So, here we go. This is the very last Chapter of "Captive". I'll save all my "Thank yous" and what not to the end, kay?
Chapter Twenty: An emotional reunion
The father and son continued towards Pride Rock, much quieter than before. It was the first time Simba had witnessed death in real life, and it had been horribly gut-wrenching for him. He felt a twinge of guilt, was it his fault that Nala's father was now dead? It seemed that way, he had been trying to save him at the time…
The cub paused before continuing.
"…is it my fault?"
"Is what your fault?"
Mufasa was shocked. Why did Simba feel this way?
"No! Scar – Scar did that! Why would you think-?"
"He was trying to help me!"
Mufasa leaned in close to his son.
"Listen," he said, gently, "none of this is your fault. Scar did everything. You couldn't possibly stop him."
Simba wasn't looking at him. Instead he stared at the ground.
"Look at me, Simba."
He did. Looking him deep in the eyes, Mufasa could see. Something had changed. The eyes that had once been bright and curious… now they were dull and had no spark. Sweet Aiheu, what had Scar done to him?
"You've done nothing wrong. Okay?"
Simba nodded feebly. It was clear that he didn't believe him.
Sighing inwardly, Mufasa continued towards Pride Rock, Simba in tow.
They got there some time later. Simba was still very weak, and couldn't walk as fast as the adult lion. Mufasa, too, was still slightly fragile from his own injuries from the previous day. When they reached the foot of Pride Rock, it became apparent that Simba wouldn't be able to clamber up the rocks like he had before. Mufasa lifted him gently in his mouth. Every bone and rib on Simba's body was visible, and Mufasa's jaws could nearly close completely around his tiny body. His son was badly damaged; who knew how long it would take him to recover, if ever. And what about the psychological scars? He wondered if Simba would ever be his old self again. The sudden change in his personality had been frightening to Mufasa, and his hatred towards Scar raged on. This was entirely his fault. Mufasa had let him go! Why he hadn't just finished him off, like he had tried to do to him several times, was beyond him. And what did he mean by "this isn't over"? Would he come back?
As these questions whirled around and around Mufasa's head, they had reached the entrance to the den. Placing Simba on the floor, he looked around for Sarabi. A few seconds later, there was a gasp, so loud that it echoed around the whole den. Everyone was looking at Simba, who they hadn't seen for so long. They were all shocked at the state he was in. He bore the signs of Scar's anger at the world, and probably would for a long time yet.
Suddenly, the crowd of lions parted, and, wide eyed at the back of the den, was Sarabi. She was staring at her cub in disbelief. Simba stared back, and took a shaky step towards her. In an instant, Sarabi was bounding across the den, and Simba was moving as fast as his fragile body would allow. They met in the middle of the den, and Sarabi collapsed onto the floor, sobbing her heart out and nuzzling him for all she was worth. For so long, this had been all she had wanted. She never thought she would be able to.
Mufasa watched his little family before him, quite forgetting that anyone else was there. Yet, suddenly, Sarafina was in front of him, and Mufasa felt his heart sink. He knew what her question was before she said anything, and she knew the answer just by looking at his face. Her eyes shone with tears, and they spilled over when she shut her eyes.
"He," Mufasa began, "he wanted me to tell you something."
He looked her deep in the eyes.
"He loves you."
Fresh tears began to pour from her eyes, as she slowly began to walk towards Nala and Mheetu. She pulled them close to her, and silently looked on as Simba and Sarabi continued their emotional reunion.
Mufasa walked over to them, and nuzzled Sarabi on the top of her head. Simba was clinging to her as though he would never let go. She looked up at her mate, and her eyes were filled with tears of joy, but they faltered slightly when she saw Mufasa's solemn face. She shot him a questioning look, and he indicated towards Sarafina, who was still crying. Sarabi understood in an instant. She had seen Ni leave the den.
She stood up to go to her, causing a cry to emit from Simba.
"It's okay, honeytree, I'm still here."
She walked to where Sarafina sat, Simba pressed tightly against her foreleg the entire time, and tried to comfort her.
That night in the den, as the pride slept, the silence was suddenly broken by a shrill cry. It rent the air, and everyone woke at the sound of it. Mufasa's head shot up from his paws, and he saw where the disturbance was coming from. Simba, lying between him and Sarabi, was thrashing around on the floor, screaming from what sounded like excruciating pain. A frantic Sarabi was desperately trying to wake him up, but he wouldn't respond to anything she said or did.
Mufasa tried to nudge him with his nose, but he curled up into a tight ball and continued to cry out.
"NO! PLEASE! DON'T HURT ME! PLEASE!"
"STOP! PLEASE! DON'T!"
He began sobbing hysterically, still oblivious to the actions of his parents. Mufasa glanced at Sarabi. She had tears pouring from her eyes as she tried to wake her cub. In a sudden, Simba's head shot up off the floor, his eyes wide, his body shaking uncontrollably, tears streaming down his face.
Knowing he needed to calm down, Mufasa stood up.
"Come on, Simba," he said.
"W-w-where are we g-going?" Simba stammered, staring up at him.
The cub scrambled to his feet, and followed his father out of the den, to the edge of Pride Rock. The rain had stopped, and the clouds had cleared, leaving the moon to shine down over the landscape.
Mufasa sat down on the edge of the promontory. He looked down at Simba.
"Breathe," he said, gently.
He waited a while until Simba's jagged breaths became more even.
"He…" his breathing began to quicken again.
"It's okay. Calm down."
Simba composed himself before continuing.
"He was just… there. He was everywhere… he wouldn't stop-"
He broke down in tears at the memory.
Mufasa put a paw around Simba, and pulled him in close.
"What if he comes back for me?"
He voiced a concern that had been on Mufasa's mind too. What if Scar did come back?
"He won't," he said, though he wasn't sure.
"How do you know that? You don't know for sure…"
Simba began to shake again.
"Listen to me, Simba. I'm not going to let anything happen to you, no matter who it is. Not ever again. Do you hear me?"
The cub gave a sniff, "I guess so."
After a few moments of silence, he spoke again.
"Do you promise?"
And the two of them sat for over an hour, just looking up at the sky. It was just like old times, but Mufasa knew, the old times were gone. The last six moons had changed everyone and everything. As he carried the now sleeping Simba back into the den, and lay down on the floor, one last thought entered his mind.
Even after all that they had been through, things were going to get better. He knew they would.
And…. There we have it! "Captive" is finished! This is by far the longest thing I've written, ever, and thanks to everyone who read and reviewed it! Thanks to Disney and the makers of the Lion King for making one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, and inspiring this fic ( I DON'T OWN TLK! Forgot to mention!)
And now for a little announcement. I have been considering for a long time. Think about it, I had always planned for Scar to say, "I'll be back". Arianna is still pregnant, we want to know if Simba will recover, so…
THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL!
I've been considering it for a long time. I haven't finished working out the plot/title etc. yet so I can't say when it will be out, but it will be the next thing I do (a couple of people who have me on author alert will get a lovely little e-mail saying when!)
Well, I'm off to hit the COMPLETE button.
This is NinaRoja, singing off.