All in the mix



Following the death of Whitie’s youngest cub, Samson called Simba and Petra in for a chat.  The large lion had reviewed the footage from the cameras and wanted to hear what the two white lions thought.  Simba, much ashamed of his part in the whole thing stared at his paws throughout, unable to look Samson in the eye after failing in his duty.  Petra recounted to the tawny lion everything she’d done and why she thought she’d done what she had.  There were no boastful words or attitude, no hint of “aren’t I so great,” from the white lioness, and this made Simba feel even worse.  Petra had done her duty to her cub and her community, whereas Simba had not.  Samson heard Petra out, and then turned to Simba, who couldn’t meet his eye.

       “I couldn’t kill that cub,” Simba mewed, “even though I knew she had to die, deep down I knew, I couldn’t.”  Samson looked at his second in command.

       “It is for you to take the responsibility for things like this,” he said, “Petra shouldn’t have been put in a position to take charge, for it is not her job.”  Crestfallen Simba slunk away.

       “I’ll let him think things over for a while,” Samson mewed to Petra, “he needs a little time.”  Petra nodded and padded away.  Simba padded back to Samson.

      “The truth was,” Simba mewed, “I couldn’t hurt that cub!  She was a cub for Eohippus sake!  How will we know what she could have been now she’s dead.  I didn’t want to kill her Samson!  I knew I must, but I didn’t want to.  I hesitated a bit too long, and she nearly went for me.”  Samson looked into Simba’s eyes, realising the white lion was barely out of cubhood himself.

       “I should have been there;” he mewed, “that was my job, not yours.”  Samson touched Simba’s paw.

       “Your mum is something special though isn’t she,” he said, “A real fighter is Petra.”  Simba smiled.

      “She is,” he replied, “and I love her for it.”

      “Me too Simba, me too,” Samson replied.


Meanwhile, in Petra’s lie up, Salty and Perdy rested with their newborn cub.  Salty, being able to blend into the background of the community, had managed to keep his union with Perdy secret until she’d born the cub.  Now she had a female pure bred snow Leopard cub with closed eyes and huge paws, which they’d, named Nemera.  Salty, ever since he’d been present at the birth of the cub two days previously, could not take his eyes off Perdy or their cub.  Salty had examined Nemera from her black nose to black padded paws, and loved every inch of her.  They were resting in Petra’s lie up because the white lioness had offered them sanctuary.  Also, Perdy suspected Petra loved her cub too, and this was no small consideration when she decided to give the family a home.  Petra’s lie up was huge, too large for her and Simba alone.


Whitie, Blackie and Namir lay in their lie up, the two adult snow Leopards fussing over their one remaining cub, the male cub loving being stroked from nose to paws.  Namir loved nothing more than when Whitie ran her paws over his head and body.  Mewing, purring, Wriggling and making sure his paws got a good massage was Namir’s way of showing the pleasure Whitie’s paws gave him.  Whitie purred deeply, wrapping herself around her cub, her tail curled round her hind paws.  Blackie watched Whitie massaging her cub’s paws.  The sound of heavy paws padding into the room announced the arrival of Petra and her snow Leopard lodgers.  Blackie looked at Salty, the male snow Leopard majestic and powerful on his huge padded paws.

       “I didn’t know you’d had a cub Perdy?”  Blackie mewed.  Perdy smiled:

      “Me and Salty,” she said, “I had our cub two days ago, her name’s Nemera,” Blackie smiled.

       “You hear that Whitie?”  He asked.  Whitie nodded, her mind focused on Namir and not on the other Leopards or lions.  Perdy watched Whitie, understanding the reasons for the female snow Leopard’s distraction.  Perdy’s cub, sensing another cub of her kind near her, crawled towards Namir, the paws of the two cubs touching after a little exploration.  Once they’d made contact, the two cubs curled up together.  Perdy smiled at the two cubs.

       “Our cubs have made contact,” she mewed to Whitie, who smiled.

       “Nice to hear that,” she mewed.  Perdy and Whitie curled round the two cubs, their bodies warming the newborn snow Leopards.  .


Samson padded into the room, saw Perdy’s cub and smiled at her.

       “You’ve had your cub,” he purred, “that’s wonderful.

     “I thought, thought noone knew!”  Perdy mewed.  Samson smiled:

      “Not quite secret enough,” he mewed, leaning down and kissing Perdy on her nose.  Salty stared at Samson.

       “How did you know?”  He asked, “Perdy had the cub deep in the wood where there were no cameras!”

       “I was there,” Samson purred, “I saw it all.”

      “How do I know you’re not making all this up?”  Salty asked.

       “Two nights ago,” Samson mewed, “you and Perdy retired into the wood, Perdy in strong labour.  You settled down by the big oak and Perdy gave birth to Nemera ten minutes after.  The stars were out when you two crept back into the house.  I followed you.”  Perdy looked up into the lion’s face.

       “I suppose we couldn’t keep it secret forever,” she mewed.  Samson lay down and took each one of the tiny snow Leopard cubs in his paws.  At first each cub mewed and spat, but then calmed down as they felt his paws embracing them.  Snuggling into the huge lion’s mane as he hugged each of them, Namir and Nemera purred as they felt his warm paws around them.  Whitie smiled at Samson, the lion releasing Namir and padding to Whitie before hugging her.  Whitie sighed with contentment as she felt his paws enveloping her.

       “This is lovely,” she mewed.  Samson purred deeply, the sound comforting Whitie.  Simba and Petra watched this, Simba enjoying watching the two young snow Leopard cubs, his eyes holding the same expression as they done when he’d first met Silver and Leo.  Thinking of the two older cubs made Simba smile with pleasure.  Rowena, now inseparable from Simba, saw his smile and rubbed his paw with hers.

       “You two are joined at the paw,” Petra laughed.  Simba hugged Rowena, the young white lioness snuggling close.

       “I’d rather be nowhere else than here,” Rowena mewed, “joined by the paw with you Simba, join all four of my paws with yours if you want.  Simba grinned, massaging the toes of her left forepaw with those of his right.  Rowena worked her paw deep into Simba’s.  Rowena rolled onto her side, Simba still holding her paw.  Once she was comfortable, he released her paw and, lying down, rubbed her down with all four of his paws, using his pads and toes to massage her as best he could.  Rowena wriggled and mewed with pleasure, feeling Simba’s body curling round hers, his tongue and teeth, as well as paw pads and toes working over her body.  Rowena pressed herself into his embrace, loving his attention.

       “Your paws are so soft and gentle,” Rowena mewed, “please Simba, and keep stroking me!”  Rowena pleaded.  Simba purred as he worked, enjoying the thought he was giving pleasure to Rowena.  Rowena purred and purred, mewing and wriggling with pleasure, enjoying the touch of the larger lion’s pads and toes against her own body, paw pads and toes.

       “You two are so funny!”  Petra laughed, loving the fact her son cub and Rowena felt so close to each other.  Simba felt closer to Rowena than he wanted to let on, and it seemed to him she felt close to him also.  Simba looked Rowena over, taking her in from white ears to black paw pads.  Simba kissed Rowena on her nose, the white cub falling asleep rapidly.  It was clear to Petra Simba loved Rowena.  Motioning to him to follow her, Petra walked out of the lie up.  Simba settled Rowena, and then followed his mum.

       “What?”  He asked.  Petra smiled at her Son cub.

       “I know how you feel about Rowena,” she said.  Simba blushed from his neck to his ears.

       “Is it that obvious?”  He asked, “I didn’t mean it to be that obvious!  Rowena must hate me for it.  She’s only a cub!  I don’t’ know what I feel mum, it’s, well, like this.  Whenever I’m in some kind of emotional trouble, Rowena’s always there, it’s like she knows I’m not feeling too good.  When I had to decide what to do about Whitie’s cub, Rowena was there, afterwards too.  She knows when I’m upset, and that’s strange.  I love her company, even when she says nothing to me, just takes my paw in hers, its wonderful mum!”  Petra smiled.

       “I know this,” she mewed, “I’ve been watching both of you.”  Simba looked down at his paws.

      “Does Rowena like me?”  He asked.

