Little Leo.



Samson and Fleur lay curled together in a secluded room.

      “You are so handsome Samson,” Fleur mewed.

       “Beauty is yours Fleur,” Samson replied, Fleur snuggling hard up to him.  She picked up Samson’s left forepaw in hers and kissed it, the lion smiling with pleasure.

       “I’ve heard you do a good line in paw massage,” the lion mewed.  Fleur smiled and stroked Samson’s paw, the lion purring loudly.

       “That’s just stroking the top of your paw,” Fleur mewed, “want me to stroke the pads of your paw?”  Samson thought this a very silly question indeed.

       “That’s what I’ve been waiting for all day,” he mewed.  Fleur began to stroke the lion’s paw pads, Samson stretching out full length on the rug on which they lay.

       “So warm, so comforting!”  Samson mewed, “so soft your paws are too Fleur.  I want, want this to go on forever!”

       “It won’t go on forever,” Fleur mewed, “but it will for a long time yet.”  Samson breathed deeply, his left forepaw the centre of his universe.  Fleur swapped Samson’s left forepaw for his right fore, and the pleasure was redoubled for the lion, as his left forepaw was becoming desensitised.  Fleur massaged all four of Samson’s paws, the lion mewing and purring with pleasure.  His paws invigorated by Fleur’s massage, Samson looked at her.

       “I can’t come close to matching that!”  He mewed, “I’m sorry, but my effort’s going to be pitiful.”  Fleur gave him her left forepaw.

      “Go on, give it a try,” she mewed.  Samson had tried desperately to take notice of what Fleur did while massaging his paws, but he realised he’d missed a great deal of information.  Taking gentle hold of her paw, Samson closed his eyes and thought about what had made him feel good.  Was it when she rubbed his pads, or when she gently stroked them?  Samson sighed heavily and began to stroke Fleur’s paw.  Fleur could feel lots of good intentions, but no real massage.  After about ten minutes of this, she looked at Samson.

       “I can feel you mean well,” she mewed softly, “but you’re not massaging my paws at all.  You’ve got no passion there; no commitment to your work either, just an intention to do well isn’t enough.”

      “I don’t know how you do it,” Samson replied frustrated, “your paws are so soft and warm, and gentle, and everything I want mine to be, that, that, I lose heart, I can’t compete with you Fleur!”

      “It’s not a race, or a competition,” Fleur mewed, “Sammy, you need to believe in what you do, not just intend to do a good job.”

       “They say the path to ruin was paved with good intentions don’t they?”  Orsa remarked, padding past the room Samson and Fleur were in.

      “Shut up!”  Samson snarled, “That’s insensitive!  You are horrible Orsa!  Or should that be Pudsey!”  Orsa had taken to wearing a scarf round her head which covered her left eye.  This reminded many animals who watched the television in the house of the teddy bear logo called Pudsey used to advertise the children in need appeal.  Orsa, hearing her hated new nickname, spat at the two cats.

      “I hate that name!”  She growled.

      “But you do look like Pudsey bear with that scarf covering your eye,” Fleur mewed.

       “I don’t care!”  Orsa yelled, stamping from the room.

       “How do I stroke your paws Fleur?”  Samson pleaded.

       “Just don’t take it so seriously,” Fleur said, “take my paw and enjoy the feel of it in yours.  Enjoy stroking my paw, feel every pad as well as the fur between, explore with your toes, work them between my pads, and best of all, stroke my toes Sammy, I love that.”  Samson looked at the muddy brown paw he held in his.  It was spotted on top, with grey under fur.  Turning Fleur’s paw over, Samson saw she had pinkie black pads with black spots on brown fur between them.  Samson loved Fleur’s paws, in fact, he loved all of her equally, but her paws were what gave her most pleasure.  Samson caressed Fleur’s paw, the cross bred cat mewing softly to him as his paw enfolded hers.  Samson rubbed Fleur’s toes, gently stroking her pads and massaging her toes, Fleur catching her breath as she gave herself up to Samson massaging her paw.

      “Try tracing round my pads with the toes of one forepaw Sammy,” Fleur purred.  Samson did as she asked, and the cross bred cat was soon snuggled close, her head on his shoulder, pleading with him to massage all four paws, simultaneously if possible.

       “I can’t do that Fleur,” Samson mewed.

       “Try Sammy, lie down on your side, take my forepaws in yours, then curl the toes of your hind round the toes of my hind paws and press your pads against mine, please!”

       “I’ll try,” Samson replied.  He lay down, and was astonished to feel the spontaneous strength which his toes had as they caught hold of and held Fleur’s, the cross bred cat pressing each caught paw hard into his.  Fleur seemed desperate, as if she’d been experiencing withdrawal symptoms from paw massage.

       “That’s it, that’s it! You’ve got it!”  Fleur mewed as the toes of Samson’s left hind paw curled round those of her right hind.  Samson already had hold of Fleur’s forepaws in his as Fleur snuggled hard into the lion’s embrace while Samson held on tightly to her paws, Fleur pressing her pads hard against his.  Rubbing paw pads and toes together, the two big cats linked the toes of their forepaws and each held one of the other’s hind paws, Samson taking the toes of Fleur’s left hind in those of his right hind, and her taking his left hind in her right.  Curling their toes hard brought their paw pads into contact, hard, lingering contact.  Fleur mewed and purred as she felt Samson’s paws pulling her own tight against them, the lion purring as she did the same for his paws.

       “We can’t have a cub,” Fleur panted, “so let’s go to town on this!  Trust your paws Sammy!”

       “Giving birth to my cub would probably kill you Fleur,” Samson mewed.  Fleur clung to his paws.

       “I don’t know that,” she mewed, “but I had such a rough time at my birth that I vowed never to have a cub.  Let’s not talk about this though Sammy, it’s depressing, and we came here for fun!”  Samson kissed Fleur’s nose.  Then, when he wasn’t expecting it, she whipped her hind paw free of his!

    “My hind paws free!”  She mewed in Triumph, tickling Samson’s paw which used to hold hers with the toes he’d just lost control of.  Samson snarled in mock fury and scrabbled with the toes of his hind paw to regain control of Fleur’s.  In the ensuing rough and tumble, Fleur lost control of Samson’s hind paw, the two cats trying to regain control of each other’s paws in a rolling, mewing, snarling heap of fur.  The game was halted when Fleur’s left forepaw got tangled in Samson’s long mane.  She gently untangled his mane from her paw, the hair caught round her toes.

       “Pit stop,” she mewed, Samson smiling; “now I go for your paws!  Samson tucked his paws beneath him, Fleur bowling him over and tickling his pads and toes, Samson snarling with mock anger.

      “Tickle my paws would you?”  He asked, “Well, now it’s my turn, I want your paws Fleur, and I want them now!”  He whipped his left hind paw away, rounded on Fleur and pounced on her!  Snarling with mock aggression, Samson pinned her down under his paws, and then tickled her paws so affectively she laughed helplessly for five minutes.

      “You can tickle paws!”  Fleur whooped delightedly, “Sammy, you can use your paws to give pleasure!  Now, now you have to learn to really feel your paws.  Let me take one of your paws.”  Samson gave her his left fore.  Taking it, Fleur stroked his pads, then his toes, then embraced the lion’s huge paw in both of hers.

        “That was lovely,” Samson mewed, kissing Fleur on her nose.

      “I can’t believe you pounced on me!”  Fleur laughed.

      “I can’t believe it either,” Samson mewed, “I hope, hope you didn’t mind!  You see, I didn’t know I was going to do it until I did it.”

      “Spontaneous, untrained play was that Sammy?”  Fleur teased, “Now we can’t have that!”  Samson laughed merrily.

      “You can pounce on me if you want,” he mewed, “you know, get me back for it.”  Fleur kissed his nose.

       “I love wrestling, not pouncing,”  she mewed, “pouncing uses weight to overthrow the other player, Wrestling means you can use all kinds of tactics, push with your paws, tickle the other player’s paws, or their belly, roll them over, that kind of thing.  It involves more thought than pouncing.”  Samson had to agree with that.

