The leadership contest.



Elsa woke in the early morning.  Looking round her, she could see Theo and his two cubs, as well as her own two cubs.

     “It seems strange that only yesterday, I was struggling to walk through a wood, my cubs soon to be born, and now, now my cubs are here, I’ve been given the most wonderful care by a lion whom I’ve never met before, and I’ve even met his two cubs.  I am more grateful to Theo than I can put into words,”  Elsa thought.  Elsa heard other animals stirring and moving about in the rest of the house.  Elsa could hear some were animals with small paws, others with large paws moving about the house.  Suddenly the door opened a crack and an ear was put to the gap.  Elsa was surprised to see the ear belonged to a tiger!  Mewing with fear, she curled up in a frightened heap on the floor.  Hearing her mew, Tigger whispered:

     “Elsa, Elsa my dear, it’s all right, I won’t harm you or your cubs.”  Elsa heard the tiger’s voice, and it was gentle.  It didn’t mean its owner was though, and Elsa remained curled tight.

       “I wondered if anyone wanted a bath, that was all,”  the tiger purred.

     “Who are you?”  Elsa whispered faintly.

     “My name’s Tigger,”  the tiger replied.

     “Tigger?”  Elsa asked, “Why, I was told about you, Tembi, another lioness with the one who told me about this place told me about a tiger of that name.”

      “That’s me,”  Tigger purred.

     “She said you were the gentlest tiger anyone could meet, with the softest paws and most gentle manner of any animal here.  Though how anyone can be more gentle than Theo I don’t know,”  Elsa said.

     “Ah, Theo,”  Tigger purred,  the lion’s name seemingly spoken with a kind of reverence, “you have a good friend there Elsa my brave lioness, a very good friend.  He will stick by you through everything.”

      “I felt he would,”  she mewed, now tearful, “|I felt it the minute he took my paw in the hallway to lead me up here.”

      “I know him,”  Tigger mewed, “Theo’s wonderful.”

      “And so say all of us,”  Petra mewed.  She got to her paws and opened the door, to Elsa’s great alarm!

     “No Petra, no!”  she growled, “that Tiger’s,,,”

       “That Tiger?”  Petra replied, “watch this!”  With that she went up to Tigger and tickled his left forepaw.  Tigger smiled, rolled onto his back and caressed Petra in his paws.

      “That’s who you’re scared of,”  Petra said.  Elsa got to her paws and examined the tiger.  Tigger was magnificent to look at, but there was something wrong.  He never looked at her, not once.

      “Tigger’s blind,”  Petra mewed, realising what Elsa was confused about.

     “Oh,”  Elsa said, “now wondering how she was going to approach Tigger.  He’d seemed so confident when talking to her earlier.

     “Come here Elsa my dear,”  Tigger said.  Elsa went to the blind tiger and Tigger released Petra, before Enveloping Elsa in a huge tiger sized hug.  Elsa found herself cuddling into the tiger’s soft warm fur.  She recognised a sudden feeling she had, which was the same security as with Theo, the same love for her.  This, like Theo’s, wasn’t contrived, it was genuine.  Tigger felt, like Theo, that Elsa was the only one who mattered to him that moment.  He gave his all to her.

      “You two are wonderful,”  Elsa mewed, “such safe warm paws, I feel so safe!”

      “That’s because you are Elsa my pet,”  Tigger mewed.  This brought tears to Elsa’s eyes, and when Tigger nuzzled her cheek, Elsa let the tears flow, for she now knew what it was to be safe, safe in the paws of the huge tiger.

      “You are safe here Elsa,”  Theo mewed, “Tigger and I will keep you and your cubs safe.”  Elsa buried her face in Tigger’s fur, breathing in his scent.

       “I’m one lucky lioness,”  she sniffed.

      “We love you for being yourself,”  Theo purred.  Elsa looked at Theo.

     “thank you again for helping me yesterday Theo,”  she said.  Theo crawled up to Elsa, touched her nose with his, then licked it.  Elsa returned his gesture.

      “Now I will have to deal with Leo,”  Theo spat, “that bloody lion!”