      “I’m not telling,” Petra mewed, “you work it out for yourself.”  Simba shook himself, knowing his mum was right.  Simba suddenly felt someone sidling up to him.  He didn’t need to look round to know who it was.  The familiar touch of Rowena’s paw enfolding his made Simba want to cry, and when she brushed his whiskers with hers, Simba lost control completely.  Lying down, he gathered the nine week old white female lion cub in his huge paws, Rowena purring as she felt his touch.  He wanted to love and protect her with everything he had, but Simba also felt his love for Rowena was wrong.  How could he feel this way about a nine week old cub?  Simba felt connected with Rowena in a way that terrified him.  Whenever he was upset, she was there, even if she was not with him.  Rowena would sense trouble and appear whenever Simba got upset, and this scared, and at the same time filled him with gratitude and love for this cub.  Rowena had come to him three times now, once while he was fighting with his feelings regarding Whitie’s youngest cub, again after the snow Leopard cub’s death, and now when he was confused about his feelings towards her.  Simba knew Rowena had a good idea how he felt towards her.

       “If you want to hold me, please do,” Rowena mewed.  Simba embraced her tightly, loving her warmth and proximity.

     “Simba,” Rowena mewed, “please, would you tell me your story?”  Simba knew Rowena felt the weight of his past and was curious to find out more.

       “It’s not a story for cubs,” he replied, realising how stupid and patronising he sounded.

       “It might be a sad tale,” Rowena mewed, “but I want to hear your story.  I mean, I’d like to.”  Simba buried his face in her fur, breathing deeply, trying to draw strength from her presence.

       “My mother threw me out of the family when I was six weeks old.  Barely weaned, with my eyes only just open, I had seen little and knew nothing.  While wandering about near to where I was dumped, I was captured by humans who pricked me with needles and sent me into a dream like state.  These men were looking for white lion cubs to sell.  The men put me into a string bag and left me for a while.  During this time, a huge bear came up to me and started kicking me about.  She was using me as a football!  I could not resist on account of the drugs and the bag I was trapped in.  There was a sudden roar, and then Petra and her friends found me.  I think the men must have returned and frightened the bear away, in turn being frightened by a tiger.  Petra got me out of the string bag and carried me here.  Weeks passed, and I began to learn about my home.  I met this horrid otter who insisted I eat fish and vegetables.  Petra, or mum as I call her now, can’t eat meat, so I decided I wouldn’t, so she and I could eat together as mothers and cubs always have.  This otter wouldn’t let me leave my fish, so I threw it across the room.  She got angry and locked me in a large walk in store cupboard.  Petra found me hours later, for this cupboard was well hidden.  She tore the door off and found me scared and literally sick with fear.  Mum helped me out of the cupboard and cleaned me up.  I vowed to kill the otter, who I knew as Furry Winnie.  I killed the otter right enough, how I did it I don’t know.  After her death things got easier for me.  I met and helped the bear who’d kicked me about when I was in the bag, it’s a long tale and you’d have to ask mum about that.  This story telling tires me Rowena, everything’s spinning in my head, and I can’t think straight!”  Rowena touched Simba’s paw with hers, feeling his reaction.

      “You don’t like me touching your paw?”  Rowena asked.

      “It’s okay,” Simba mewed, wanting to say much more.

       “You flinch away though,” Rowena replied.

       “I’m trying to stop myself from, oh, it’s nothing,” Simba said.

      “Trying to stop yourself from loving a nine week old cub?”  Rowena mewed.  Simba gulped hard, her words making him want to cry:

       “I can’t, but I do,”  he sniffed, “I shouldn’t, not when you’re so young n’all, but it’s not love because I want to have cubs with you, it’s love of you, your mind, how you are!  How your, your paw feels when it touches mine, and how you always seem to know when I’m in mental distress.  It’s wrong, feeling love for a very young cub is wrong, but I can’t help how I feel!”  Rowena smiled and kissed his nose.

       “I love you too Simba,” she whispered.  Simba, hearing her words, gathered Rowena to him, embracing her in his huge paws.  Rowena purred and worked her paws into his fur.

      “If loving me is wrong,” Rowena mewed, “it’s feeling very right to me.”  Simba loved Rowena the minute he set eyes on her.  Touching her with his paws only confirmed his feelings.

       “It’s wrong, because, because the community won’t wear it,” Simba mewed, “I’m quite a bit older than you, and it’s just not the done thing to love a cub so much younger.”

       “We could be brother and sister, noone would know,” Rowena mewed.  Simba smiled, she was right.

      “I want to protect you Rowena, I want to take you in my paws and hug you all day.”

      “If I could,” she replied, “I’d take you in my paws and hug you all day, but I’m not yet big enough to do it properly.”  Simba hugged Rowena tightly, then ran his paws from her nose to her paw pads, the cub working her paws into his at every opportunity she had.  Once Simba had massaged Rowena’s paws twice over, Rowena attempted to rub Simba down in the same way he had her, but, due to her stature, couldn’t manage it.

      “Just do what you can,” Simba mewed, “don’t try to do too much.  If you like, just massage my paws, you can do that I think.”  Rowena did as Simba suggested, and the lion did his best to communicate the pleasure she was giving to him.  Rowena felt her way over Simba’s paws tracing pads and toes, the lion purring and mewing with pleasure.

       “That’s lovely to see,” Petra mewed, padding into the lie up.

      “Well I don’t think so!”  Sarafina yelled, “I heard my cub say she loves Simba!  Simba’s a year old at least!”

       “I don’t think Simba’s thinking about cubs,” Petra mewed, “he wants to protect Rowena that’s all.”

      “What does he know about anything?”  Sarafina yelled.

      “Simba knows quite a bit about the bad side of life,” Petra mewed.

       “He told me he’d killed an otter,” Rowena mewed, “he also said he’d been beaten up by a bear.  What else does he know?”  Simba’s eyes pleaded with Petra to keep quiet.

      “Maybe he’ll tell you one day,” Petra said.

      “I’ve heard he has dreams,” Sarafina scoffed, “I’ve heard from Fleur that he told her not to abort Leo after he’d had a dream about the cub.”

      “Yes that’s true,” Simba mewed, staring at his paws.

      “I’ve also heard he forgave Orsa on the strength of one of his dreams too!”  Petra took Simba’s paw in hers.

      “Just answer straight up,” she mewed, kissing his nose.  Simba, shaking with fear, nodded to Sarafina:

      “I did,” he replied, “I can’t explain the dreams.”

     “And did you dream about my cub?”  Sarafina spat.

      “Don’t ridicule something you know nothing about,” Samson growled, striding into the room.

       “What do you mean?”  Sarafina growled.

      “What I mean is Simba has a gift that none of us understand.  His dreams help us to understand those who are unable to speak for themselves.  Let him love Rowena, let him hold her in his paws and protect her.”

      “I suppose I have no choice,” Sarafina mewed.

      “No,” Samson mewed, “let Simba embrace your cub.” Sarafina watched as Rowena initiated contact, hugging Simba as best she could.  Simba wept into her fur, returning the white cub’s embrace.

       “I love you Simba,” she whispered.  Simba kissed Rowena’s nose, then the toes of both forepaws.

      “You soppy thing!”  Rowena laughed, returning Simba’s kiss to his nose and the toes of both his forepaws.  Simba almost choked on his tears as he realised how deep the white cub’s feelings were for him.

      “Hug me Simba,” Rowena pleaded, “please!”

      “I will Rowena, I will,” he mewed, embracing her with his paws.  Rowena snuggled into Simba’s fur and relaxed totally.  Simba rolled onto his back, embracing Rowena like she was his cub, much to Sarafina’s disgust.  Growling, she stormed from the room, knowing that to attempt to lunge for her cub would invite reprisal from Samson and Petra.  Rowena sighed deeply, very content with her lot.

       “Can I stay with you forever?”  Rowena asked.  Simba smiled.

      “No Rowena, you need to go back to Sarafina to drink milk.  You’re not quite weaned yet.  Simba pushed Rowena away, the white cub’s devastated expression making him want to cry.  When Rowena was clear of him, Simba leapt to his paws and ran from the room!

       “He genuinely loves your cub,” Petra said to Sarafina.  Sarafina looked into the white lioness’s eyes.

      “Tell me Petra,” Sarafina mewed, her voice shaking, “does Simba want to have cubs with my Rowena?  If he does, I’ll rip his paws off!”  Petra looked more shocked than Samson had ever seen her.

      “No Sarafina, whatever gave you that idea?”  Petra asked, trying not to lose her temper.

      “He doesn’t want to impregnate your cub,” Samson mewed, “How could you think that Sarafina!  Simba wants to love your cub, not mate with her!  How dare you think that of him!  He loves your cub and wants to protect her from stupid and ignorant creatures!”

       “So do I!”  Sarafina yelled.

       “If you want to protect Rowena from Ignorant creatures, you’d better give custody of her to Simba,” Leo mewed.  Sarafina spat at the long haired lion cross cub.

       “You horrid animal!”  She yelled, while Petra and Samson tried not to laugh at Leo’s remark.

