It was about six weeks later, and Fleur, her eyes now open, was into everything that went on in the house, be it day or night. Not wanting to miss a minute of this amazing world, Fleur would range all over the house at all hours of the day and night, causing her mother and her adopted parents much distress and worry. Fleur however was always very careful, but, at the same time very curious. Fleur, like Theo, Elsa and their cubs, had learned how to use her paws, both for investigation of her surroundings, as well as to give pleasure to others, and of course to receive pleasure in the form of having her paws either stroked or tickled. Fleur loved her home, and was glad she’d found loving animals whom she could play with.
One night, Fleur waited for the household to settle down, then, about one in the morning, she ventured out of the cubbing den. She knew Snowy’s cub was due soon, and wanted to visit her before the cub arrived. Fleur had been interested in the cub’s imminent arrival, and had asked many questions about cubbing, what happened during a cubbing, as well as what she’d see and hear. Fleur wondered if she’d see Snowy’s cub born, and secretly hoped she would. Fleur padded through the house, her large padded paws making no sound on the carpets. Nearing the bathroom, Fleur pricked her ears at the sound of a mewing sob, followed by heavy panting and slight splashing. Her curiosity aroused, Fleur ventured to the bathroom door, and cautiously pushed it open with one huge paw.
Fleur looked into the bathroom, and saw Snowy lying in the bathtub. Fleur trotted into the bathroom, to find Snowy paddling gently with all four of her huge white paws. As Fleur watched, Snowy suddenly stopped paddling, curled the toes of all four paws, squeezed her eyes shut and breathed hard through clenched teeth, whimpering with pain and distress.
“Snowy?” Fleur asked gently. The snow tigress looked up at the cub.
“Fleur!” Snowy gasped, “I’m having my cub Fleur!” Fleur’s excitement, kindled by her night roaming grew, for her wish to see Snowy have her cub was coming true!
“Is There anything I can do Snowy?” Fleur asked softly. Snowy suddenly wailed with agony and beat the water into a froth with her paws.
“Stay with me Fleur!” she begged. Tigger ran in at the sound of Snowy’s scream.
“what the hell’s going on!” he yelled, “I’m trying to sleep! Stop your screaming!”
“I’m having my cub!” Snowy sobbed. Tigger cursed violently.
“Not in here you’re not!” he snapped, “in here is for baths, not for tigress’s to have water births! To top it all, it’s one in the morning!”
“I can’t help it!” Snowy mewed, gripping the rim of the bathtub with both forepaws, “Oh Fleur, another pain’s coming!” Snowy growled and snarled as she was torn apart by the contraction.
“This is horrible!” Snowy yelled, “It’s going to be a big cub I think!” Fleur leapt into the water to be with Snowy.
“I’m here now Snowy dear,” Fleur said, “just relax.” Snowy smiled at the cub.
“You are so good to me little cub,” she panted, “now you can witness the birth of my cub right with me, touch my paws, even watch and feel the cub emerging if you like!.” Snowy ignored Tigger’s yelling. She was concentrating on Fleur, as well as having her cub.
“Now Fleur,” Snowy mewed, “look beneath my tail as I push, can you see anything?” Snowy waited for another contraction to build, then heaved! Fleur looked down at Snowy’s tail, and saw the paws of a cub emerging into the world, but they disappeared as soon as Snowy relaxed.
“I can see two paws!” Fleur yelled, “Snowy, They came out when you pushed, if you can, push again!” Snowy breathed hard, Tigger listening with anger born of fear to Snowy’s increasing efforts to have her cub.
“How’s that!” Snowy yelled, bearing down with all her might.
“the cub’s head’s out now!” Fleur replied breathlessly, “Just one more push like that Snowy, and the cub’s body will be coming into the world!” Snowy thrashed with all four paws, panting and splashing with everything she had!
“That’s it!” Fleur encouraged, “now Snowy, when I say, I want to hear a big tigress sized snarl and want you to splash with all your might! Go! Go! Go!” Snowy gave vent to a screaming yell which expressed all the last hour’s pain and fear, then, panting hard, she set to attacking the water, kicking up a hell of a spray with her paws! Snowy’s panting and splashing eased the cub’s body into the water,, and Fleur caught it in both her massive paws.
“I’ve got the cub now Snowy,” Fleur said, “come on, nearly there dear Snowy, push, push!” Snowy braced her paws, and, grunting with pain and the increasing effort she had to make, bore down against her cub! Fleur caught the cub as it shot fourth, Snowy thrashing and kicking at the water, her huge paws splashing everything and everyone! Fleur laughed delightedly as she felt the cub wriggling to get free of her huge paws.
“this is so wonderful, so wonderful!” Fleur shouted, her joy at witnessing the birth of Snowy’s cub, and of knowing the cub was safely born overwhelming any thoughts of trouble she might be in for helping Snowy.
Tigger stood in the bathroom, drenched with water from the bath. He was not impressed by Snowy’s choice of cubbing den!
“You Snowy, are the most inconsiderate animal in this house!” Tigger yelled.
“Tigger, shut up!” Fleur snarled, washing Snowy’s newborn cub with care, “it wasn’t Snowy’s fault her labour started while she was having a bath. You were there when I was born, and you know how hellish labour can be.” Tigger padded over to Fleur, his fire dying at her words.
