Disclaimer: I do not own Bambi or any of the characters there within, they are property of Disney.
The glorious summer morning shone bright in the secretive boughs of the woods and crowned into a golden afternoon on the meadow. She had deemed Bambi old enough to experience the open wonder of the grassland that connected the mountain to the valley trees. He was frightened by her caution, her dear son, but he took quickly to the wide blue sky and warm sun on his back. How quickly fear turned to joy when he bounded about on his strong, springy legs, as supple as four saplings and twice as vigorous.
She chased him awhile to his delighted peals of laughter. He ran circles around her and she let her cares melt in his bright smile; she was a fawn herself again for that moment they shared.
When she slowed, her son only seemed invigorated double fold.
The cool breeze as his guide, Bambi bounded off to explore the newest expanse of his kingdom, indeed, the kingdom that would one day become his. Her little prince.
How he reminded her of the Great Prince.
Those inquisitive brown eyes had already begun to develop that shrewdness in their edges. His wobbly beginnings gave way to an exuberant stride that hinted the foundations of a measured grace. He was warm and gentle to all creatures of the forest as he observed them their daily conduct. Yes, her little prince Bambi had all the makings of a great prince.
She wandered to the crest of her favorite hillock and came across Aunt Ena, a fellow doe, and mother of two fawns—little Gobo and Faline. They had time only to nod and ask the welfare of the other before their children came roaring up the hill toward them.
She watched as Bambi chased Faline over the grassy knoll, the little fawns squealing and kicking for the game. Aunt Ena flashed her a smile across the way and she returned it, a mother's understanding passed between them and the does went on about grazing.
All of the meadow seemed to tremble as the stags swept out of the mountain forest. Most were in their second year and testing their paired prongs against each other, their young blood boiling to engage in the rut that would set upon them in the fall. Among these ran a handful of third year bucks and their aggression for sparring was more telling in their pointed thrusts and jabs. Many of the younger does grazing in the lower rushes pretended to look disinterested, but she knew by the way their ears swiveled that they were watching. She supposed she was their age once, though not so easily impressed with the premature strut of these fiery young bucks.
He had stood apart from them all.
She still remembered that day—that ardent third year challenging the Great Prince. How he stood firm, silent, as strong as an oak, and waited. The third year rushed him and the Great Prince lowered his great crown and turned the younger aside in one motion. The third year stumbled but caught himself, shook off the slight, and charged again. Their antlers locked and the Great Prince dropped one shoulder and twisted his head so the third year crashed on his side with a surprised bray. He stood over the younger buck as resilient as stone while she looked on. The battle already won. But the third year seemed the only one not to grasp this and he scrambled to his hooves and launched once more. Their antlers collided like thunder and the lusty third year kept his footing. The stags pushed and turned, tearing great scores into the ground as they forced their all to their shoulders. The third year snorted and shoved with all his might and the Great Prince held him. Then, all at once, the Great Prince shunted backward which threw the third year off-balance, relocked their antlers at a half-turn, and spun his head to face the opposite direction. The third year flipped completely around and landed on his spine in a tangle of legs and dirt. The Great Prince stood over his young challenger again, prepared for the next exchange, but the third year understood he was outmatched and hobbled to his trembling legs, his white tail raised in surrender as he fled.
The Great Prince turned his great crown to her.
She crossed the rutting field to him and they entered the woods together to the eyes of the other deer. She had always thought of the prince as a reticent royal figure, a majestic sentinel watching over his subjects great and small; his cunning matched only by his elegance. She was only one doe among hundreds, quiet and unassuming. So it was to her greatest surprise when he led her to a green wall and raised the thickest of the brush with his antlers.
She stepped past him and into a secluded glen, the sun casting stark rays of light onto the glittering bend of the burbling stream. Her mouth opened as she peered about the beautiful hollow. This was the place they had first met as fawns all those years ago. She had surprised him and he had yelped and stumbled into the stream. He had looked up at her, soaked and dripping, mouth and eyes wide as he sat in the stream bed, helpless.
She turned back to him and the stern Great Prince who ruled the forest in all his wisdom softened before her eyes; smiling as he watched her stand in the dappled sunlight.
I have loved you since I first set eyes on you—beneath the stream.
She laughed. He chuckled and came to stand before her.
And I knew then that I would have no other.
The sudden silence tore her from her memories as the galloping stags stood silent over the field. She glanced to where every head had turned and saw him standing at the edge of the trees.
The Great Prince.
He lingered a moment longer before his regal gait carried him into the meadow. His great crown of antlers seemed to tear the sky, dwarfing the modest rack of even the most senior stag on the field. Every buck, every doe, every fawn watched breathless as he walked among them. Even the grasses seemed to stand tall and still. Purpose touched his stride as his gaze traveled over the unblinking eyes of his subjects.
Most would believe he had come to remind the deer their solitary prince still watched over them from afar; the bucks perhaps were reminded their respect of the crown they might one day shoulder if they kept their wits quick and their legs quicker.
But she knew why he had come.
She pressed forward down the knoll and into the vale, the only deer to move amid the utter stillness.
She watched as the Great Prince crossed between the silent stags and paused before their son; their little Bambi. He turned his head and studied the little prince with solemn brown eyes. She felt her heart might burst with pride as Bambi met his father's gaze. The Great Prince and little prince. Her princes. Meeting at last.