       “Drink your fill of milk Rowena, then go to Simba,” Samson mewed.  Rowena drank steadily but quickly, wanting to get away.  Once she was full of milk she fled before she was further detained by her mother.  Rowena ran away, following Simba’s scent to his and Petra’s lie up where she found Simba lying on the rugs, crying into his paws.

      “Simba?”  Rowena asked gently, dropping to the floor and crawling to the lion, before nudging him under his chin with her nose.  Simba looked up and saw the white cub through his tears.

      “Rowena,” he choked, “you shouldn’t be here, leave before Sarafina finds you here, she’ll go mad!”

        “No Simba,” Rowena mewed, “my mother’s not going to find us here, Petra and Samson won’t let her.”  Simba raised his paw to wipe his eyes, but Rowena pulled it down, before wiping his eyes with hers.  Simba held Rowena tightly.

       “I love you!  I want to protect you!  I won’t harm you!”  He sobbed, “Why does everyone doubt my intentions?  Tell me Rowena; tell me before I go mad!”

       “I don’t know what you’re saying,” Rowena mewed, “all I know am I wanted to be with you and I can be with you now.”  Simba hugged Rowena tightly, his questions unanswered.  In time Simba calmed down, Rowena’s presence soothing him.  Simba settled down breathing slowly to regulate his pulse.

       “I think we need not talk about your intentions,” Samson mewed, padding into the room, “Sarafina will have to learn how we work here.  She might be Rowena’s mother, but the whole community love and take responsibility for her like she was our own cub.  Hug Rowena Simba, love her, massage her.”  Simba hugged Rowena tightly, the cub enjoying his attention.

       “That feels so good!”  Rowena mewed.  Samson watched Sarafina out of the corner of his eye as she watched Simba and Rowena.

       “You can never leave them alone can you,” Samson growled.

       “I’m making sure that he doesn’t hurt my cub!”  Sarafina snarled.

      “Petra told you Simba were no threat to Rowena,” Samson hissed, “why do you doubt her word?”

       “Simba’s love for Rowena is unnatural!”  Sarafina replied.

       “He just wants to make sure she doesn’t go through what he did when he was very young,” Samson mewed, “white lions don’t have easy lives you know, Petra didn’t, and nor did Simba.  I know mum, for I saw it.”  Sarafina stormed off, intent on talking to anyone who might know anything about Simba.  She almost tripped over Leo, who hurriedly got out of her way.

       “Sorry,” he said, his paws almost slipping on the tiled floor of the passage in his haste to clear her path.

        “You!”  Sarafina snarled, “you are the one they call little Leo, yes?”  Leo, confused and upset by this form of address, replied that he was sometimes known as little Leo.

       “You and that silver coated cub are pretty tight with Simba aren’t you,” Sarafina continued, “tell me about Simba, what is he like?  Is he good to you, to the Silver cub too?”  Leo, upset by this, stammered that:

       “Simba’s great, he, he’s older than us, so has charge of us when we’re outside, though he doesn’t interfere with our play.  He just watches over us, me and Silver.  I suppose he’ll be adding another member to our group soon, Rowena, your cub.”  Sarafina nearly hit him!

      “No, not if I can help it!”  She snapped, “Simba’s dreadful!  My cub likes him, and he likes her!  He says he wants to protect her!”

       “But that’s what Simba does!”  Leo mewed, “Simba’s gentle!  He might be very paws on with everyone, but we don’t mind that.  That’s the way he is, that’s the way his mum Petra is!  Please Sarafina, don’t think badly of Simba.  He, he saved my life you know.  He had a dream; I don’t know the full story, ask Samson or fleur!”  Sarafina looked at Leo with fresh eyes.

      “Now I know!”  She said, “Now I know why you look so strange!  Fleur’s that large cat with the funny markings, all dirty fur, irregular stripes with spotted paws?”  Leo nodded.

       “Yes,” he mewed.

       “Now, now I know who your parents are!  Samson and fleur are in love, and they mated and fleur gave birth to you!  No wonder you look so horrible!”  Sarafina jabbed her paw at Leo.

      “I can guess the contents of Simba’s dream!”  She yelled, “He saw how you’d turn out and pleaded with fleur not to abort you didn’t him?  Didn’t he!  Simba strikes me as the kind of lion who’d plead for the lives of misfits.  Now he’s ingratiating himself with my cub!  Get out of my sight you horrid creature!”  Sarafina yelled raising a paw and walloping Leo!  Leo squealed with pain and shock, the sound bringing fleur galloping into the passage.  Fleur spotted Sarafina and chased her away.

      “What happened here?”  Fleur asked when she returned.

      “Sarafina hit me!”  Leo wailed, “I did nothing to anger her, I just answered questions about Simba, I told her, and she guessed who’s cub I was, and then spoke of Simba’s dreams, I think she knew all along about those!  She told me I was disgusting and then hit me!  She said Simba would plead for the lives of misfits!”  Someone growled deeply, the sound frightening Leo.  Looking round, they saw Petra standing not to far away.

      “Sarafina will tell me everything!”  Petra snarled, “I will have everything out of her!  She will then pay dearly for hitting you Leo.”  Petra padded away to eat and plan her attack.


Finishing her meal, Petra drank deeply and then wiped her mouth with her paw, just as she had done since she could remember.  This action brought a snarl of anger from behind her, and turning, Petra saw Sarafina.

      “I hate both of you!”  Sarafina yelled, leaping at Petra, who fended her off expertly, throwing her on the floor.

       “You mean there are two of me?”  Petra asked.  Sarafina spat at her.

      “You and your horrid cub!”  Sarafina yelled, “I hate both of you!”

       “Oh dear,” Simba mewed, padding up to help Petra, “let’s both finish her off mum.”

       “Oh no, no!” Sarafina yelled, “There are two of them!”  Simba smiled wickedly.

     “All I care about is hidden away, or can defend herself, so let’s go!”  He launched himself at Sarafina, squashing her.  Sarafina screamed as Simba’s weight slammed into her.

      “Now you listen to us!”  Petra yelled, “You be careful who you are speaking to!  You do not talk to Leo like you did!”  Sarafina wriggled and snapped at Simba’s paws while Petra yelled into her face.  Then it was Simba’s turn.  Leaning on Sarafina, he roared into her face at point blank range:

      “You never ever hit a cub for being himself!”  He yelled.

      “What if I hate that cub?”  Sarafina yelled.

       “You have no reason to hate him though,” Petra said, “Leo did nothing to you.  You started quizzing him and insulting his parents and his friends.  Now you have to pay the price for that.  One of his friends happens to be Simba, the very lion you are trying to keep your cub away from.”  Sarafina lay beneath Simba’s paws; finally realising she was in deep trouble.  She’d only been in the community six weeks and needed to learn a lot.

     “Ask Theo about how we work here,” Simba mewed, “he’ll tell you how things are.”  Sarafina stared up into Simba’s blue eyes.  They were handsome eyes, gentle too.  Simba released Sarafina and the lioness leapt to her feet, running from the room.  Simba watched her leave.


Finding Theo, Sarafina poured out her tale warts and all, knowing he’d be able to hear it from other community members.  The bit about her hitting Leo made Theo growl deep in his throat, but he kept his cool.

      “Simba embracing Rowena isn’t unusual behaviour for a community member,” Theo mewed, “the community takes a newborn cub in paw as if the cub is their own.  You give birth to the cub and feed it, but the whole community helps you look after it.  You gave Petra custody of your cub minutes after her birth so you could find food.  You had no problem with that.  Now you are worried because Rowena likes Simba and he likes her?”

      “They love each other!”  Sarafina mewed, “Simba and Rowena are in love!”

      “No!”  Theo mewed, “Simba loves your cub and wants to protect her that’s all.  He thinks his feelings are wrong because he doesn’t understand them well.  All Simba wants is to curl up with your cub and protect her.  He will play with her too, but that’s natural cub stuff.”

      “I heard him saying he thought his feelings towards Rowena were wrong,” Sarafina mewed, “how, if it’s just love from one cub to another, could he possibly think his feelings were wrong?”

      “It’s the age difference,” Theo mewed, “Simba’s quite a bit older than your cub Sarafina.  That’s why he thinks his feelings are wrong.  He doesn’t want to harm your cub Sarafina, he wants to love her, and she to love him.  All this started because Rowena started going to Simba when he was upset, wanting to comfort him.  Simba was touched by the cub’s concern for him and began to watch over her.  When the instances of Simba being upset and Rowena realising it and going to him occurred time and time again, Simba grew to love the cub’s attention and then the cub herself.  He found that Rowena liked to be hugged and stroked, like any cub does if they’re treated with love.  Simba wanted to love another cub, for he’d not been able to when he was a cub.  Let him hug your cub Sarafina, see what happens.  Why not try enjoying the fact your cub has found a friend?”  Sarafina looked at Theo.