“Fleur, oh Fleur,” Tigger sobbed, “I know I shouldn’t be angry at Snowy, but some don’t like to see a cubbing in a public place, and this is! Snowy should have had her cub in the cubbing den.”
“Tigger,” Snowy said, “you used to be such a kind, gentle, understanding animal. Why are you now ripping through that?” Tigger cocked an ear at Snowy.
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed, “it’s, just, just, that when I heard you having your cub, and heard Fleur helping you, it reminded me of everything I didn’t do for Perdy, because I couldn’t remember a thing! You are not inconsiderate Snowy, you are the best of tigress’s, and Fleur is the best of cubs for helping you, and I’m glad you’ve had your cub safely.”
Fleur dried Snowy’s cub off with a towel provided by Tigger. Snowy lay in the bath, panting and trying to relax. Her labour had come on quickly, and within an hour and a half the cub had been born. Snowy levered herself out of the water and padded across to Fleur, who was trying to keep an excited newborn tiger cub under control.
“You are so funny!” Fleur laughed as the cub rolled onto her back an waved her tiny paws in the air. Snowy looked down at her cub, smiling broadly at the little creature’s antics.
“I am so grateful to you Fleur,” Snowy said. Fleur paused in her rapid towelling of the cub’s paws.
“I’m honoured that you’d let me stay with you when you were having your cub,” Fleur replied, “that was wonderful Snowy,,,” Fleur’s eyes filled with tears, “absolutely fantastic!” she sobbed. Snowy hugged Fleur tenderly.
“We worked as a team,” Snowy purred. Fleur hugged Snowy fiercely, “Let’s both look after this cub,” the tigress continued, “you and me Fleur.” Fleur looked down at Snowy’s tiny cub, her vision blurred with tears.
“She’s wonderful!” Fleur whispered.
Tigger cleaned up the bathroom, then returned to his bed. He knew what had most likely happened to Snowy. Snowy, having felt pain from the first contractions, had run herself a bath and the cubbing having progressed so quickly, Snowy could do little else but have the cub in the bathtub. Tigger knew his anger at Snowy was born of his fear of cubbing after his experience at Fleur’s birth.
“Now where do we go?” Fleur asked.
“You Fleur are coming with me and my cub to our place,” Snowy purred, “after your support this morning, to take you home and let you curl up with me and my cub is the least I can do.” Fleur stroked the tiny tiger cub’s paws, the cub gripping the toes of one of Fleur’s massive spotted paws with both her tiny forepaws.
“I would love to spend time with you and your cub Snowy,” Fleur purred. Snowy picked her tiny newborn cub up in her mouth by the scruff of its neck and carried it to the rug where she lived. Once there, Snowy laid her newborn cub on the rug and settled down beside her.
“come Fleur my dear cub,” Snowy mewed, patting the rug with her huge left forepaw. Fleur curled up beside the snow tigress.
“Thank you Snowy,” Fleur sniffed, “I, I wished to see your cub born, and you made that wish come true!” Snowy touched Fleur’s paw, the weeping cross bred cub looking through her tears at the tiny bundle of fur she’d help Snowy bring into the world.
“I love your cub Snowy,” Fleur sobbed. Snowy let her cub suckle from her milk supply, then looked at Fleur.
“You want some milk?” She asked.
“I can’t take your cub’s milk!” Fleur protested, “that would be wrong.”
“come on Fleur,” the tiny cub mewed, “just have a little milk.” Fleur laughed delightedly at the tiny cub’s words and accepted Snowy’s offer. After her drink, Fleur wiped her mouth on the back of her paw and looked at the tiny female tiger cub.
“You are lovely from your nose,” Fleur said touching the cub’s nose with her paw, “to the toes on your tiny paws little cub,” she continued, touching the toes on one of the tiger cub’s tiny paws. The tiger cub smiled at Fleur and reached up WITH A TINY PAW to touch her nose.
“Can I touch your nose and toes too?” The cub asked. Fleur smiled and guided the cub’s paw to her nose.
“Now you find my toes,” Fleur said softly to the cub, “you know what your paws feel like, so we’ll play a game if you like. See if you can find my toes. Oh, and here’s a clue, my toes are on my paws, and I, like you, have four paws, and my paws are very big, so you won’t have much of a problem finding them.” The newborn cub, up for a challenge, touched Fleur’s nose with her paw, then felt her own tiny left forepaw with her right, then her right forepaw with her left, getting used to the feel of one paw held in another. Then she felt her hind paws with both forepaws as best she could.
“Now you know what your paws feel like,” Fleur said, “try finding my paws little cub.” The cub soon found one of Fleur’s paws, for she could hardly miss them they were so large. Fleur lifted her paw as she felt the cub trying to lift it, matching her lift with the upward pressure of the cub’s paw, so the tiny tiger cub thought she was able to lift Fleur’s huge paw.
“Well done little one,” Fleur purred, “now, do you want to know the rules to another game I play?” For answer the cub looked up eagerly into Fleur’s face.
“It’s a game where we tickle your mum’s paws until she’s laughing so much she rolls over with all four of her huge paws in the air,” Fleur said gently. Snowy grinned at Fleur.
“but what is tickling a paw?” the cub asked. Fleur showed her, the cub laughing helplessly.
“That’s wonderful!” the tiny cub whooped.
