Growing closer.


Tinka and Hop along lay curled together in the warmth of the living room.  The house had very efficient heating, and it was always warm in the house, no matter how cold the weather got outside.  Rain had started to fall about an hour ago, but the two tigers paid no attention to it.  Hop along wondered how long he’d be pain free, for Fleur’s paw massage had been over a day ago.  Unknown to the two tigers, fleur watched them from the comfort of the sofa.  She was uninterested in their love making, but keen to see if her massage skills were still keeping Hop along pain free.  It seemed they were, though Fleur was concerned that the affects might wear off during the night.  She cautiously approached Hop along, the tiger sensing her coming and raising his head to watch her.

      “What’s going on?”  Tinka asked drowsily.

      “Fleur’s coming near,”  Hop along mewed.  Tinka roused herself to shout at Fleur.

     “This is private time!”  She yelled, “can’t we get any peace?”  fleur turned and left hurriedly.

      “Dam cubs!”  Tinka spat.

     “Tinka,”  Hop along mewed, “I have a feeling she wasn’t wishing to intrude.  I think Fleur wanted to see if my paw was still pain free.”  Tinka snarled menacingly.

      “She can come close to check your paw over, but when she’s done, she’s out of here!”  Tinka spat, “doesn’t she know any manners?”

      “Tinka,”  Hop along mewed, “if I don’t get my paw seen to, I won’t know manners either.”

      “I don’t believe in all this healing stuff,”  Tinka mewed, “Fleur’s a lovely cub n’all that, but all this about her being able to cure your paw!  It’s a load of rubbish!  You just want her to massage your pads, that’s it isn’t it Hop along?”  Hop along shook his head.

      “I can’t really show you any proof that Fleur’s paw massage works,”  Hop along mewed, “other than the fact I am pain free.”  Tinka was sceptical.

     “I don’t believe in her powers,”  Tinka mewed.

      “I thought, thought you loved her,”  Hop along said.

      “Love her I do,”  Tinka replied, “believe in her power I most certainly don’t.”

       “Ah well,”  fleur mewed, “you don’t have to believe in my power Tinka.”

      “Just get it over with fleur,”  Tinka snapped, “I don’t want you here!”  fleur set to work on Hop along’s right hind paw, stroking his pads and massaging his toes.  The huge Bengal tiger looked troubled, but it wasn’t on account of his paw becoming sore.  He knew his mate was furious!

      “All done,”  fleur mewed, patting the pads of Hop along’s right hind paw.  Hop along briefly curled his toes round Fleur’s as a signal of thanks, fleur grinning up at him.

      “Now leave!”  Tinka snapped.

      “I believe you’ll be glad of her powers one day Tinka,”  Petra mewed, “so I wouldn’t treat Fleur like this.  Fleur doesn’t mean to intrude, now she’ll leave you alone, but she could feel Hop along’s pain relief failing him and had to treat his paw before it became painful.”  Tinka spat on the carpet.

      “You talk rubbish white one!”  Tinka yelled at Petra.

      “I never talk rubbish,”  Petra mewed, “It’s not my way.  I say again to you Tinka, don’t underestimate Fleur’s power.”  Tinka looked scornfully at the dirty brown cub.

      “How can she have power?”  Tinka asked, “Petra, Fleur’s only a cub!”

     “Cub or not,”  Petra mewed, “Fleur’s still got power.”

       “You talk about me as if I’m not here Tinka,”  fleur mewed.

      “I wish you’d just push off!”  Tinka snapped, “Hop along and I were wanting some quality time together, and now you’re ruining it!”  fleur crawled away, feeling very miserable.  Petra touched the cub’s paw as she passed her.

      “Thanks Petra,”  fleur mewed.

      “I wish you’d leave fleur alone,”  Hop along mewed to Tinka, it’s not very nice to hear you say things like that to her.  She was only responding to the knowledge my pain relief was failing a little and she knew she needed to top it up.  Now all’s fine, and we’ll be left alone from now on.”  Tinka looked into her mate’s face, and saw how much her dismissal of Fleur had hurt him.

      “I know you’re close to Fleur,”  Tinka said, “I am too!  It’s just that she was there when we settled down, and I thought we wanted quality time without cubs round us.”

      “As I told you before,”  Hop along mewed, “that quality time would have been short lived if Fleur hadn’t done what she did.  For I would have been in terrible pain again, and would have been little company for you Tinka.”

      “I suppose I don’t know what Fleur feels when she sees you, so maybe she knows more about you than I do,”  Tinka said.  Hop along embraced his mate in both paws.