       “Tell me about white lions,” she said quickly, “how do they think?  Are they like us tawny lions?”

“Petra and Simba aren’t like us at all,” Theo mewed, “they’re gentler, softer creatures.  Petra couldn’t hurt a fly, and as for Simba, well, he’s killed before, but only under the most severe provocation.  All Simba and Petra want is to be hugged tightly and to hug others.  You’ve seen how Simba embraces Rowena; all he wants to do is protect her from the horrible world he experienced.  Simba’s a lovely lion Sarafina!”  Sarafina remembered Simba’s tears in his lie up.  He looked so lost, so unhappy.  Then she remembered what happened when Rowena crawled up to him, Simba’s attitude was genuine and, though she hated to admit it, loving.  His paws enveloped Rowena, and hers enveloped him as best she could, and as for Rowena wiping Simba’s eyes, that was genuine love for him on her part.

       “I’ve been so stupid,” Sarafina mewed, “stupid, ignorant and worse.  I’ve hurt my own cub, alienated everyone else, and made myself into the enemy of the state.  I need to watch Simba more closely, see how he is with Rowena.  They play together don’t they, touch noses and paws, as well as massage paws and tickle each other’s pads and toes, like cubs, really.”

      “Simba wants to protect his younger sister,” Theo mewed, “that’s what he told me.”  Sarafina looked into Theo’s face.

       “Simba loves Rowena like she was his sister,” the lioness said, “though he thinks his love is wrong because of the age gap between them.”

      “I’ve been trying to tell you this, as have Samson and Petra,” Theo mewed, “you are slow Sarafina!”

       “If he wants to love her like she’s his sister and she love him like he’s her brother, that’s fine!”  Sarafina exclaimed.

      “That’s all Simba’s ever wanted,” Theo sighed, relieved Sarafina had finally seen sense, “he’s just confused, he doesn’t think the community will see the quality of the love he feels for Rowena.  Some will most likely think he wants to mate with her, when that’s the last thing he wants to do.”

       “I suppose they are half brother and sister,” Sarafina mewed, “Tommy was their father, though Simba and Rowena were from different mothers.”  Theo knew this.

       “Brother and sister then, sort of,” he replied, “it’s no wonder they felt close.”

     “I will go to them and talk with them,” Sarafina mewed.

      “Talk with them, not at them,” Theo said.  Sarafina got to her paws and padded to Petra and Simba’s lie up where she found Simba and Rowena still cuddled close.

      “Sarafina’s back,” Simba mewed miserably, “brace yourself for the fireworks!”

      “No Simba, not now,” Sarafina mewed, feeling as miserable as the white lion looked, “I, I’m sorry, to both of you.  Sorry for what I said and what I implied.”

      “Simba’s been really upset by your words mum,”  Rowena mewed, “he’s been through a lot, but you all but saying he’d hurt me or  mate with me all but finished him.  I know what you meant when you said make me have his cubs.  I know what Tommy did to you.  Simba won’t do that to me!  Not ever!  We might roll about in play, stroke each other, massage and tickle each other’s paw pads and toes, all that, but we’re only playing like cubs.”  Sarafina watched as the toes of Rowena’s left forepaw curled round those of Simba’s right fore.  She’d heard of her cub’s sensitive nature and her ability to sense when others were in distress, and now seemed to be such a time.  Rowena’s toes squeezed Simba’s, and the lion briefly touched noses with her.

      “It’s okay Simba,” Rowena mewed softly.  Simba held Rowena close with his free forepaw, Sarafina seeing the lion’s paws were much bigger than those of his sister, but at the same time, they were comforting paws, big soft paws they were, paws which wanted to embrace Rowena for nothing more than just being herself.  Rowena purred contentedly as she felt Simba’s paw holding her close, gently massaging the toes of the paw she held in hers, Simba smiling and breathing deeply to calm himself down from the defensive manner he was close to adopting.

       “Love each other,” Sarafina mewed, “for you two have something special between you.”  Simba felt Rowena’s toes holding his, and they were warm and comforting.  All he wanted to do was curl up with her, warm and safe in the den, like cubs had always done.

      “I’m cold,” Rowena mewed, “my paws are freezing!”  Simba gathered her to him, Rowena working her forepaws into his mane, curling up and tucking her hind into the space between his body and hers.  Simba felt the toes of Rowena’s fore and hind paws working their way into his fur.

       “I’m your big warm blanket now I see,” Simba said playfully, drawing Rowena closer.  Sarafina watched as her cub fell asleep in the embrace of a lion she could never get close to.  Simba purred contentedly as Rowena relaxed totally.

      “You see what Simba is now?”  [Petra asked, trying to keep the anger from her voice, while wanting to tear Sarafina to bits.

      Yes Petra, I’m so sorry!”  Sarafina mewed.

       “You are so stupid Sarafina; I’m surprised you know which your right paw is!”  Petra mewed.  Sarafina scowled at Petra.

     “That was a cubbish remark,” she spat, “I’d have thought better of you Petra.”

      “Look, stop it!”  Rowena yelled, “This is so silly, all this fighting and bitching over nothing!”

      “That was a rather cheap shot mum,” Simba mewed.

      “Look, I’m so angry with this lioness, I don’t know what to do!”  Petra yelled.

       “She’s coming round to our way of thinking, so why not cool it?”  Simba suggested.  Petra, her toes curled into the rug she stood on, glared at Sarafina.

       “All right,” she snarled, “you have one more chance.”  Petra turned and walked out of the room.

       “What’s got into her?”  Sarafina asked.

      “Maybe the fact you all but accused me of wanting to mate with Rowena?”  Simba spat, “the thought disgusts me Sarafina!”  Sarafina looked down at her cub curled up tightly against Simba’s body.  Rowena was asleep, relaxed and totally calm.

      “She looks peaceful doesn’t she,” Sarafina said, surprised at herself.

      “She does,” Simba agreed, and I think she must trust me quite a bit to fall asleep like that, don’t you think?”  Sarafina had to agree.

     “Um, yeah,” she mumbled, now feeling dreadful, “Simba,” Sarafina mewed, almost kissing his paws, “I’m sorry for what I said about you.  I’m not able to see what’s so plain it should be obvious.  I’m so sorry!  What can I do to make amends!”

       “Just leave us alone,” Rowena mewed.  Sarafina looked at her cub.

        “Okay,” she mewed, “I will, but you’re not yet weaned, how can you survive if I don’t feed you?”

       “Lost cubs have been nurtured before,” Simba mewed, “ever heard of snowy half tail?”  Sarafina had heard of the white tigress.

       “She’s here?”  She asked.

       “Yes,” someone said.  Sarafina turned to find the largest tigress she’d ever seen almost filling the doorway.

       “Oh, hi snowy,” Simba mewed.  Snowy had two newcomers with her, a large lion with a ginger or strawberry blonde mane and a huge badger.

      “Who are those two?”  Simba asked.

      “The lion’s name is ginger, the badgers, well, he’s a bit aloof, calls himself mister Badger if you can believe that,” snowy replied.  Simba stood up and approached the badger.

       “I trust you have a name?”  He asked pleasantly.

       “My name is Mister Badger,” the badger replied, “and you will call me by this name.”

      “How dare you talk to Simba like that?”  Rowena yelled.  The badger looked at her.

       “I could make a meal of you so if I were you I’d keep quiet!”  He snapped.

       “Noone will be making a meal out of anyone!”  Ginger growled, “Badger, cool it!  We’re in their home now, not in the wood.”  The badger growled at the lion:

     “All right,” he harrumphed, “I suppose you’re right.”

       “You two want a home?”  Simba asked.

       “We’re friends, me and Mister Badger here,” Ginger replied, “I rescued him from a trap in the wood some time back, and now we’re together.  Life outside has become too harsh for badger, and we heard from the birds about this place.”  Mister Badger looked down at his paws when Ginger mentioned the reason for them seeking sanctuary.

      “I’m weak after days in the trap,” the badger mumbled.  Snowy thought him a handsome badger, big and strong.

       “You’re surely not going to let a trap get the better of you?”  She asked.  The badger looked at her, his eyes betraying his mental stress.

       “Of course not!”  He snapped, struggling to keep up the gruff exterior which was slipping.

      “You’re really a big softy aren’t you Mister Badger,” Rowena mewed.  The badger looked at her.

