Reow :) I'm finally getting there with this story. But sadly, I think I may have to leave Stormy out of it :( Anyone with any ideas, just let me knowhow I could introduce him in, because I've just gotten stuck on this one. If I do put him in, he'll undergo a makeover to get him to look like a Pridelander, not like a water feature. Thank you!
King Simba stood on the edge of Pride Rock's peak. He was angry, looking out over his lands. His pelt was streaked with gash marks that had scarred over, although still fairly new, marks from a battle between the Outlanders and the Pridelanders – that luckily had resolved before much damage had been done.
"Kiara?" he called.
"Yes, Daddy?" a sweet, feminine voice floated out from the cave. Following the sound, a lean, lithe lioness padded from it, the sun picking out hints of gold in her apricot coat. She sighted her father at the tip of Pride Rock, and strolled towards him, lazily.
"It's a beautiful morning, isn't it, Daddy?" she smiled. "I really like the way…"
Kiara's voice trailed off, noting the look on her father's face.
"Daddy?" she questioned, tilting her head to one side.
Simba lowered his head.
"Kiara, I don't trust Kovu. I feel that something is not right! We need to be careful. My father would never let an outsider join like this. Especially one like him, and I know he loves you, and he…"
Kiara was outraged.
"Daddy, he's changed, you heard him! He fought for us, he rebelled against his own mother for us! He is Crown Prince, you've made that judgment already, and you can't take that back now!"
Simba nodded. "I know, Kiara. He was so…brave…to defy a mother who had been…" Simba looked down, not wishing to speak ill of the dead… "like that…"
The King was aging, his muzzle was faintly turning grey, and his mane did not hang as fully as it did once. Briefly, the image of Zira and her children sitting next to Scar's body amidst the fire flashed through his mind. Simba winced as he thought of Nuka. The King still felt guilty for the young lion's death, although it was caused by Nuka trying to kill Simba himself. But couldn't there have been a way, even then?
"Kiara, I know you will make a fine Queen. The wisdom you showed at that battle was astonishing. I was very proud of you, then."
Kiara wasn't moved.
"Daddy, it wasn't just me. For the two Prides to be one, it will be brought about by myself and Kovu," she insisted, stressing the 'and'. "Why don't you trust him?"
Simba shook his mane.
"I don't know, Kiara. I don't know."
"Then the prides will still be split, Daddy. You need to learn to like and trust my mate. I will be Queen, and he will be King. I'm sorry, Daddy, but I will have no other." Kiara turned to go.
"What?!" snapped Kiara, circling Simba, and coming to stand at his right side.
"No, Kiara, Kovu will not be King." Simba sighed heavily, and began to explain an ancient law.
"Any lion may become the mate of royalty, Kiara. But that lion, or lioness, does not rule the Pridelands. My father ruled the Pridelands, my mother took her place as Pride Mother and assisted the lionesses as only she could. I rule the Pridelands alone, now, while your mother runs the hunting parties. You, Kiara, will rule the Pridelands – Kovu will not become King. Kiara, Kovu may become your mate. But he will never be King. He will always be a Prince. Crown Prince, yes. But he will be a Prince. The land is yours. It is your right; your birth has sealed the laws of Kings. The land does not, and will never, belong to Kovu, and the animals will not call him King. You will be the ruler of the land, the Queen, the heir. If you bear Kovu's sons, then they will have the right to be called King, as their father never will."
Here Simba hesitated.
"Kiara, you must understand, if Scar had been Kovu's…father…then he would have the right to be King. But you and I know that's not true. I'm sorry, Kiara."
Kiara sat down, heavily, followed shortly by her father.
"Can't you change the law, Daddy?" she asked, shaking. Before Simba could speak, she cut him off.
"I know, I know you can't."
Simba sighed. "Rafiki tells me that the winds are changing, yet again. The laws will not stay like this for very long. Something will change in this generation that will change the ancient laws and forge new ones, ones to better this Kingdom. My father would not have failed as I have."
