo nodded.
“Leo did spit on Samson,” he growled, “but in any case, it’s good to have you here Sammy.” Petra moved over to let Samson hug Theo, the huge lion enveloping his old friend in a lion sized embrace, the long mane falling over Theo’s head as he snuggled close, unashamed to show familiarity towards Samson.
“Love Petra like she was your own cub,” Theo mewed to Samson, “ignore Aslan and his blustering, for we know, you, me and Petra, what really happened to her.” Samson took Theo’s fat left forepaw in his larger right fore, squeezing it gently.
“All my love to you, and Petra,” he replied.
“Thank you Sammy,” Theo sobbed, burying his face in the long silky mane. Samson let Theo weep, the lion totally understanding his friend’s emotions.
“I am a special lioness,” Petra thought, “and a very lucky one too.”
“Thanks Sammy,” Petra mewed, “from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything, but most of all, for caring.” She touched Samson’s nose with hers, the huge lion smiling at her.
“What’s this?” Aslan asked, his mane roughed up with anger, “Petra, what’s this large lump of meat doing here! I ordered you to throw it out!”
“I don’t listen to threats or blackmail,” Petra snapped, “you threatened me last night Aslan, that if I didn’t show Samson the door, you’d make sure I paid for my mistake. I will not throw Samson out! I will not bend to threats and blackmail.
“Samson’s bad news, as are his tales of the wild! He’s not from the wild, how could he be, when he can be so gentle with you and fleur. He’s as gentle as a house cat, but you say he can kill? Show me! Show me Sammy!” Aslan demanded in a high pitched screech, staring into Samson’s face.
“Now you’ve done it!” Petra screamed, running for the door, “I can’t watch! I can’t watch Samson do this!”
“You won’t support me Petra?” Aslan snarled.
“Not when you ignore warnings Aslan, I cannot support you in this, for it’s not my fight, not my place! I warned you! You tangle with the wild; you get into deep trouble very quickly! I warned you last night, when you made threats against my life, telling me you’d kill me if Samson didn’t leave here soon, for you would rather I were dead than you lost me to him. I don’t want to be possessed; I’ve had enough of that! I will be a celibate lioness from now on! I don’t want cubs, if I can be everyone’s cub; everyone’s cubs can be mine too. I don’t fancy your chances here! Go on, fight the wild, and fight Samson! All I can do is wish you the best of luck!”
“You will not live to see sunrise Petra!” Aslan yelled, “For when I’ve finished with Samson, I will come for you!”
“You horrid animal!” Samson roared, his voice making Theo tremble, “Aslan, you do not deserve the name of Aslan! You are a disgrace to your name and your heritage, and to the honour of the pride! Never has a lion tried to own his lioness by threats of death! He kills males for females, but not females because they go against his wishes. You do not deserve to live! I will kill you now, to save myself, but also to save my cub!” Aslan stared into Samson’s eyes with horror! He saw the light of a father who was about to fight for his daughter cub, a light he’d last seen in Theo’s eyes when he’d fought for Petra’s life all that time ago. The difference here was that the light in Samson’s eyes was magnified a thousand times, burning like a thousand million candlepower!
“Fight for your cub then!” Aslan challenged. Samson looked into Theo’s eyes, Theo burying his face in his paws.
“Aslan’s adult now,” Theo wept, “he’s not stupid, he’s educated, he’s intelligent, but he’s the biggest fool on this earth! Aslan, if you survive this, I will disown you forever! You do not threaten death to another just because they disagree with your views! Good bye Aslan. You might be my own son cub, but you are no longer a cub of mine. I despise what you are doing, for it is all wrong, all wrong! You fail to see what is happening, you fail to see what is in front of you. You overheard it all; I know you did, for you’ve been following Petra for the last few days. You know all this, but you still insist on challenging Samson? Do you not recognise the difference between his love for Petra and yours?”
Noone but me can love my lioness!” Aslan screamed. Theo gave vent to a cry of pain that made Petra bolt in floods of tears.