      “I loved wrestling when I was a cub,” he mewed, “but that left me open to possible paw to paw contact, and my mother never wanted that.  Hence my training to pounce in anger, never use my paws to play.  Now though, I’m beginning to learn how to use my paws to play.  I want more of this, much much more of this with you Fleur.  Show me my paws like I was a cub again!  Please, show me where my pads and toes are!  I heard a story about you doing that for a tiger cub once, and she never looked back.”  Fleur mewed like a cub, Samson smiling and replying in much the same way.

      “I will give you a guided tour of each one of your paws Sammy,” Fleur purred.


“Right Sammy,” Fleur said, “gives me one of your paws.”  Samson did, and smiled as he felt Fleur’s toes on his pads.

      “I can feel your toes on mine!”  He mewed, “it feels so wonderful!”  Fleur stroked Samson’s paw, pointing out his toes and the pads on the sole of his paw.

       “I love this!”  Samson mewed.  Fleur grinned and let Samson take one of her own paws in his.  Samson told Fleur all about her paw, touching her pads and toes with infinite care.

       “Fleur,” Samson asked, “would you please massage my paws again? Then, then could I stroke yours?  I will let you play fight with me to free your paws, I won’t let them go, I promise.  Fleur smiled and gave him a huge hug.

       “Take my paws in yours, hold them, caress them, love them Sammy,” she mewed.  Samson did as she asked, loving her paws.  He found massaging Fleur’s paws easier this time, the cross bred cat snuggling up to him like she had before, begging him to stroke her paws.  Samson did, and she pressed her pads into his, his toes curling round hers.  Fleur purred with pleasure, Samson letting go of her paws and hugging her close, really close.  Consumed by desire for each other, they made frantic, exciting passionate love, Samson holding Fleur tightly in his forepaws, then her holding him in hers, the toes of their hind paws entwined throughout.  Clinging to each other’s paws afterwards, Fleur smiled at Samson.

      “That was wonderful!”  She mewed.

       “It was,” Samson purred.  Fleur slept soon after.


Fleur had a dreadful nightmare that night.  A nightmare involving her giving birth to a hideous monster of a cub, a giant hairy creature with long hair from nose to tail!  It had huge paws with long claws and amber eyes which hated her on sight!  Fleur, still exhausted from a horrendous labour, stared at the thing she’d given birth to.

      “You made me you horrid creature!”  The cub screamed, “Now you have to live with me!”  Fleur woke, sweating and crying.  Samson lay a little way off sleeping soundly.

       “We made love,” Fleur thought, “what if I’m pregnant with Samson’s cub?”  She shivered violently, feeling sick at the thought of giving birth to the horrendous thing in her dream.  Fleur hadn’t experienced the labour in her dream, but knew that if it was even a patch on Perdy’s labour when Fleur herself was born, Fleur knew she would die before the cub was born.  Fleur got up, staggered to the bathroom and was violently sick.  Stumbling back to the room and collapsing, she lay shivering and twitching, Samson woken by the crash of Fleur falling on the floor.

      “What’s the matter Fleur?”  He asked, blearily taking in the scene in front of him.

      “I dreamt we, we had a cub!”  She sobbed, “It was horrid, hairy, and large, with hate filled eyes!  It hated me on sight!”

       “What do you mean?”  Samson asked.

      “We made love last night Sammy!”  Fleur mewed, “not just paw massage, we actually mated!”  Samson sorted through the memories of the previous night’s pleasures.  Yes, there was a time when he didn’t remember what he’d done, right at the end, before they slept.  That was the most pleasurable time of all.

      “We did, or I think we did,” Samson mewed.

       “What if I’m pregnant with your cub, and when I give birth the cub looks horrid?” Fleur mewed.

     “If it looks unusual, we love it because it’s our cub,” Samson mewed, “do you have a problem with unusual cub’s Fleur?”

      “I don’t know Sammy, I don’t know!”  Fleur mewed, very distressed.

      “It was only a nightmare,” Samson said gently, taking his sweetheart’s paw in his and stroking it, “it will not come to pass.”  Fleur snuggled up to Samson.

       “I hope you are right and we don’t have this cub!”  She mewed.  Samson held her tightly.


Simba woke from a deep sleep.  He’d been dreaming of a wood at night time.  In the wood he’d found a strange hairy big cat cub.  It was large, with long hair from nose to tail, hair which hung from its body and paws, long thick hair.  The cub was still in its birth sack, and newly born.  Simba ripped the sack open and the cub began to breathe for itself.  Simba wondered where this cub had come from, where was its mother.  She’d only just given birth to it; in fact, he thought he’d heard her cries of pain as she delivered the cub.  Simba touched the cub’s paw, which had thick hair all over it.  The paw was slippery with fluid, and Simba knew the cub wasn’t going to be reclaimed by its mother.  She’d given birth to the cub and abandoned it.  Simba sniffed at the cub, recognised its scent and picked the cub up in his mouth, taking it to the house.  The cub was heavy, really heavy.  Simba struggled back with the cub, crawling in through the back door, the cub’s paws dragging on the floor as Simba crawled.  Exhausted, Simba dropped the cub, the poor creature collapsing onto the tiles of the passage.  Simba took a look at the cub and noticed something which was familiar about the sole of the cub’s right hind paw.  It was brown with black spots, rather like Fleur’s.  He bent low over the cub, and it suddenly reached out to him, clasping him with its slippery paws:

      “Don’t let me die!”  The cub screamed.


Simba now lay, contemplating his dream, and asking himself if he aught to tell Petra about it.

      “You look preoccupied Simba dear,” Petra mewed.  Simba sighed heavily and confided in his mum.

      “So you think Fleur’s going to have a cub?”  Petra mewed.

     “Yes,” Simba replied, “I don’t know when, or if she’ll survive the birth, but she will have a cub.”

      “I thought she couldn’t have cubs,” Petra mewed.

      “So did she,” Simba replied, “until now.”  Samson and Fleur made love last night.  It started with paw play, but progressed to other things.”

      “How do you know all this?”  Petra asked, “Did you ask them?  Did you watch them make love?”

      “No mum,” Simba mewed, “I recognised the cub in my dream!  Trust me, it was Fleur’s!  Ask her, did she make love to Samson!  If she did, then we have a world of problems to confront.  I know that cub was huge!  I could hardly lift it, and it was newborn!  I ripped the sack open remember.  I’m scared mum, really scared!”

       “I can’t just ask them!”  Petra mewed.

     “But you can, you must!”  Simba sobbed, “you must ask them mum, please!”

       “No need to ask,” Samson mewed, “the answer is yes, and Fleur and I did make love last night.  We didn’t intend to.  Now, now she’s had a nightmare about the cub she will give birth to.”

     “Describe the cub,” Simba said.  Samson repeated the description Fleur had given him.

      “No, that’s not what I saw, though what I saw was one version of events.  Maybe Fleur was so anxious about the cub that she saw how it would react to her.  I am not anxious about that, so maybe I am destined to find the cub on the path.”  Samson’s paws were damp with sweat.

      “Fleur’s thinking of aborting the cub,” he said quickly.

       “Don’t!”  Simba snapped his eyes terrified!

       “How can you demand that they have the cub Simba,” Petra mewed.

      “I don’t know,” Simba replied quickly, his words falling over each other, “but, don’t, don’t do anything to that cub!  If, if you do, Fleur will die for sure!  If you leave things alone, she might live to nurture her cub.”

        “You can’t be serious!”  Samson yelled, “Fleur’s mother nearly died giving birth to her, and you’re asking her to attempt to birth the cub?”

       “Mum, please listen!”  Simba pleaded of Petra, “you know the dream I had about Orsa?  The one where her paw was trapped beneath that log?”  Petra nodded.

      “That was almost too accurate,” she mewed, “though the log wasn’t a log, but her ties to Winifred.  The content was okay though.”

       “Take hold of my paw mum,” Simba mewed, “tell me, if you still believe me.”  Petra grabbed her cub’s paw and saw in his eyes something which scared her.

      “Samson,” she mewed, “Where’s Fleur?”

     “She’s having a bath,” Samson replied.

     “Make sure she doesn’t take anything to harm the cub!”  Petra yelled.  Samson, Petra and Simba ran for the door!


Samson found Fleur drying herself off.

      “Did you take any potions or use any oils which might harm your cub!”  Samson demanded, Fleur staring at him.

      “No, no, why?”  She asked.