“Right,” Fleur said, “now you try tickling my paw. I showed you how.” The female tiger cub tried tickling the pads of Fleur’s paw, and at first didn’t manage it, but soon tried again when she’d practised tickling one of her hind paws with the toes of one of her fore. Satisfied she’d got the technique right, she tried it a few times on all four of Fleur’s massive and very soft paws, before both of them settled down to plan their assault on Snowy’s paws.
Snowy lay half asleep, worn out by the effort she’d had to make during the somewhat sudden birth of her cub. Once Fleur and Snowy’s cub had finished their preparations for tickling Snowy’s paws, Fleur looked over at Snowy and shook her head at the cub.
“We can’t tickle Snowy’s paws,” Fleur mewed, “ your mum’s half asleep, she looks tired.” The cub smiled at Fleur.
“You’re right,” she said, “we can’t tickle her paws at the moment, it would be wrong.”
“we can stroke them though,” Fleur said, “come, I’ll show you how.” Fleur crawled over to Snowy, leading the newborn cub by one tiny paw.
“Now,” Fleur said, stopping at Snowy’s side, “do you remember how it felt when I towelled your paws dry?” The cub nodded.
“That was nice,” the cub mewed, “are we going to towel my mum’s paws dry?”
“Touch her paws little one,” Fleur said, “but do it gently.” The cub took Snowy’s huge left forepaw in both her tiny ones.
“My mum’s paw is dry Fleur,” the cub said, “but it’s shaking. Fleur looked into Snowy’s face, the snow tigress was struggling to hold back tears.
“What’s the matter Snowy dear?” Fleur asked gently.
“It’s nothing,” Snowy sniffed, “It’s, just, just you and my cub, playing together like you were, it looked so sweet! Soppy mother syndrome I’m afraid. The tiny female cub, while not understanding her mother’s words, understood she was upset. Padding forward, the cub reared onto her hind legs, and attempted to comfort Snowy by embracing her with her tiny paws. Snowy, feeling the cub trying to put her paws round her neck, gathered the tiny cub in her huge forepaws and hugged her, her tears wetting the cub’s fur.
“Thank you little one!” Snowy wept. Fleur, seeing the cub’s loving gesture, became quiet, thinking of the past few hours. She realised she loved this tiny tiger cub with all her heart.
Dawn was coming in now, and Fleur was about to leave for the cubbing den so her parents didn’t realise she’d been away, when Elsa padded into the room. Elsa looked anxious with worry, her eyes full of fear!
“There you are Fleur!” She yelled, “where the hell have you been!”
“Don’t be angry at her Elsa,” Snowy mewed, “for she did a very brave thing last night.”
“What did Fleur do!” Elsa snapped. For answer, Snowy drew back, showing Elsa the tiny cub she’d been protecting with her huge paws.
“Fleur helped you, was with you when you were, I mean, when you gave birth to your cub Snowy?” Elsa asked.
“yes,” Snowy replied, “she was on one of her night time patrols when she heard me mewing and splashing in the latter first stages of labour. Fleur got into the bathtub with me and helped me give birth to my cub.” Elsa looked at Fleur for confirmation of this.
“I did,” Fleur purred, “Snowy was very brave, and to see her cub born and be with her during the cub’s birth was wonderful!”
“I’m surprised I never heard anything,” Elsa mewed, “I am a very heavy sleeper anyway, so it’s not surprising.”
“Fleur was very gentle,” Snowy purred, “and also, she does a good line in ideas for amusing and educating cubs. My cub already knows how to stroke and tickle paws, and where her nose and toes are. No doubt Fleur will teach her a lot more soon.” Elsa smiled at Fleur.
“I would love to see those games,” she mewed, “to see Fleur playing with your tiny cub.” The cub turned her head towards Fleur.
“I’m tired,” she said, “I want to sleep.”
“I need to go find food,” Snowy mewed, “how about if you stay with Fleur little one? Then I can find food, and you can sleep.” The cub obediently crawled to Fleur’s side, the large cross bred cub taking her in her large soft warm paws.
“I could sleep too,” Fleur mewed. Elsa smiled as she watched Fleur curling herself round the tiny newborn cub to keep her warm.
Snowy’s cub was a Bengal tiger cub in physical appearance , apart from the under colour of her coat, usually golden orange in Bengal tigers, being a washed out orange in Snowy’s cub’s case. The cub’s stripes were more pronounced because of this.
Fleur purred as she felt the cub take hold of the toes of one of her forepaws with her tiny paw.
“Hold my paw tightly little one,” Fleur whispered, feeling the cub’s grip tighten on her paw. The cub closed her eyes, snuggling closer to Fleur. Fleur held the cub close with her free paw, purring gently as the cub relaxed into her warm thick fur. Snowy watched in slight alarm as her cub all but disappeared into Fleur’s all enveloping fur. Fleur had long fur, long, soft, thick warm fur. Fleur’s paws were huge, and totally engulfed the Female Bengal tiger cub’s paw.
Snowy crept away, eating her meal within sight of the two vastly different cubs. Finishing her meal, she drank deeply, then returned to her rug. Snowy purred as she lay down, touching Fleur with her paw.
“I love these two cubs,” Snowy thought, “Fleur was so brave to help me during cubbing, and for that I’m very grateful. The cub she helped into the world has swept hers and my heart away.”