“Now the hour has come for me to accept the challenge,” Samson said softly. With tender care, Samson laid Theo gently down on the tiles, his careful paws a stark contrast to his emotions. Samson stroked Theo’s paws, then stood, towering over Aslan. Aslan saw deep sadness in the huge lion’s golden eyes.
“I am sad, sadder than I can put into words,” Samson mewed, “but you have thrown down the challenge, in the full knowledge, and having been warned. I will do my duty to my family, every single one of the thousands of lions!” Theo covered his ears and shut his eyes.
“Make it quick!” He preyed. Aslan reared up on his hind legs, slashing at Samson’s face! Samson jerked his head sideways, and knocked the smaller lion straight into the water! Samson leapt into the water after Aslan, Fleur scrambling out of the way of the huge lion. Winded, Aslan floundered about in the water, Samson dragging him under! Aslan screamed, and then began to choke. Samson let the disgraced lion surface after a minute, Aslan gasping and coughing. Scrambling from the water, Samson dragged Aslan out, dumping him on the tiles, Aslan mewing and crying.
“If you want wild, I can show you wild!” Samson yelled into Aslan’s face, “Do not touch a hair on Petra’s head ever again, for if you do, I will finish the job!” Aslan said nothing. Samson looked at Theo for his reaction to his son being half drowned.
“I bear no ill will towards you Samson, for you did not force Aslan into the challenge; he challenged you and thought he could win, losing paws down.”
“Let me go to our cub, for she needs comfort,” Samson said. Theo watched Samson struggle to his paws and leave the bathroom. Fleur followed her mate out into the passage.
“Was nearly drowning Aslan necessary?” Fleur asked, shaking almost as much as Samson. The huge lion turned his eyes on fleur, and what she read in them stopped any further questions.
“Aslan had rejected the ways of decency,” Samson mewed, “Petra was in danger from her mate, and I couldn’t let that continue.”
“Sammy?” Petra asked, padding up to him and resting her paw on his. Samson looked into the lioness’s red rimmed blue eyes.
“I am sorry,” Samson mewed. Petra squeezed his paw.
“Aslan knew what he was getting himself into,” she replied, “I feel nothing for him, for last night, he threatened me with death if I did not talk Theo into throwing you out. I couldn’t do as Aslan wanted, even if I’d wanted to, which I didn’t, for you are Theo’s friend, and have violated none of our laws.”
“He didn’t take into account the love a lion could feel for a white lioness either,” fleur mewed.
“No, no, Aslan didn’t,” Petra mewed, tears filling her eyes, “Samson, dear Sammy, would you hug me? Please?” Samson embraced Petra tenderly, his huge paws enveloping the white lioness with obvious feeling for her. Petra snuggled close to Samson, burying her face in his mane, so the long hair fell over her own head, almost obscuring her from view from the shoulders up. Petra clung to Samson, gulping his scent into her lungs with huge breaths, a warm, earthy scent, full of the great outdoors.
“I love you Samson, I love you, I love you, I love you! Don’t let me go!” Petra pleaded. Samson drew the white lioness even closer.
“We will go vegetable picking tonight,” Samson mewed, “just you and me Petra. Would you like to do that?” Petra kissed Samson’s nose making him want to cry.
“I would love to come vegetable picking with you Sammy,” she mewed. Petra leant back slightly, so Samson’s pads pressed into her back. Samson rubbed Petra’s back like he would that of his own cub, Petra gulping back tears.
“It’s okay to cry my dear cub,” Samson purred, kissing Petra’s nose. Petra wept unashamedly into Samson’s long mane, the lion lovingly cradling her in his huge paws.
“I want to stay with you, even if your wild scent makes me ill,” Petra blurted, “for you have sort me out to protect me, to love me Samson.”
“You don’t have to stay with me if my scent makes you unwell,” Samson mewed, “I can feel your love for me without us being close.”