      “Just, don’t, well, don’t take anything, or do anything that will harm your cub!”  Samson snapped his eyes wild with confused terror.

     “What is it Sammy?”  Fleur asked, “What’s happened?”

      “Simba, Simba had a dream!”  Samson cried, “It was similar to yours, sort of.”  Samson told Fleur about the white lion cub’s dream.

       Petra verifies it?”  Fleur asked, “That I should not do anything to kill the cub?”

      “Yes,” Samson blurted, “Simba said the cub held tightly onto him with fluid covered paws!  Does that mean anything?”

      “It means the cub probably wasn’t cleaned up after birth,” Fleur mewed, “the cub comes out either in a sack of fluid, or covered in mucus and fluid.”

     I don’t want to know the gruesome details!”  Samson snapped, “All I know is that this cub begged Simba not to let it die!”

      “But the cub in my dream hated me!”  Fleur mewed.

      “Maybe that was because you hated the cub,” Simba mewed.  Fleur stared at him.

      “Simba Kizungu, Profit,” she scoffed.

      “Fleur, don’t!”  Petra snapped, running into the bathroom, “You don’t understand what my cub has seen!”

      “You white lions are all trouble!”  Fleur yelled, “Simba show me this cub!”

      “I can’t,” Simba mewed, “I can’t show you it!”

       “I don’t believe you!”  Fleur screamed.

      “Fleur, you used to believe in Eohippus,” Petra mewed, “it was her power which gave you life!  What do you think gave Theo the power to make Perdy give birth to you?  It was Eohippus!”

      “I thought you didn’t believe in her any more!”  Fleur snarled.

     “I never said that,” Petra mewed, “Eohippus got me wrong and tried to make me do things I was not destined to do, that was it.  She’s apologised to me.  She gave me Simba for a reason, and now she’s giving you advice.  Your dream was fuelled by your fear of what the cub would turn out to be like.  The cub in your dream hated you because you hated it, even before it was born!  Now, if you hate your cub, you will breed a hate filled cub!”  Petra said.

      “No matter what your cub looks like,” Simba mewed, “if you conceive it in love, carry it to its birth with love, then love it after its birth, it will love you Fleur.  If you hate it from the word go, it will cause you horrible pain during its entrance into the world and hate you forever more because you hate it.  The cub can look like the one in your dream and still be loved!  When I found the cub on the track, I saw a horrendously deformed cub, the only thing I could be sure about its parents were that they were big cats.  It looked like nothing I’d ever seen before!  I carried the cub into the house, and it clasped me in its slippery paws, begging not to die.”  Simba’s eyes filled with tears, the lion cub gulping hard.

      “I love that cub Fleur!”  He sobbed.

      “This is way, way beyond me!”  Fleur mewed, “someone take that bloody white scrap away from me!”

     “No Fleur no!”  Petra growled, “You need to listen to him!  Simba’s, well, He has something, a gift, a natural gift!  He knows things Fleur!  In a nutshell, protect the cub, give birth to it, and don’t do anything to harm it!  If you do, you’ll regret everything!”  Fleur looked at Samson.

       “We should have stopped before we lost control!”  She yelled.

       “If this cub was meant to be,” Samson mewed.

     “No, no Sammy no!”  Fleur mewed, “don’t tell me you’re siding with Simba!  I’m the one having this cub!  He’s just, just, a white noone!  He knows nothing!”

      “What happened to your natural gentleness Fleur?”  Petra asked.

       “I’m scared!”  Fleur sobbed, “I don’t mean to be harsh, I want, want to be gentle, but I’m haunted by visions of a cub, a horrid creature which Samson and I have made!”

     “There was a cub born once which looked horrid to her mother,” Simba mewed, “she grew up to be one of the gentlest big cats in the community.  Why was this?  This was because she was loved by those who saw what this cub could be.  It’s easy to conceive and give birth to cubs, it’s not easy to love and look after a cub once it’s born.  Fleur, you were loved by everyone when you were a cub.  Now, please, love your unborn cub.  You won’t regret having it.”  Fleur looked into Simba’s eyes.

      “I don’t understand you!”  She mewed, “you sound like Petra used to, “she was always telling these tales!  Now you are!”

       “I am relaying what I feel,” Simba mewed, “I can only tell what I saw in my dream, and that was a cub who wanted to live.  Please Fleur; don’t take your cub’s life.”  Fleur looked down at her paws, seeing they were shaking.

       “I cannot promise I won’t end the cub’s life,” she mewed, “I don’t know what to do!”


Weeks passed, and Fleur began to look very pregnant indeed.  Simba had predicted ten to fourteen weeks till the birth and by the ninth week Fleur could hardly move.  Just walking made her sweat profusely, tiring her out and leaving her short of breath.  When labour started, Fleur was in her bathroom, about to have a bath.  As she got into the water, Fleur felt an urge to bear down against her cub which was so powerful she couldn’t control it.  Closing her eyes and straining hard, she felt her stomach tighten, then felt horrendous pain building in her.  Gasping with shock, Fleur rode out the first contraction, panting and grinding her teeth.  Gripping the side of the bath pool with her forepaws, she clenched her teeth as another pain grew in her, and she was forced to push down hard once more.  This labour was fast, too fast!  Fleur shrieked with fear!  Wriggling and twisting, Fleur managed to get herself into a position so that her hind quarters were in the water, her head and forepaws out of it.  Bracing her forepaws, Fleur pressed down hard against her cub!  Panting for air, Fleur felt her paws slipping.  Toppling backwards into the water, she felt her head go under.  Fleur floundered, her body straining hard to deliver her cub!”  Fleur screamed under water, her paws thrashing and lungs bursting for air!

     “I’m gonna die!”  Fleur thought.  Suddenly she felt someone grab hold of her and forcibly drag her from the water!  Fleur, half drowned, and fighting to birth her cub, whimpered and coughed while her cub inched its way out into the world.

     “My cub, my cub!”  Fleur gasped, “Must push!”  She bore down, amazed at how determined this cub was to be born.  Fleur’s mystery rescuer cradled her head in its paws.

     “I think I’m gonna be sick!”  Fleur yelled.  The stranger stroked her ears with its paws while she vomited water.

      “I want to push, now,” Fleur gasped, pressing down into her tail and the soles of her paws.  The pain wasn’t horrendous, just enough to make her aware things were happening.  Fleur realised she could feel the cub moving into the world, and found the sensation strangely fascinating.

       “Feel your cub Fleur, concentrate on it,” the stranger mewed.  Fleur breathed deeply, feeling the cub’s forepaws and head emerging, and then it’s body, then, with her help, its hind legs and paws.  Fleur panted hard as she pushed down for the last time.

       “I did it!”  She sobbed, “My cub’s born!”

       “It is Fleur,” the stranger mewed, “your cub is safe.”  Fleur looked into the stranger’s face, or she tried to.  She saw noone there, though she could feel the stranger’s paws cradling her head.  They were soft and warm, and she thought she knew their scent, but she couldn’t be sure.

       “I will go now,” the stranger mewed, “for you won’t want me here any longer.”

      “But I do want you here!”  Fleur said, surprised she was almost crying, “I do want you here!  You saved me and my cub!”

      “You will not want me here when you come to your senses,” the stranger mewed, “trust me.”  Fleur looked down at herself and the cub, which had crawled towards her head.  The cub was covered in fluid, its paws slipping and scrabbling on the tiles.

      “Will you help me wash my cub?”  Fleur asked the stranger.

      “If I do that,” the voice replied, “I will become visible to you.  I don’t know if you’d want that.  I am not trusted by you at the moment.”

       “How can I not trust you?”  Fleur mewed, “you saved mine and my cub’s lives!”

       “You don’t’ trust him because you don’t’ believe his words,” the newborn cub mewed, coughing up the fluid in its lungs, “you called him a noone and said he knew nothing, and so he has become a noone and a nothing, just as you wanted.  He does this for me, not for you.  You asked his mum to take him away.”  Fleur shook her head, unable to fathom what the newborn cub was saying.

      “How can anyone who saved the lives of a mother and her cub be a nothing!”  Fleur asked, stretching out her paws to enfold the cub.

      “Wash your cub Fleur,” the stranger mewed.  Fleur did as the voice asked, and when she’d finished, the presence had vanished.


