Life and death.



Petra looked at Blanche.

      “Why can’t you apologise to them?”  She asked, “you don’t have to like Whitie or fleur, you just have to admit what you did was wrong, uncalled for and totally disgusting.  If you believe this, you should apologise to them.”  Blanche was crying now.

      “How can such a horrid cub overpower my sister!”  She sobbed, “how can Fleur do this!”

     “Overpower Whitie?”  Fleur asked, now very confused and upset, “I can’t, I haven’t!”

       “Whitie came to Fleur of her own free will,”  Petra said, “Fleur didn’t force herself upon your sister Blanche.  Another question, why hate Fleur so much?  What has she done to you other than that which you thoroughly deserved.  Has she hit you, has she abused you, either physically or verbally?  Has she done you any wrong at all?”  Blanche shook her head.

     “None of those,”  she replied, “it’s just, just that I’ve heard things, things which make me fear Fleur.  The way she bonded with Bianca was strange, the way Bianca seemed to give herself totally to Fleur and fleur to Bianca, going so far as fleur crawling about like a cub, when she clearly wasn’t a cub!”

     “Fleur would have done that for any cub, not just Bianca,”  Petra said.

     “You would say that!”  Blanche yelled, “you’re her friend!”

       “you could be too if you let her take you in her paws,”  Petra replied.  Blanche looked as if she was about to be physically sick.

      “What did you just suggest I do?”  She asked.

      “Let Fleur take you in her paws, it’s not difficult,”  Petra mewed.

      “Let, that, that thing take me in its paws?”  Blanche whimpered, “I, I’d rather suffocate!”  Fleur looked away, dreadfully upset now.

     “How would it be Blanche if I told you I know why you hate Fleur?”  Petra asked.  Blanche’s eyes opened wide with shock!

      “How can you know anything!”  she yelled, “what do you know?”  Petra suddenly grabbed Blanche and shook her!  Petra was quite a bit larger than the snow leopard cub and her paws were strong.  Blanche yelled with pain and fear!

      “I know who poisoned your mind!”  Petra said, “I know who is feeding you crap about Fleur!  You are not stupid Blanche, you’ve just let your fears overtake you.  You’ve let misinformation be your guide, you’ve not, as Whitie has, let your paws be your guide.”  Blanch mewed pitifully.

     “Amber’s been telling me about Fleur, dreadful things, like, like how she was born, how she pawed at Theo when she was newborn, and enchanted him.”

     “No Blanche,”  Petra mewed, “Fleur didn’t enchant Theo in that way, she did it with her gentle personality and soft touch.  You could be enchanted too, if only you’d let yourself be.”  Blanche wriggled free of Petra’s grasp and crept from the concrete shed, her huge paws scuffing on the concrete.  Suddenly something enveloped blanche in a huge warm hug.  Blanche mewed and pawed at the paws holding her.

      “Who’s got me!”  she mewed.

      “the fat brown cub,”  someone purred.  Blanche felt the warm paws holding her, and without realising it, she was holding the paws holding her.

      “Let fleur hold you Blanche,”  Petra mewed.  Blanche began to cry, her body racked by sobs.

       “fleur, hug me!”  Blanche pleaded.  Fleur kissed Blanche’s nose, then the pads of one of her forepaws, Blanche’s tears falling onto Fleur’s fur.

      “Let your paws be your guide blanche,”  fleur purred.  Blanche, still crying, traced Fleur’s face, whiskers, large body, short legs, long tail and huge paws with her tiny paws.


Whitie listened to all this, glad her sister had bonded with Fleur, but hating Blanch for what she’d done.

      “Fleur might be able to forgive you blanche, but I cannot!”  Whitie snarled.

     “That’s understandable Whitie,” Petra mewed.

      “So Amber’s been spreading all these bad things about Fleur?”  Whitie asked, “why?”  Then it dawned on her.

       “Amber hates Snowy!  The common link between us is Snowy!  Snowy looked after me and Blanche, Amber hated that, wanting her cubs to be hers alone.  Snowy took Fleur’s paw when she first entered the cubbing den, giving fleur the first real paw of friendship, apart from Theo’s, that she’d known.  Fleur also helped snowy give birth to, then played with Snowy’s cub, the three becoming inseparable.”  Whitie began to cry, “and blanche, then there’s me, the tactile one, the one who accepted fleur for who she was, the one who loved Snowy through everything, you attacked me because of who I loved, because of who loved me!”

      “I don’t love you Whitie, you horrid creature!”  Blanche yelled.