"Things are different, now, Simba," sighed Nala, who had come to sit with them. "Your father was a Great King. Look at your Kingdom and know it! Everyone is happy except you. I just wish you would let me help you run it."
Kiara bumped heads with Nala, sadly. "Why can't you change the laws now, Father?" she sighed.
"What will you do if Kovu doesn't like this law?" he replied.
"With all due respects, Simba…"
Simba whirled around in anger.
"How dare you listen to us!? How dare you spy on the King and his daughter?!"
Kovu stepped forward again.
"How dare I spy on the King and my mate?" he returned, coldly.
"As I was saying, with all due respects, Simba, I don't care if I am nothing but a common lion – so long as I know Kiara is my mate, I am happy. I don't need titles and crowns to be happy, Simba. My mother raised me to be a King, and if I am not one, then I am not abiding by her, which is fine by me. Not all of us can't wait to be King, Simba," Kovu shot before he strode away.
Kiara turned her angry gaze upon her father. She stood at her full hight, looking her father squarely in the eyes.
"Father, please try and get to like Kovu. You need to maintain peace in our Pride," she stated softly, before turning and walking away.
Simba gasped at Nala, who shook her head softly. "No, Simba, she's right. You need to bring peace to our Prides – they will never be one."
Kovu sighed and lay down. He was lying in the cave with Vitani, who was feeling a bit sick.
Vitani smiled gingerly at him. "Don't come too near, or you'll end up wearing my breakfast," she sourly spat. "And Nala said I could lead the hunting party today. Why me? I hate this. What's wrong, little brother?"
Vitani was not often affectionate, but when she was, it was touching to whoever received her affections. Kovu smiled wearily at her.
"Oh, just Simba.. He doesn't like me, I know. He was telling Kiara how much he doesn't trust me, or like me. I'm sick of trying to be the perfect little Prince he wants me to be. Apparently I can't be King."
Vitani raised her eyebrows. She extended a claw and itched her lean, tawny shoulder.
"Does that surprise you?" she muttered, from under her long fringe.
Kovu sighed and sat up, stretching out his back.
"I don't know, 'Tani, I'm sick of it though. I wish…"
Kovu stopped what he was saying, although both of them knew what he was about to say. Their brother Nuka, although disliked Kovu when Zira's attention was directed at him, had gotten along fairly well with his siblings in the last few days of his life. Both of them knew that Vitani and Nuka had gotten to be quite close, also. Nuka had a great way of cheering everybody up, and now that he was gone, the siblings felt lost, more than most of the time.
Vitani had no mate, and often spent her days hunting, or walking. To everyone's surprise, she and Nala spent quite some time together as of late, hunting, talking, being alone together. The older lioness had not spoken to Vitani about Zira taking her and Kovu away, and somewhere in the back of Vitani's head, she knew, but in her conscious mind she wasn't away that the graceful Queen was in fact, her very own mother
Of course, Simba had no idea. Nala had never said anything, instead only caring for Simba as he mourned his father. The old Queen remembered Simba's words as they fought in the Jungle – "You don't even know what I've been through!" Nala sighed and shook her head. She certainly did know what Simba had been through – to some extent and even more.
Vitani smiled, as Nala walked into the cave. The Queen stooped and bumped heads with Vitani and Kovu as means of greeting. It was an affectionate gesture, not just a welcoming one.
"Good morning, Vitani, Kovu" she smiled. "How are you feeling now, Vitani?" Vitani got to her feet and smiled at Nala. "Yes, thank you," she replied, without directly answering the question.
"The hunt is over early, Nala?"
Nala nodded. "Yes, Vitani, the hunt was not successful today. Kaia tripped a little, Nydati got in her way. It's a pity we couldn't leave a lioness behind to watch the cubs, but we need everyone at the hunt. We suffered without you, today."
In Nala's ageing heart was a deep pain as she coolly addressed her very own children, who just didn't know.
Vitani smiled at the Queen's compliment, and nodded at Kovu, who was dreaming.
