Kiara stood firmly in front of her father, who stared back, stunned that his daughter was defying him. "Kiara?"

A few paces away, Kovu stood in his mother's path, glaring at her with cold green eyes. Zira looked furious. "Kovu!" Her eyes narrowed. "Move."

Simba narrowed his eyes. "Stand aside."

Kiara glared right back. "Daddy, this has to stop."

Behind her, Zira glared at her son with fury blazing in her eyes. "You're even weaker than I thought. Get out of the way!"

Kovu's voice was firm as he replied, "You'll never hurt Kiara. Or Simba. Not while I'm here." Zira recoiled with a sharp gasp of shock.

Vitani watched all this with unease. Her trusted younger twin had turned on their mother. Had it been anyone else, she would have torn them to pieces. As it was, she didn't know how to react. Zira had acused Kovu of killing Nuka, but Vitani knew that wasn't true. Nuka hadn't climbed that log pile for Kovu; he'd done it for Zira. Hadn't his last words been, "Well... I finally got your attention, didn't I?" He'd worked his whole life to win some affection from his mother, and he paid for it with his life. If anyone was to blame for Nuka's death, Vitani realized uncomfortably, it was Zira.

Simba's voice broke her out of her thoughts. "Stay out of this."

Kiara told her father gentley, "A wise King once told me we are one. I didn't understand him then. Now I do."

Simba looked surprised. "But they-"

Kiara interrupted him, "Them? Us? Look at them. They are us. What differences do you see?"

Vitani was shocked by this show of mercy, these words of kindness. Zira had told her story after story of the cruelty of the Pridelanders, of how Simba was a monster and a murderer, and how they would kill her as soon as look at her. And yet here was a Pridelander, a princess no less, who wanted peace, who was willing to forgive and forget.

Vitani was even more shocked to see the softening of Simba's expression, the loving light in his eyes as he embraced his daughter. Through every story Vitani had ever heard, through every word that Zira had ever spoken to her, she had been taught that Simba was a monster, a murderer, a Dark Spirit reborn. He had killed his own uncle in cold blood, after promising to let him go. He had banished Zira after framing her for the death of his son. He had done all this and more, and yet here he was, showing mercy and compassion and love. Vitani had been raised to see Simba as the bad guy and Zira as the good guy, but as she looked from the King's face to Zira's, she saw only hatred and malice in her mother's eyes.

Zira snarled, "Vitani, now!"

Vitani stared at her, looking into her eyes, trying to find the same love in her eyes that she had seen in Simba's. Her heart sank as she saw nothing there but hatred. There was nothing left for her on Zira's side, except the same empty hatred. But there was another choice.

"No, Mother." The young lioness padded away from her mother, coming to stand beside Kovu. She looked at Zira with a pleading expression. "Kiara's right. Enough."

She could see the sudden flash of pain in Zira's eyes, and her heart twisted with guilt. But the pain was gone as soon as it had come, and was replaced by a dark grin. "If you will not fight, then you will die as well."

Vitani winced. To hear those words from her own mother were like claws to the heart. But it was more help than hurt. Those words brought Aunt Vunja and Aunt Kuuma to her side, along with the rest of the Outsiders. She watched sadly as Zira fell over the edge, as she was swept away by the furious river, as Aunt Kuuma and Aunt Vunja ran off without a word.

She watched as Kiara climbed back up and was instantly greeted by every lion there, Pridelander and Outsider alike. The moment it really struck home that her mother was gone was when Simba said, "Let's go home." He turned to the Outsiders and added warmly, "All of us."

Vitani felt her heart break, guilt washing over her, tearing into her like a thousand claws. What had she done?

So this is the beginning of my post-Simba's Pride story. This'll run from the day the battle ends to the day Kovu and Kiara's cub(s) is/are born, then I'll start on the next part, Kovu's Legacy. Vitani'll be the main character, but there'll be other POVs as well.

Vitani, Kovu, Scar, Zira, Nuka, Simba, Kopa, Kiara (c) Disney

Vunja, Kuuma (c) Me