      “I know that now,”  Whitie Mewed, “it’s Horrid, and awful, but I will cope, I will cope because I have loving animals round me.  I know you can’t choose your family, but, but I gave you everything I had blanche!  I helped you when we were first made homeless, I caught beetles and things for you when you were too weak to do it for yourself, I guided you through those dangerous days, and, and stroked your paws when you were upset and cold.  Now, now I know you hated me throughout!  You did a good job of masking it, a better job than Amber did.  Now, now I’m torn apart by your words, and bruised by your paws.  I’m glad you’ve made amends with Fleur, that you no longer think her dreadful, but now I’m in pain, for I gave you love, and you’ve thrown it back at me, not just that, you hated me from the start Blanche!  I’m torn to bits by your words today!”

      “Be torn apart by them then,”  Blanche spat, “I don’t care!  It was always you Whitie, always you who had the fun, always you who got the best adventures, but I was the first to tickle the paws of another cat, so it’s me who started the whole paw massage and tickling thing off, I claim credit for that!  My influence and legacy lives on, and what do you have to show for your two miserable years here, nothing, absolutely sod all!”

       “Being able to tickle paws is surely a great thing,”  Petra replied, “but it’s not if the animal who’s paws you are tickling turns on you and rips you apart Blanche.


Fleur’s paws suddenly tightened on blanche, almost suffocating the cub!

       “I see you are evil now!”  Fleur yelled.

       “Let, let me go!”  Blanche screamed.

      “No, no I won’t, I won’t!”  Fleur yelled, her anger and grief at Blanche’s actions and true feelings boiling over.

      “You’re poison, your mind is a cesspit!  You were poisoned by Amber’s words,!  But you also knew your own mind!  I know you might have been taken in by Amber’s words, but you did to Whitie things that no cub should do, that no cub, no matter how they hated their sister should ever do!  You beat your own sister up so much she could hardly stand, and now, now the community could do the same to you, just to show you!”  The sound of heavy paws padding up behind them registered itself with Fleur, then there was a scream and a crash as Amber, coming to the aid of her youngest cub, was floored by Petra, then leapt upon by Salty!  There was a thud as Salty’s paw smashed into Amber’s head.  The blow killed her instantly.  Fleur, feeling her world falling apart, held the disgraced snow leopard cub in her paws.

      “Your mother is dead!”  Fleur yelled, “now Blanche, you could go the same way!  Do you want to be with the one who beat up Snowy for no reason? Do you want to be with her?  Well, I can arrange that, for you could have meant as much to me as Whitie and Snowy do! You could have been embraced by these paws, but now you’re not going to be!  I know you cried when I hugged you and apologised to me, but an apology to me is not good enough when you will not renounce your chosen path of destroying the lives of others!  You should be put in the place where you deserve to be put!  You wanted to kill Whitie, and would have done if others, including a tiny panda cub hadn’t fought bravely for her.  Now, now you could be killed!  Don’t be surprised if you have your throat torn out!”


Snowy, watching on the CCTV monitors, cried inconsolably as she heard all this.  She knew it was true, that Blanche was a poisoned creature, but to hear it, to know others knew, and were about to put an end to Blanche, upset her greatly.  Snowy, kind hearted tigress that she was, could not at first see why Blanche would have to die, but when the realisation dawned that Blanche could turn out to be as poisonous as Amber, and in fact had become so when she’d attacked Whitie with the intention of killing her,  snowy knew there was no other way to resolve this.  Switching off the monitor, Snowy flung herself on the control room carpet and burst into tears.  Elsa and Theo didn’t try to stop her, or even to comfort her.  For what comfort could they possibly give her at this time.  They just watched on other cameras, fascinated, but horrified at the prospect of what might happen next.


Fleur belted Blanche hard across her nose!  Blanche began to cry, then, almost crying herself, Fleur said to her:

     “I’m sorry my dear cub.”  Whitie, realising what was about to happen to Blanche, turned and fled!  Blanche knew she was about to die, and begged Fleur to make it quick.  Fleur looked down at blanche, realising she couldn’t go through with it.

      “I can’t kill you little cub,”  Fleur sniffed, giving up her tough act.

       “If you don’t kill her, I will!”  Salty yelled, leaping at blanche and fleur!  Salty tore blanche from Fleur’s paws and with gruesome and practised ease, broke her neck!  Petra’s  and Salty’s eyes met, and Salty looked down at His paws.  The large snow leopard had been obeying his instinct, but didn’t know if he’d been right to do what he did.

      “You are too soft fleur!”  Salty yelled.

       “Fleur’s job on this earth is not to take life,”  Petra mewed, “she’s a healer, she can’t take life.”  Deep down Salty knew this, but ignored it for the moment.

      “You’re a woose!”  He yelled at fleur, who hid her face in her huge muddy brown paws.

      “I’m not violent!”  Fleur mewed, “I can’t kill anything, it’s not my nature!”

        “Well miss,”  Salty snarled, “you’re going to have to learn how aren’t you!”

       “I don’t want to, I don’t want to!”  Fleur wept.

     “fleur doesn’t have to learn how to kill anything,”  Petra said, “I don’t know how to, and I’m doing ok.”