"What are you thinking of, Kovu?"
Kovu started, and quickly muttered, "Nothing…I was just thinking of my brother…"
Vitani lowered her head, and lay down again, and Nala nodded sympathetically.
"I'm sorry, Kovu, that Nuka was… about the accident. It wasn't anybody's fault, you…"
Kovu shook his head, causing Nala to falter.
"No, I wasn't thinking about Nuka. I was thinking of Kahllynn," he sighed.
Nala gave a start, the name clicking somewhere in the back of her mind. She couldn't quite place it.
"You had another brother?" she inhaled.
Both Vitani and Kovu had put aside their differences with Nala. Zira's accusation of murder towards Nala had been a knee-jerk reaction to Laihn and her daughter's death, and there were not many who still believed that Nala was directly responsible. Upon getting to know the gentle Queen, Vitani and Kovu had their fears quashed, and now felt no discomfort when talking to her.
Kovu looked at Vitani, who fixed her eyes on Kovu sharply, and turned to Nala.
"Our brother left, just before Kiara's first hunt. In fact, it may have been the very day before Kiara's first hunt. We haven't seen him since."
Nala struggled to remember that name…Kahllynn…
Vitani went on. "He was a white lion, with dark feet and a dark muzzle…he was here when we were banished."
Nala remembered. With a cold, clear clarity, Nala remembered, and she nearly gasped aloud in horror. She shook her head, and raised a paw off the ground.
"Tell me…"- her voice quavered – "what happened to him…"
Vitani stood up, stood tall. "It was the birth of his daughter, perhaps he was not thinking clearly, but we went off to find Kaia, it was, and promise her oldest son to Kah's daughter, and he went to the Border with Laihn – that was his mate – and his daughter. We don't know what her name was.
That's all we know. He came back crying, screaming "they took her away" and ran off…we don't know what ever happened to him."
Vitani's eyes were full of pain, and she shut them tightly, curling her head around her body. She heard Kovu' voice.
"I just hope he's happy. He always saw the best in everything. He was the only one who could look at Simba, when we though he killed our father."
Vitani raised her head and looked vacantly out of the cave, and Kovu sat beside her.
Nala took a step backwards.
"You know, Nala," said Vitani, "Mother though that you killed Laihn and her daughter! You! She thought it was you, and we believed it. But now that we know you, we know you couldn't have done that…"
Vitani's innocent words stung Nala to the core. She remembered Sarabi's words
"Nala…what have you DONE?!"
Although it was not Nala's own claws that had slain Kahllynn's precious family, it was her doing which spurred them on.
And Nala's family! How…it was her who had encouraged the ambush on Kiara, on Simba! By chancing upon this white lion and his family, she had set in motion the circle as it would turn, binging upon war and deaths. Nuka had died because of Zira's hate. Zira's hate was directed against the Pridelands because her only grandchild had been slaughtered, and later, her oldest son. Nuka was gentle and affectionate, she remembered. As a cub, they had spent days together, being the youngest two in Scar's Pride. Until Scar had appeared to silently take Nala off into the night, Nuka had preferred to share his sleeping place with her. She shook her head in despair.
Vitani looked at Nala curiously, seeing her expression. Kovu rose, and peered carefully at the Queen.
"It…it wasn't you, was it?" he choked. His voice was husky, rasping, and his eyes were crinkled in disbelief.
Nala dropped her mouth, not knowing what to say. She took a breath, turned her back, and began to speak.
Nala stuttered one word past her lips as Simba walked into the cave. He raised his eyebrows upon seeing the little group.
"What's going on, here?" he asked, suspiciously.
His mother joined him. She was an old lioness now. Sarabi had seen and lived through much more than anyone else in the Pride. She was the last one left of her generation. The last one, who had been ruled over by Scar. Sarafina, her old friend, had died just one moon before the battle of the Pridelanders and the Outlanders. Her wisdom was immense, but her caring and gentleness was just as prominent in her manner. The elderly lioness looked sharply at Nala.