Fleur realised she had a strange looking cub.  He was very large, with the longest fur she’d ever seen!  It covered his head in a mane of flat hair, with acres of it hanging from his jaw line and dangling from his belly, his legs and paws were also covered in the same hair.  Even the soles of his paws were not spared.  Fleur parted the long hair covering paw pads and back, trying to see an undercoat.  The cub had one; it was stripy and spotty all at once, the longer guard hair being golden brown.  This cub had a fringe covering his eyes, as well as a very long tail and enormous paws!”

      “You look strange to me little cub,” Fleur mewed.  The cub worked his paws into her fur.

      “Protect me please!”  He begged.  Fleur looked at the cub, he was huge, and unattractive, and quite honestly, Fleur was revolted.

      “I can’t love him!”  She thought, “I can’t!”  Then the words from the mouth of a white lion cub which described her own cubhood came back to her.  Fleur had been loved by everyone who mattered.  Her mother having rejected her, she fell back on the community.  Fleur felt the pain of rejection once more, and knew she couldn’t put this cub through it.

      “I must love this cub!”  Fleur mewed, “but I hate the sight of him!”

       “Touch me with your paws mum,” the cub mewed.  Fleur caught her breath as she heard her cub’s words, and touched him with her paws, her paws sinking into the luxurious warmth of long thick hair and warm fur.  The cub purred contentedly.

      “You can love me, if you try,” the cub mewed.  Fleur looked the cub over from nose to tail.  He looked dreadful.  Long brown hair all over which lay flat against his body, with a fringe covering his eyes, and long trains of hair covering the tops of all four paws, as well as the soles of his paws, the hair long enough to cover the cub’s paw pads  and toes.  Disgusted by the sight of what she’d given birth to, Fleur pushed her cub away.

      “I can’t love you!”  She screamed.


Samson watched everything.  He’d found Fleur after searching for her for ages.  Now he watched, guessing what had happened.  He saw her reject her cub, the same way he’d been rejected by his own mother.  He realised in a flash that even though Fleur was a mess herself, she expected perfection, as his own mother had.  When she didn’t get it, she was revolted.  Samson knew that to get Fleur to love this cub would be a struggle.  She wanted perfect, and couldn’t cope when things weren’t as she wanted.  Fleur was gentle to her clients, and good at her job with unwell animals, but she had never been near a mother who’d given birth to a deformed or disabled cub.  Fleur was good and kind to disabled and deformed animals in her work, but when the disfigurement or disability came close to home where she couldn’t cut away, she couldn’t cope.  Samson, his large paws heavier than ever, padded over to the huge cub, who lay bewildered and frightened on the tiles.

       “Let’s go little one,” he mewed, trying to lift the cub in his mouth.  It was almost too heavy to lift.

       “I think you need help,” someone said.  Samson looked round as Simba padded up to the cub, swung him onto his back and, with the cub holding on tight, trotted away with him.  Samson watched the white lion cub leave.

      “Why Fleur?”  Samson asked, “Why reject your cub?  You were told not to reject him, no matter what!”

       “I never thought I’d have a deformed cub!”  Fleur mewed, “I wanted a perfect cub, and I preyed so hard for one.  When I saw the cub in my nightmare, I knew I’d hate him!  I tried not to hate the cub, but I can’t help how I feel!  The cub asked me to touch him with my paws and protect him, but I feel nothing for him, nothing at all!”

      “But you, more than anyone should be able to look beyond the outer fur!”  Samson mewed, “You have what most would consider disgusting markings, but you are still loved.  Why can’t this cub be loved too!”

       “I can’t love him Samson,” she mewed faintly.

       “I’m sorry for you Fleur,” Samson mewed, “I thought you were always so kind and caring.  It seems you are when you can cut away.  You are kind to Petra because you can choose to be a friend to her or not.  You are kind to mothers to be because they are your clients at work.  When it comes to your own cub though, if it’s not perfect, you can’t cope.  I wish someone would hold a mirror to you Fleur and show you what you look like!  I know many couldn’t love you, I could, and did, but not now, not now I see what you really are.  You can’t see beyond your cub’s coat can you?”

      “No,” Fleur sobbed, “I can’t.”

     “Do you want to breed the cub who hates you Fleur?”  Samson asked, “For if you do, you’re going the right way about it!”

        “I didn’t want him!  I told you that!  I was forced to have the cub!”  Fleur yelled, banging the tiles with her paws.

     “You gave birth to the cub because there was nothing physically wrong with him!”  Petra snarled, “Fleur, you mated with Samson!  You two made a deal when you did that, a deal to look after the cub which resulted!  Now you are abandoning the cub for what reason? Nothing more than you don’t like the look of him!  Now, if we abandoned you all those years ago because we didn’t like the look of you, you’d be dead!  Think about that!”

     “I didn’t want to give birth to this cub because I knew he’d be a monster!”  Fleur mewed, “I was forced to give birth to him!”       “Samson wanted me to keep the cub, I didn’t!”  Petra bristled with anger:

, “”but you can’t kill the cub now! You didn’t die giving birth, nor is your cub in danger, live with it Fleur, you and Samson, for better or worse, have a cub now!  You need to look after it!”

      “I could put it up for adoption!”  Fleur yelled, “I can’t look after a horrendous misfit like that!”

       “Put our cub up for adoption?”  Samson mewed, “why?  He’s lovely!”

      “He’s a worm!”  Fleur snarled, “A horrid worm!”  Petra flinched at Fleur’s words.”

“If you touch a hair on his head, I’ll break your paws Fleur!”  Petra growled.  Samson looked at Petra’s face, and knew her words weren’t empty.

       “How could you do this to your own cub!”  Samson sobbed, “That cub’s ours Fleur!  Made by us, in love!  Now, now you can’t stand the sight of your own cub!”  Samson ran from the bathroom, his paws skidding and slipping.  He was so distraught he didn’t look where he was going and slammed into a doorframe!  Screaming with pain and anger, he ran to find Simba and his and Fleur’s cub.  Petra looked into Fleur’s face.

       “You really can’t stand the sight of your cub can you,” she stated.  Fleur couldn’t meet her gaze.

       “No Petra,” she mewed, “I know it’s wrong to say what I do when I look how I do, but I can’t stand the sight of my cub!  Look after it, please.”  Petra hung her head in sorrow.

       “After all we did for you, after Samson gave himself to you totally and you agreed to make love, you now hate the cub you made.  You can’t even love him when you can’t see him.  Your paws aren’t the guide you think they are Fleur!  You are a professional healer, but you are crap when it comes to your personal life.  You can cope with disabled or deformed cubs and adult animals if they’re not your own, but when you’re faced with your own cub, you can’t cope.  You think of getting rid of the cub before you’ve even seen it, or really know it.  Your cub could be as beautiful as you used to be; now you are no longer beautiful Fleur.  I see you as a funny furred cat, with horrid paws and a long tail.  You cannot expect others to love and respect you when you can’t respect and love your own cub.  Your cub should be worthy of love just because he’s your cub!  I love your cub, so do Samson and Simba.  Think on what I say Fleur.”  With that Petra walked away to find her son cub and Fleur’s abandoned cub.  Fleur buried her face in her paws and burst into tears.  She knew she couldn’t love the cub Samson and she’d brought into the world.


Meanwhile, in another part of the house, Portia and Gosheven looked down at their newborn cub.  Portia’s labour had been fairly slow, but they’d got through it with Arki’s help.  Now Portia looked at a cub which was a lion with thicker fur than her own.  The mating between her and Gosheven didn’t produce such a strange outcome as Samson and Fleur’s had.  Portia loved her cub, as did Gosheven.  News travelled quickly, and they already knew of the birth of Fleur’s cub.  Portia was eager to see Fleur’s new cub, even though it was said to be a freak of nature.  So, to that end, she fed her own cub, made sure it was safe in Gosheven’s care, then padded to the cubbing den to see if she could meet Fleur’s cub.  Samson saw her coming and snarled at her.

      “What do you want?”

      “I want to meet your cub,” Portia mewed, “I’ve just had mine, about five hours ago, and, and I wondered, wondered if my cub and yours might get on together.”  Samson looked at Petra, who grinned at Portia and waved a paw for her to enter.  Portia looked down at the newest arrival to the community, a long haired bundle of life, and instantly fell in love with him.