       “You’re a bleedin’ vegetarian, you’re a weird one Petra!  You don’t count!”  Salty yelled.

       “I don’t count?”  Petra asked, “try saying that when you’ve been badly beaten up!  I won’t kill, but I can fight!”  With that Petra launched herself at Salty and clouted him across his nose!  Salty screamed and threw up his paws to protect his face!  Petra’s claws raked down his nose, Salty screaming hysterically!  Petra threw herself at Salty, the cub’s considerable weight slamming into his body!

     “Blanche’s life  could have been saved,”  Petra said, “but it would have taken time.  Blanche wasn’t all bad, but she needed time, time which she wasn’t prepared to put in.  She’s gone now, but she could have meant so much to so many.”  Salty looked down at Blanche’s body.

      “I’m sorry for her,”  he said, “I overstepped the mark with all four paws, I didn’t give her time to reform.”  Petra looked into Salty’s face, and Salty saw in her eyes what Blanche could have been.  Salty wept for the dead snow leopard cub, realising she was redeemable, that if he’d given her time and space, she might have turned over a new leaf.

      “I should have kept my paws to myself!”  he mewed, “I’m sorry, I’m so, so Sorry!  I saw what I thought was an evil cub, and destroyed that evil!  I’m sorry, oh, what have I done?  What have I done!”

       “You’ve obeyed your instincts,”  Petra replied, “you can’t be punished for that.”


The scuffing of tiny paws announced Whitie’s arrival, and fleur went to her.

      “Amber and Blanche are dead aren’t they,”  Whitie mewed.

      “Yes Whitie my dear, they are dead,”  Fleur mewed.  Whitie clung to fleur.

       “I didn’t want her to die,”  Whitie sobbed, “blanche didn’t have to like me.  I couldn’t forgive her for what she did to me, but as long as she kept her paws off me, I would have been happy!  Now, now there’s so much death, so much carnage!  Why Fleur?  Why all this mess!”

      “It’s noone’s fault,”  Fleur replied, “noone that is apart from Blanche and Amber’s.  They were poisoned in their own minds, and would have destroyed the community.  Salty was obeying his instinct, but knows now that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do, given the community’s way of doing things.  The normal way of punishment for this kind of offence is death, but we as a community have made our own rules, using imprisonment and physical hardship to punish those who do wrong.  Now Salty’s taken it back to basics, but I don’t think he’ll do it again.  The case of Blanche and Amber was a special one.  Now, now we can move on, rebuild our lives, give love to those who really need it.  Whitie, you did nothing to deserve any of this, nor did Tigger or I for that matter.  We need, need to put our best paws forward from now on.  I know this might seem like I’m dealing with blanche’s and Amber’s deaths a little quickly, but I think that’s the way to do it, for they would have given little thought to your own death.”

     “Amber didn’t like me,”  Whitie mewed, “she viewed me and Blanche as her cubs at first, but then we became her playthings, to be manipulated for her own ends.  Snowy might have made mistakes, but she didn’t manipulate the cubs in her care!  Fleur, please, tell me, was that why Eohippus made Snowy well again and gave her Bianca?  Was it in recognition of her efforts to reform?”  fleur shook her head.

      “I can’t answer those questions my dear cub,”  she replied.  Whitie took Fleur’s paw in hers.

       “I love you Fleur,”  Whitie said, “I love you, and Snowy, and Petra, Jespah, and Tigger, and everyone here!”

      “I and they all love you Whitie dear cub,”  fleur mewed, hugging Whitie tightly.

      “Now let’s all go to the spar pool,”  Petra said, “there we might be able to relearn what it is to be a family, what it is to be loved.”


Up in the control Room, snowy, Elsa, Theo and Tigger looked at each other.

       “We should punish Salty!”  snowy yelled.

       “No Snowy,”  Elsa mewed, “that would serve no purpose other than personal revenge.  You know as well as any of us who Petra is, I’m sure she would have dealt out punishment if it were needed.”

     “What do you say Theo?”  Snowy asked.

       “Let Salty learn from his mistake,”  Theo said, “he’s done no wrong, he was protecting a cub, there’s no crime in that.”


Snowy switched on her monitor and watched her cubs walking into the pool complex and submerging themselves in the water of the spar pool.  


Tinka and Hop along were already there, Tinka now pregnant with their cub.  Tinka and Hop along were pleased to be together once more, both of them eagerly anticipating the birth of their cub.


Tinka was quite fat now, giving her an even more roly poley image than she already had.  Before she was in cub, Tinka was a rather fat tigress, with a medium length tail and fat paws, and now she was pregnant, she looked even more fat and roly poley than ever.  Hop along loved her from her nose to the toes of her fat paws, and expressed his love for her with loving embraces and kind words.  Tinka wanted him to be with her throughout her pregnancy and labour, and to be there to embrace her and her cubs from the minute the cubs were born.  Hop along loved his Tinka, his beautiful fat pawed tigress.


