I.

Mother and Father travelled with their youngsters weaving and bobbing anxiously through their legs. The trail was a familiar one for the parents - narrowed paths widened and scrub started to grow further apart. While the trees still had a way to go growing back their leaves, much of the original ground plants were doing quite well and were bright in jades and dark in pine and holly.

"Let's stay together now," Prince Bambi told them. His voice had deepened just a little.

They started through the last divider of shrubs before they were to enter their wide destination.

"Now let's remember what your father said." Faline reminded her fawns as the two practically disappeared in the thick bushes along with her lower half. "Stay together." She exited the leafy prison and first turned to Gurri on her left side. "Okay, now I want you and your brother to-,"

Her words stopped as soon as her eyes rested on her childless right.

"Geno," she was all but yelling, "Geno?" her voice grew a pitch higher, then franctic, "GENO!"

While his mother called for him, the young fawn enjoyed the lay of the land. He romped from tall grass to tall grass. Even at her worriest calls, he was still somehow able to ignore her. The little boy was even getting some enjoyment out of it as he laughed and giggled, seeking out and hiding in thick patches of blades. His fun almost abruptly ended when his father suddenly came to rest in front of his hiding place in one bound. The adult deer surveying the land worried him.

"Geno." he was serious, almost panicked as well, "Geno!" He was gone in another bound.

There was just the remotest feeling of guilt the young child had for disobeying his parents.

He wondered why.

Then, to his eyes amazement, Geno came upon some new fawns nibbling at the tall grass. Though he had never seen any other fawns aside from his own sister and himself, he was automatically unafraid. The sight of these newcomers presented a new challenge for him.

"Hi," He said as he scuttled up to them.

"Hello," a fawn even lighter than his sister said.

"Who are you?" A male one beside her asked. He was a little more wary.

"I'm Geno!" The fawn boasted, raising up his shoulders and moving his head side-to-side as if huge antlers were causing the motion. "So, who are you suppose to be doe? I'm a prince."

"I'm not a doe, I'm a deer." His new little rival said tersely.

"My name's Lana," the girl fawn said more eagerly. "This is my brother Boso." Two more litle fawns appeared. "And this is Nello and Membo, they're brothers too." she smiled in welcome.

"Huh? Really? Bet'chu all don't know who my papa is, do you?"

"No," One of the fawn brothers said, confused.

"He's the Great Prince of the Forest!"

"Yeah, well, our father says he's only the Prince." The other fawn brother started in.

"Yeah." His sibling agreed with a smile. "Not a Great one." He meant no harm by his words.

Geno took this innocent joke as a challenge. "Oh! You wanna see how great I am!.?"

He started moving around, his head was down and he was feinting.

"Stop it," Boso chided. "No one's gonna fight you. You ain't even got racks yet."

"My daddy's got racks!"

"Uh-huh. How big?" The bolder of the brothers mocked.

"Well, uh..."

"Is your daddy a great fighter like ours?" The other brother asked.

Geno lowered his head a little more. "No," he said morosely.

"He lose one of his antlers in a brawl against bears?" Boso continued on with the jabs.

"No."

"Well, what has he done?"

"I guess, nothin'. I guess he's just a weak deer compared to all them other deers."

"Deer." Lana corrected.

"That's what I said, deer."

"So your dad's real weak huh?" Nello asked.

"Yep, my dad's a real weakling," Geno conceded.

"Geno."

Five fawns popped their heads up.

"Dad." The suddenly alone child said weakly.

"It's time to go," His father was solemn, moreso than he had ever seen him before.

Bambi marched his son away from the others when the child glanced back.

"Someday I'm gonna have big horns and show all of you!" He whispered feverishly.

"Geno!"

Flattening his ears, the child peered over at his father from a single eye before loping off after him haughtily. When Lana called out to him that they were "Antlers" he scrunched his little nose at her and stick out his tongue. Membo and Boso, the bolder of the four, did it right back. Only after Geno turned around did he see that his father had witnessed his repeated disobedience. A flick of his tail and a lift of his nose and the arrogant little fawn trotted off to his mother and sister who were now calmly grazing. Bambi watched him go with concern and issued Geno a warning:

"I never want to see you disobey me or your mother again."

The child peered back at him sweetly, "I'm sorry, Father. Never again," and off he went.

Faline met her mate's eyes and the two shared the same thoughts and feelings.

This could never happen again.

To be continued...

~ Lavenderpaw ~