      “Fleur only wants the best for us,”  he mewed, “and keeping me pain free makes the best happen.  She knows we want a cub of our own you know Tinka,”  he continued, “I’ll bet she can even tell when you’re in cub too Tinka.”  Tinka remembered the births of her previous cubs, and wondered if fleur would weave her magick during the birth of any cubs she and Hop along might have in the future.

      “I wonder if she’ll help me give birth to our cubs,”  Tinka mewed.

       “Wait a minute,”  Petra said, “Tinka, first you’re telling Fleur to get out of your life, now you want her to help during the birth of your cubs?  What do you  want?”

       “I want Hop along to be happy,”  Tinka mewed.

      “Well,”  Petra replied, “Hop along loves you and loves Fleur in different ways, so let fleur do her thing.  For Hop along would like you to let Fleur do her own thing without harassment.  Fleur’s naturally considerate to others, and would not have approached Hop along had she not felt his pain relief was about to fail him.  Now, let’s all settle down to some real relaxation shall we?”  With that, she crawled over to where Fleur lay curled in a miserable heap on the sofa and took her paw.


“Don’t worry Fleur my dear,”  Petra mewed, it will be okay in the end.”  Fleur looked up at the young white lioness.

       “I hope so,”  she mewed.


Meanwhile, Jespah, lying in the cubbing den with Theo, Elsa, Leona and Aslan, lay awake, thinking of fleur.  Jespah hadn’t seen anyone so beautiful before.  His mind was full of her when he was awake, his dreams were full of her when he slept.  Jespah had seen Fleur many times, though she knew nothing of his presence.  He’d seen her playing with Bianca when the tiger cub was newborn, he’d seen fleur working with Hop along in the large bath pool, Jespah had even seen Fleur walking in the wood with Theo.  Jespah was about seven months old now, and fleur around five.  Jespah couldn’t put his paw on what attracted him to fleur, but he reasoned he must like the contrast of black spots and ill defined stripes against muddy brown fur.  Anyway, Jespah knew he liked Fleur from the first time he’d seen her.  Fleur was also large, not just in stature, but fat with it too, a reel fat cub.  Jespah knew now that her large appearance was mostly due to the layer of fur she had.  Fleur’s fur was thick, really thick, and this, now he’d touched it, drew Jespah even closer to Fleur.  Jespah wondered if Fleur knew he liked her.  he’d heard she was connected with the spirit world, could she read his thoughts?  If she could, what was she thinking at that moment?


Theo watched Jespah, knowing what the cub was thinking.

      “Fleur is lovely isn’t she,”  Theo mewed, making Jespah look round sharply.

      “How, how did you know I was, was,”  the cub stammered.

      “I can read thoughts too,”  Theo mewed.

     “Oh, oh no!”  Jespah mewed, “I, I’m sorry Theo!  I, I shouldn’t be thinking of a cub younger than me, it’s wrong!”

       “She’s not that much younger than you,”  Theo mewed, “and your thoughts and deeds have been totally honourable.  I know you’ve been watching Fleur for a long time now, though you’ve only just met her properly.  You will not harm her, nor ask her to do anything that’s dishonourable.”

     “No Theo, no, never,”  Jespah mewed, staring at his paws, “I won’t even speak to her if she doesn’t want me to.  I, I just can’t get her out of my mind!  I love everything about her, from her spotted face, to her banded tail, everything about Fleur is so lovely!”  Theo touched Jespah’s paw with his.

     “Look who’s just come through the outer door,”  he whispered.  Jespah looked, and there she was, fleur, padding towards him.  Jespah made eye contact with the cross bred cub, fleur increasing her pace to a trot and flopping down beside him.

      “Hello fleur,”  Jespah mewed.  Her nose resting on her fat black spotted paws, Fleur looked at the male lion cub.

     “You like me I see,”  she mewed.  Jespah looked away, embarrassed she’d found out.

      “I, I’m sorry,”  the cub mewed, “I shouldn’t, but, but, I do, yes.  I’ve been watching you fleur, for months now, and, and I think you’re the most beautiful thing on four paws!  I’m not just saying this, I believe it with all my being!”  fleur knew Jespah loved her.  She’d known for some time, but had never approached him about it.

       “You like dirty brown fur then?”  Aslan asked Jespah.

     “I do, well, Fleur’s anyway,”  Jespah blurted.  Aslan smiled at fleur.

      “He’s quite taken with you I think,”  he said to her, fleur smiling broadly.  When Jespah saw her smile, he impulsively threw his paws round fleur, gathering her to him in a huge hug.

      “Jespah!”  Elsa snapped, “you don’t do that without asking!”

       “I think he knows he doesn’t have to ask,”  fleur purred.  Elsa covered her face with her paw.

       “Oh no!”  she mewed, “I’ve herd of first loves, but this is a bit early for that!  You two are only a few months old!”

      “Just good friends then,”  fleur mewed, but deep down, she knew this was more than just good friends.