Fleur and Snowy’s newborn cub slept for a long time. When they woke, The tiger cub drank thirstily, then wanted to play with Fleur.
“would you stroke my paws?” The cub asked Fleur, who, for answer, playfully rolled the tiny cub over and began to massage her paws. The cub purred contentedly.
“Now will you tickle my paws please?” the cub asked, Fleur doing just as the tiger cub asked.
“Now let’s play another game,” Fleur said when the cub had tickled her paws twice over.
“What’s that?” the cub asked.
“I want to carry on showing you parts of our bodies and seeing if you can remember their names,” Fleur replied. The cub was up for this.
“”Let’s do that,” she said. Fleur raised a paw and touched the cub’s nose.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“You’re touching my nose,” the cub replied. Then Fleur took hold of the cub’s tiny left forepaw and touched her toes.
“What are these?” She asked.
“My toes,” the cub replied. Fleur hugged her.
“and do you know what this is?” Fleur asked guiding the cub’s paw to the end of her long tail. The cub took Fleur’s tail in both paws and held it gently.
“I don’t know,” she said, “what is this?”
“You are holding my tail,” Fleur replied, “you have a tail too little one, but it’s not as long as mine. Finally, what are these?” Fleur asked, touching the cub’s ear with one paw.
“Those are my ears!” she said laughing delightedly as Fleur tickled behind them with the toes of one paw.
“I know where your paws are,” the cub suddenly said, making a grab for Fleur’s right forepaw. Fleur laughed and gave the cub her paw.
“Stroke it gently little one,” Snowy purred, “stroke the pads of Fleur’s paw very gently.”
“What are the pads of Fleur’s paw?” the cub asked, “where are they?” Snowy showed the cub, using her own huge paws for demonstration purposes.
“here,” Snowy said, guiding her cub’s paw to the pads of one of her forepaws, “are the pads of my paws. They are like yours little cub, very sensitive and having them stroked is one of the most pleasurable things.” Snowy let her cub examine her left forepaw with both her tiny forepaws.
“Your paws are huge!” the cub mewed, “no wonder you were able to make a lot of splash with them in the bathtub. Snowy wiggled her toes as the cub touched them.
“You’re moving your toes!” the cub exclaimed.
“that’s called wiggling my toes little cub,” Snowy said gently. She then curled her toes round the cub’s, holding the pads of her tiny paw against her larger ones.
“I’ve now curled my toes round yours,” Snowy purred. The cub, quite unable to move her paw, tugged and worried at it for a while.
“Are you going to let me go?” the cub asked. Snowy let her cub’s paw go, and she began to stroke Snowy’s pads. Snowy purred with contentment as her cub stroked her paw.
“Snowy likes that,” Fleur purred, “now little one, the sole of Snowy’s paw has three pads on it, and one on each of her toes.”
“I can feel those,” the cub replied, “they’re rough, and slightly harder than yours.”
“Yes,” Fleur replied, “they will be, because Snowy’s older than me little cub. Now, the pad directly opposite Snowy’s toes is her heel pad, okay?” The cub nodded, still stroking away.
“I get it,” she said, touching first Snowy’s toes, then her heel with each paw.
“these are my mum’s toes,” the cub said, touching Snowy’s toes, “and this is her heel,” she concluded, touching Snowy’s heel pad.
“And the whole thing, from Snowy’s toes to her heels is called the sole of a paw,” Fleur said. The cub was enjoying this, for she was learning a great deal, and could feel her mother was enjoying having her paws stroked. The cub suddenly began anxiously examining the toes of Snowy’s left forepaw with her own.
“Mum’s got none of those hard pointed things I have on the ends of all my toes!” The cub said suddenly.
“she has got them,” Fleur said, “but Snowy’s retracted her claws, made them go into her toes. You haven’t learned that trick yet little cub.”
“but I want to learn it!” the cub mewed, “for I sometimes feel the carpet taking hold of my toes by the pointy things and holding them! I hate it, for I sometimes can’t move my paw!”
“Those pointy things are called claws little cub,” Snowy purred, “and mine are here,” she said, extending her claws to prick the pads of her cub’s left forepaw.
“can I make my claws go away mum?” the cub asked. Snowy smiled, though her cub couldn’t see it.
“You can little cub,” she replied, “just not right now. Snarling with frustration, the cub banged one of her offending paws on the carpet and mewed pitifully:
“but I want to!” she whimpered, “I want to make my paws as soft as yours mum!” Snowy took the mewing, spitting fury in her paws, which had until then been her playful cub.
“You will be able to make your paws soft one day little one, I promise,” Snowy said gently.
“But, but I want to do it now!” The cub sobbed, “my toes are always getting trapped in the carpet, and it’s all because of my claws! I wake up, try to move my paws, and can’t! I feel with my whiskers, and find that my toes are tied up in the carpet because of my claws!” The cub spat. She wriggled and struggled against Snowy’s restraining paws, beating her tiny paws against her mothers much larger ones. Snowy tried to soothe her cub by licking her nose tenderly,, but she wasn’t comforted.
“I hate my claws!” the cub mewed, “the rest of my body I like, but my claws I can’t stand! I! Don’t! Like! My! Claws!” The cub cried pitifully into her mother’s fur, “My toes get trapped in the carpet almost every day, and I don’t like it!” she sobbed.
“You won’t like paw massage then,” Salty mewed, “for that means giving your paw to another animal to stroke.”