      “Leo’s, um, your brother?”  Elsa asked, “the same one who’s paw I caught hold of during my labour yesterday?”

     “the same,”  Aslan said, “he’s a bully, a proper bully!”

      “He was badly upset by the lioness called Elsa whom you met in the woods, and projected his anger onto you as you have the same name as her,”  Petra mewed, “it’s awful!”

      “I’m not her!”  Elsa wailed, “I’m not her!”

      “We know that,”  Tigger said gently, “but Leo’s a stupid idiot.  He’s too out of touch, too remote.  He won’t even give a cub the time of day any more.  Now some of us will roll on the carpet with the cubs and play with them.”

      “Theo for example!”  ~Elsa’s female cub mewed, “we tickled his paws until he was weak from laughing yesterday Tigger.”  Tigger smiled.

     “That’s wonderful,”  he purred.

     “What was that you came in here to ask us about?”  Elsa asked.

      “Oh yes,”  Tigger replied, “the bath.  Anyone want one?”

      “What’s, um, a bath?”  Elsa asked.

      “It’s a large pool of water, and it massages your paws,”  Tigger mewed.  Elsa smiled:

      “Massages your paws?”  She asked, “like Theo does?”

      “um, not as well as he does, but yes,”  Tigger mewed.  Theo grinned and playfully swiped at Tigger’s paw with his.

     “You pay me too bigger complement Tiggie,”  Theo mewed.  Tigger smiled:

        “so who wants a bath?”  He asked.  Both Elsa’s cubs leapt at the chance, so did Petra and Aslan.  They all turned to Elsa, who thought for a minute, then nodded.

      “Can we bath newborn cubs though?”  Petra asked.

       “You were when you were only a few days old,”  Tigger replied, “I will take it gently though, dry the cubs off thoroughly, that kind of thing.”

      Where is the bathroom in this house?”  Elsa asked.

      “Downstairs, through the living room, and kitchen, and it’s there,”  Tigger mewed.

      “Is, that, that horrid huge lion going to be anywhere near us when we go there?”  Elsa asked.

      “Leo will be there,”  Tigger replied, “but not in the bathroom, as he’s never had a bath in his life.  He’ll be in the living room no doubt.”  Elsa looked at Theo.

      “Don’t worry Elsa my dear,”  Theo purred, “I’ll tell him that if he says anything, anything! I will rip his paws off.”

      “That’s what he said to you while I was struggling up the stairs before the birth of my cubs,”  Elsa mewed.

      “Exactly,”  Theo said.


Elsa, Theo, Tigger and the four cubs trooped down the stairs, their paws making a scuffling swishing sound as they crawled.  Reaching the living room, Theo fixed Leo with a, “don’t say anything,”  look as the huge lion caught sight of them.  Leo, still shaken by his experience in the cubbing den, averted his eyes from Elsa, who refused to look at him.

      “It’s a long way to the bathroom,”  Elsa’s largest cub said.  Her smallest cub, a male cub, cuffed his sister and told her not to be such a big cub over it.  This made everyone laugh, including Leo.

      “We’ve got a jester in the household, and he’s only a few hours old,”  Salty mewed.  Elsa’s male cub turned an ear towards Salty.  He could sense the size of the snow leopard, and that he meant noone any harm.  By now the procession had reached the bathroom, and Theo marshalled Elsa and the cubs round him, while Tigger sorted the bathtub.  They’d recently had a new tub installed, with a proper whirlpool come massage facility.  The tub was massive! Large enough for two adult cats, or one polar bear and a cub or two to bathe together.  Many animals said it was installed so that Tigger could bath animals faster, and that this would lead to a drop in the service quality, but it didn’t seem to have happened that way.  Tigger turned the taps on with one paw, the taps having long handles on them.  It was said that these handles helped humans with poor grip or arthritis to turn the taps on, but Tigger knew nothing about these things.  All he knew was that he could operate the taps and everything else with one paw, which was much better for him.  Once he’d mixed the water flowing from the tap to a warm temperature by first running the cold tap, then adding hot until he was satisfied, , Tigger pressed down on the plug with one hind paw, for he’d got into the bath to turn the taps.  Tigger leapt out of the bath and mischievously placed a wet forepaw on the nose of Elsa’s youngest cub, who squealed with surprise and batted at his paw.

