Pride Rock was as desolate as ever. Ever since King Scar had allowed the hyena's to overrun the Pride Lands, they had lost their beauty. Yet, life continued to struggle, especially for the lionesses. One such lioness lay there, staring at the furry bundle before her. There he lay, young Nuka, her Nuka. Zira had felt proud when Scar had chosen her to bear his child. And sure enough, she had borne him a son, just what he wanted. But even she had brought him failure. Something about Nuka rubbed Scar the wrong way. He was scrawny, mangy, and overall not too impressive in appearance. It was so much that Scar had discredited Nuka as his heir. And that's when he chose another. Another lioness to bear his child.

Zira wasn't angry. No, her king knew what was best. If anything, this only proved how in love she was with him. Nor would she abandon Nuka, because regardless if he was the heir or not, he was still Scar's son. By all means, she should have been honored to lay with her love and produce a potential heir to follow in his paw prints. Nuka's lack of potential was her fault, not Scar's. She had failed, not him. Within her thoughts, she stirred, until she heard something. She snapped out of her mind and noticed it sounded like, paws against the floor. Looking up, she could see someone coming towards her. And her eyes widened when she saw who it was.

"You." she whispered. "What are you doing here?"

She got her answer when she noticed the tiny bundle of fur in the visitor's mouth. She peered closer at the cub and noticed the distinctive shadows over its eyes. Scar's cub. The young mother stood before her, and gently lay the cub at Zira's side.

"What are you doing?" Zira asked.

The mother looked at her, her face firm. "Please. Take her."

"Excuse me?" said Zira shocked.

"I can't…I can't look at her. I can't raise his child," the mother said with both sadness and disgust.

This was all Zira had to confirm that this was the child Scar bore with his new chosen. "You're abandoning this child?"

"Scar rejected her for being female. He wanted a strong male as his heir," the mother explained.

Zira took in a small breath of air. That was true; Scar did indeed want a strong male. A female was a disgrace to him. But Zira felt something rise within her. "Nevertheless, you should feel honored to birth his child."

"There's no honor birthing Scar's offspring!" the mother spat. "I know how devoted you are to him, so I know you'll love her regardless if she is your child or not. So please. Just take her."

Zira felt a different swath of feelings. She was aghast at what the mother was doing, shocked that she would turn away the privilege of raising Scar's daughter. But here she was, another part of Scar, being given to her willingly. The choice was obvious for her.

"Of course. I wouldn't dream of turning away a lovely child such as this. Don't worry. I'll raise and love her like my own." Zira reassured, keeping the child close to her.

The mother looked down solemnly, took one final look at the child, and turned away with a small, "Thank you."

Before she left, she heard one final question from Zira, "Did you name the child?"

The mother stopped, without turning back, she replied, "No."

Zira looked down tenderly at the child, "Well, I guess we'll have to give you a name now won't we?"

The mother still stood there, for what reason she did not know. Maybe she wanted to wait, to hear what title would be bestowed upon the child. "Yes, Vitani. My dear, sweet Vitani." Zira said. "You'll fit in just fine."

Hearing that, the mother finally left, her face still firm and without tears.

XXX

The Present.

Nala sighed at this turn of events. Not that she was unhappy. No, she was quite glad the feud between the Pridelanders and the Outsiders was resolved, and by the children of both sides. Yes, Simba had made it official. Kovu and Kiara would become mates, and the future rulers of the Pride Lands. Many of the Outsiders were still adjusting to the new conditions, but they had proven their loyalty no longer laid with the late Zira and Scar. They were now one, but she still didn't feel entirely good about this.

Where's your pretty daughter Nala?

Vitani!

Those words had been exchanged between the two of them, bitter words best reserved for enemies. At the time, they were, but it had been awkward to see Vitani during that time. The last time she had seen her was when...no, it would do best not to dwell on the past. If anything, it was time to move forward. But still.

"Nala."

Nala gasped and turned around. Standing before her was Simba. "Oh, Simba, it's just you."

Her mate held a look of concern within his eyes. "Nala are you feeling alright?"

"I'm fine Simba." Nala answered.

"Nala, please, I can tell when you're lying." Simba pressed. "Tell me what's wrong."

Nala had been keeping it in ever since she had found him in that oasis. Ever since she had given birth to Kiara and Kion. But now she couldn't hold it in anymore.

"Simba, there's something I have to tell you. Something I should have told you a long time ago," said Nala.

"Nala?" Simba's voice grew concerned.

There was no holding it in anymore. And so she began to talk...

XXX

Vitani couldn't shake the ill feeling she held in the pit of her stomach. So much had changed in so little time. But she couldn't feel good about everything. Sure, they were now accepted as Pride Landers, but still, it didn't seem right.

"Vitani!"

She turned to see her brother coming towards her. "There you are. We've been looking for you."

"Hey Kovu. Or should I say, 'King' Kovu?" she replied with a grin.

"Please you don't have to call me that. Besides, Kiara and I haven't officially been married," Kovu responded with a hint of embarrassment.