“I don’t mind that,” the cub mewed, “for I can move my paws and toes, but when the carpet has my claws, I can’t move my paws, let alone my toes!” Elsa watched and listened to all this.
“You will be able to soften your paws in a few weeks little one,” she purred.
“But I want to do it now!” The cub mewed.
“Will someone please shut that bloody noise up!” Rocky foster snapped irritably, “I’m trying to sleep!”
“NO, No I won’t shut up!” the newborn cub sobbed, “I won’t, wont! Won’t shut up!”
“here little one,” Fleur said gently, “Here, take my paws in yours, feel my paws.” the cub took Fleur’s left forepaw in both of hers, and Fleur remembered just in time to extend her claws before the cub felt no claws on her toes.
“My claws are like yours little one,” Fleur said, “I get them trapped in the carpet too.” The cub seemed to have forgotten she’d stroked Fleur’s paws when there were no claws to feel. Now she was just happy not to be alone in her predicament. Elsa motioned to Fleur to go with her.
“You’ll end up with blunted claws if you do that!” Elsa mewed.
“but the tiger cub feels alone,” Fleur replied, “if I keep my claws extended, I can also get my toes trapped in the carpet, just like the little cub is doing. That way, she won’t feel like she’s going through it alone. Elsa remembered her own cubhood, getting her own claws caught in various roots and things, as well as her own cubs struggles with the carpet verses their claws. Leona was always getting her paws trapped, and would struggle for some time before calling for help.
“I know you are trying to help her,” Elsa said gently, “and I’m proud of you for that Fleur.” Fleur smiled at her mum.
“I want to help that cub,” she said. Elsa smiled lovingly at Fleur.
“So you’re going to crawl about like a cub for the next few weeks then?” She asked.
“until the little one finds her feet yes,” Fleur replied, “it must be hell being the only cub among so many large cubs and adults. I will help her mum.” Elsa touched Fleur’s paw.
“Good luck,” she said. Fleur mewed like a cub, rolling over onto her back to have her belly rubbed. Elsa laughed helplessly at Fleur’s display.
“Go away little cub,” she laughed, gently massaging Fleur’s belly, the large cub catching Elsa’s paw in the toes of one of her huge forepaws and holding them tightly.
“Let me go!” Elsa mewed, Herself sounding like a cub. Fleur let go of Elsa’s paw and, rolling onto all fours again, began to crawl away like the female tiger cub did. Elsa watched her cub with interest. First Fleur reached forward with her left forepaw, bracing the sole of her paw flat against the carpet, leaning hard on that paw, so she could bring her left hind paw to her, until her heel was almost under the root of her long tail. Then Fleur would reach forward with her right forepaw and repeat the same procedure with her right hind paw as for her left hind. Elsa watched, amazed by the strength of her cub’s love for the tiger cub. Elsa knew she loved everything about fleur. Fleur kept slogging away at her new style of locomotion, the art of crawling coming back to her with every passing second. Fleur kept going, her nose close to the carpet. Elsa watched Fleur, noticing her cub’s long tail dragging behind her like a rather ornate rope, the spotted soles of her hind feet visible as she crawled, her pads and toes briefly bunching together and relaxing as she made her way slowly over the carpet. Elsa noticed little details like this, fixing them in her mind, loving everything about her cubs, from the way they crawled and played when they were young, to the way they conducted themselves when adults.
Fleur crawled back to the tiger cub, Snowy watching her come closer. She noticed Fleur’s claws were unsheathed, and that she was crawling like a newborn cub.
“Fleur’s back little one,” Snowy purred. The tiny cub, now forgetting her fury at having non retractable claws, crawled over to Fleur. As she was slowly making progress towards the larger cross bred cub, the tiny tiger cub heard Fleur mew in sudden panic, then a thud, then Fleur rolling and struggling to free herself from something!
Fleur’s mewing became muffled and more desperate as she rolled and twisted, fighting to free herself from the rug in which the toes of one of her forepaws, and both hind were trapped! During her journey, Fleur had dug her toes into the rug whilst crawling, her extended claws catching in its thick pile. During the struggle to free her paws, Fleur had got thoroughly tangled up in the rug, and was now fighting to free not only her paws, but her entire body from captivity! Fleur realised, as the rug closed in on her from all sides, that she was not only struggling to free her four errant paws with their ever attendant and very disobedient claws, but also free herself! Fleur realised she could not retract her claws to free her paws as her claws were firmly imbedded in the rug.
The tiger cub crawled up to the struggling mass of rug, listening to the piteous mewing coming from deep within its all enveloping folds, and wondering what had become of her large cub friend.
Meanwhile, Theo had arrived to watch Fleur playing with the newborn tiger cub. Elsa told him what Fleur was doing for the cub, and her tale touched him deeply. Now he was just in time to see Fleur disappearing whole sale into the midst of a huge rug laid on the carpet to protect it. He’d seen her crawling, claws extended towards Snowy and her newborn cub. Then seen the claws of Fleur’s right forepaw get caught in the weave of the huge rug. During her fight to free that paw, both Fleur’s hind paws had been trapped in a similar manner by the dreadful rug. Mewing with fear, Fleur had rolled onto her back, kicking furiously with all four paws in an attempt to rid herself of the rug. This failed, and she was soon tangled up in the rug, all four paws trapped, and completely helpless. This was how the tiny cub found Fleur, or rather the mass of rug which contained her. The cub paced round the rug, prodding it with a paw, uncertain as to what to make of the struggling mass of material. She’d heard something going on, but hadn’t connected it with her large cub friend. Now her nose told her Fleur was inside the rug.