      “Hey!”  She mewed.  Tigger embraced her in his huge paws, the lion cub snuggling into his hug.  Elsa watched the water filling the bath.  It looked invitingly warm.  The sound of huge paws coming nearer made Elsa and the cubs turn to see who was approaching.  The largest polar bear any of them had ever seen came into the bathroom.  Elsa was about to defend her cubs from it, when the bear raised a huge paw to stop her.

      “It’s okay, I’m not a threat!”  The bear said.

      “Ah Nanuq,”  Tigger mewed, “it’s good to see you my friend.”

       “I’m sorry Tigger,”  Nanuq said, “but have I walked in on something?”

       “You know there was a kafuffle about a lioness in labour yesterday afternoon?”  Tigger asked.

     “Well, Yes,”  Nanuq replied, now very concerned, “how is she?  Did she have her cubs in the end?  Are they all right?  Is she okay?  “I, I saw Leo go storming upstairs, and I heard mewing, yelling, and crying.  Not to mention banging and scrabbling.  Leo came down looking very frightened.  Please Tigger, Tell me everything’s all right!”

Elsa realised this polar bear was really concerned, almost frantic with worry.

     “Tigger had nothing to do with the actual birth of the lioness’s cubs,”  Aslan said, “Theo did.”

     “Theo?”  Nanuq asked, “but, but, he’s scared of cubbing, he wouldn’t get involved with that, would he?”

      “Yes I would,”  Theo purred, “I got involved with Elsa’s labour, and the birth of her cubs.  As to whether she and her cubs are all right, take a look for yourself.  The lioness who challenged you when you came in here is the very one whom you saw struggling up the stairs and whom you heard yelling and mewing.”  Nanuq looked into Elsa’s face.  Elsa now saw the genuine concern the huge polar bear had for her and her cubs.

       “I’m fine now sir,”  Elsa said, all defensiveness gone.  She found she couldn’t meet the polar bear’s gaze, ending up looking down at the floor, focusing on the paws of her youngest cub.

       “You don’t need to be frightened of him Elsa dear,”  Tigger said, turning off the taps.  Tigger then dipped a paw into a barrel and scooped up a huge pawful of bath oils and salts which he threw into the water.  Turning on the whirlpool and massage function, he let the water do the work of mixing in the salts and oil.  He was glad he didn’t have to do this himself any more.

      “Nearly done,”  Tigger said.

      “A real operation you’ve got here,”  Theo remarked to Tigger.

     “yes Theo, you’re right there,”  Tigger replied, “but it’s how I’ve always wished it to be.”

      “Nanuq,”  Elsa said, “I’m okay, honestly.  Theo was wonderful, helping me bring my cubs into the world.  He was so gentle.”  Nanuq looked at Theo.

      “Well done Theo,”  he said.  Then, turning to the room in general:

     “Anyone want a drink?”  Everyone accepted Nanuq’s offer, and the polar bear soon returned with water for the cubs and milk for the adult animals.  Elsa drank deeply, realising she was thirsty and hungry.

    “What do we do for food here?”  she asked.

      “it’s fish and veg mix usually,”  Nanuq replied, “though Petra here only has vegetables.  She’s got a meat allergy.”

      “Meat allergy?”  Elsa asked, “how can a lion cub have a meat allergy?”

      “I do,”  Petra replied, “though I don’t know how I got it.  Any kind of meat  makes me violently sick.”  Elsa looked round the assembled lions.  She stopped when her eye fell on Petra, the cub was white all over!

     “I’ve only just noticed this,”  she said, “but Petra, you’re white all over!”  Petra smiled.

     “that I am,”  she replied.

     “how,”  Elsa asked.

      “It’s a condition called leucism,”  Petra replied.

      “Like Albinism?”  Elsa asked.

     “No,”  Petra replied.