“It’s the same for me, Petra mewed, “I can feel your love for me too, but I want to be close to you, as close to you as you wanted to be to me when I was lying on the grass fighting those snakes. Come with me Samson, please!” Samson knew what she meant.
“I’m with you every step of the way,” Samson mewed, “I will match you paw print for paw print. I will be there for you Petra.”
“Like you were from before I was born,” Petra mewed, “you didn’t know the cub that would be born fourth to Elsa would be a white one, but when you saw, you felt a kinship with that cub, and I’m thankful for it Samson.”
“Let’s go somewhere warm and settle down for a while,” Samson mewed. Releasing Petra, to his and her obvious regret, Samson and the two big cats padded towards a quilt, where they settled down comfortably.
Meanwhile, back in the bathroom, Theo lay in the water thinking of Aslan and Petra.
“Aslan was my cub,” he sobbed, “but no cub of mine. He saved Petra’s life that first time, but was it really his doing? Or was it another power directing Aslan to save Petra, a power that could see a lost cub, but could not take her in his paws and protect her as he wanted? Please, someone tell me! Is Petra really Samson’s cub! Is she his cub by birth, because only he could protect her? He could see her nightmares, I couldn’t. Is Samson her real sire? Is this why she feels so close to him? Samson, please tell me!”
Theo felt a huge set of paws lifting him from the water like he weighed no more than a cub. Samson cradled Theo in his paws, the younger and smaller lion staring into his friend’s golden eyes.
“Samson,” Theo mewed, “is Petra your cub?” Samson smiled:
“We are very close,” he mewed, “I love her as if she’s mine, yes. But she can be everyone’s cub, yours, mine, Even that of a polar bear. We can all embrace her in our paws, embrace her, stroke her, caress her paws and kiss her nose. I love her so very much.” Theo reached up with his paws to embrace Samson.
Theo’s vision cleared, and he saw Samson standing over him, the huge lion’s left forepaw in his.
“Theo,” Samson mewed, “are you feeling okay?” Theo gulped hard, his mind playing tricks.
“I’m sorry,” Theo mewed.
“You were crying,” Samson said softly, “begging me for help.”
“I want to know whose cub Petra is,” Theo sniffed, “you took me in your paws Samson! How you did it, I don’t know, but you did, and you told me Petra was everyone’s cub, yours, mine, even the cub of a polar bear. You said you loved Petra with all your heart.”
“I love her with all my heart, that’s true enough,” Samson mewed, “as for taking you in my paws, that was probably a throw back to when I hugged you in the bathtub.” Theo looked at his friend.
“I am so sorry!” Theo wept, “For what my cub has done to our cub!” Samson helped Theo out of the water. Aslan blearily watched them.
“What do you want me to do?” Aslan asked.
“Watch, listen and learn!” Samson snarled, “If you do not do this, I will finish you!” Aslan struggled to his feet, his paws slipping slightly on the tiles. Gasping with exertion, he weaved out of the door.
“Leave him alone for a while,” Samson mewed.
“Look after Petra Samson,” Theo mewed, “I’m sure you’ll do a better job than me.” Samson’s eyes looked sadly down at Theo.
“You haven’t failed,” the huge lion replied, “you couldn’t see what Aslan was going to do. You need to find out why he’s acting like this. What doesn’t he understand? Talk to him, for you know him, he’s your cub after all. I will look after Petra while you work things out with your cub.” Theo bowed his head to Samson, the larger lion looking shocked at his friend’s subservient behaviour.
“I will,” Theo mewed.
That night, Petra and Samson prepared to go fruit picking. Samson was shocked to find Petra didn’t know what an apple, a pair or a blackberry were, and vowed to show her. He met the white lioness at the back door of the house, Petra looking miserably at the rain which had begun to fall. Wind had joined it and the weather was dreadful.
“I suppose fruit picking is off for tonight?” Petra asked. Samson shook his head, his mane flying in all directions.
