Chapter 7: Long Live the Queen
Argh! Another hiatus. It's times like this when I wonder about the benefits of the IB Programme (if you don't know what the International Baccalaureate is, google it…it's too complicated to explain here). Also, the night that I decided to finish the entire story was the 18 hours where document manager decided to stop working (just my luck :p)
Anyway, this is the last chapter and I would like to thank the many readers who gave me reviews for the work. This was my first fanfiction and although I never explicitly requested feedback, I appreciated it deeply.
Note: I mentioned this on my profile but I forgot to include it in chapters 5 or 6.
-"Kamari": a character of my invention. According to an online baby name book, "Kamari" is Swahili for "moonlight". It can be used as a name for boys or girls. It is a shorter variation of the name "Kamaria".
-"Anaan": another character of my own….sort of….Kovu's birth-father is not introduced in the Lion King 2, so I took liberties with the character. The name is a combination of the African folkhero "Anansi" and the character/word "Canaan". I had put the two names together because I thought it would sound interesting.
Note: This is a significantly longer chapter than most of my others.
Note: Just as I don't own the Lion King or Disney, I also do not own the rights to "Change (In the House of Flies)" by the Deftones.
I took you home
Set you on the glass
I pulled off your wings
Then I laughed
I watched a change in you
Seems like you never had wings
--Change (In the House of Flies), Deftones
Nala peered over her shoulder as she ran. The angles of the massive Pride Rock seemed to pierce the dark, overcast sky. As the storm clouds moved in, Nala wondered if it were just her imagination or if the clouds were drawing closer to the conniving monarch's lair, like iron filings being attracted to a magnet by an unseen force.
The salty tears burned her lips.
He was so evil. So vile….how could I have been so foolish? How could I…agree to such a thing? His mate? No…I was his tool. I knew how manipulative he was, but I became his queen nevertheless. I tried to convince myself that it did not matter how calculating he was, just as long as he would love me. Sarabi was right; I only stayed with him out of selfishness. It wasn't for the sake of the Pride! If I weren't so desperate for companionship, then I wouldn't have agreed to be with him. No, even if the Pride asked me directly, even if they told me explicitly that they would rather me be his mate than for them to remain hungry for not eating that pathetic gazelle, I would have told them all to go to hell.
Nala squinted her eyes to make out the silhouette of a lion on the hill before her. Realizing the lion to be Simba, Nala bit her tongue and forced herself to enliven. When his face met hers Nala smiled and ran up the hill to join him.
At least now I know to never make that mistake again.
Simba nuzzled the lioness' neck but returned his worried gaze to the troubling site before him. Nala could sense his heart breaking when he counted the decomposing skeletons of cubs that could not survive through the scarcity of food. The skeletons were disposed of on the hill mainly to prevent the mothers from seeing the bodies of their children desecrated by the hyenas—not that it stopped the hyenas from enjoying the carcasses, for that matter—Simba then remembered his mother and how back when Mufasa was king, she would ensure that all cubs had enough to eat, not just Simba. Simba restrained a sob from rising through his throat once he thought of the horrific circumstances that could have forced his mother to break such a pledge.
"How could I have let this happen?" cried Simba, "I was so irresponsible to leave my family….I was supposed to be their protector."
"You were just a cub, Simba," consoled Nala, "You couldn't have known that this would happen."
"But even when I was old enough to return…I didn't. I stayed in the jungle…I kept trying to convince myself that I was unneeded…that I didn't need to live with responsibilities. I was so ignorant, but the worst part was that I actually kept myself oblivious to the Pride's problems…I simply just didn't want to know."
Simba sighed as his gaze fell to the dry soil below him.
"It's funny, you know. When you're a cub, you think life is so frustrating because you aren't old enough to do a lot of grownup things. But then, I did get older and I didn't like the responsibilities that came with it, so I tried to stay a child by forgetting about things that had to be done. I didn't know how good I had it as a cub…as a prince…as a son of a father who loved me. I wanted to relive those feelings of being a cub again. I was so selfish…so indulgent…"
Nala swallowed a lump in her throat, I too am guilty of that, she inwardly confessed.