“What’s wrong Fleur?” The cub mewed.
“This rug has trapped my paws, and now me!” She snarled.
“How can you get trapped in a rug?” The cub asked.
“My claws!” Fleur mewed pitifully, “they got caught in the rug, and when I tried to free my paws, I got tangled up with the rug, and now, now I’m in here!”
“What can I do?” Snowy’s cub asked. Snowy looked at the rug. Fleur had completely disappeared into its furry depths.
“You need to help her somehow,” Snowy said to her cub.
“Can’t you help Fleur mum?” the cub asked.
“I might be able to,” Snowy replied, “but I don’t know what to do. How do we free her?” The tiny female tiger cub suddenly shook herself and said:
“Fleur’s been good enough to crawl around with extended claws so I didn’t feel I was the only one, now, because of her kindness to me, she’s trapped, so it’s up to me to rescue her!” Turning to the rug, the cub asked:
“Can you move your paws at all Fleur?” for answer there was the sound of panting, snarling sobs coming from the depths of the rug, followed by an exhausted silence. Then fleur said:
“all four of My paws are trapped! I can’t believe I managed to trap all four of them!” Fleur whimpered, “Wait a minute, I’ll try and bite the rug holding the claws of my forepaws and see where I get.” There was more mewing and fearful sobbing, accompanied by ripping sounds as Fleur tried desperately to free her paws.
“Nearly there, just a bit more!” she could be heard saying, while plainly tugging at her paw, and ripping the fibres with her teeth.
“done it!” Fleur yelled, “one paw’s free!, Now for the other forepaw!” More ripping, mewing and panting sounds issued from the rug as Fleur fought to free her trapped paw. Soon both Fleur’s forepaws were free, but Fleur wasn’t any closer to freedom, her hind paws were still trapped, and the realisation soon dawned, after several attempts to reach the toes of her hind paws with her teeth, that she couldn’t free them on her own.
“If you crawl inside the rug with Fleur,” Snowy suggested to her cub, then you might be able to free her.” the cub felt her way to an open end of the rug, which had materialised during Fleur’s struggles to free her forepaws. Feeling with both tiny paws, and being careful not to become a casualty herself, the cub burrowed into the rug, until she felt the end of Fleur’s tail under one of her paws. Fleur twitched the end of her tail to let her rescuer know she was still, quite literally hanging on. The cub crawled towards Fleur’s hind paws, her left forepaw coming into contact with the heel of Fleur’s right hind. Fleur felt tiny paws exploring her own larger one, the paw working its way towards her toes, and knew who’d come to rescue her.
“Well done little cub,” Fleur said, “can, can you feel my claws?”
“yes, yes Fleur I can, I can!” The female tiger cub replied breathlessly, now much excited by the situation. Here she was, a few hours old, helping a large cub out of trouble.
“You’ll have to use your teeth to bite through the rug holding my paw by its claws little cub,” Fleur said, “can you do that for me?” The cub heard Fleur’s rising panic.
“I can do that,” the tiger cub replied gently, “no problem. She gently stroked the pads of Fleur’s paw to reassure her.
Meanwhile, Theo watched, now anxious about his cub.
“We could just rip that thing apart and free Fleur!” He mewed, for now to him this was no longer a game, but deadly serious, “Fleur’s trapped in the middle of that horrid rug, and she can’t free herself!”
“If my cub can’t free her, then we’ll go in,” Snowy replied, “I know what Fleur was trying to do for my cub, and she’s got herself tangled up in things in a more spectacular way than she could ever have imagined.”
“If your cub doesn’t manage to make headway with rescuing Fleur within five minutes, I’m going in!” Theo snarled, “I don’t know what all this is about, but it’s sounding stupid!”
Meanwhile, Fleur an the tiny tiger cub lay in the folds of the rug. The tiger cub preparing to bite the strands of material holding her large friend’s right hind paw. Slipping her tiny paw between the pads of Fleur’s paw and the rug, the tiger cub tried to ease Fleur’s paw back a little so she could get in and bite the rug with her teeth. Fleur felt the cub’s pads on her own and tried to keep her paw still. Then she heard ripping and tearing as the tiger cub bit through the material holding her paw to the rug. Fleur felt her paw give, then come completely free! Fleur cried out with elation!
“One of my hind paws is free!”
“thank Eohippus for that!” Theo breathed. Fleur went to move the freed paw, but the tiger cub cupped the heel of Fleur’s paw gently in her tiny paw, gently stroking her pads, soothing her.
“If you move your paw too much, you’ll kick me Fleur,” the cub mewed, “It’s very tight in here.” Fleur breathed deeply, trying to keep her paw still, when all she wanted to do was fight for freedom! She fought to concentrate on the feel of the cub’s inexpert, but very pleasurable paw massage.
“I’m calm now,” Fleur mewed softly.
“time for your left hind paw then Fleur,” the Bengal tiger cub mewed, stroking her freed hind paw with infinite tenderness.