“We’ll go,” he said, “but, well, you will have to wear a coat or something. Your fur might be thick, but you aren’t used to this weather. I’ll bet you’ve never been out in a rainstorm before.” Petra shook her head.
“We stay indoors,” she mewed. Samson shook his head.
“I will find you a warm coat to keep off the cold,” he said. Petra was about to protest when Samson plunged into a large cupboard and emerged with something which looked at first like a rug for a horse.
“I’m not wearing that!” Petra mewed.
“You have white fur, and pink skin. You aren’t a polar bear you know Petra. You need to be kept warm on nights like this. It’s all right in here; we have heating, warm rugs, hot drinks if we want them, but outside, well.” Petra stood digging her toes into the tiles as Samson threw the rug over her back, and clipped the straps under her belly. Once they were clipped closed, he asked Petra to:
“Lean away from me, now!” She did so, and the straps tightened under her belly.
“I feel like an oven ready chicken!” Petra whimpered.
“You haven’t been out in the rain before, I don’t think,” Samson mewed. Petra looked down at her paws, admitting as much.
“I’m used to having warm paws,” she said.
“We will see how you get on with just the rug, then if you’re too cold, we’ll investigate protection for your paws too,” Samson mewed. Theo padded near. Seeing him, Petra hid her face behind one huge forepaw in embarrassment.
“Very fetching,” Theo purred, padding up and playfully slapping Petra’s shoulder with his paw, “walk on dobbin.” Petra laid her ears back at him and bared her teeth in anger.
“Right Samson, you take this horrid rug off me now!” She spat.
“You’ll want it before long,” he mewed, opening the door.
“Hang on a minute,” Petra mewed, placing her paw on Samson’s, “what about your rug? I am certainly not going out with one of these stupid things on, while you go without a rug and bare pawed. It makes me look like, like, a cub!”
“When you get outside, you will find out something that you haven’t realised yet.” Samson mewed, “something you lost when you refused Eohippus’s guidance.
“What did I lose?” Petra asked, now anxious, “I only gained from ditching her.”
“No you didn’t,” Samson mewed, “take a walk outside and you will realise what you have lost.” Petra touched Samson’s paw, realising his fur was thicker than she’d at first thought. He had a double layer of fur. Petra touched her own paw with her nose, feeling the fur on it. She knew then.
“I’ve lost my warm coat!” She yelled, “Eohippus took that away!”
“Yes my cub, she did,” Samson said. This upset Petra a great deal.
“How dare she give me something and then take it away!” She spat, sounding like a cub, and looking like one as she stamped her paws with rage.
“Dear Petra, let’s go find fruit,” Samson mewed.
“How is it,” Petra demanded, “that you Samson, have a thick coat, and I, who was Eohippus’s assistant, used to have one, and now don’t? It’s bloody unfair!”
“When you fought Eohippus, what was the last thing you tried to do when you surfaced from your dream?” Samson asked.
“I tried, tried to roar with triumph, but, but, it, it came out rather weak.”
“Weak?” Aslan said, “That wasn’t weak, that was cubbish.” Petra looked at her brother cub. His fur was plastered to his skin, and his mane was flat against his head, much like Samson’s.
“Aslan,” she said, Look in the mirror to your left, and Sammy, do the same. Aslan, what do you see?” Aslan looked into the mirror, and saw his face along with Samson’s. They looked remarkably alike.
“We look, no! No!” Aslan yelled, “We look like lionesses! I’m male I am!”
“So’s he,” Petra mewed, “now, look again, look into your own eyes Aslan, and into Samson’s, then look into mine.” Aslan did as his sister asked, seeing his face with angry eyes, which had nothing to do with Samson punishing him. Samson’s eyes were gentle, and, when Aslan turned his gaze on Petra’s eyes reflected in the glass, he saw something in them which made him want to cry. Petra was looking at him and Samson simultaneously, and her eyes held almost exactly the same expression for each of them. There was no hatred for Aslan in her gaze, only a hint of deep sadness, which marked the expression eye watching him from the one watching Samson. Theo watched this, and realised what his daughter cub was doing.