       “I was once,” he replied, “now I’m big and tough!”

       “Um, no,” Rowena mewed, padding up to the badger and taking his left forepaw in hers, gently stroking his pads and toes.  Despite his reservations, the badger smiled.

      “You like this?”  Rowena asked, changing her stroking of his toes to gentle massaging circles on the pads of the paw she held.  The badger’s eyes half closed, he was enjoying her ministrations.

       “Big soft old badger,” Ginger mewed.

      “Shut up Strawberry,” Mister Badger replied dreamily.  The lion looked embarrassed.

      “My Name’s ginger, not strawberry!”  He snarled.

        “Why strawberry?”  Snowy asked.

       “My mother used to call me strawberry, it was a nick name, sort of,” the lion mewed, “my mane, it’s kind of strawberry blonde.  Simba grinned behind his paw.

       “Okay Mister Badger and Ginger Strawberry, let’s get you bathed and fed.”  Mister badger smiled to himself as Rowena’s paw massage had its age old affect.

       “This feels good,” the badger breathed into Rowena’s ear, hoping noone else would hear.

      “Now what did I tell you?”  Ginger mewed, “he’s an old soft badger!”

       “I’m a wild animal!”  Mister Badger protested, “I don’t do things like paw massages!”  Rowena smiled, gently squeezing the paw she held in hers.

       “You didn’t do paw massages, you do now,” she mewed, kissing the badger on his nose.  Ginger saw his friend’s reaction to the white lion cub’s kiss and it was a positive one.

      “Come,” she said, “let’s go and get you bathed and fed.”  The badger let Rowena guide him to the bathtub, ginger, Snowy, Sarafina and Simba following.  Fleur examined the group as they entered her domain.

      “All of you want bathing?”  She asked.

     “Why not,” Simba mewed, “we all could do with a bath.”

      “No badger has ever asked for a bath before,” fleur mewed, “who bathes badgers?”

       “I can wash myself thanks,” Mister Badger replied.

      “That’s not the point!”  Fleur mewed, “we all can do that.  It’s just that it’s a ritual thing, a kind of welcome to the community sort of thing.”

      “Sounds to me as if getting the outside dirt off is also quite high on the list of priorities too,” ginger remarked.

      “Well, that happens too,” fleur admitted, “but it’s more of a bonding thing.”

       “It wasn’t when I joined,” Samson mewed, padding into the room, “Theo and Petra scrubbed me from nose to paw pads, it was horrendous to begin with, but then, well, I began to like it.”

      “Now you can’t get enough of it,” Simba laughed.

      “No,” Samson mewed, “in fact I’m here to arrange my next bathing session with fleur.”

      “Straight after Simba’s group,” fleur mewed.  Samson nodded his fur still fragrant from the last bath only three hours before.  Fleur sniffed suspiciously.

      “Have you been here out of hours?”  She asked.  Samson looked guilty.

      “Yeah,” he replied.

       “Thought so,” Fleur mewed, “you didn’t leave any mess or anything, but my nose told me.”  Fleur smiled and kissed Samson’s nose.

        “The truth is,” she whispered, “I have suspected you have been bathing alone as well as with me for some days.  You are always the freshest lion here.”  Samson grinned.  Fleur noticed something else.

       “You’ve been chewing mint bark too!”  She exclaimed, “That’s expensive stuff!”

       “Dental bills are more so,” Samson mewed, “the Boss told me so.”

      “But again, I’ve not seen any mint bark going missing,” Fleur mewed, “have you got your own supply?”

       “Yeah,” Samson mewed, “another thing, I’ve not been bathing here, I’ve been using Snowy’s place for private ablutions.”

       “How many times now?”  Fleur asked the white tigress.

      “Several,” snowy mewed, “wild Samson is really lap cat Sammy you know fleur, he loves nothing more than to lie before an open fire to dry his fur.”  Samson looked mortified at her disclosure.

       “Snowy!”  He remonstrated, “that was, was private stuff, not for anyone else to know.”  Fleur was laughing fit to bust.

        “You should be punished for excess bathing!”  She said, hugging Samson.

       “Are those two an item?””  Mister Badger asked.

       “Yes,” Simba mewed.  Ginger playfully slapped the badger.

      “You idiot,” he teased, “have you lost your senses?  It’s quite plain to see the lion with the long mane and this funny furred cat are an item.”  The badger looked sheepish.

      “Not thinking properly today,” he replied gruffly.

       “”the lion with the long mane,” as you call him is our leader,” Snowy said gravely.  Ginger looked terrified!

       “Oh, um, okay,” he babbled, “him?  Leader?  You’re leader are you? Oh no!  I’m putting my paw in it!”

      “All four paws my friend,” Samson mewed, pretending growing offence,” do you want to put your head in as well?  For if you do, you’re going the right way about it.”  Ginger threw himself down at Samson’s feet and begged for forgiveness.

      “I am so sorry!”  He mewed, “I didn’t know!”

       “Get up Strawberry!”  Samson said, playfully nudging Ginger with his nose.

      “How, how did you know about that!”  Ginger demanded, forgetting him now his cub nick name had been used in public.

        “I know all about you and Mister Badger,” Samson replied, “I’ve been watching you, indeed my camera team have had you under their watchful gaze for a long time.  Indeed, we were about to rescue the badger when you pitched in and did the job.  Mister Badger wasn’t in the trap for days, only minutes, though it felt like days to him I don’t doubt.”  Mister Badger looked at ginger.

       “So your cubbish nick name is exposed, so what?”  He asked.

      “How would you like it if everyone knew your name and started using it?”  Ginger spat.

        “Oh, um, yes, well,” the badger grumbled.

       “His name is Percival Pettigrew the third and he hates it,” Ginger mewed, the badger throwing himself on the tiles and hiding his face in his paws.

      “Percival Pettigrew the third ay?”  Samson mewed, “now that’s nice isn’t it.”  The badger moaned in genuine mental pain.

       “I’m finished!”  He whimpered.  Sarafina, thinking the badger’s name highly amusing danced round the bathroom chanting in what she thought to be a really posh voice,

       “Percival Pettigrew the third, oh, how absolutely spiffing!”  The badger suddenly lost it!  Launching himself at the lioness, he went into battle!  Rowena caught the badger’s paw as he raced to deal with Sarafina, even though the lioness would eat him for dinner.

       “Please, stop!”  Rowena pleaded.  Mister Badger felt his fire die.  The touch of the white lion cub’s paw drew it from him like a syringe draws blood, and he stood flat pawed on the tiles.

      “Leave her,” Rowena mewed, “she’s not worth attacking.  Anyway, she’s a lioness, queen of the beasts, and you’re a badger.  You might be king of the wood, but she’s queen of all beasts, and you can’t fight her.  What you can do is ignore her.  I do, and she’s my mother.  Sarafina’s weak and stupid.”  Snowy looked shocked at Rowena’s words, while Simba grinned hugely.

      “You can’t say that about your own mother!”  Snowy mewed, distressed by Rowena’s casual attitude.

       “You can when she’s upset me and my brother so much!”  Rowena mewed.

       “Your brother?”  Snowy asked, “Sarafina only had one cub!”

       “I kind of got adopted,” Simba mewed.

       “I think it was mutual,” Petra said, padding into the room.  Sarafina blundered past Petra, nearly clambering over her in her haste to escape.

       “Got rid of her,” Petra mewed, “I’ll make sure she leaves you two alone.” Rowena and Simba smiled.

      “That’s so sweet,” Mister Badger said.  Ginger smiled at his friend.

       “For a wild badger you’re a soft old thing Percival Pettigrew,” he said.  The badger stuck his tongue out at the lion.

       “Shut it Strawberry!”  The badger snarled, though there was no go in it, he was not seriously trying to cause offence.

       “Let’s get you lot bathed,” fleur mewed, “Samson won’t wait forever.”  The huge lion smiled at fleur as Ginger got into the bathtub to be rubbed down by her.  Fleur washed Ginger from nose to tail, missing no part of him.  It was plain to all which bits of him he liked massaged best because his purring got louder and deeper as Fleur worked on certain parts of his body, namely his paws and belly, which he loved massaged.

       “There are some ground rules here regarding eating meat,” fleur mewed to the newcomers, “Petra, the white lioness is allergic to meat.  Even the smell of it on your breath can make her ill, so when you’ve eaten meat, chew mint tree bark.  That will neutralise the smell and also clean your teeth too.  We don’t want Petra getting sick.

       “Sounds serious,” Ginger mewed.