“Now,” the cub mewed, “hold Still Fleur.” Fleur did as she asked, holding her paw as still as she could, while the cub’s whiskers tickled her pads. Fleur couldn’t help laughing out loud as the tiger cub’s whiskers tickled her paw.
“that tickles!” she mewed. The cub didn’t reply, and Soon, Fleur heard the sound of ripping and tearing material as the cub used her teeth against the rug. Fleur bit her tongue trying not to laugh helplessly as the cub’s whiskers tickled the sole of her paw while she worked to free her. Suddenly Fleur felt her paw give, and she breathed a sigh of relief. The tiger cub patted Fleur’s hot paw as she finished her work.
“All done,” she mewed. Fleur felt with her hind paw for the tiny cub’s forepaw and curled her toes round those of the tiny creature.
“thank you little one,” Fleur whispered. The female tiger cub patted the pads of Fleur’s paw, deliberately tickling her paw with her whiskers.
Hey, don’t tickle my paw!” Fleur mewed, trying not to kick the cub as she rubbed her paw against the rug, while making sure she didn’t catch her claws in it once more. The cub patted the pads of Fleur’s left hind paw.
“Let’s get you out of here now,” the tiger cub purred, “Now, can you see any way out forwards?” Fleur tested the rug in front of her forepaws, finding it impenetrable.
“No go this way,” Fleur said, panic rising again, “how are we going to get out of here!”
Theo heard his cub’s panic stricken cry and, seeing Snowy’s face, curled his toes into the carpet to stop himself from running to her aid.
“Let my cub rescue Fleur,” Snowy said, “she can do it, have faith in her Theo.” Theo looked round the room, wondering what the other animals thought of this approach.
“We’re friends,” Fleur said to the cub, “so I trust you little one, lead me out whichever way you feel is safe.”
“Come out backwards,” the cub advised. Shuffle your paws backwards, Try curling your toes to keep those claws out of the way of the rug, and shuffle backwards on your heels and curled toes. Fleur did what the cub suggested. Having to keep her toes tightly curled was uncomfortable and impractical, but she shuffled first her left hind paw, then her right, towards the entrance through which her cub friend had come to her. Fleur felt the cub’s paws on each of her own as she concentrated on keeping her toes curled, and shuffling backwards, bit by bit, moving her forepaws in the same fashion as her hind. In this manner, they got a little way out, until Fleur’s paws began to ache with the effort of keeping her toes curled to keep her claws out of the way of the rug.
“I can’t carry on like this little one,” Fleur gasped, “my paws are aching so much! Curling my toes to keep my claws out of the way was a good idea, but not the most comfortable for me, now, now I can’t carry on like this any more!”
“Okay,” the cub mewed, patting her left hind paw reassuringly, “I will help you using the other way I thought of. I’ll come to each of your four paws in turn and try to cover your claws with my paws, so that you can move your paws without catching the rug with your claws, okay?” Fleur breathed deeply with relief, grateful she could finally relax her paws.
“Thank you my friend,” she said. “now, let me start relaxing my paws.” Fleur did so.
“that’s better,” she sighed as she uncurled the toes of all four paws one paw at a time.” The tiger cub, as good as her word, protected Fleur’s paws with her own as best she could, while Fleur shuffled her paws, and her entire body into the open. Feeling her left hind paw come free from the rug, Fleur yelled in triumph.
“One paw free, one paw free little cub! Oh thank you!” The tiny tiger cub, knowing her job wasn’t over yet, reached for Fleur’s right hind paw, and tugged encouragingly at it, goading Fleur to more wriggling and twisting to bring her body further into the open. She soon felt her other hind paw come free.
“That’s it,” Fleur panted, “that’s my other hind paw! You’re marvellous little cub!” The tiny tiger cub, now sensing victory and beginning to warm to her task, enthusiastically patted Fleur’s belly fur.
“Now it’s time to free your forepaws,” the cub mewed, “gently now Fleur, very gently, wriggle your body until your forepaws are nearly in the open, that’s it, gently now,” the cub encouraged. Fleur concentrated on freeing herself, closing her eyes to concentrate better. Fleur felt her left forepaw come free, then her right, and before she could take this in properly, with a final wriggle and twist, she was free!
“thank you little cub!” Fleur mewed, rolling onto her paws and embracing the cub tightly. The tiny tiger cub stroked Fleur’s paws, the large cub almost weeping with relief at being free.
“We could have freed her in half the time!” Theo snapped.
“but Theo,” Snowy said, “my cub wanted to free Fleur. She wanted to help her friend.”
“Fleur,” the tiny cub mewed, “please, listen to me. Fleur bent her head down to listen to the cub’s tiny voice.
“Yes my friend?” Fleur purred.
“Please,” the cub begged, “please, put your claws away. I know why you wanted to keep them extended, and for that I’m very grateful, more grateful than I can put into words. But please,” and here with Fleur’s help she lifted one of her massive forepaws, “Promise me you won’t go after the rugs again. I was scared for you when you got yourself trapped. I helped you the same way you helped me and my mum in the bathtub. We would have been stuck without you.”
“and me without you little cub,” Fleur choked, “I love you little one!” Fleur sobbed, lying down on her side and gathering the tiny bundle of fur close to her.
“I love you too Fleur,” the cub whispered, “now, please, put your claws away, and I mean right away, so you have soft paws, like you did when you helped me and my mum in the bathtub.”
