I'm very sorry it took me so long to update. I was gone to Mexico for a while, and I have been quite busy. But, I hope that you'll like it!

"Mother!" Nuka stuttered when he saw Zira coming back to the Pride Lands while he was still playing innocently with Kopa and his very own sister Vitani.

They didn't have time to pretend to be playing only together. They didn't have time to shove Kopa aside or to tell them that he should go. They hadn't warned him about what Zira had asked them to do—not be around Kopa anymore. Nuka was already getting ready to be yelled at and to be—again—such a disappointment.

He immediately stared at the ground which made him look even more guilty—if he only were. His sister, on the other hand, didn't behave like him. She stepped aside, taking a few steps away from Kopa who wisely decided to back off. Maybe he saw the way Zira was looking at him and that made him uncomfortable.

"Mother," Vitani whispered. "You're back."

"I thought that I had raised you well," Zira said as she sat down next to them, still glancing at Kopa, "but now I see that I was wrong. The minute I look away, you take the opportunity to do everything I asked you not to."

She didn't sound angry, though and that's what confused Nuka and Vitani. Zira scraped the ground with her claws and that made Kopa taking a few more steps back. He didn't quite like the way she was staring at him, just like she could freeze him with only one look and do whatever she wanted with him.

But before he could think of running away, Nala showed up, looking worried. Judging by the look on her face, it was as if she had known that her son wasn't feeling well.

"Zira," she said, with relief in her voice. "You're home."

Zira nodded and decided to smile at Nala. "Yes, I was just making sure the kids were all right." She paused. "Do you want to go for a hunt? Just like old times?" she offered Nala, reminding her of the good times they had once shared together.

Nala's eyes immediately lightened up as she recalled how much fun it used to be to hang out with Zira. They would challenge each other, trying to find out who was the fastest and who could bring home the biggest dinner for the Pride. It seemed like everything was competition, but it was more of a game between them. They liked to "play" and it had never bothered them that everything seemed to be revolving around competition. It didn't really matter because none of them was better than the other in everything.

"Yeah, that'd be fun," Nala agreed. She turned to Kopa, licked the top of his head, and then she was gone, running as fast as she could, as to challenge Zira to catch up with her, and to be faster. And it worked. Zira rolled her eyes, slightly amused, but not as she used to be, and she just gave one last glance at her cubs, mentally telling them to remember what she had told them, before chasing after Nala.

Nuka watched his mother leaving as the pressure he had felt on his entire body slowly withdrawing.

Kopa took one step forward, getting closer to his two friends. "Your mother's creepy," he declared.

Nuka jumped on his paws, ready to defend his mother until the end. "She's not," he replicated madly. "She's just having a bad day. It happens to everyone."

"My mother's never in a bad mood," Kopa stated.

"Your mother's Nala," Vitani pointed out. "She is never in a bad mood." What she didn't say was that sometimes she wished that her own mother could be more like Kopa's. And she would never say it aloud because of her older brother, Nuka. He'd be so upset with her. He thought that if he behaved the way Zira wanted, then maybe she would acknowledge that she was supposed to love him like Nala loved Kopa.

Kopa started to laugh. "She can be when I disobey," he told them.

But both Nuka and Vitani shook their head as to say that they didn't believe him for a single second. But at least, their mother let them play with Kopa. She didn't quibble them about being around the cub like she forbid them to. It didn't change the fact that they knew that she was pissed, but the storm would hit them later so they had some time to keep playing with Kopa and to find a very good excuse to explain their behavior.

Nala kept running, but she slowed down so that Zira could catch up with her. Once she did, they kept running at the same speed and none of them seemed to want to get ahead of the other. They just kept running, even forgetting to hunt. When they couldn't see the Pride Rocks anymore, Nala slowed down and so did Zira.

"Maybe we should hunt," Nala said.

"Yeah," Zira said. "On the way back home."

They turned around but didn't run. They just kept walking. They were a little out of breath, and Nala's tongue was slightly out of her mouth, but she licked her muzzle and closed her jaws.

Zira decided that it was time for her to speak up, and to try to get Nala back on her side, although she knew she didn't have much to do: Nala had never really left that spot.

"I know that ... I haven't been very easy lately," Zira said. "And I want to thank you for looking out for Nuka and Vitani. I know that they love you."

Nala seemed surprised, cocking her head on the side, and then she said, "Well, they missed their mother a lot."

Zira didn't say anything about that back. "You and I have always been good friends," she said instead. "And that would suck if it was gone forever."

"It wasn't gone," Nala replied. "You just needed time to get yourself together, and I understand. When you'll be ready to have someone around again, I'll be there to be your friend."

And Nala didn't say this only because she wanted to be nice. She said it because it was who she was, how she always behave around everyone. She wanted to make everyone happy. It seemed to her that Zira was caving in, that she finally was willing to open up.

"I ... The truth is that I don't know how to be around my cubs anymore," Zira said, looking away, not because she didn't want Nala to see her shed a tear or two, but because she didn't want Nala to see that she wasn't crying at all—not even close to. "They remind me of him."

Nala could relate at some point, recalling the time where she thought that Simba was gone forever, that she'd never see him again. "It will get easier," she promised Zira although they both knew that she was lying.

It wouldn't get better or easier. It was just about to get worse.

I would want to thank everyone who's reviewed, favorited and followed. It's just amazing; you are all amazing. Thanks a lot!

csinumberstlk lover: I think you mean that ... Kopa and Vitani were twins? instead of Vitani and Kovu? and it could've been a possibility, but it's not one that I will talk about in this fanfiction. sorry if that dissapoints you. Thanks for reviewing!

roxaskey: Woow, thanks a LOT for the review, it was so sweet and nice to read! It just makes me want to write even more and update even more often!

The Ablazing Arrow: Don't worry; you're never late for a review! I think that your reasoning makes a lot of sense! And it was a bit what I was heading for, but not quite, so there will still be some surprises for you, don't worry! And about Zira knowing (or not) that Scar wanted to make Nala his mate, it will be said and explained later! :) Thank you for reviewing!