      “What a gorgeous cub,” she mewed, reaching out a paw to touch the cub’s head.  The cub crawled towards Portia, Portia watching him carefully.

      “I love the way the long hair on his paws drags across the carpet,” she mewed, “it’s so endearing.  Portia lay down and took the cub in her paws hugging him tenderly, the cub snuggling hard into her embrace.

        “You’ve got the most gorgeous fur little one,” Portia mewed, kissing the cub’s nose.  Portia ran the toes of one forepaw through the cub’s long fur, stroking, stroking, stroking.

      “I love you little’n,” Portia mewed, “how would it be if you came home with me?”  Samson listened to the lioness’s words, hardly believing his ears.

       “You’re serious?”  He asked Portia, a lioness he’d never met before, but whom Petra seemed to know quite well.

      “Yeah,” Portia mewed, “this little chap needs a mother, and my cub’s just the right age to accept him too.  She won’t know that I’ve adopted this one, for she’s slept since her first meal after her birth.  I’ll just tell her I gave birth to this chap some time after her.  When was he born?”

     “About two hours ago,” Simba mewed.  Portia glanced at Petra.

       “It is possible,” she mewed, “you could have had one cub, then labour suspended for a while before you had a second.”  Portia smiled.

      “Okay,” she mewed.  Portia examined her adopted cub from nose to tail.

      “I don’t know how I’m going to explain the length of his tail though,” she mewed, playing with the end of the cub’s long tail, something the cub enjoyed.

      “Your cub won’t worry about that,” Petra mewed, “and by the time she begins to ask questions, she’ll accept Samson and Fleur’s cub as her brother cub.”

      “I can’t get over how lovely this cub is!”  Portia mewed, “from his ears to his fat paws, he’s so wonderful!”  She picked up one of the cub’s forepaws and blew gently on the sole, lifting the hair and making the cub smile.

      “That tickles!”  He mewed.  Portia kissed the hairy sole of his paw, then brushed the hair out of the way and kissed his paw again, actually kissing paw pad this time.  The cub smiled at Portia and embraced her with his paws.  Portia picked the huge cub up in her mouth, feeling his considerable weight.

       “Let’s go little one,” she mewed, racing from the room in a manner reminiscent of Petra when she’d first found Simba.  Reaching the family den, Portia dropped the cub beside his sister and collapsed beside Gosheven.

       “How did the adoption go?”  Gosheven asked.  Portia grinned at him.

       “Samson’s glad to let us look after the cub,” Portia mewed, “he’s relieved the cub’s got a home.  I said I’d bring him up like he was mine.”

     “He’s blatantly not yours though,” Gosheven mewed, “There’s that enormous tail for one thing, it’s longer than mine and yours put together Portia dear.  Try explaining that one!”

       “I don’t have to explain anything,” Portia mewed, “he’s my cub and that’s that!”  Gosheven smiled broadly, as his mate fed her cubs, the newcomer drinking as busily as his sister.

        “What shall we name these two?”  Gosheven asked.  Portia, stroking the male cub’s ears with one paw while he drank busily, smiled to herself.

       “I think I might name my male cub Leo,” she mewed.  Gosheven smiled in sad agreement.

      “I think your sire would have been deeply moved,” he mewed.  Portia ran her paw down the hairy cub’s back, the cub, newly named Leo, purring contentedly.

     “What about a name for our female cub?”  Gosheven asked.

      “I’ll leave that decision to you Gosheven,” Portia mewed.  Gosheven looked over towards a book Kalahari had dropped on his hurried way out of the room when Portia had gone into sudden labour.  Gosheven leafed through the book, coming to an article on Eastern Europe.  A name leapt out at him from the page, Ruslana, which was the name of a lioness in a zoo near the Ukrainian border with Russia, wherever that was.  The book stated that the name Ruslana meant lioness, which was fine for his purposes.  He hurriedly told Portia about his discovery.

       “Thank eohippus for bookworms,” Portia mewed, “our eldest cub is now named Ruslana.”



Theo padded in then, drawn by the sound of the mewing cubs.

      “Can I join you for a minute?”  He asked.  Gosheven waved a paw at the community leader, and Theo was soon settled comfortably on a rug.

      “What’s going on here?”  He asked.  Portia told him about her two cubs.  Simba padded into the room, Leo, the hairy newborn cub coming to sudden life and crawling towards him.

      “Has he got a name yet?”  Simba asked, waving a paw at the cub.

      “Why not ask me?”  The cub spat.  Simba grinned at the hairy form.

      “What’s your name little one?”  He asked.

     “Leo,” the cub replied, Theo choking back tears at the sound of his brother’s name.

      “Leo, why Leo?”  He asked faintly.

      “I thought it a fitting name for such a gentle cub,” Portia mewed, “he’s handsome in his own way too.”  Theo looked the cub over, realising in a flash of miserable clarity why Fleur had rejected it, but hating her for it.  She’d vowed never to reject a cub, no matter what.  She’d succeeded while the cubs were those of other animals, even fostering Pepper, but now it was her own cub in the position of weakness, she rejected it out of paw.  Theo covered his eyes with his paw to hide a rush of tears from Simba and the others.

      “I’ve got to go!”  Theo choked, leaping to his paws and bolting!

      “What’s eating him?”  Gosheven asked.

      “The realisation that Fleur was following in her mother’s paw prints as regards her cub,” Portia whispered.  Simba caught hold of Leo’s paw, the long haired cub gazing sightlessly into his face.

      “You believed in me from the beginning didn’t you,” the cub mewed.  Simba lay down and hugged Leo tenderly.

      “I love you little Leo,” Simba whispered into the cub’s ear, Leo snuggling into Simba’s embrace.

      “Mum doesn’t want me,” the cub sobbed, “I tried Simba, I tried so hard!”  Simba kissed Leo on his nose and his paws, hugging him fiercely.

       “Your mum doesn’t want you, but Portia, Gosheven, Samson and I love you dearly Leo, I promise you that.”  Gosheven and Portia smiled at Simba.


Leo snuggled tightly into Simba’s fur, working his paws into the cub’s fur.  Simba touched Leo’s nose with his, the cub smiling broadly.

       “Would you stroke my paws?”  Leo asked.  Simba smiled and did just that, the cub rolling onto his side to allow the larger white cub to do his work.  Simba took each one of Leo’s fat hairy paws in his and stroked it, first the long hair covering his paw, both top and sole, then, gently moving the hair covering the pads of the cub’s paws aside, to the cub’s delight Simba massaged his pads.

      “I love having my paws stroked!”  Leo mewed, “love love love it!”  Simba smiled and tickled the cub’s paw, Leo laughing helplessly.

       “Tickled too!”  He whooped, wriggling with pleasure.  Simba smiled at the cub.

      “You are safe now,” Simba mewed softly.


Meanwhile, Fleur and Theo stood nose to nose, screaming at each other.

       “Why the hell didn’t you say something about you and Samson getting together!”  Theo snarled.

       “I don’t have to be accountable to you, or eohippus, or anyone else!”  Fleur growled.

      “”Your cub nearly died!”  Theo snapped.

      “Did you think for one second that I might want him dead?”  Fleur asked.

      “You, you didn’t, you don’t want him dead!  Do you?”  Theo asked, horrified.

      “I don’t care for him, he’s disgusting,” Fleur mewed.

      “That’s exactly what your mother said about you,” Theo mewed.  “She hated you Fleur!  What the hell do you think pepper’s going to say when she finds out what you have done?  For you rescued her from Perdy.  Is she now going to be tarred with the same brush as your birth cub?”

       “I can’t cope when it’s my own that are disfigured or disabled,” Fleur mewed, “that’s just me, I’m weak.  Though some seem to think they have power, Simba for one!  He’s scary Theo!  He has dreams!  He told me my cub wanted to live, even before it was born!  He said he loved the cub!”

      “Simba has dreams?”  Theo asked, “What kind of dreams?”

      “They seem to tell him things, like if my cub was going to live past his birth,” Fleur replied.  Theo made a mental note to ask Simba about his dreams.

      “So, let me get this straight Fleur,” Theo mewed, “you absolutely don’t want anything to do with Leo.”