“There,” Fleur said, retracting her claws, “there, feel my paws now, feel my toes, I have no claws now little cub.”
Fleur,” the cub replied, “feel my paws, for I too have no claws either.” Fleur did as the cub asked, and it was true! She’d retracted her claws for the very first time.
“this is meant to happen a few weeks from now!” Snowy mewed.
“Maybe the demands put on your cub by the task she wanted to perform made her advance faster in coordination skills,” Salty mewed, “it’s wonderful as well as being a major step for one so young.”
“Can you extend your claws little cub?” Snowy asked. The cub complied. Then retracted them once more, before extending them a second time.
“making my claws appear and disappear is easy!” the cub mewed, I can now make my paws as soft as my mum’s and Fleur’s!” Fleur, now in tears, hugged the cub tenderly.
“I vote we both rip the rug into tiny bits Fleur!” the cub purred. Fleur smiled.
“Let’s do that,” she said.
Fleur and the cub ripped at the rug with their claws and teeth, throwing pieces of the rug all over the room. They even had tug of war games with some of the larger bits. Theo watched them, glad they’d decided to rip the rug to bits.
“One good turn deserves another,” he said, “and now your cub and Fleur have called it quits.”
“They love each other dearly,” snowy replied, tears welling in her eyes.
“I know,” Theo purred, taking Snowy’s paw in his, “they are two lovely cubs snowy.” Snowy sniffed slightly, rubbing her eyes with one huge paw.
“I didn’t know my cub felt so much for Fleur,” she sobbed, “it’s, it’s lovely Theo!”
Once the rug was in bits, fleur and the tiny tiger cub padded back to Snowy’s non fibre producing rug and lay down together, snowy and Theo joining them.
“Now we have to rid our paws of the rug pile again!” the tiger cub mewed, “it’s all stuck between my toes and the pads of my paws, it feels horrible!” fleur gently took hold of one of the cub’s forepaws in hers and very gently, using her tongue, rasped the cub’s pads so the rug’s pile brushed off them. Fleur then used her teeth to clear strands of the rug’s stitching from between the cub’s tiny toes, just like snowy would do. The tiger cub lay, paws relaxed, letting Fleur do her work. Fleur worked by touch, using her whiskers and tongue to explore and rasp the cub’s paw, then her teeth to wiggle bits of fluff from hard to reach places between the cub’s pads and toes, for she couldn’t always see the fibres she was trying to get hold of, but could feel them. Soon, the tiger cub’s paws were free of fluff and strands of stitching from the rug. her paws now clear of all traces of the rug, the cub worked on Fleur’s paws in the same way the large cub had hers, finding the toes of her right hind paw tangled up in some stitching from the rug. It wasn’t tight, but the cub bit through the stitching, removing it from around Fleur’s toes. Feeling this, fleur smiled.
“You are so gentle my friend,” she purred. the cub patted her hind paw gently.
“I think we should give you a name now,” Snowy said to her cub.
“And what would that be?” the cub asked, still concentrating on freeing Fleur’s paws from the remains of the rug.
“I thought of the name Bianca,” snowy said.
“Why Bianca,” Theo asked.
“I had a cub friend by that name,” Snowy said sadly, “she was the most loyal companion I ever had as a cub, but she was shot during my coma.” Theo then knew whom this cub friend really was.
“Bianca it is then,” he mewed softly.
The newly named Bengal tiger cub finished her work and snowy hugged her.
“Well done Bianca my gentle, brave and loyal cub,” she mewed. The tiny cub snuggled up to her mother.
“I remember that name from somewhere,” the cub mewed, “but I can’t remember where.” Snowy then knew her newborn cub had some recollection of her cub sister, even though she’d been unborn at the time.
“yes little Bianca,” Snowy purred, “one day little cub, I’ll tell you of my sister cub, and of your journey here, but not now, for it’s been a long day, and you look tired little one,” Snowy said softly, gently stroking Bianca’s ears and paws. “you are a brave little cub,” snowy said, “please Bianca, don’t forget what you did today. Be true to those whom you hold dearest, and never shy away from helping those in need little cub.” Bianca snuggled closer to her mum.
“I’m not your cub, am I snowy?” she asked.
“Not really little one,” Snowy replied, “but I’m looking after you now.”
“My mum died before she could give birth to me, so you helped her by giving birth to me instead,” Bianca said suddenly. Snowy nearly choked on a sudden rush of tears.
“yes little one, yes,” she cried.
“thank you mum,” Bianca purred. Snowy hugged her cub tightly.
“Your name is that of my cub sister,” Snowy sobbed, “she was the most loyal and true cub I ever knew Bianca.”
“Don’t judge your cub by your sister’s standards snowy,” Theo said.
“I won’t, for Bianca’s my birth cub, and is not my sister cub. My cub is her own person, but I hope she grows up to be as loving and gentle as my sister cub was Theo.” Snowy purred. Theo nodded.
“so do I snowy, so do I,” he said. Bianca crawled away to curl up with Fleur, the two cubs snuggling up together.
“Welcome home Bianca,” Fleur whispered, gently taking the cub’s tiny paw in her larger one.
“Hold me fleur,” Bianca mewed. Fleur wrapped her huge paws round Bianca, hugging her tenderly.
“Sleep well little cub,” Fleur whispered. Bianca soon slept deeply. Fleur soon settled down too, falling asleep herself.
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