Now in the pool, Hop along and Tinka lay in the warm water, Hop along massaging Tinka’s paws.  Tinka felt her cubs moving, or was it just one large cub?  She didn’t know.  All she knew was the cub reacted to the levels of stress or pleasure chemicals in her bloodstream.  Now for example, it was kicking against her belly with its tiny paws and  wriggling with pleasure.  This feeling made Tinka relax, knowing her cub was safe.  She imagined the cub inside her, wondering what it would look like, whether it would be male or female, what its eye colour and fur colouration would be like, and finally, whether it would like having its paws stroked or tickled.  Tinka hoped her own love for physical contact would be transferred to her cub.


Hop along examined Tinka from her nose to the toes of all four of her fat, rather cubbish paws.  He loved every inch of her.  Hop along tickled the pads of Tinka’s left forepaw, the tigress laughing merrily, her cub kicking vigorously against its mother’s belly, reacting to her mood.

      “our cub likes the paw massage as much as I do,”  Tinka laughed.  Tinka rubbed her belly hard with her free forepaw, trying to stimulate her cub to kick against her belly, which it did, kicking and wriggling enthusiastically against the pressure from her paw.  Tinka placed Hop along’s paws on her belly.

     “Rub my belly,”  Tinka said to Hop along.  Hop along did as Tinka asked, feeling her cub kicking against his pads.  Hop along’s eyes filled with tears.

     “I want to meet our cub!”  he sobbed.  Tinka suddenly clenched her paws, moaned softly and panted hard.  Hop along looked at her face, and realised she was playing with him.

      “You bugger!”  he mewed.  Tinka touched his nose with her paw.

       “my labour will be for real very soon,”  she mewed.  Hop along drummed the toes of both his forepaws on Tinka’s belly, their cub reacting by  pressing its paws against her belly, Tinka smiling as she felt her cub moving.        “this must be the earliest anyone’s played with their cub,”  she mewed.  Hop along grinned and drummed some more, Tinka laughing delightedly as her mate and their unborn cub started a drumming contest with her belly as the drum skin.  Tinka wriggled much as her cub was doing, laughing helplessly at their antics.

       “I love this!”  she whooped, touching Hop along’s nose with her paw and stroking his ears.  Hop along smiled, and, pausing in his gentle drumming, steadied himself with one paw resting on the raised ledge on which Tinka lay, and leant down to kiss her on her nose.  Tinka nuzzled Hop along’s whiskers when they came within range.

       “I love you so much!”  she mewed.  Hop along smiled and stroked her paw with his.

      “I love you too Tinka, my sweet, gentle tigress,”  Hop along replied.  Tinka purred deeply, the sound one of utter contentment.

       “I can’t wait for this cub to be born,”  she said, “I can just imagine you and our cub drumming on each other’s paw pads.  I think that’s what you were doing today.  You were drumming on the cub’s pads with your toes, and the cub was using its toes to drum on yours.”  Hop along laughed merrily at this prospect.

     “Do you really think that’s what was happening?”  he asked, “how wonderful would that be!”  Tinka smiled.

     “How about if we play that game during the first stages of my labour?”  She asked, “I don’t know, you drum on the pads of my paws in a certain rhythm, and I try to copy you, and then we reverse it.  That would pass the time between contractions, and also keep us entertained.  Hop along had often heard of birthing attendants playing games with the mothers to be to take their minds off the labour, and thought this a good idea.

      “Okay,”  he said, “but when you really go into labour, all games stop, and we concentrate on having the cub.  Okay?”  Tinka smiled.

      “I won’t have much choice Hop along dear,”  she replied.  Hop along took her paw in his, curling his toes around those of Tinka’s fat warm left forepaw.

      “how involved do you want to be with the birth of our cub?”  Tinka asked her mate.

      “As involved as you want me to be,”  he replied, “I’ll keep paws off, or get my paws dirty, whatever you want.”

       “I know what I’d like,”  Tinka said, “I’d like you to feel the cub coming into the world, really experience the birth as much as you can.  I want us to be in it together.  The question is, do you want to be that paws on?”  Hop along’s eyes shone with delight.

      “could I?”  he asked, “would you let me guide our cub into the world?”

       “I’d be delighted to,”  Tinka said.  Hop along hugged her tightly, weeping into her fur.

      “thank you Tinka, thank you!”  he sobbed.  Tinka smiled.

       “On one condition though,”  she said, holding up her paw and trying to look serious.

     “What’s that?”  Hop along asked.

      “that you and the cub don’t’ start playing drumming games until the cub’s properly born!”  Tinka replied smiling.  Hop along laughed merrily.

      “We won’t,”  he said, stroking Tinka’s pads with his toes, “I promise that.”



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