Nala stepped in front of the long-lost prince to face him. It may have been Simba's imagination, but much to Simba's relief, Nala's eyes seemed different from when he last saw them. They seemed clear and resolute. No longer was Nala's soul preoccupied by another.
"We can make this right, Simba. I know we….I know… you can."
A smile returned to Simba's golden face. "What do you mean by "you"? I'm sure that I have enough room for my queen to help me."
Nala hesitated at first, but took a step forward and licked his cheek.
"And your Queen thinks that it is time that we stopped talking and free our Pride."
Nala laid on the ground with pools of blood dripping down her muzzle. She was not badly injured. Curiously enough, she was more tired than hurt from the scratches inflicted on her. While groaning, she turned her head to witness the fighting around her. After being viciously struck by Scar, Sarabi had been hurried to a safe haven away from Pride Rock. Timon and Pumbaa were in a corner kicking and scratching hyenas and Rafiki had just pummeled three male hyenas until they were either dead or unconscious. She grunted as she lifted her bloody, aching body. She needed to find Scar before he told Simba of their secret. Her claws extended as she thought of crushing the air out of his windpipe just as he tried with her six hours before.
Nala trotted to the edge of Pride Rock where Simba was looking over the edge. As she headed over to where Simba was standing, she observed her surroundings. Ember's flicked around her paws as she approached the edge of the cliff. Heat emanated from the drop as flames snaked up to the edge. Nala's muzzle twitched as she smelt the smoke . Below the cliff, she could see Scar's body being attacked by his former hyena underlings. As hyenas scratched at Scar's flesh, the fire around him crept closer towards the center. Even if one threat was evaded, the other would inevitably be his downfall.
"He is in his own Hell right now," commented Simba morbidly, "His lies finally caught up to him. He told me his secret, you know."
A weight dropped in Nala's stomach. The breath left her lungs as her mouth gaped. Simba was not facing her; he was still staring at the pit below.
"As it turned out, Scar killed my father. He planned the whole stampede. I…had nothing to do with it. All of these years, the guilt kept haunting me. The guilt was unbearable."
Nala breathed a sigh of relief.
"Let's not worry about him anymore," suggested Nala," Let's focus on rebuilding PrideRock."
Nala drowsed in a thicket of grasses. It had been many nights since she had slept for more than two hours at a time. Ever since Simba became king, her life was still tumultuous and stressful despite her attempts at bringing the Pridelands back to normal. And the worst part was that Simba could not even know what fretted her, let alone help her with her mounting stress.
It started many days ago when she noticed that she started to feel sick for days at a time. At first, Nala simply thought that it was a virus…until her belly started to grow. It did not take long before Nala realized what was happening and she found herself weighing her options.
She could try to explain to Simba the agreement between her and Scar. Even if Simba still loved her despite her relationship with Scar, she knew that it would be impossible for Simba to love the cub of his treacherous uncle and raise it as his own. The second option was the obvious one: to mate with Simba and convince him that the infant was his. Nala loathed herself for conceiving such a notion. She did not want to have to live with a manifestation of her mistake especially if the knowledge of the cub's birth-father would prevent her from giving it her complete and unconditional love. Also, even if she did manage to put her guilt aside and raise the child, she thought that it would be too risky. Surely Simba would think that it would be too soon for her to be pregnant with his child considering the difference between the day that they mated and the time that she gave birth. Nala could not give her child to one of the lionesses in her pride because, again, she would be living with the child within her sight. Also, it was too much of a favor to ask of her followers. Many of them already had cubs and the ones they had were enough mischief by themselves. Unless of course…her….there was one lioness who would be more than happy to accept another cub.