      “It is,” Petra said, padding into the room to join her cub.  Ginger examined her and liked what he saw.  Petra noticed him examining her and smiled at him.  She waved a huge white paw at Ginger, the lion’s senses exploding into hysteria.  Ginger felt his toes curling as his heart quickened and pulse started racing.  Petra, seeing ginger’s reaction to her slipped into the water and swam to him, before kissing him on his nose.

       “I saw you,” she mewed, taking his paw in hers.  Ginger nearly cried.

       “I’m sorry!”  He mewed, “I shouldn’t, mustn’t!”  Petra massaged his paw:

      “Why not?”  She asked, squeezing his paw.

       “You are so beautiful!”  Ginger mewed.  Petra laughed merrily and raised a paw to ruffle his mane, ginger’s eyes following it.  Her paws were beautiful too!  Large white paws with black pads.  Ginger mewed softly, Petra hearing him and stroking his mane and nose.

      “Will you two stop it!”  Mister badger laughed.  Purring loudly, Petra let ginger hug her tightly.

       “Can I stay with you?”  Ginger mewed.  Simba, overhearing his words, grinned at Petra.

       “Love struck are we mum?”  He mewed.  Petra grinned at her Son cub.

       “Come Strawberry,” she mewed.  Ginger, usually hating his cubbish nick name, suddenly found he liked it when Petra said it.

       “Let me bathe you,” Petra mewed, beginning to rub him down from nose to paws, then gently taking each paw and rasping away the dead skin from around his pads.  Ginger didn’t much like the exfoliation of his paw pads, but when it was over, he found a marked contrast in sensitivity of his paws, which he liked.

       “I’ll bathe the badger,” Kodiak said, padding into the room.  In the end, Kodiak and Rowena bathed Mister Badger.  Once he was clean from nose to tail, and his paws had been given the once over with the plastic rasp, Kodiak led the badger to the drying room and wrapped him up in a towel.


Meanwhile, Nanuq and Brunetta lay together in their lie up, Nanuq rubbing Brunetta down with slow gentle care, slowly exploring each part of her with his paws, from her nose, to the pads and toes of all four paws.  Brunetta loved every minute of her mate’s attention.  They’d been rubbing each other down in turns for about an hour now, and, to both, it seemed fresh every time.  They’d also used their own forepaws to massage their hind, each watching the other intently, describing the way the touch of paw pad against paw pad felt for each of them.  Brunetta and Nanuq laughed hysterically as each watched the other exploring, stroking and massaging their hind paws.


When Brunetta’s massage was over, she turned to Nanuq and hugged him:

      “We look like cubs when we massage our own hind paws you know!”  Brunetta laughed.

       “I don’t care about that,” Nanuq replied, “I just enjoy simple things.  Leave technology to the other bears, I like this.  I also like seeing you enjoying yourself, and you really do enjoy massaging your own paws don’t you Brunetta.”  Brunetta smiled:

       “Yes I enjoy it hugely, and so do you I think,” the female brown bear replied.  Nanuq smiled:

      “I do,” he agreed.  Brunetta picked up one of Nanuq’s forepaws and looked closely at it, parting the fur between paw pads and toes while stroking the paw.

      “I wish I had paws like yours,” she said, “They’re so large, and one of your paws has more fur on it than all four of mine put together!”

      “Your paws are beautiful Brunetta,” Nanuq replied, “they might be smaller than mine, but they’re lovely paws.”  Brunetta tickled the pads of the paw she held, Nanuq laughing helplessly.  He then whipped his paw away, grabbed hold of Brunetta’s left hind paw and tickled her pads and toes, the female brown bear squealing with laughter.  Brunetta whipped her paw away, lunging at Nanuq, rolling him over and tickling his hind paws, much to the polar bear’s delight.


Meanwhile, ginger and Petra padded down the corridor, attracted by the laughter of the two bears.  Watching them, Ginger and Petra realised what was going on and smiled to themselves.

      “Time for us to do the same?”  Ginger suggested.

      “Why not?”  Petra replied.  Petra led Ginger to her lie up where the two lions sat opposite each other on a rug.  Each taking the other’s forepaws, they lost balance and sprawled naturally onto the rug, laughing helplessly as they toppled over onto their sides.  Ginger and Petra curled up together, holding each other’s forepaws tightly.

      “I think we’ve got something   Petra mewed, “take it gently though, and we’ll see.”  Ginger kissed her nose, agreeing to this.


Nanuq and Brunetta lay curled up together snuggled up.  Brunetta breathed in the polar bear’s scent, loving it and him.

       “I love you so much Nanuq!”  Brunetta exclaimed.  Nanuq rubbed her back, loving her.  Brunetta melted into Nanuq’s hug, pressing herself into him, gripping his body with fierce desire.


Meanwhile, on the periphery of the garden, a large cheetah carrying a tiger cub in her mouth ran for her life from Aslan, who was determined to catch and interrogate her.  The cheetah, named Tembi, and Blanche, her adopted white tiger cub, ran for their lives from the lion who Tembi was convinced wanted to eat her cub.

     “Stop!  Security!”  Aslan yelled, after demanding she stop and give him her name and that of her cub on pain of death.

      “Security my arse!”  Tembi thought as she ran.  It was only when Aslan tried to block her that Tembi went for it, turning on the speed!  She accelerated away, leaving Aslan panting behind her.  Reaching the back door, she pushed it open and fell inside with her cub, booting it shut behind her, the lion slamming his weight against the door a minute later.  Tembi, as all Cheetahs are after a hard run, lay exhausted and panting on the floor of the passage.  Fleur was the first to find Tembi and her cub sprawled all over the passage.

      “You two seem beaten,” she mewed.  Tembi looked blearily up at the funny furred cat.

       “I’m running for my life from a lion!”  She gasped.

       “Aslan?”  Fleur asked.

       “How should I know his name!”  The female cheetah yowled, “He’s a bully!  He kept yelling he was security.”

       “Sounds like Aslan,” fleur mewed, “the others don’t advertise who they are until they’ve caught you.”

       “I, I need help, not harassment!”  The cheetah pleaded.

       “And you will get help,” Samson mewed, padding into view.  Tembi nearly fled at the sight of the lion!

       “You’re even bigger than that horrid lion that chased me and my cub!”  She blurted.

       “You don’t need to fear me,” Samson purred.

      “How can I be sure of that?”  Tembi asked.

      “You can’t be sure,” Samson mewed, “you just have to take your life in your paw and leap in.”

      “I have a cub!”  Tembi whimpered, “I can’t gamble with Blanche’s life!”

      “Blanche,” Samson repeated, “as in French for white?”  Tembi nodded.

      “Her mother died, shot by hunters, the same ones who came after me!  I, I found her cub on a mound where she’d thrown her when she fell.  Now, now she’s orphaned, and I’m trying to look after her.  She’s weaned, thank goodness, so that’s in her favour.  I’m now exhausted after running away from that dam lion outside!  Cheetahs can’t run fast for long, even though we achieve enormous speeds.  I’m beaten now.  I need rest!  The door was open; I threw myself at it and collapsed in here.”

     “We know,” Samson mewed, padding forward to nuzzle the new white tiger cub.

       “You’re safe here Blanche,” he purred, the confused cub responding positively to the lion’s touch.

       “Take me in your paws!”  Blanche pleaded.  Lying down, Samson did so, Tembi watching him intently, still unable to rise from where she was collapsed.

        “I’m still beaten,” Tembi mewed, “I can’t move!”

        “We’ll have to drag you out of the passage,” Samson mewed.  Tembi waved her paws at Samson.

     “Drag me then,” she mewed.  Petra appeared with towels to wrap around Tembi’s hind paws to protect them during the drag.  Once her paws were wrapped, Samson gave the white tiger cub named Blanche to Petra to look after, then dragged Tembi towards a lie up.  Tembi whimpered as she was dragged, for the feeling of helplessness made her anxious.

      “Can you walk?”  Samson asked, upset by the look on the female cheetah’s face.

      “My paws don’t want to work!”  She moaned, “They won’t obey me!”

      “Just take it easy,” Petra mewed, playing with Blanche, tickling the tiger cub’s paws.  The cub wriggled and squirmed, laughing helplessly.

      “Are we staying here Tembi?”  She yelled.

      “I think we are,” Tembi replied, pushing with her bandaged hind [paws.  Tembi wriggled and pushed with her hind paws, trying to help Samson along.  Samson and Tembi made their slow way to the lie up, the female cheetah exhausted by the time she got to the lie up.

     “Rest now,” Samson mewed.  Tembi closed her eyes, as her body complained.  Petra brought the white tiger cub to Tembi, who weakly embraced it in her paws.