"What were telling them, Nala?" she questioned. "You weren't telling them about their brother, were you?"
Nala was shocked. "How do you know that, Mother?" she breathed.
Sarabi lowered her head.
"I remember that day. That lion had done nothing wrong…"
Nala cut in, over the old Queen, desperately trying to find redemption.
"He was on our lands, Mother! On our own Pridelands! If we had have been lenient -"
"Silence!" Sarabi whispered. An uncomfortable silence fell around their ears.
Kovu broke in, tears shining in his eyes. "He had gone to the grass to rest! ToREST! His daughter was not even a DAY old, and you killed her!"
His eyes were wild with rage, condemning Nala, accusing her. "How could you even think that he would mean trouble, with a mate and a cub with him?"
Simba roared, with a hint of desperation in his voice.
"Will somebody please tell me what is going on here?!" he growled, showing all of his teeth.
Kovu roared right back at him. "Shut UP, Simba! This is my brother! Our brother! You…you killed our brother!"
Sarabi walked up to Kovu, and lay her head on his mane. It was the moment of submission that felled the mighty Outlander. He crumpled to the floor of Simba's headquarters, and pulled his paws over his snout.
"Silence, everyone," Sarabi softly, but firmly ordered. "Kovu, Vitani, you must speak with respect to the King. Nala, you owe it to these two, to speak truthfully. And my son -" here she looked upon the furious, growling Simba –"you will speak respectfully to Kovu and Vitani. Start acting like a lion, not a King.
It was not Kiara's mother that killed your brother's mate –"
"Laihn." Stated Vitani.
"How dare you interrupt the Queen Mother, the Pride Mother?" snarled Simba.
"Silence, Simba." Sarabi warned.
"Her name," growled Vitani, "Was Laihn. She might have been just an Outlander to you, Simba, but to us she was a friend, my best friend, and she was not "just an Outlander"."
Sarabi nodded with sadness apparent in her eyes.
"It was my best friend, who killed your brother's mate – who killed Laihn." Sarabi spoke softly, her voice crashing around the twin's ears.
"S-Sarafina?" gasped Vitani. Although they had not met Sarafina, they had heard of her gentleness and playfulness from Sarabi, many times.
Nala blinked. "My mother?" she gasped. "My mother killed your brother's mate?"
"It was a sad time for her. She was acting under your orders, Nala. She felt that she must, when Laihn attacked her. I don't understand why. And as for who killed the little girl, I don't know, I'm sorry. Your brother's mate had thrown her cub to him, as the lionesses attacked her, and he jumped to reach her, and he almost had her…" Sarabi choked a little as the memory threaten to overcome her –"but someone hit her, in the head, and she died instantly. She suffered no pain. I'm sorry, Kovu, I'm sorry, Vitani. That is all I know.
Do you not remember your father, Kovu? Or your mother?"
"I don't remember my true mother, although I think Vitani might."
Nala made no audible movement, although the pounding of her heart threatened to give her away. Did Sarabi really not know? Did she not remember?
After Simba had returned and claimed the Kingdom with Nala as his Queen, Nala had pulled the pride together and warned them clearly not to let Simba know about Kovu and Vitani. He couldn't find out. But the Circle had pulled them back into her life, and now here they all were, standing before her, Kovu her son, Vitani her daughter. They were here, and Nala suddenly wanted to tell them, to love them, damn what Simba thought.
"I don't know who my true father is, either."
Sarabi nodded, slowly.
"No, no-one does, Kovu."
Vitani looked up. She had been chewing her lip. She flicked her fringe from her eyes, uncertain, glancing at Kovu.
Simba growled, finally.
"Then let us leave this issue. It was not Nala's fault, nor was it your brother's. Now come, Mother. I have work to do."
And the royal lions exited the cave, but not before Sarabi turned back and looked behind her, giving Kovu and Vitani a last, final probing look, and then left them, to gaze upon each other with a sadness that could not be touched.