     “here comes the science bit, concentrate,”  Theo mewed, making Tigger, Elsa and Nanuq laugh.

      “Albinism means that there’s no pigment in the skin, fur, paw pads, lips or eyes of an animal, also albinism can affect an animals sight in certain ways.  Leucism is a lack of pigment in the skin and fur, though the pads of the paws, lips and eyes still have correct colouration,”  Petra said.

     “You memorised that,”  Aslan mewed.

     “Kalahari told me,”  Petra replied, “I can’t read yet.”  Elsa was fascinated.

     Petra, please, would you let me look at the sole of one of your paws?”  Petra obligingly lifted her right forepaw from the floor and turned it to let Elsa look at it.  Elsa saw Petra’s pads were black, and when the cub extended her claws, that they were black too.”

       “It’s a misconception to say animals with leucism are white from their nose to their toes,”  Theo said, “for they’re not.”  Elsa patted the pads of Petra’s paw.

      “now time for a bath,”  Tigger said, turning to the assembled animals, “who will go first?”  Elsa held up her paw.

      “I will,”  she said.  Tigger knew why the lioness had volunteered.

      “Okay,”  he said, “but it’s perfectly safe Elsa.”  Elsa nodded.

      “I know,”  she said, “you have all been so good to me and my cubs, I know it’s safe, but it’s instinctive to be wary of a new thing.”  Tigger nodded.

     “come,”  he said, beckoning her over to him, “one paw at a time, take it gently.”  Elsa placed her left forepaw into the bath  first, then her right, then her left hind, then her right.  The water massaged her paws, and this felt wonderful to Elsa.

      “Why not lie down in the water,”  Tigger suggested.

       “Oh yes, yes please!”  Elsa mewed, getting down as low in the water as she could, so that her nose was the only thing above the surface of the water.  Elsa felt the water massaging her from her ears to the pads of her paws, it felt wonderful!  Elsa suddenly took a deep breath and plunged her head beneath the water.  The water roared in her ears, and was as strange to her as it had been to Aslan the first time he’d tried it.


Tigger waited for Elsa to come up for air, then said:

      “Now I’m going to try something on you.  I’m going to shampoo your fur.  Elsa hadn’t had this done before, but accepted it, as she now felt these animals had her and her cubs best interests at heart.  Tigger used a pump action dispenser to squirt a special kind of fur shampoo into his paw.  He used this shampoo so that if any got into the animal’s eyes, it wouldn’t hurt so much, even though Tigger was very careful.  Tigger began to massage the shampoo into Elsa’s fur, the sensation of Tigger’s paws working the shampoo in was very pleasurable to the lioness.  Purring, Elsa relaxed as Tigger worked the shampoo into her fur  from just above her eyes, which she’d closed,, to the end of her tail, and down her legs to the soles of her paws.  Elsa felt Tigger take all four of her paws, one by one,  in his and work the shampoo between her pads and toes.  It felt fantastic!  Once Every part of her was shampooed, Tigger washed the shampoo off with as much care as he’d taken when applying it.  This was also as pleasurable to Elsa as the initial shampooing had been.  Tigger worked his toes into the fur on Elsa’s back, belly, legs and paws, working gently but firmly to get rid of all the shampoo.  The water was warm, Tigger’s paws were gentle but thorough, and Elsa felt at peace.  Elsa’s bath finished much too soon, even though she’d been in it for about an hour, Tigger giving her the full treatment.  Now it was time for her largest cub to be bathed in a similar manner.  Elsa stood flat footed and uneasy when Tigger told her she should go into the kitchen and wait there to be dried off.

     “I’d rather not,”  she said, “for I would like to keep an eye on my cubs.”  Tigger banged the side of the tub with one paw in frustration at himself, frightening Elsa’s youngest cub, who was standing in the water.  Tigger had forgotten how young Elsa’s cubs were, they were only a few hours old, and she was very protective over them.

     “I’m sorry Elsa,”  Tigger said, “I’m being a total idiot over this.  I forgot for an instant how young your cubs are.”  Elsa, still slightly fearful, growled a reply, but Theo laid his paw gently on hers, soothing the lioness’s mind.