      “Settle now,” Petra purred, unwrapping Tembi’s hind paws from their bandages.  Tembi flexed her toes, Petra mischievously tickling them, to Tembi’s delight.

       “That reminds me of when I was a cub,” she mewed.

      “You used to play with your paws?”  Petra asked.  Tembi smiled:

     “Me and my sisters did,” she mewed.  Blanche curled up beside her adopted mother, cuddling up between her paws.  The sound of shouting and running paws announced Aslan’s arrival.  The lion was furious with whoever had let the cheetah into the house.

      “That back door is always shut!”  He roared, “Noone can get in without setting paw on the handle!”

    “They can if Allie opens it,” Petra mewed.  Aslan whirled round on her.

      “What the hell are you on about?”  He snapped, “Allie wouldn’t do a thing like that!”

      “I might, if I thought a member of my security team had gone beyond his remit and crossed the line into terrorist tactics,” Allie said, padding into the room.  Aslan spat at her!

      “You old fat bitch!”  He yelled.  Allie raised a paw and hit Aslan hard across his face!  Aslan squealed and collapsed.

      “I barely touched you, get up!”  Allie snapped.  Aslan didn’t move.

      “Um, ah, Allie,” Petra mewed, “you’ve knocked him out!”  Allie stared down at Aslan’s motionless body.

       “Oh no, oh no! I only meant to, to stop him, not knock him! Out” Allie whimpered, now very upset.  Petra checked Aslan over, but he was quite definitely unconscious.

       “What have you done!”  Theo roared, “Allie, you attacked my cub!”

       “I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Allie protested, “I lost my temper.”

        “You bears don’t know the strength you have!”  Theo yelled, “Show me what happened, all of it, and now! Now! Now!” Allie raced up to the control room with Theo screaming at her the whole way.

       “I’ll murder you if you haven’t got a dam good explanation for this!”

       “Here, here’s what happened, all of it!”  Allie panted, rewinding the footage and playing it back from when Aslan had first met the cheetah.  Theo was horrified!  Aslan’s job, indeed the job of all security teams, unless otherwise instructed, is to quickly question, and contains a newcomer, then brings them in for the community leadership to interrogate further.  Aslan did his own interrogating, or he tried to.  He was blatantly ignoring the facts in front of him, a terrified female cheetah with a very young tiger cub.  The balance was that neither she, nor her cub was anything like an immediate threat to the community, so he should have just brought her in.  Theo saw the back door to the house opening of its own accord as the cheetah, now terrified by Aslan’s bullish and unnecessary behaviour, ran for enclosed space.  Allie had opened the door; noone else could have seen what she had.  Theo saw Aslan running after the cheetah, screaming insults at her.

       “You horrid bitch, come back!”   The cheetah managed to get indoors just in time.  Theo looked at Allie.

       “He overstepped the mark,” the lion said.

       “Our community duty is to help those in danger,” Allie replied, “I know we’ve been burnt before, but not by Cheetah’s, Jinghua was a pest, but not a real threat.  Now Aslan’s put his paws where they weren’t wanted, and got on the wrong side of a bear.  Unfortunately, this episode finishes me Theo.”

      “After what you saw today I’m not surprised you lost your temper with Aslan,” Theo mewed, “he shouldn’t have tangled with a bear, and calling you what he did was stupid.”

      “I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Allie sobbed.

      “I know,” Theo mewed, “I know Allie.  Oh by the way, did you manage to catch the name of that cheetah?”

      “Her name’s Tembi and her cub’s name is Blanche,” Allie replied.  Theo became still, and then exploded!

      “No!  I’m not having another creature named Tembi or Blanche in here!”  He yelled.  Allie grabbed his paw and squeezed it, gently of course.

       “Calm down,” she said gently.

     “No!  NO I bloody won’t!”  Theo yelled, “Those names, they sicken me!”

       “You are beginning to sound like your brother Leo!  Allie yelled, “You fought for the life of a lioness named Elsa and her cub Simba in very similar circumstances.  Remember that?  Remember how you became leader?  Remember your disgust at Leo’s actions?  You are acting like he acted!  You are stupid Theo!  Now let’s hear no more of that kind of talk!”  Theo collapsed onto the carpet.

       “I’m sorry,” he moaned, “I lost it a bit there.”

      “You did,” Samson said, “and if I catch you planning or executing any plans to do away with Tembi or her cub, I’ll personally rip your throat out!”  Theo looked at his long time friend and knew he was serious.

       “You know you would do the same in his position Theo,” Allie said, sensing the lion’s mood.

       “Community first, friendship second,” Theo spat, “but yes, I would have done and said the same thing to anyone in the community, even my family members.  Now I will go.”  Theo padded away, Samson watching him go.

       “Aslan’s just about awake,” Samson said.  Allie, her paws shaking, collapsed onto the carpet.  Samson moved to her and began stroking her left forepaw.

        “It’s all over now,” Samson mewed.  Allie lay there, her paws shaking uncontrollably.  Samson found himself massaging Allie’s paws, something he’d wanted to do for a bear ever since he was a cub.  The massage seemed to help Allie, for she calmed down considerably.  Once she was calm, Allie gave Samson all four of her paws, changing the focus from calming her to her letting him stroke her paws, something she knew the lion wanted to do.  Once he’d traced round her pads and toes, and she’d held the toes of both his forepaws in those of all four of hers, something which fascinated Samson, Allie released him and sat down.

     “What now?”  Samson asked.  Allie grinned:

      “Ever wanted to be hugged by a bear?”  She asked.  Samson nodded:

      “I’ve always wanted that,” Samson admitted.

       “I would also ask if you’d like to see a bear playing with her hind paws, but you’ve seen that.  The truth is, I love playing with my paws so much,” Allie replied, “its cub stuff, but I love it.  All the pandas love it, as do the brown bears; Even Orson asked me how to play with his paws yesterday.”

       “I would like to be hugged by a bear and to see how you can play with your paws.  I understand you used paw play during the births of your cubs?  I haven’t seen the video; I’ve just heard that’s what happened.  Allie smiled:

      “Yes,” she replied, “that’s right.  Paw play was a huge help to me.”

      “How much of one?”  Samson asked, curious now and not afraid to show it.

      “Paw massage made my labour pain free and exciting.  I could concentrate on my cubs without the pain interfering.  The feel of my forepaws working over my hind, as well as squeezing my toes was wonderful.”  Samson examined Allie’s huge hind paws, the polar bear wiggling, Stretching and curling her toes, making her pads bunch and stretch.  It was plain to Samson that when she got started on anything to do with her paw Allie impulsively stroked the toes of her hind paws with those of her fore.

     “We play the trapped paw game too,” Allie said, “have you ever seen a bear playing that?”

      “No, though I think I’ve heard of it,” Samson replied, “it’s where a bear catches the toes of one forepaw in those of a hind and tries to free the forepaw.  Of course the struggle is the bear’s forepaw against his own hind.  It’s all imagination, just like the game Petra and Simba played, and incidentally I find it hard to play.”  Allie nodded.

       “I’ve heard that story,” she said, “how about if we play together.  I’ll pretend my forepaws are trapped by yours, and you can see how it’s done.  Don’t release my paws too soon though, that’s part of the game.”


Meanwhile, Tembi and Blanche, now well fed and rested, padded into the control room in search of the lion elder, only to find him playing with a polar bear.  Seeing this, Tembi stopped her cub:

     “Stay here,” she mewed softly, lying down.  Blanche, her eyes open, stared at the scene in front of her.

      “That lion’s playing with that polar bear,” she mewed, “I saw a tiger playing with a lion earlier mad was told that wasn’t unusual.  So I suppose this isn’t strange either.”  Blanche had seen Clarence playing with Haimati, the two big cats loving their play.

      “No,” Tembi mewed, as if she knew everything about this.  For she knew she was Blanche’s rock now, and to waver in her knowledge at this early stage would engender fear in the cub, something she didn’t want.  Blanche and Tembi watched as Samson and Allie played, each examining the other’s paws, and then chasing each other for access to each other’s paws, before each tickled and stroked the other’s paws.  The play seemed so natural even though bears and lions never usually crossed paths.  Samson and Allie then played the trapped paw game, Samson lying down on his side and curling the toes of his left forepaw around Allie’s right, the polar bear having lain down opposite.

     “Now lightly hold my toes with yours, and we’ll see what happens,” Allie said.

      “I know this game!”  Blanche mewed softly, “my mother and I used to play it,” she stopped, realising what she’d just said.

       “My mother’s dead isn’t she Tembi,” Blanche said suddenly.  The female cheetah looked at her adopted cub.