     “Who the hell’s Leo?”  Fleur asked.

       “Portia named your cub Leo after her sire.”

       “Her sire?  Your brother?”  Fleur asked.

      “Yes Fleur, they are one and the same.”  Theo mewed.

     “No I don’t want anything to do with my cub Leo!”  Fleur snarled, “If I see the little blighter anywhere near my bathtub, I’ll drown him!”

      “Is that so,” Theo asked quietly, “if you are serious, I will have to remove you from your post!  You do not threaten cub’s Fleur!  Just because you can’t love your own cub, it does not necessarily follow that the cub is not loved by others.  I love him, so do Portia, Gosheven and Simba.  Petra is Leo’s aunt now, and she’s wonderful with him.  We made a family despite your refusal to look after your cub.  Little Leo has a family now!  The pride sticks together!”

      “Leo’s part tiger, he can’t have a pride!”  Fleur said, “He’s a tiger, and tigers don’t have families like Lions do!”

      “Maybe we could change that,” duke mewed.

      “How would you do this you stupid white runt?”  Fleur yelled, “How do you propose to change thousands of years of evolution over night?”

      “Haimati and Rupert, along with Sally, I and daisy are going to get together and see if we can get along,” he mewed, “we like the lion pride structure, its intimacy, its security all appeal.  Indeed, it is because of this that you survived your birth I do believe.  Theo and the others, including tigers, rallied round to help you.  Now if that’s not a community, I don’t know what is!”

       “Tigers are usually solitary cats,” Fleur mewed, “but I suppose, as we have tigers cuddling up with bears at night, it’s just a matter of time before we have a pride of tigers.”  Duke smiled at Theo, who reluctantly smiled back.

      “I’m more concerned with getting Leo into a safe situation,” Theo mewed.

       “As for your notions of Family Theo, Leo’s a misfit, noone, apart from Petra, who I’m convinced is mad, will adopt him!

      “Is that so,” Gosheven snarled, “you touch a hair on Leo’s head, you will die!”  Fleur looked scared.

      “Gosheven!”  She yelled.

      “Yes, I and Portia adopted your cub.  Now we look after him like he was ours.”  Fleur began to shake with fear.

       “Um, oh, all right!”  Fleur gabbled, “My cub’s safe then.  What a relief!”

       “You don’t know what to think do you,” Theo said.  Fleur looked confused.

       “I don’t want to be like this!”  Fleur whimpered, “I can’t cope Theo, I didn’t want a cub!  Now, now though, I don’t know, I don’t know what I want!  I can’t look after my cub, even though I have milk for him.  I suppose I’ll have to express the milk and hand it over.  If I don’t I’ll be in trouble.”

      “Why not do for your cub what Perdy did for you?”  Theo asked, trying not to let hope creep into his tone, “let your cub feed, then go back to Gosheven and his family?”

      “The cub probably won’t come near me now,” Fleur replied, “he’s been told, and knows that I rejected him.  He won’t want to know me.”

      “But you are willing to try?”  Theo asked.  Fleur nodded.  Fleur’s cub crawled up to her a few minutes later, Fleur staring with glazed eyes at his approach.

      “Drink your fill and go,” Fleur said sharply.  The cub drank his fill, using his forepaws as he always had to knead the teats to get more milk.  Fleur, startled at this and the feelings it produced in her, held her breath as the cub drank.  She felt her paws holding the cub close, desperate paws they were.  Fleur felt lonely, bereft and lost.

       “I’ll go now,” the cub mewed.  Fleur held the cub tight, stopping him from leaving.

      “No, don’t, don’t go,” she begged.

      “But you don’t want me,” the cub mewed, “you told me you don’t want me!”

        “I don’t know little one, I don’t know!”  Fleur sobbed.  Fleur’s paws fell away from the cub, and the hairy cub stayed beside Fleur, bewildered and a little upset.  He’d been pushed away by his mother, and now she wanted him back.  This was going to cause a fight among adults, the cub could see this, but he wanted love, from wherever he could get it too.  If Portia, Fleur, Petra, Simba, Samson and Gosheven loved him, then he was fine wasn’t he?  Though it seemed to the cub Gosheven didn’t like Fleur much.

       “I don’t want to cause a fight!”  The cub mewed.  Theo padded up to the cub and laid his paw on his.

      “You won’t,” he purred, “Gosheven and the others have seen what happened here.”  The cub, not understanding, looked relieved.

       “So are you going to help look after your cub or not Fleur?”  Theo asked.  Fleur looked at her cub, her own cub, her handsome and gentle cub.  she’d felt something else in the touch of his paw pads on her fur as he worked for more milk, and Fleur knew she couldn’t abandon this cub, not now, not ever.”

       “So you’re taking your cub in paw again,” Portia mewed.

       “I am Portia, I am,” Fleur mewed, “I can’t give him up after all.  I tried, I wanted to, but now, now I don’t want to, ever.”  Portia smiled with delight.  She’d hated having to separate the cub from Fleur, for she knew it wasn’t ideal, but she’d done it.  Now little Leo was back with his mother, who would soon become a mum to him too, all would be fine.  Fleur looked at the cub’s face, then at his paws.  Leo had a gentle face, and soft warm paws.

       “A handsome cub I think you’ll find,” Samson mewed.  Fleur smiled at him.

       “Come here Sammy,” she mewed, shame faced.  Samson padded over to Fleur and she looked into his eyes.

      “I’m sorry for all this,” she mewed, “and I mean it too.  I didn’t know, didn’t take time to find out, hated on sight!  Simba was right after all.  This cub can become a loving, caring creature, or a hateful disgrace.  I don’t want him turning into the latter.  I knew this when he touched me with his paws to get more milk.  His paws told me things about him, his worry over his birth and the events following, all that.  He did try to get me to see sense Sammy, but I didn’t then.  I’m sorry for it now.  I’ve caused so much trouble!”  Samson looked into Fleur’s face, testing resolve, commitment.

       “Intending to look after your cub isn’t enough Fleur,” he mewed, echoing her own words to him, “you need to believe in it too.”  Fleur smiled at him.

      “You believed in the cub all the time,” she mewed, “so I can too, I know I can.”  She gave Samson her left forepaw, the lion feeling the deep conviction held by the old Fleur, the Fleur he’d fallen in love with.

        “I’m home,” Leo mewed, burying one paw in Samson’s mane and working the other between Fleur’s and Samson’s paws.

       “Welcome home little Leo,” Samson purred, kissing the cub on his nose.  Fleur drew back, letting Leo hug his sire, the cub embracing Samson with love and confidence.  Samson ran his paws through the long hair on the cub’s back, the cub purring loudly.  Samson then gently brushed aside the fringe of hair that covered Leo’s tightly closed eyes and looked into the cub’s face.

      “Unconventional looks Leo,” Samson thought, “but you are a really handsome cub.”  Samson lifted one of the cub’s hairy forepaws in his and began to stroke it, making sure he worked his toes beneath the hair covering the sole of the cub’s paw so he reached his pads.  Leo smiled as he felt his sire’s toes working over his paw pads.

       “That feels so good!”  The cub purred.  Before Samson realised what was happening, his cub was snuggled up to him, though the emotions passing between them were totally different.  Samson knew that when his cub cuddled close to him, he’d mastered paw massage.

       “I love having my paws stroked,” the cub purred.  Fleur shook herself and padded from the bathroom, realising she’d not left it since she’d got into the bath before Leo’s birth over six hours previously.  Samson picked Leo up in his mouth and padded after Fleur, the cub taking this as normal lion behaviour, as Simba had been the last to pick him up in this way.


Finding their way to Fleur’s rug, Samson gently placed Leo down on the rug, the cub stretching his toes towards the rug as he neared it.

      “The hair on the soles of Leo’s paws dangles down a good six inches from his paws,” Fleur mewed.  Samson couldn’t see this, so Fleur gently straightened out a few locks of hair on the cub’s paw to show him.  She was right.

     “We must see if we can trim the hair on the soles of his paws a bit,” Samson mewed, “if we don’t, it will get dirty and he won’t be able to feel the ground beneath his paws that well.”  Fleur looked at the sole of the paw she held.  The brown hair covered it from toes to heel, and Samson was right.  The hair was thick on the soles of Leo’s paws.