     “I will dry you off here,”  Theo said, picking up a towel and quite without thinking, throwing it over Elsa’s head to dry her neck, ears and face.  Elsa, her vision now obscured by the towel, screamed and lashed out at Theo in a blind panic!  Theo felt her paws scrabbling at his face as he tried to dry her off.

      “Let me out of here!”  Elsa begged, thrashing and kicking.  Theo received the full benefit of Elsa’s fear driven strength as the panic stricken lioness lashed out with one of her forepaws, her paw smashing into his nose!  Theo recoiled, dropping the towel which fell from Elsa’s face, the lioness ripping it to shreds in her fear.

     “Elsa, Elsa!”  Theo pleaded.  Elsa looked at him, her eyes full of fear and terror.

       “My cubs, my cubs!”  she gasped, “where are my cubs!  What have you done with them!”  Theo then realised the mistake he’d made.

      “Elsa, I’m so, so sorry,”  he said, “your cubs are fine, but I shouldn’t have thrown the towel over your head without warning you first.  I’m not doing very well here.  Elsa was about to snap at Theo, to tell him he was a bonehead and an idiot for not realising this, when she calmed down at the sight of her cubs, which were now both in the bath, Tigger having put the smaller male cub in with his sister, as they wanted to be together.  Tigger had then clambered in with them, and was washing them while they did their best to splash him in play.

       “You never throw a towel over the head of a new mother!”  Tigger remonstrated with Theo, “she will want full sight of her cubs at all times.”  Theo dragged away the destroyed towel and binned it.  He then told Kalahari what had taken place, so the meerkat could chalk up a reminder to the boss to get a new towel as one had been destroyed by an irate lioness.  The boss was used to such reminders, and often used something called the internet to order things for the house.


Kalahari and the other animals cared little for this internet however, as it didn’t concern them.


Back in the bathroom, Theo, after being advised by Tigger on how to dry Elsa’s head and neck.  The advice being, “let her do it,” Theo managed to dry the rest of the lioness’s body off.  Throughout this, Theo couldn’t help feeling that Elsa’s mood had changed, from carefree enjoyment, to wary watchfulness.  It hurt Theo a great deal to know he might be the cause of this.

     “Elsa,”  he said gently while drying her paws, “I’m sorry for throwing the towel over your head, I didn’t realise it would upset you so much.”  Elsa was about to snap at him for a second time, then took hold of herself and gave herself a mental slapping.

      “I get angry whenever I think of those few seconds,”  she said, “but I shouldn’t, for in my rational mind I know you meant no harm to me or my cubs, but my instinct says differently, and that’s uppermost.”  Elsa looked into Theo’s eyes, seeing the young lion was near to tears.

      “Oh Theo, Theo, don’t cry,”  Elsa said gently, taking the young lion in her paws and drawing him close, “it’s not your fault.  I shouldn’t snap, but my instinct tells me to protect my cubs at all cost.  I don’t want to be hard on you my friend.”  Theo buried his head in Elsa’s shoulder.

      “I don’t want to upset you!”  he sobbed, “that’s the last thing I want to do Elsa!”  Elsa stroked Theo’s mane and paws, trying to calm the distressed young lion.

       “I know Theo my love, I know,”  she purred.  Theo could hardly believe his ears.

      “What did you call me?”  he asked.  Elsa, realising what she’d said, blushed to the tips of her ears.

       “I, I shouldn’t have,”  she mewed, “I know what I called you, but it’s wrong, I can’t ask that of you.”  Theo smiled at Elsa.

     “Love me, love my cubs,”  he said.  Elsa looked over at Aslan and Petra with as much love in her eyes as she had when looking at her own cubs.

       “Done,”  Elsa replied.  What Theo didn’t know was that the previous night, Elsa let Petra and Aslan drink milk from her once her own cubs were asleep.  She knew Tembi had weaned her cubs far too early, and that they might still have a taste for milk, so, knowing her own cubs would not go short, Elsa offered Theo’s cubs some of her milk, which they gratefully accepted.