Bambi tilted his head and the Great Prince turned his ears full on his son, but made no remark. Silence reigned on the meadow. His eyes flickered over their innocent son's head and looked directly into her eyes. The expression did not change, but she saw the gleam in his eye and she smiled despite herself; falling in love with him all over again.
The Great Prince turned a moment later, head erect, as he threaded his way back to the forests of the mountain. The sedation of the serious encounter lifted in his wake and the bucks calmed to join the does grazing, the fawns returned to their play, and the Great Prince disappeared into the wilds.
"He stopped and looked at me," Bambi said, his eyes wide and voice full of a tremulous reverence.
"Yes, I know," she said, her heart still swollen from the wordless exchange.
"Why did everyone go still when he came on the meadow?"
"Everyone respects him. For of all the deer in the forest, not one has lived half so long. He's very brave and very wise." She raised her eyes to the trees growing up the mountain and saw the Great Prince walk through them. "That's why he's known as the Great Prince of the forest."
Bambi followed her gaze and his ears swiveled forward as he tilted his head to one side.
"I hope to be big and strong like him someday," Bambi declared, striding forward with as much poise as he could muster. She smiled lovingly at her son.
"You will be," she murmured, but his composure was already broken by a fresh new game of chase when Faline sprinted past. He leapt after her and the fawns rounded past the cattails and out of sight.
She walked back up the hill to meet Aunt Ena for a proper discussion of the sweeter grasses that sprouted that spring, old Nettla's temper as sharp but accurate when dealing with the younger does, and the display of the young bucks so early in the season.
They conversed what only seemed a moment or two when a great panic swept the herd.
Hooves thundered over the meadow as lithe bodies twisted and leapt full tilt to the safety of the lowland forest. Rabbits and squirrels darted their way haphazardly between the pounding hooves of the fleeing deer. Birds shrieked and screamed as they took flight, sounding the alarm no animal wanted to hear.
MAN. MAN. MAN.
Her heart leapt into her throat, choking her.
Aunt Ena had already thrown herself down the hill in search of her daughter.
She followed after barely dodging the rush of bodies sailing past. A pheasant nearly struck her full in the face just as she sidestepped a pair of charging stags; their swaggering airs all but forgotten.
"Bambi!" She cried, turning left and right, ducking a stag that leapt clear over her head and stopping short of stepping on an escaping family of quail. No answer. The field was beginning to empty. "Bambi!"
Where was he? Where was her son?
All too soon, she found herself alone on the meadow. A deafening silence pounded in her ears as the last of the birds flew into the safety of the dark boughs of the lowland forest.
Panic set in. Her ears spun to every sound. Her legs jerked at every unnatural snap.
Bambi! Bambi, her little prince!
The meadow was too quiet.
The shapes moving in the mountain forest sent tremors up her spine.
She bounded up the hill to put more of the meadow into view, desperate to find her son if it cost her her life.
Two bodies barreled up the hill toward the break in the trees.
The Great Prince led her little Bambi as they bolted and she sprinted over the knoll to join them in their flight, legs aflame, heart hammering.
The crack of a terrible, unnatural thunderclap shattered the stillness of the meadow and a wasp hissed past her ear so close it stung. But the three of them charged on, crashing through the brush and whipping reeds for what seemed eternity.
It was not until the Great Prince stopped that they dared pause. Little Bambi's sides heaved as he gulped for air, even the Great Prince himself panted heavily through his nostrils. He studied the trail behind them, ears full, and remained frozen so long she moved to lick her son's head to calm him.
The Great Prince turned to them, watching his small, exhausted family coming to grips with the close encounter. He bent to nudge Bambi's shoulder, nearly toppling the fawn over.
"Well done," the Great Prince said and Bambi mustered a weak smile for him between pants. The great buck raised his head and stared at her. She could only meet him with deepest gratitude and adoration.
He stepped toward her and she bowed her head, overcome. She felt his rough tongue slip up her forehead and tears came to her eyes. When she opened them, he was already striding away to take stock of the recovered and care for the injured.
Her eyes lingered on him until he dropped out of sight and she became aware of Bambi nuzzling her chest. She bent to lick his forehead. He blinked up at her.
"Someday, mama," he promised, breathless. She touched his nose with her own.
"Someday, my little prince."
Author's Note: YES! This fanfiction is to commemorate my ten years on FFN! Holy freakin' cow, ten years!? I've had this story sitting on my profile lineup for probably all ten years, haha, and I finally got around to writing it. I'm a sucker for deer, what can I say, and Bambi was a movie I've always enjoyed. The smooth animation of the deer, the delicious forest backgrounds, the soft emotional music. A masterpiece. I loved this film. I mean I quoted that tiny bit of dialogue word for word from memory.
Anywho, this story was particularly challenging because Bambi's mother is just that, "Bambi's mother," she doesn't have a name and I felt I had no place giving her one. It was strange always writing 'she' and 'her,' but I ran with it. I always liked the idea of the mother comparing the similarities between Bambi and his father, the little and the Great Prince, as he stepped on the meadow in that powerful scene to assess his son. This whole bit really was my favorite scene of the entire movie. The gallop of the stags and fleeing man, joy to chaos in two simple steps! I squeezed probably more than was necessary into this story, but I felt compelled to give enough grounding for both princes and that special bond between father and son. Which is really what the book was all about.
I hope you folks enjoyed and will drop ol' Blackfire (TEN YEARS!?) a review, because she is celebrating today! I swear to respond to every signed review with a hearty thanks to all of you who make writing fanfiction worthwhile, the fans. This one's for you!