Meanwhile, back in the living room, Hop along and Tinka lay together, tired but happy after making slow and passionate love.  This wasn’t just mating, it was deeper, much, much deeper.  When Tinka and Hop along mated, it wasn’t just a tiger mating with a tigress, it was Tinka and Hop along making a commitment to each other and to any cubs that might be born because of their union.  Now they lay together, each knowing the other more intimately than they could ever do just by stroking each other with their paws.  This was a meeting of minds as well as of two bodies.


Meanwhile, up in the cubbing den, fleur and Jespah held each other’s paws and wondered what on earth was happening to them.

     “I think we need to talk this over,”  fleur said to Jespah, who nodded.

      “?This surely can’t be serious, not at your ages,”  Elsa mewed.

       “That’s what we are trying to find out,”  fleur replied.

       “it’s not serious!”  Elsa mewed, “it can’t be!  You’re barely out of newborn cubhood and you’re talking of love and everything else!”

      “We never mentioned love, nor anything else,”  Jespah said, “all I said was that I couldn’t get Fleur out of my head, and that I liked everything about her.  I never said I loved her in the way you are thinking, and nor did she say that she loved me in any other way than one cub to another.  We will have to talk this over, in private too.”

      “Let’s go to the large bath pool,”  Fleur mewed, “there we can talk in peace.”  Elsa, her face now buried in her paws, mewed that it would be dangerous for Jespah and fleur to go to the pool without a responsible adult.  Theo’s answer to which was to clout Elsa hard!  Elsa mewed pitifully.

      “remember what job Fleur has,”  Theo said, “she’s warden of the water, she’s a responsible creature, maybe no adult, but very knowledgeable all the same.”  Elsa rubbed her paw where Theo’s had connected with it.

       “if anything, anything! Happens to those two, I’ll hold you personally responsible!”  Elsa snapped.  Fleur and Jespah left the cubbing den and went to the main pool complex.


Once in the large bath pool, Jespah took Fleur’s paw and told her his story.

      “When my mother was thrown out of the community,”  Jespah said, ?”I went to ground.  When I saw Perdy and Tigger in the wood, Perdy struggling to give birth to a cub, I watched her, and in so doing, saw you born.  It was a hell of a fight for everyone that day, and I was worried for the fat newborn cub with the strange markings.  So I watched you as best I could without entering the house.  I saw you crawling round inside the living room, and witnessed you getting tangled in the rug.  I even saw you helping Snowy give birth to Bianca.  I knew I liked you, and wanted to protect you.  Now desperate to meet you, I waited until I could come out of hiding, but all the time, I was watching you.”  Fleur felt Jespah’s paw on hers, and knew he wanted to protect her.  Taking his free paw, she gazed into his eyes.

     “Jespah,”  she said, “please, would you hug me?”  Jespah kissed Fleur on her nose, bringing tears to her eyes.

     “You, you really do want to protect me don’t you,”  fleur mewed.  Jespah squeezed Fleur’s paw.

     “Yes Fleur my dear, dear sweet Fleur.”  Fleur looked into Jespah’s eyes.

       “why look out for a cub with dirty brown fur though Jespah?”  Fleur asked.

      “I don’t know,”  he replied, “I felt attracted to you, as if I wanted to throw my paws round you fleur.  It was all I could do not to run into the group supervising your birth and hug you.  You reminded me of my own sister, of Petra, for she had much the same start in life.  She is now safe, but I couldn’t see those who’d taken Petra in their paws embracing you too, fortunately they did, but I was scared fleur, really scared for you.  Now, now I see you’re safe, and you’re happy.”

     “I’d be happiest,,,”  Fleur started to say, but stopped herself.

      “happiest if what fleur?”  Jespah asked.

     “Nothing,”  Fleur replied, “I can’t ask it of you.”

      “Try me,” Jespah replied.

     “I’d like to be able to play like a cub,”  fleur mewed, “carefree play, silly play, like, oh I don’t know, like having my paws tickled until I can laugh no more, and then some.  Rough and tumble games, games of tag, and then more paw stroking and tickling.  It’s always been me who’s structured the games I play, an while they’re great games, I’ve never been given the chance to be a cub, not really.”

        “You want me to help you be a cub?”  Jespah asked, knowing exactly what fleur was driving at.

      “I would love it if you could,”  fleur replied, “roll me over, ambush me, grab my paws and tickle them, all that and more.  Roll together from one place to another, touch each other’s noses with our paws, tickle each other’s paws with our whiskers, all that!  Even catch each other’s tails!”  Jespah hugged fleur tenderly.