      “Theo,”  Elsa said, “Tembi weaned your cubs far too early didn’t she.”  Theo wondered how Elsa knew.

     “yes, she did,”  Theo replied, “Aslan at two months and Petra at three.  I know they usually drink milk full time until three months and then on and off for at least another six.  How did you work that one out?”

       “I could tell,”  Elsa said, “let’s leave it at that.  So, I did something last night which might seem strange to you.  I let them drink milk from my own supply.  I know a lioness only has enough resources to rear two cubs, but I wanted to give your two a token of my affection towards them, so I let them drink milk.  My cubs won’t go short, now neither will yours.  Aslan and Petra know why I did what I did.”  Theo hugged Elsa tightly.

      “You are so kind,”  he mewed, “so generous to me and my cubs.  How can I ever repay you.”

      “You don’t need to,”  Elsa purred,  ”I love you, and I hope you love me, for I feel you do.”

     “I do Elsa, I do!”  Theo mewed.  Elsa licked his nose, planting a lioness’s kiss on it.

     “I love your cubs as if I gave birth to them yesterday Theo,”  Elsa said, “and that’s the truth.”  Theo choked back tears.

       “Oh Elsa, Elsa!”  he sobbed, “I love you with all my heart.  I know we’ve not been long known to each other, but, but, I feel it so deeply Elsa dear, deeper than I ever did with Tembi, I can’t explain how.”

       “I knew I wanted to meet the sire of the cub who’d argued for me to be taken in and helped when I was close to having my cubs,”  Elsa replied, “and when I met you, and we went through the birth of my cubs together, I just knew I could love a lion like you.  Then, when I felt our closeness, and how you seemed to become one with me during my labour, I knew then Theo, I knew something was there.  I know you are a caring and considerate lion, but you went the extra mile with and for me.”  Theo nodded, “you seemed to know what I liked, what would give me relief, how to encourage me to deliver my cubs.  I hope I’m not mistaking professionalism for love for me,”  Elsa said.

      “No,”  Theo mewed, “for I wouldn’t usually then spend the night with the lioness who’s cubs I’d helped deliver.  I’d walk away and spend the night with my own cubs, for a lioness doesn’t need a male lion to nurture cubs.”

       “This one does,”  Elsa purred, “our cubs felt it too,”  Elsa continued, “for did you notice that one of my cubs spent the night with me and one with you.  On the same token, one of your cubs spent the night with me and one with you.  So even our cubs accept our relationship, and feel comfortable with either of us.”

       “I was so exhausted, I didn’t realise it,”  Theo mewed.


Meanwhile, Tigger had bathed Aslan and  Petra, as well as Elsa’s two cubs, while all listened to Theo and Elsa’s conversation.

      “isn’t this wonderful!”  Elsa’s female cub mewed.  Petra laughed delightedly, hugging her tightly.

      “it is,”  she purred.  Elsa’s youngest cub tickled the pads of Petra’s paw, the white cub laughing helplessly.

      “How shall we name your two cubs Elsa?”  Theo asked, watching the antics of Petra and Elsa’s cub’s.

      “I think we should name my youngest cub Leona, latten for lion, and my eldest cub Simba, Swahili for lion,”  Elsa replied.

        “Okay,”  Theo replied.

      “there might be a problem when your male cub’s name is known,”  Nanuq said, “you see, we had problems with a lion of that name who is now dead.  I know your cub isn’t that lion, but others may not be so accommodating.”

      “some had problems with a lioness named Elsa coming into the house,”  Theo replied, “I don’t think we’ll change the names just because certain members of the community have a disliking for a certain lion named Simba who’s now six feet under.  No Elsa, ignore all that, we will name them Leona and Simba.”


You dam well will not do such a thing Theodore!”  Leo yelled, making Elsa leap to her paws and turn to protect all four of her cubs.

     “I wondered when you’d turn up and put your oar in things,”  Theo snarled, leaping to his feet, Elsa’s growling and snarling becoming more threatening as Leo approached.

     “Leave us alone!”  Elsa snarled.