     “If we trim it, it will grow back faster and thicker,” Fleur mewed.

      “That’s what we need to avoid,” Samson replied, “let’s just trim it to the level of his paw pads and no further.  We could take it right back to between the pads, but that would be too traumatic for the poor chap.”  Leo looked confused.

      “Trim my paws?”  He asked, “Why would you want to do that?”

       “So you can feel your surroundings little Leo,” Fleur mewed, kissing his nose.

      “But I’m okay as I am,” the cub mewed, “my paws are okay!”

       “You’ll get dirt in the hair covering your pads and it will be disgusting,” Fleur mewed.  The cub wasn’t convinced.

     “No mum, it’ll be okay,” he mewed, crawling away to hide.

      “Now you’ve done it,” Simba mewed, “Leo’s not going to like this one bit.”  Fleur was adamant.

      “We must trim his hairy paws, and do it now!”  She mewed, running after her cub, catching him and bringing him back, spitting and struggling.

      “I don’t want my paws trimmed!”  Leo yelled.

       “Tough!”  Fleur snapped.

       “Wooh, hang on!”  Samson pleaded, “While I agree we must trim the hair on his paws, we mustn’t frighten him into complying.  We need to do this properly!  Grabbing the poor cub, binding him so he can’t move and then seizing a paw isn’t the way to do it!”

       “Too right it’s not,” Simba mewed.

       “How do we do it then?”  Fleur asked.

      “Let go of him for a start Fleur,” Samson replied.  Fleur dropped Leo, who scrambled away, the long hair on the soles of his paws dragging behind him and getting caught beneath Simba’s paw as he placed it down after scratching his nose.  Leo stopped dead as he felt the tug of the hair on the sole of his paw.

      “That hurt!”  He mewed, tugging gently at his paw, “I’m trapped!”  Simba looked down and saw why.

      “We really need to trim that hair Leo mate,” he said to the cub.  Leo looked sightlessly up into Simba’s face.

       “Would you do it?”  He asked.

      “I can’t,” Simba mewed, “I haven’t got the mobility in my paws to work the clippers.  I know the Boss has some, maybe he would do it for you.”

      “The Boss, who’s that?”  Leo asked.

      “He’s a human,” Fleur mewed, “We hardly see him; he owns the house we live in, the pool complex and the wood.  He’s a bit exocentric, some say mad.  He likes technology and tests it all over the place.”

     “Snowy half tail tells him what she wants and he puts in all sorts of stuff. Cameras in the bathroom were how I and Portia were able to see everything that went on between you and mum Leo,” Samson mewed.  Leo didn’t understand.

      “Can’t anyone help?”  Samson asked, “I’d rather not involve the Boss.  He leaves us alone for a reason, to get on with our lives.  He cares deeply about us, and keeps the house and wood well.  I saw him digging another pit yesterday.”

     We don’t’ talk about the pits,” Fleur snarled, “They are not worth talking about.”

        “The pits?”  Leo asked.

      “I wish you’d never mentioned it Sammy!”  Fleur snapped.

      “It’s a pit used as a lavatory,” Simba said, “the Boss uses a digger to fill in the old one and dig a new one every few days.  It’s not very nice over that part of the wood.  We go there only when we need to.”  Leo wasn’t interested enough to ask further questions however, and left it.

      “How to trim Leo’s hairy paws,” Samson mewed, rubbing his own forepaws together.

       “I still say we get the Boss involved,” Samson mewed, “we can’t use those clippers ourselves.”

     “Maybe the bears can,” Fleur mewed, “I don’t’ want the Boss involved!”

       “They might be able to,” Samson replied, “but we’d have to find the clippers first.  I think they’re in the tack room for the horses.”

      “The horses hate us!”  Fleur mewed.

      “I know that,” Samson replied, “but that’s where the clippers are!  I can’t help where the Boss puts them!”

       “We’ll have to get the Boss involved,” Simba growled, “I don’t like it myself, but there we go.”

       “He will have seen everything that went on today,” Samson mewed, “he knows of Fleur’s rejection of her cub and of the reconciliation, he knows everything that goes on!”

       “One pair of clippers coming up!”  Someone yelled.  Fleur bolted for the door, to see a trench coat disappearing at high speed down the corridor, then a waved human hand before a door closed and the human vanished.

       “Who was that?”  Leo asked.

     “The Boss,” Fleur mewed, “and don’t try to find him Leo.”  Leo was intrigued.

     “Why not?”  He asked, “If this, “Boss,” as you call him is good enough to find us clippers when we’ve only been talking about them for five minutes, surely he’s worth getting to know.”

       “Yes, well, no,” Fleur mewed, “he’s unapproachable,” she lied, thinking of the friendly wave the human had given her as he’d disappeared into his private quarters.

        “You are telling me lies!”  Leo mewed, “mum, why lie to me.  He was friendly wasn’t he?  You saw him didn’t’ you!”  Fleur looked down at her paws.

      “She saw me yes,” someone said.  Fleur and Samson turned and stared.  Simba ran for cover!  A tall man stood in the doorway.  Leo crawled towards the man, his curiosity overcoming any fear he might have had.  Simba cowered beneath a stool in the corner of the room, next to some upended barrels on stands.  Simba hid among the legs of the stands, his mistrust of humans uppermost in his mind.  Horrified, Simba watched as Leo crawled up to the man’s boot and rested his hairy left forepaw on it.  The man leant down and touched Leo’s head with his hand, the cub unafraid.

       “I know Simba’s got a distrust of man, and I will not force the issue with him,” the man replied.  Fleur stared at the Boss, her shock at seeing the human who ran the whole house plain for all to see.  Samson growled a warning to the Boss about harming Leo.

      “You can’t tell him that!”  Fleur mewed, “for it was he who let you in!  I know we say you found your way here, and you did, but it was this man, this human who decided to let you in Sammy!  We might think we’re autonomous here, but we’re not!  He won’t harm your cub!  Who is it that makes sure all the food we need is here, we don’t!  ?we can’t!  It’s down to the Boss, and it’s his will that we live without his intervention as much as we can.  Now though, thanks to events, we need a human’s help.”

      “Just do what you have to human, and get out!”  Samson snarled.

       “Fair comment,” the Boss replied, “you are wild Samson, so you feel fear of man, as does Simba because he was mistreated by them.  I am sorry for it, that some of my race is so dreadful to our non human cousins.  Now let me do my work and I’ll leave you in peace.  I believe little Leo’s paws need some attention.”  Leo looked scared.

       “I want a bear to clip my hairy paws!”  He protested.

      “I’m afraid I’ll have to do it until I can get some clippers the bears can use,” the human replied.  Leo ran away, but Samson grudgingly stopped the cub’s flight and brought him spitting with fury back to the human.

      “Do you want me to hold him down while you clip him?”  Samson asked.  The Boss leant down and took hold of Samson’s paw, the lion growling in fear.

       “You are scared of me I feel,” the Boss replied.

     “Why take my paw in yours?”  Samson snapped, “Surely it’s obvious I’m frightened?”

      “If one has sight, then yes it’s obvious,” Kalahari said, padding into the room and settling down with his book, “but the Boss can’t see you Sammy, he’s as blind as Tigger or Whitie are.”  Samson didn’t understand.

     “Well, just let go of my paw!”  He snarled.  The human dropped Samson’s paw, the lion watching him with hostility.

      “Now let’s look at you Leo,” the Boss said, picking the cub up in his hands and cradling him securely.  The human carefully walked across the room towards an easy chair, Fleur and Kalahari getting swiftly out of his way.

      “Why don’t you just let him walk round you?”  Samson asked.

      “He can’t see us,” Fleur mewed.

       “How can anyone live without sight?”  Samson asked.

      “It’s quite easy here,” Fleur mewed, “but that’s another day’s education.  Watch what the Boss does with the clippers and how he works with Leo.”  The Boss sat Leo on his lap, stroking and exploring the cub with sensitive consideration.  He explored the cub from nose to tail, stroking ears, belly and paw pads with gentle care and, Fleur could see knowledge of paw massage.  Leo obviously felt at ease, as his wariness had vanished within a few seconds after the human had taken him in his hands.