Vitani couldn't help but smile at the irony of it. "It's funny. Mother wanted you to be king, but she isn't around to enjoy it."

At that last bit, the young lioness felt sadness creep into her tone. Neither was Nuka, for that matter.

Kovu felt the air of sadness breathe into him. "Vitani. I miss them too. Do you want to talk about it?"

Vitani shook her head. "I just want to be alone right now, if you don't mind." She started to walk away, but before she did, she stopped and craned her neck backwards. "You know? You and Kiara are both lucky to have each other."

And she meant it, with every fiber of her being. As soon as she saw a smile upon her brother's face, she felt satisfied and continued forward.

XXX

"So that's it." Nala finished.

Simba had listened to his wife's tale carefully, and by the end of it, he was shocked. "Well. Why didn't you tell me before?" he demanded.

"What was I supposed to say? How could I face you after what I did?" Nala said.

Simba was at a loss for words. He wasn't sure of what to say. If he had learned this earlier in his reign, it may have had more of an impact, but now that time had passed? The fact that their children were fully grown? Simba honestly wasn't too sure.

"Nala," he said, going over to Nala and rubbing against her head. "Nala, I forgive you. But this changes things. You have to tell her."

Nala sighed. "I know. I've been holding it in for such a long time. I thought I could keep it hidden, but now that the two prides are one, I can't keep it a secret now." Looking up at her mate with a solemn glint in her eyes, she said, "I'm going to go look for Vitani."

Simba's expression towards his wife was one of uncertainty. He knew what this could mean if word got out, let alone how things would play out, but some secrets were not meant to be kept forever. He just hoped it would not disrupt the happy family they had worked so long to build.

All he could do was hope for the best, and that Nala knew what she was doing.

XXX

Vitani stood beneath a lone acacia tree, lost in her thoughts. She honestly preferred solitude, even when she was an Outsider. Sure, she worked alongside Nuka, and she was at her mother's side as her right paw, but when she was alone, she could take her time to just sit and think. Frankly, she wasn't too certain about what had transpired. Of course she was grateful that her pride was free from the termite-ridden mounds of the deeper parts of the Outlands, but the lush, green savanna was new to her. At least, seeing it on a constant basis was.

This was her permanent home, and with Kovu's betrothal to Kiara, she had gained a broader family, though she hadn't seen too much of Kiara's brother, Kion. The last time she had really encountered Kion, they were cubs. She assumed being the leader of the Lion Guard meant he had grander responsibility than simply being a prince. In fact, she could some similarities between herself and Kion. Both were meant to support their siblings, not to rule. And frankly, he was pretty good looking.

As soon as she thought that, Vitani brushed it out of her mind. She didn't want to get any ideas. Nor give anyone else ideas. She wasn't against getting to know Kion, seeing as he was technically extended family now, but she would take things slow in terms of relationships. Family ones, that is.

Though, nothing could shake the emptiness Vitani held in her heart. This centered on the fate of her older brother and mother. Nuka had been so desperate to earn their mother's affection, to earn anything really. She had often derided her brother as incompetent, so twitchy and unwilling to fight. At least, she had until Nuka tried to kill Simba. If only he had waited, then he wouldn't have been crushed. It was at that moment that she realized how much she truly loved her brother. The same lioness had birthed them after all, so they were bounded by blood. But Nuka wasn't the only blood she had lost that day.

"Vitani?"

Vitani heard the voice. She hardly moved from her thoughts, but she turned around and saw the approaching form of Nala.

"Nala? I mean Queen Nala," she corrected.

Nala smiled and shook her head. "Please, just call me Nala."

Vitani wasn't quite ready to become so casual yet. After all, she had fought against this queen, but that was when they were enemies. Allies, maybe? But definitely too soon to be considered family.

Nevertheless, it probably was a good idea to obey her. Vitani at least wanted to get in her good graces. "Okay. Nala." She tasted the name upon her tongue, dropping the "Queen" prefix.

"I've been looking for you. Kovu said you'd be over here," said Nala.

"Really? What for?" asked Vitani.

"I just wanted to talk," answered Nala. Then she quickly reconsidered her words. "I wanted to see how you're adjusting."

"I'm fine." Vitani admitted.

Nala read her carefully, noting any signs that the lioness was not being exactly truthful. "Vitani. You don't have to act so tough. There's no bad blood between us. Just tell me what's bothering you."

"If you don't mind me saying, your highness, you're acting very casual around someone who tried to kill you," noted Vitani.

"You were misled, you all were." said Nala.

That was true. All of them were brainwashed, driven by the ideals of one lion: Zira, who in turn followed Scar. They had all been united under her ideals; focused, determined, ready to take back what they perceived was rightfully theirs. Only now, they knew it was all built on a lie. When the Outsiders were integrated into the Pridelanders, they had been told the full story of Scar. How he had murdered his brother, the rightful king, in cold blood in order to seize the throne. Scar was never the rightful king; he had stolen it, and ran the Pride Lands into the ground. It was only after Simba returned that the Pride Lands gained their true king and their beauty was restored.