      “I can take your life and those of your cubs with one paw Elsa! You insignificant bag of fur!”  Leo yelled.

       “He’s going to kill us mum!”  Leona mewed.

      “You don’t know when you’re beaten do you Leo,”  Theo mewed.  Leo spat at his brother.

     “I’ve been listening from the doorway into the kitchen,”  Leo snarled, “I heard everything!  Nanuq won’t harm me, he hasn’t got the guts to try it!  So that lioness is mine, and so’s her disgusting male cub!”

      “Elsa and Simba are not the Elsa and Simba who did us harm!”  Theo mewed, “you saw Simba being born, he’s not the same cub!”

       “You disgust me Theo!”  Leo yelled.  Suddenly Leo screamed with fear and terror as  Nanuq strode up to and stood over him!

       “I will attack you Leo,”  Nanuq said calmly, “for I happen to be concerned about Elsa, for she loves Theo, Theo loves her, and they have adopted each other’s cubs.  Theo happens to be my friend, and by extension, so does Elsa.  You dare to mess with them now?”

     “Nanuq, don’t!”  Elsa pleaded.

      “No,”  Nanuq replied, “I won’t, Theo will!”

    “Theo couldn’t, he’s not strong enough!”  Leo yelled.  Then, jabbing his paw at his brother, Leo yelled:

     “come on then you fat massage loving loser!”  Theo lost it, the same way he had with Tarker!  Charging at Leo, Theo leapt into the air, his claws extended.  Theo’s claws ripped into Leo’s face, the larger lion screaming with fear as he realised he’d pushed his brother too far!

     “Now you will pay!”  Theo snarled, tearing at and biting his older brother’s nose.  Leo tried to bring his paws up to protect his face, but Nanuq, now furious, brought his paw crashing down on the lion’s, Leo screaming as his paw smashed down onto the hard lino floor.

      “Get out of here Elsa!”  Theo yelled, “take our cubs and go to the cubbing Den!  Run for your lives all of you!”  Elsa, Petra, Simba, and Leona fled for the door and the stairs.  Theo and Nanuq held Leo down until they heard the slam of the door into the cubbing den.

     “Salty!”  Theo shouted, “get here now!”  Salty ran in, eager to do what he could.

      “Get upstairs and guard the door into the cubbing den,”  Theo commanded, ”get otters to take food up to those inside, don’t let anyone in apart from Winifred and Emily, Is that clear!”  Salty nodded and fled!


Nanuq and Theo pummelled Leo until the lion was semi conscious.


Meanwhile, Tigger had leapt into the bathtub, covering his ears with his paws in fear.  He’d always feared this might happen, that Leo would go ballistic one day, and it had happened.  Tigger now lay there, mewing like a frightened cub, wishing he was in the cubbing den with the others.

     “Clarence,”  he thought miserably, “please, if you love me at all please help me now!”


Clarence, walking in the wood on routine patrol, making sure neither Elsa nor Tembi returned to the house, suddenly felt uneasy.  He knew what this meant, and sprinted for the house!  Busting in through the gate, he sprinted for the bathroom window to look in.  he saw Tigger miserably huddled in a now empty bathtub, and his friend looked dreadfully upset.  Clarence knew the back door was locked, it always was.  Banging on the window with his paw, Clarence attracted Tigger’s attention.  The tiger opened the window:

      “Clarence,”  Tigger panted, “thank god you’re here!  It’s all gone very wrong!  Come in through the window, don’t go round the front, please my friend, trust me on this!”  Clarence clambered into the bathroom through the window, which Tigger slammed shut behind him.

     “What the hell’s going on!”  Clarence demanded.

      “Leo’s gone crazy, long story,”  Tigger panted, “no going back from here, got big trouble!”

     “Calm down Tigger my friend,”  Clarence mewed, “you’re safe now.  Tell me all about it.”

      “I think it’s like this,”  Tigger replied, telling Clarence all he knew.

      “Oh dear,”  Clarence said, whistling through his teeth, “it’s a bad one and no mistake.”  Clarence had been on a two day patrol with Amber and Stifftail, and knew nothing of Elsa’s arrival and Theo’s involvement with her and  her cubs.”