Nala sighed. She had been residing in the thicket for about a week. She convinced Simba to leave her alone, saying that she felt sick and did not want him to catch it. Only Rafiki was permitted to accompany her.
The wise baboon walked up to Nala with a cub cradled in his arms.
"She is finally asleep, your highness. It took awhile but after playing with the rattle of my staff, she finally tired herself out."
Nala picked up the cub by the scruff of its neck and settled it in between her front paws. Nala looked over the cub's features once more. It was female and had the same beige fur as Nala. She had a small tuft of fur on her head, similar to bangs, and she had dark circles under her eyes. Nala was always puzzled by the circles. She made sure that the cub would be put to bed early every night, but the cub always had them. Nala would always marvel at the markings, but then a chill went up her spine when she remembered a time when the cub was supposed to be sleeping, but was instead staring with eyes wide open at the darkness. Nala wondered if the cub did this every night, which would explain the circles. Nala would coo and try to put the cub to sleep, but the young female would keep staring. Then the child would bat at some invisible prey in the air and then fall asleep.
Nala remembered that strange mannerism from someone, but who? Rafiki would do it every once in a while, but he was quite elderly so it was not very concerning. But then Nala remembered that when she dwelled with Scar that brief period of time, he would occasionally bat his paw at invisible enemies and talk to things that she could not see. She also remembered when she confronted him that day when Zazu was caged. Even then, Scar was entranced by his plaything….so entranced that when Nala appeared, he seemed as if he was breaking out of a dream…all the while forgetting completely about the little bird he was having so much fun with only moments before. Nala shuddered at the thought of her daughter inheriting the same madness that Scar had.
Nala sighed as she breathed on her cub. She remembered that when she was born, there was another option of how to deal with this cub but Nala could not carry it through. She could not kill the young child, even though she hated the guilt it gave her upon its sight, she still had a connection to the child. Besides she had a feeling that even if Simba learned of the cub's existence, he still would not approve of her killing it despite the fact that he would not want to raise it either.
"Rafiki," whispered Nala, "I need you to do me a favor."
Young Nuka stomped his paw on a small anthill. He licked his paws of the ants and stomped his paw on the anthill two more times….than three more times…and four more times….
"Nuka!" hissed Zira. Nuka jumped at her outburst. "You already killed the ants the first time. Why do you have to do it again?"
Nuka cowered and began to cry. Despite her complaint, he continued to clamp his paw down on the anthill while crying. Also, much to Zira's disgust, Nuka began to urinate.
"What are you doing?" screamed Zira, "Have you no self-control?"
"I…I don't know, mommy," Nuka cried, "I don't know what's wrong with me."
Zira walked over to the cub and comforted him with soft coos. His anxiety problems were one thing, but his "repetitions" were becoming another annoyance.
Anaan reclined in the shade of a baobab tree with another cub by his side. "What in the world is wrong with him? Whatever it is…he sure didn't get it from me."
Zira scowled at her mate while patting Nuka's head. You have no idea how right you are, Anaan.
"Zira, come here and nurse Kovu. He will need to be sated before we can begin our exodus with the others."
Zira nodded. Zira's family as well as the other followers of Scar were ordered to leave the Pridelands as retribution for betraying Mufasa's bloodline. Nala had originally pleaded with Simba to change the sentence since she knew of how exile negatively affected Scar. But the penalty could not be changed: it was tradition that offending lions be banished as punishment for treason.
Zira sighed as Kovu began feeding. Her stomach felt heavy when she thought of how Kovu's sister would be laying next to him if she had not been stillborn. But at least Kovu survived that litter. Zira was already deeply pitied by the rest of the lionesses—exiled and not exiled—for having to suffer the heartbreak of losing a daughter. The pity would have been much worse if she had lost both of them.
"Despite all of his problems, Nuka looks just like me, doesn't he Zira?"