“Look at the glass Aslan, and what do you see?” Petra asked. Aslan, his toes digging into the tiles, saw something which made his eyes fill with tears.
“Samson and I, we look identical!” Aslan sniffed, “we’re one lion!”
“You could be Samson, and Samson could be you.” Petra mewed, “for you have one common bond between you that I don’t think you want to break.”
“We, we both deeply love a white lioness,” Aslan mewed, his shame filling him from his claws to his ears.
“Yes,” Samson mewed, “we both love a white lioness with all our hearts. Now Aslan, do you still want to kill this lioness? You might have given her and others cause to mistrust you, but you can undo the harm you have done. How would you truly feel if you destroyed this lioness’s life, either by killing her, or exiling me? Deep down you know what I feel, and I know what you feel towards Petra. You might have loved Petra as a mate when she was Eohippus’s mouth piece, but you began loving her as a tiny defenceless cub.”
So did you,” Aslan said, surprising himself, “so did you Samson.”
Yes,” Samson replied, “Aslan, how did you first find Petra, did you see her across a room?”
“No, I was blind at the time, I found her with my paw, and she took my paw in her tiny one, or was it the other way round, I can’t remember. But I knew then I loved this little cub! I knew from the bottom of my hart!”
“I saw her in a dream,” Samson mewed, “but you already know that story I think.”
“You, you mean, you directed me to find Petra?”
“I preyed someone would help the tiny white cub,” Samson replied, “someone who would understand her, and walk paw print for paw print with her, and maybe, maybe grow to love her.” Aslan looked into Samson’s eyes, and saw the light in them again, but, though it was as intense as before, it wasn’t dangerous. It was the light in a lion’s eyes when he knows he loves another lion or lioness with all his heart.
“I see we are of one mind,” Samson mewed, thrusting his paw out to Aslan, who dumbly took it in his.
“Despite everything I threatened,” Aslan mewed, squeezing Samson’s paw for support, “Petra still loves me, maybe not in the same way, but she’s strong enough to love me despite my stupidity.”
“I love you both,” Petra mewed, equally, though differently. Samson as a friend, and Aslan as my brother.”
“Take what you still have in both paws Aslan,” Samson mewed, “remember your folly, but do not let it consume you. Learn from it.”
“You are a cub again Petra,” Aslan mewed, “a large cub, but a cub all the same! You have the body of a lioness, but the face of a cub, an innocent cub! The cub I was drawn to when I was a cub myself.” Aslan dropped Samson’s paw.
“Take Petra’s paw Aslan,” Samson mewed, Take Petra’s paw in yours. Aslan touched the toes of Petra’s left forepaw with his right, and she lifted her paw slightly, letting him curl the toes of his paw round hers, lifting her paw in his. Aslan closed his eyes, struggling to make sense of the emotions running through his sister, for it was as if they’d never made the leap from siblings to lovers, almost as if things were as they’d been when they’d first met.
mewed, “how can I apologise for the words I used towards you and what I meant
to do? I know I cannot take those words
back, but I would give anything to do so now.
Not to have our relationship back the way it was, for that would be too
much to ask, and we’ve moved on, but for us to carry on as brother and sister,
loving each other, playing with each other’s tails and paws, curling up
together on cold dark nights paw in paw.
I wanted to protect you
“Please forgive me,” Aslan’s eyes pleaded,” through my own misguided thoughts and actions I lost my lover, am I going to lose my sister as well?” Petra knew the message in her own eyes made Aslan think.
“We go on from here,” Petra mewed, “I forgive, but cannot forget. We are sister and brother Aslan. I love you very much, but things have changed. You will have to adjust, for I did so during my dark days after leaving Eohippus’s employ. It will be difficult for you, but you will make it. Now, let me ask you a question. What is it you most want to do now?”
“Go fruit picking with you and Samson,” Aslan mewed, meaning every word.
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