       “You love me for being a cub,”  fleur sobbed, “Jespah, to you I’m not a fat bundle of brown fur, I’m just a cub, who needs to be taught how to play again, I can feel it!”  Jespah held fleur tightly, loving her for being what she wanted to be,  and was meant to be, a young, playful cub.

     “I tickle your paw,”  Jespah said, picking up Fleur’s left forepaw and tickling her pads, Fleur laughing helplessly.  Fleur mewed and struggled to free her paw from Jespah’s, both cubs rolling off the ledge they were sitting on and falling into the water.  Splitting up, Jespah and Fleur chased each other’s tails, the game involving each chasing the other’s tail, swimming with their paws not breaking the surface of the water.  Suddenly Fleur grabbed Jespah’s hind paws in both her forepaws and he paddled with his forepaws, while fleur kicked with her hind, trying to keep themselves moving.

     “Under water now?”  Jespah asked.  Fleur squeezed the toes of his left hind paw, and Jespah got out of the water, Fleur keeping contact with his hind paws with her fore, both cubs crawling over the tiles towards the main pool, where they slipped into the pool, Jespah tucking his hind paws into the warm, soft embrace of Fleur’s fore, then diving to the bottom of the pool, fleur following.  They cruised the waters, then surfaced and splashed each other enthusiastically.

      “Time for a ride on the slide!”  Jespah mewed.

     “You don’t like the slide Jespah,”  Fleur reminded the male cub.

      “I will try anything now you’re with me Fleur,”  he mewed, “come on.”  They got the raft from the lift where it had been stored for the last few days, and shovelled it into the tube slide.  Leaping in, the cubs ignored the lights as they knew noone else was on the slide, pushing off.  Jespah and Fleur raced down the tube slide and ground to a halt at the bottom.  Getting out of the raft, the two cubs sent it up in the lift, then left the pool complex.


Returning to the house, Fleur and Jespah curled up together on a rug, Fleur letting Jespah use her fur and paws like a warm blanket., fleur curled her body round Jespah’s, letting him work his paws into her fur, or even better, fleur would take his paws in hers, her paws acting like the warmest gloves ever.  Jespah felt the warm pressure of Fleur’s pads on his, and they felt wonderful.

       “This is what cubs do,”  fleur mewed, “curl up together, warm each other’s paws, keep each other safe.”  Leo watched them, a huge lump in his throat.

      “Your paws are so warm and soft,”  Jespah mewed, “fleur, how could anyone hate you!”

      “Some do hate me, just for how I look,”  she mewed.

       “But, but, it doesn’t matter how you look!”  Jespah mewed, now very distressed, “it’s, it’s how you are towards others, how you treat them!  I love you Fleur, my sister cub, and I don’t care who knows it!”  Jespah yelled, his eyes full of tears.

      “I love you too my brother cub,”  fleur choked, squeezing his paws gently in hers.

       “I want to stay here forever!”  Jespah mewed.

      “You will stay here forever,”  Fleur replied.  Jespah snuggled closer to fleur, pressing his body and paws into hers.

       “Can I massage your paws Fleur?”  Jespah asked.  Fleur rolled onto her side, releasing Jespah’s paws.

      “Here are my paws,”  Fleur replied, looping her tail and tickling the pads of Jespah’s right hind paw with the tip.  Jespah laughed merrily.


Jespah examined Fleur’s paws, seeing the spots showing between the pads on the soles of her paws.

     “You’ve got spots on the soles of your paws fleur!”  Jespah mewed, “that’s so lovely!”  He watched as Fleur curled her toes, her pads bunching together and hiding the spots from view.  Jespah gently stroked the clenched pads, massaging them until fleur relaxed her paw and the spots reappeared.  Fleur curled the toes of all four paws, Jespah stroking her pads until she relaxed her paw, something which both of them enjoyed.  Then Fleur did the same for Jespah as he’d done for her, the two cubs getting to know each other by touch, which was the way they wanted things to be.


Fleur and Jespah ended the game by falling asleep curled up together, the soles and pads of their paws tingling from the communal massage.


Meanwhile, the other animals were torn between watching the growing love between Tinka and Hop along, or the emerging cub love between fleur and Jespah.


Fleur and Jespah woke in the early morning, finding they’d taken each other’s paws during the night.  They lay together, paw in paw, whisker to whisker.

      “I love this way of communication,”  Jespah mewed, “the touch of paw pad against  paw pad, the tickle of a whisker against my nose, all that says a lot more than words do.”  Jespah smiled as Fleur’s paw tightened on his.

       “that paw massage was wonderful last night,”  fleur mewed.

      “Going foreword together,”  fleur said.

       “Whisker to Whisker,”  Jespah mewed.

      “Paw in paw,”  Fleur purred, finishing the motto.  Leo listened to them, smiling quietly to himself as he observed the behaviour of the two cubs.



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