"Yeah. I can see that now," Vitani lamented. The lioness stared at the ground, looking at her paws. In the past she had them flexed out nearly constantly, but now, they were relaxed. "Why didn't she just grab Kiara's paw?" Vitani asked herself. "Why did she let herself fall?"

"You mean Zira?" Nala asked. She didn't need a nod from Vitani to know whom she was talking about.

"You know? I never questioned my mother. I obeyed her every word. But then, she threatened to kill me."

Nala felt some apprehension. "Vitani, you have to understand, your mother was... troubled," she said considering the word for a moment.

"You mean crazy. How could I have not seen it? How could I not realize how horrible she was? I mean, she practically ignored Nuka his whole life, when she wasn't abusing him, and focused all her attention on Kovu. Maybe if she had just paid more attention to him, he would still be here with us..." It was debatable if Nuka would have actually gone along with peace between the two prides, but at least he would still be there. It was a moot point now, though. Nuka was dead, and there was no bringing him back.

"Vitani. I can understand how you feel-"

"You know, Kiara is so lucky. I envy her. She had a great family growing up. She wasn't someone's little servant."

"I know how you must feel, but I'm sure in her heart, Zira loved you."

Vitani halted in her speech for a brief moment before she continued again, "I wish I could believe that."

Nala knew the time was growing near. Vitani was in a dark place about now. It had to be said. "Vitani. What if I told you Zira wasn't your real mother?"

The claim was broad, but it got the young lioness's attention. "What? What are you talking about?"

"Vitani. I know Zira raised you, but she didn't give birth to you." Nala explained. Vitani focused intently. Most would assume after her little outburst, Nala was just simply trying to make her feel better, but something about the elder lion's stance said otherwise.

"Vitani, there's something you need to know, something that you should have been told a long time ago." Nala paused before she continued, "Long ago, when Scar was king, he wanted a strong male heir more than anything, so he could continue his line. Zira was his most devoted follower, so he chose her. She wasn't officially his queen, frankly I don't think Scar wanted to share his power, but they coupled, and she soon became pregnant with Nuka."

Vitani widened her eyes. So Nuka was Scar's real son after all? Now his claims at being the more suitable "chosen one" made sense.

"However, when Nuka was born, Scar deemed him weak and disowned him. Desperate for the heir he wanted, he chose another young lioness to bear his child. She rejected him, resisted him, but in the end, Scar forced himself on her in his madness. She soon fell pregnant, and gave birth to you." Nala continued.

Vitani had been studying Nala's face, her body, for any signs this was a lie, but so far, she found no telltales.

"Your mother was afraid, and traumatized by what Scar had done to her. She couldn't look at you, but she didn't want to leave you to fend on your own. So she gave you to Zira."

"My mother just gave me away?" Vitani asked.

Nala nodded, "She knew Zira wanted anything that was Scar's, and would gladly take you in. So she left you with her." Nala watched Vitani's expression. It was one of pure betrayal, towards the lioness she didn't know. "You have to understand, Vitani, your mother was so young and scared, she didn't know what else to do. At first, when she gave you up, she thought it was the right thing to do, but it wasn't until you were banished with the other Outsiders that she realized she made a mistake."

Vitani took it all in, listening well to Nala's words. She didn't know what exactly to think. But she had to ask. "Is my mother still here? Is she still alive?"

"Yes," Nala answered. "Actually, you've already met her."

"I have?" Vitani gasped.

Nala let out a sigh, and that's when Vitani noticed it. Nala was crying. "Oh, Vitani. You've grown into such a wonderful lioness. If I could have made things better, I would have. Had I known how much you suffered, I would have been there."

Vitani blinked. "Wait? What are you talking about?"

"But looking at you now, I realize what a mistake I made."

Vitani watched carefully, listening well, and all the more, a growing suspicion was rising within her. "No..." Something inside hit her, and the realization began to grow. "You can't be. You mean...?"

"You don't know what Scar was like, what he was really like. I still remember his touch, what he said as he did it. I wanted it to end. And when I saw you, I thought I wouldn't love you and-"

"Shut up!" Vitani's words cut through the air. Her eyes focused firmly on Nala, who stared at her in desperation. "Just shut up."

Nala drew close, her eyes welling with tears.

"Vitani... please."

"Just stay away! Just stay away from me!"

And before either could say another word, Vitani was off. Nala watched as the younger lioness disappeared. And then, Nala finally let it out, the tears flowed down, and she held her head downward. She had lost her daughter a second time.

A/N: Alright. Little thing about this fanfiction. First off, this is a colab with an online friend. We are going to take turns writing chapters while I post them here. Now this fanfic goes off the popular fan theory that Vitani is the daughter of Scar and Nala. Now I know the creators probably did not intend for this theory to become a thing, and I know some people could poke holes in it, but my friend and I like it. This is our first Lion King fanfiction, so it's a new experience for the both of us. I just hope you all enjoy it.