     “Now Dear little Leo,” the human said, “for Little Leo is what they call you isn’t it?”  The cub mewed a response to the human’s question which Fleur didn’t catch.

      “Let’s take one of your forepaws and get a really good look at it,” the human said gently, slipping two fingers under the cub’s left forepaw and lifting it gently.  Leo, guessing what the human wanted, freed his paw and rolled onto his back.

      “Is that easier?”  He asked.  The human smiled and stroked the pads of the cub’s paws through the hair.

     “Now we have to take some of this hair off,” the man said gently to Leo.

     “He sounds like Petra when she’s explaining something to me,” Simba mewed, still shivering among the stands holding the barrels.

       “He does sound like Petra,” Fleur mewed, “but it’s working well.

      “Now let’s look at your left forepaw Leo dear,” the man said gently, taking Leo’s left forepaw in one hand and exploring it with the other.

     “Fat heavy paws,” he mused, “very strokable and warm.”  Leo lay still in the man’s lap as the human stroked his paw.

     “I like this,” he thought, resolving to find this man again, “Mum might not want me to make contact with this Boss person, but I want to!”

       “I will clip to the level of your pads little Leo,” the human said, gently dividing the hair between the hair he would cut and the stuff he would leave.  The human then got hold of the clippers from his belt and switched them on.  Leo flinched as he heard the buzzing sound, but it was only slight, and soon forgotten by the large cub.

      “Now this will feel strange,” the human said gently as he ran the long hair cutter down Leo’s paw.  The buzzing changed to a deeper sound and there was the scent of cut hair as oils leaked out.  Leo giggled as he felt the machine tickling his paw.

      “That feels strange,” he mewed.  The human stroked Leo’s belly, the cub purring softly.

     “Now for the final trim on the sole that paw,” the human said gently, turning the clippers over so the fine cutter could be used.  The human ran the fine cutter gently over the pads of Leo’s paws, the cutter of a type where it didn’t cut skin, only hair.  Leo laughed helplessly as the hair tickled his pads, wriggling and squirming.

      “Hold still little one,” the Boss said smiling, taking the clippers away and massaging the cub’s paw.  This made Leo calm down quickly.

     “Now we do the same for the other three paws,” the Boss said to the cub.  While he was at this, Pepper wandered in and padded up to the Boss’s easy chair.  Fleur stared at her adopted daughter cub.

     “So this is how you got your hair trimmed!”  She snarled, angry with pepper for not telling her.

     “Yes mum,” Pepper replied, “and this is little Leo?”  She asked, waving her paw at the cub.

     “Yes pepper, it is,” Fleur mewed.


The Boss clipped the hair on the soles of Leo’s paws without complaint from the cub.  Letting him jump down from his lap, the human gathered up his clippers and a box into which he’d clipped the hair and stood up.  Simba watched him with anxious eyes, and when the human came towards him, the cub retreated further, stepping on a pedal on the floor.  There was an almighty boom!  Simba leapt backwards, knocking over the stool and falling over it.  Scrambling out of the way, Simba fled!

     “What was that?”  Leo asked, crawling towards where he’d heard the boom.  He soon found the pedal and pressed it with his paw.  Leo found though that, no matter how hard he pressed, he couldn’t get the pedal to do anything.  The Boss straightened the stool and then found Leo with his paw guiltily resting on the pedal.

      “Simba sat on the pedal,” the Boss said to Leo, picking him up and sitting on the stool with him on his lap, “you’re not strong enough to press the pedal yet.”  Samson snarled at the human:

     “Leave my cub alone!”

       “Sammy,” Petra warned, padding in to investigate the situation, “don’t worry about a thing.”

      “Now how would you know what this two legged animal’s about to do!”  Samson snarled.

       “I know,” Petra mewed, “because I’ve seen him do this before.  He does it mostly at the weekends; this room is usually locked for about half an hour.  Fleur’s rug was dragged in here at the beginning of the week.  It will be moved to the cubbing den soon.  Just watch, and listen too.”  The human smiled as he heard Petra’s words.

      “Cover your ears my dears,” he said, picking up sticks from a bag hanging from one of the barrels.  Samson watched with growing alarm.  The Boss turned to a box near his left hand and fiddled with some buttons.

     “What is all that Petra?”  Fleur asked.

      “Snowy tells me it’s a machine which makes sound for the Boss to hit the barrels to,” Petra mewed, “just listen to this!  This is human rock music.  He calls it Caroline by Status quo, whatever that is.  It makes me want to leap up and down anyway.  I can’t help myself!”  Fleur saw a light in Petra’s eyes which startled her.  The sound began, and the human sat and did nothing for a while, other than rattling the stick on some metal plates suspended on sticks.  Then what Petra called an electric guitar started up, followed by another playing a different part of the tune, then the Boss started playing the barrels and plates, hitting them in some kind of rhythm.   Leo, still sat on the Boss’s lap, began to leap about to the music, eventually falling off and landing with a yelp by the bag of sticks.  Stunned by his fall, he lay there, only brought round when a stick landed on him!

      “Ouch!”  He yelled, rubbing his nose with his paw.

    “Sorry,” the Boss said, picking up another stick and continuing his controlled assault on the barrels and plates.  Leo wasn’t listening however.  His paw felt strange!  Rubbing his nose, he could feel the long hair on his nose with the pads of his paw!

      “Stop!”  Leo yelled.  The Boss stopped bashing the barrels.

       “What?”  He asked.

     “My paw feels different!”  Leo mewed, addressing the human exclusively.

      “That’ll be the result of the clip,” the human replied, the music carrying on without his accompaniment, Petra looking very annoyed.

      “I was enjoying that!”  She mewed.

       “I’ve heard the Boss is a singer too,” Kalahari said.

      “Some of the songs the Boss sings make me cry,” the white lioness said.

     “So how often do you and the Boss do this kind of thing?”  Fleur asked Petra.

     “Quite often,” Petra mewed, “I come here every weekend pretty much.”

       “I’m coming with you next weekend Petra,” Leo mewed, “this is so good!”

     “I can’t play the barrels,” Petra mewed, and it’s not really the Boss’s thing either, singing is mainly his thing.  The bears though, they play the barrels when the Boss

 Isn’t here.  I’ve heard them, they’re rubbish at it!”  Fleur knew she never wanted to be anywhere near the Boss’s barrels ever again.

     “It’s not for me, and nor will it be for Leo either.”  She mewed.  I’m not having my cub turn into a house cat!”

       “I’ll bet you let him stroke your paws too Petra!”  Samson snarled, surprised at his vehemence.

       “Um, I have done in the past,” Petra mewed.  Samson spat at her and stormed out.

      “Sammy doesn’t like you,” Leo said to the human.

       “I don’t ask everyone to like me,” the Boss replied, “and it’s not me he doesn’t like, it’s my race, and Petra’s association with it.  Samson would rather I didn’t exist.”

      “So I think would Simba,” Fleur remarked.

      “Too right I would!”  Simba snapped, “Bloody humans!”

      “Wait a minute!”  Petra snarled, “We would be on the street if it wasn’t for this human, so don’t say too much against his race!  There are good humans too.”

     “What does he do for us?”  Samson growled, padding into the room.

      “Keeps the place clean, keeps the place warm, and keeps us in food and blankets. Um, keeps the bathtub clean, what else?  Too much to mention here!  If he left us, we’d leave here within a fortnight because we couldn’t cope!  We think we’re independent creatures, but we aren’t!  Big wild Samson.  Um, no, try lap cat Sammy!  We become used to the community way of life, which is a more domesticated way of life.  You love your baths Sammy, and don’t’ pretend you don’t!  Now who do you think provides the oils for the baths?  Not Fleur that’s for certain.  It’s the Boss!  He gets them for us.  We’re here because he wants us here, this house is his, these rugs are his, and the barrels are his!  It’s only because we asked for clippers that we saw him at all today.  He keeps out of our way usually.  Another thing, if Simba hadn’t pressed the pedal on the bass barrel, the Boss wouldn’t have played the barrels today either.”

      “I wonder what the Boss’s den is like,” Leo thought, eager to explore.”  The Boss got to his feet and left the room, Samson glairing at Petra.

      “You disgusting white lap cat!”  he yelled.  Petra smiled.

       “I don’t care,” she mewed.


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