Zira nodded unenthusiastically. Anaan was not aware of the fact that Nuka was Scar's birthson, nor was Anaan aware that he was chosen by Scar to produce Kovu—Scar's heir. And Zira would rather that Anaan remained oblivious to the truth of her philandering ways until her sons were big enough to protect her from Anaan's revenge once he discovered the truth.
Zira's ears perked up when she heard a rustle in the grass.
"What beast approaches us?" barked Anaan gravely, "Show yourself!"
An old, wiry baboon shuffled through the grass bearing a toothy grin and a sleeping lion cub in his arms. The cub did not looked much older than Zura's dear Kovu. He smiled as he set the cub down next to Zira.
Zira's mouth fell at the boldness of the senile monkey.
"How dare you?!"
The monkey clapped his hands and ran on all fours through the grass quicker than a flick of Zira's tail.
"The cub is a child of Scar's. Her mother cannot care for her and I am not permitted to reveal her identity. But would you be so kind as to raise her as your own?"
Zira sniffed the cub and pondered the request.
A child of Scar's…and she is a female….she almost looks like me, too.
"We will take her…won't we Anaan?"
The lion stared at Zira in disbelief. His dark brown coat bristled, but then relaxed.
"I…I suppose. If you really want her, than you can have her. But I will have nothing to do with her. I will not raise a cub that is not my own."
Zira smiled as she laughed inwardly at the irony. But she quickly stopped chuckling to meet his gaze. She remembered that this was a normal response for male lions. Nala dropped her head to begin bathing the small cub.
"I will name her 'Vitani'. My little 'goddess of war.' "
In the thickest part of the grass where Rafiki disappeared to crouched Nala.
With the flick of a tail, Nala swiftly left the lioness and her three cubs below the baobab tree.
Nala could not believe the lioness in front of her. It was raining and Kiara and Kovu had just recently declared their love to each other a moment ago. The exiled lions and their descendants approached the Pridelands' lions, eager to reconcile their differences and to put an end to the war between the factions.
The lions embraced each other and whispered the meanings of family and love. Simba embraced Kovu and called him "son". Kiara and Vitani embraced and called each other "sisters".
Now it was Nala's turn. She eyed the young lioness she could not watch grow into adulthood. She remembered hearing stories about this Vitani. "Fire-lover", "sadist", and "conspirator", came to mind. But the only true word that had meaning to Nala escaped her lips.
"My daughter. Dear Vitani."
Vitani was puzzled at first at the remark, but remembered that the other lions were exchanging the same kinds of terms of endearment.
Nala smiled. Vitani thought that it was only rain in the queen's eyes, but that was only because she could not feel the taste of the salt that burned Nala's lips. Vitani smiled back. This lioness before her, this queen, seemed so familiar and comforting despite them having never met before. But how could a stranger be so loving towards her? Vitani looked around her to see lions of different kin embracing and calling each other family.
Vitani moved closer to Nala and laid her head on her shoulder while Nala cried. Maybe blood should not matter when it comes to love?
Well, that was the twist! My interpretation of the Lion King story. I thought that giving Nuka and Vitani slight mental illnesses would be interesting considering they are Scar's children (supposedly it is implied that they are in the movie, but that Kovu is their half-brother). Besides, in Lion King 2, it was kind of implied that Nuka and Vitani were pyromaniacs at best (and of course that Nuka was a coward).
Well, as written in my profile, I got the idea for the story while in IB Biology class. I was googling lyrics to stalker songs to freak out a friend when I stumbled upon lyrics to "The Madness of Scar". The lyrics were so disturbing (and humorous). It was when Disney channel aired an animated rendition of the song that the cogs started turning…
In case readers haven't noticed, I tried to write the story to be as plausible as possible when compared to the movie.
Well, thanks readers! This was a good first fanfic experience and I look forward to writing my next one (it will probably either be my "Coraline" one or my "Animorphs" one). Who knows? Maybe someday I will write a sequel!