      “So Theo’s fallen in love with this lioness named Elsa, and Leo doesn’t like her name, nor that of one of her cubs, so he goes ballistic,”  Clarence summed up.

      “yeah,”  Tigger mewed, “it’s horrible!”


Meanwhile, Theo and Nanuq dragged Leo, now offering no resistance, into the concrete shed, banging the door shut on him.

      “How could he be like that!”  Nanuq asked Theo, who was beginning to realise what had just taken place.

      “I’ve just overthrown my own brother!”  he mewed.

       “Yes Theo, you have,”  Nanuq replied.

     “so what do I do now?”  Theo asked, frightened for the first time since the defence of his mate and cubs began.

       “You go to the community and tell all,”  Nanuq replied, “though everyone, right down to the smallest cub  knows what’s been going on.  Leo’s finished as leader.  Snowy’s more furious with him than she can put into words, and Matilda ended up giving Leo a right hook for what he’d said to Elsa.  He’s finished for sure now Theo.  You need to sort the community out, though first thing’s first, go upstairs and  be with your mate and cubs, eat some food, then decide what to do.”  Theo took the polar bear’s advice and went upstairs to the cubbing den.  There he found Elsa and their cubs, Elsa trying to comfort the cubs while in a dreadful state herself.

      “Theo, oh Theo!”  she sobbed when he came through the door.  Throwing her paws round his neck, Elsa hugged Theo tightly.  Then he was set upon by four very relieved cubs.

      “Leo’s no, no longer leader,”  Theo panted, “he’s in the concrete shed.  It looks like I’m leader now, or so Nanuq says.”

     “But the rest of the community won’t take it will they?”  Elsa mewed, “they don’t’ know about all this!”

      “Nanuq says they do, and he should know,”  Theo gasped, his heart and brain still going at a thousand miles a minute.  Salty tapped gently on the door and when Theo opened it, the male snow leopard put his head in and said:

      “I know the community are fed up with Leo.  He’s been getting on their nerves for a long time, not clamping down on Tarker’s antics  etc.  he left it to you Theo.  Now he’s gone as leader, and a good thing too!  His irrational thinking over Elsa and Simba is no way for a leader to think.  He would have been the deaths of Elsa and her cub.  I know it, I’ve seen it in Leo’s face when he heard the names Elsa and Simba.”  Elsa clung to Theo throughout Salty’s speech.

      “Are our cubs safe now?”  Elsa asked.

    “Yes Elsa my love,”  Theo mewed.


Theo submitted happily to the probing exploration by his four cubs of his head, neck and paws, Letting them touch him with their tiny paws and nuzzle his fur with their soft noses.  Once they were reassured he was alive and uninjured, they left him alone.  Winifred came in with a bowl of vegetables for Petra, and fish and veg mix for Theo, Elsa and Aslan, which they went outside to eat, so not to make Petra sick.  Once all had eaten their food and drank deeply from water bowls, they returned to the cubbing den to rest and discuss what was going to happen next.

      “You need to consolidate your hold on the leadership now Theo,”  Elsa said, “you can’t leave that for too long.

      “I wasn’t trying to overthrow my brother, even though that’s what happened,”  Theo said, “I was protecting you and our cubs Elsa.”  Elsa took his paw and began to stroke it.

      “I know that,”  she replied, “but you overthrew your brother, no matter which way you look at it.  So you need to do something now.  Snowy’s okay as a deputy leader for a while, but you need to appoint deputies of your own.”

      “Let snowy do it,”  Theo replied, “I didn’t want any of this to happen Elsa!”  Theo mewed, “Leo forced me to defend those who are most precious to me.”  Elsa patted Theo’s paw.

      “Let’s all sleep a while, and then we’ll sort the rest of this mess,”  she suggested.  The lions settled down, Elsa, and every cub, making sure they had a paw touching Theo.  Theo felt more secure than he had in years.

     “I love you all,”  Theo mewed, his family showing their love for him by patting his paws and nuzzling his fur.



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