      “Yes Blanche she is,” she mewed softly, licking Blanche’s nose.

     “She died when the bang came didn’t she,” Blanche said.  Tembi nodded.

      “Yes Blanche dear,” she replied, “Your mum threw you away from her as she fell.”  Blanche nodded and smiled:

      “She got me away from the hunters so you could pick me up,” she said.

      “Yes Blanche dear,” Tembi mewed, now very upset at the memory of that day.

       “I didn’t mean to upset you Tembi,” Blanche mewed.

      “It’s okay,” Tembi replied, wiping her eyes with a paw.

      “The game between the polar bear and the huge lion is getting more interesting,” Blanche mewed, “The polar bear’s trying to free her paw, and the lion’s not letting her.  Watch, she’ll try really hard in a minute and he’ll let go.”  Allie, now pretending frustration, clenched her teeth, braced what little of the toes of her hind paws she could get hard on the carpet, and tore her paw away.  Samson let go, Allie rolling onto her back with her paws in the air!  While Tembi laughed helplessly, Blanche ran forward and leapt upon the Polar bear’s chest, Allie seeing her coming and catching her.

      “So you’re blanche,” the bear said, hugging the tiger cub tenderly.

      “Yes I am,” Blanche replied, unphased by being held in such huge paws.

      “I’m sorry about her behaviour,” Tembi mewed, padding up to Samson and Allie.

      “No problem,” Allie replied, kissing Blanche’s nose, “I love cubs of any kind.”  Samson smiled at Tembi.

       “A lovely cub you have there,” he said.  Tembi smiled:

       “Blanche is my cub now I suppose,” she mewed sadly, “her mum died you know.”  Samson nodded and took Tembi’s paw in his.

      “Come,” he said, let’s find you and little Blanche a home.”  While the adults were doing serious stuff, the cubs, Allie and Blanche were playing together, Blanche tickling Allie’s paws, to her huge enjoyment.  Once Allie had wriggled and squirmed for five minutes, with Blanche’s paws sticking to hers like glue, Blanche stopped tickling her paws and began stroking them, to Allie’s relief.  Once that was done, Allie returned Blanche’s favour, tickling and stroking the cub’s paws, which the tiger cub revelled in.  Samson and Tembi saw most of this, and roared with laughter the whole way through.


Meanwhile, in the lie up where Aslan had been dragged, Petra watched over her brother cub.  Aslan swore and cursed Allie as he regained consciousness.

     “Bloody bitch, rancid cow!”  Aslan yelled when he could speak, “I want to rip her paws off!”

       “You are a pain in the rear Aslan,” Petra snarled.  Aslan spat at her.

      “You let her hit me!”  Aslan sobbed.

      “You deserved it,” Petra mewed.  Simba watched from a distance.

      “Allie was within her right to lash out,” he mewed, “you are unreasonable Aslan!  Tell me, what would you have done to that poor cheetah and her cub if you’d managed to get your filthy paws on them?”

      “I would have arrested them, as I’m meant to do!”  Aslan yelled.

      “You know your remit is to detain, contain, control and then pass them to either me or Samson.”

     “Stuff your bloody rules!”  Aslan yelled.  Simba leapt upon Aslan, pinning him down.

       “You listen to me!”  He yelled, as Aslan coughed and retched, “You get up, and leave for your lie up.  Raja will make sure you don’t come out until I want you to, now go!  Aslan went.


Meanwhile, back in the control room, Allie and Samson eyed each other up.

      “He wants to stroke my paws again,” Allie said of Samson.  Samson smiled and raised his paw.

      “I admit it,” he mewed, “I loved stroking your paws Allie.”  Allie smiled and held her paw out to Samson.

      “Come and stroke them again,” she said.  Samson smiled and took her paw in his.

       “I love bears,” he mewed, “especially their paws, big soft warm mobile paws.”  Allie laughed as she gave in to Samson’s wish to massage and examine her paws.

      “I love this!”  She whooped, curling the toes of her left hind paw around Samson’s left fore.  Samson pressed his pads against hers, Allie grinning hugely.

       “I want to stroke my hind paws, must stroke them now!”  She yelled, gripping her right hind paw with both forepaws and massaging her pads with her toes.  Samson watched, wondering how bears got so addicted to this kind of thing.

      “How did you get hooked Allie?”  He asked.  Allie smiled:

       “I got hooked when Arki came and helped me during the births of Orsa and Bjorn.  I used paw play and paw massage during the worst contractions and when things weren’t so bad too, and realised how good stroking my hind paws felt.  Brunetta already knew how good it was, and she’d tried to convince me to have a go, but I never did until that day.  Now I’m a convert.”

      “I wish I could stroke my hind paws,” Samson mewed.

     “Try curling up tightly and see if you can reach a hind paw,” Allie suggested, Samson tried and realised he could stroke his right hind paw with his left fore, well, almost.  He could reach the toes of that paw, and that was a good start.  He began to massage his toes with his forepaw, loving the sensation produced.

     “This is good,” he purred.  Allie traced the pads on the sole of her left hind paw with the toes of her right fore, the toes of the explored hind paw curling slightly as it relaxed.  Samson watched, for even though he had learned about his own paws, he still preferred to watch Allie enjoying her self administered massage, or better still, to massage her paws himself.  Allie watched him.

      “Come on then silly,” she said, my paws are yours.”  Samson stroked and massaged Allie’s paws, the huge polar bear seemingly in a dream the whole time.  When he reluctantly finished his work, Allie sat up from where she’d been lying and gathered the lion to her in a warm and comforting bear hug.  Samson felt the warmth of ally’s fur, and it felt great!

       “I’m sorry about all this, all the paw play stuff I mean,” Samson mewed.  Allie grinned:

      “No problem,” she replied, “we express our feelings with our paws you and I.  Brunetta does too, so does Nanuq.  Paw play, touching and stroking your own paws and each other’s paws is fine.  I know other bears like paw play too.”

      “Tigers like it too, as do cheetahs,” Tembi mewed, “I know, for blanche can’t get enough of it.”  Samson and Allie smiled.

     “That’s really good,” Samson replied.


Meanwhile, Aslan and Raja stood nose to nose, screaming at each other.

       “You shouldn’t have even hinted at aggression!”  Raja yelled, “Tembi and Blanche were no threat you stupid ass!”  Aslan spat at his superior.

      “You know nothing of what went on,” Aslan blustered, trying to work his way out of trouble.

      “I know, because I saw everything, you were filmed!  I know you wanted to run that poor Cheetah under your paws!  Her cub’s welfare meant nothing to you Aslan!”

       “Now they’re stroking and massaging Allie’s paws, and I hate it!”  Aslan yelled.

       “You only hate it because Allie wouldn’t let you near her, let alone her paws, crazy about bears though you say you are,” Raja mewed.  Aslan knew he’d put his paw in it big time.

      “I overreacted, I’m sorry,” he blustered.

       “I want you to stand in front of Allie, Samson, Simba, Tembi and Blanche and apologise to them,” Raja mewed.  Aslan looked down at his paws.

       “All right,” he growled.


Rani assembled the four big cats and one large and pissed off female polar bear in the great room of the house.  Aslan thought it would be a private audience, but he was wrong.  All the animals trooped in, until everyone was there, right down to Whitie and Perdy’s newborn cubs.  Aslan looked at his paws, unable to meet the eyes of those whom he’d wronged.  Samson wanted to punch Aslan for ignoring his explicit instructions not to jump on anyone he thought suspicious.

     “You will not go after Tembi or Blanche,” Samson snarled.  Aslan coughed, cleared his throat and dragged his eyes from his paws, looking at his leader for the first time since the gathering was convened.

        “I’m sorry for what I did to Tembi and Blanche and for what I said to Allie.”  Salty spat on the floor in disgust.

      “You aren’t sorry,” he snarled, “you deliberately overstepped the mark!  You wanted to persecute the cheetah, I saw you!  You know what your role is, and you ignored it!  The cheetah and her cub did not arouse any suspicions in the camera teams, so if they don’t tell you to do anything you just contain the newcomers and bring them in!”  Aslan mewed and whimpered his apologies.

       “Now leave us alone!”  Tembi yelled, slapping Aslan.  Aslan slunk away, even though the cheetah was a lot smaller than himself.

      “Leave me alone!”  Aslan yelled.

      “So the feeling’s mutual,” Allie said, sitting down and beckoning to Blanche with a huge paw, the tiger cub padding towards her and allowing Allie to hug her.  Allie smiled with genuine pleasure.

      “Welcome home Blanche,” she said.


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