I think I've started all my chapters by apologizing, so I'll try not to do that. It took me longer than I expected, but don't worry, I haven't given up on writing this fanfiction. I hope that you'll like it!

It had been a while since Zira had decided to allow herself to talk to Nala again. The two had gotten along pretty well, just like old times, but something was off, and even though Nala might not notice it, Zira did. And she knew that it was because of her.

Zira was licking her fur when Nala came by, "Hi," she said.

"Hi," Zira replied without looking up. She kept an eye on her cubs who were playing with Kopa. Although she had forbidden them to, they hadn't listened to her. When she had came back to see them with Kopa, she had wanted to snap at them and to punish them the way she intended to, but Nala had protected them even though she had no idea. To get closer to Nala, Zira figured that her cubs would be a good way to help her do that.

Zira hadn't apologized for Scar's behavior, and she wouldn't apologize for hers. She didn't think Nala needed to hear any apologies, and even if she did, she wouldn't get any.

"They're so adorable together," Nala confessed, lying down next to Zira to clean herself up, too.

It was implied that she was talking about the cubs who were obviously becoming good friends. Zira had to look away from Nala. She couldn't stand the kindness in her eyes.

"Yeah," Zira lied. "They are." She inhaled. "Is Simba taking Kopa out today?" He did that very often, but he still hadn't taken Zira's cubs although he had promised that he would some day. It seemed that he wasn't as ready as he pretended.

Nala nodded. "I think so. Kings talk," she laughed. Then, she paused and studied Zira's face carefully. Ever since Zira had become friends with her again, Nala didn't quite understand her friend like she used to. Something was between them, and it was driving them apart, and it seemed that nothing could be done about it. She wanted Zira to let her in, and even if Zira had tried to do that, Nala knew that there was something she wasn't telling her. It had not bothered her because she figured it was normal for her old friend to have some secrets of her own, but her whole behavior and attitude was definitely weird.

"Can he ... Can he bring Nuka along?" Zira asked. "He's been talking about this for days, and I don't ... I don't want to tell him that he never will go with them."

Nala's head shot straight up. Of course, being the King had everything to do with luck. If Kopa was meant to be the King after Simba, it was only because he was lucky enough to be Nala's cub. There would always be some lions to be jealous of the true heir. That's why both Simba and Nala needed to be very careful with Kopa. Danger could be anywhere.

Nala felt some disappointment in Zira's voice. She had tried to talk to Simba. He hadn't said no, but he hadn't said yes either.

"I thought of it, too," he had said.

What was that supposed to mean? He seemed more confident than ever, thinking he could change Zira's cubs, show them the right way, and somehow, he still refused to do it. Nala had tried to dig, to understand what was going on in Simba's mind. When he had finally told her the reason why, it had left Nala speechless.

"I can't prioritize Zira's cubs over all the other ones just because my uncle died. You know how many cubs would want to have such opportunity? I don't want any of them to think that Nuka and Vitani are my favourites, beside Kopa," Simba had explained.

It made sense, in a way. Maybe it was Simba's own way of not repeating history. His own father had been prioritized over Scar, and knowing how it ended up, he didn't want things to happen all over again. Lions could get jealous easily, and they were supposed to be equals. They were all one which meant that no one was supposed to stand out. They all had the same privileges, and Simba didn't want to change that. After all, he was the King. He had to do what he thought was right, and he wanted so much to follow his father's paw prints that he wouldn't change a single thing about how the Kingdom worked.

Nala had tried to talk him out of that old state of mind, but he had told her to mind her own business in a nice way, though. Nala and Simba didn't argue a lot, but that was still a subject that Simba didn't like to discuss.

"I'll ask him," Nala said to Zira, snapping out of her thoughts, "but I can't promise you anything."

Zira nodded as to pretend that she understood. Truthfully, she didn't believe that Simba would agree, but maybe he'd surprise her if Nala asked him herself. She had this way with Simba, and it seemed that she would always get what she wanted from him.

Nala got up on her paws, and she walked toward Simba who was watching Kopa from further away. Zira kept an eye on them, subtle enough for them not to notice.

"Simba," Nala said while lying down next to him.

He licked the top of her head and rubbed his head against hers fondly.

"Are you taking Kopa to see the Kingdom today?" she asked.

Simba's head shot straight up, and something in his eyes told her that he knew exactly what she was going to say. "Yes," he said.

"Would you ... could you take Nuka with you? And maybe Vitani?"

Simba sighed and looked away. The whole dilemma started again in his head. He had been thinking of it for so long on his own. Ever since Nala had tried to talk him into it, to be honest. He had wanted so desperately to help Zira's cubs. He truly wanted to show them the right way, to make them understand that they could choose not to follow their father's path, that there was another way to do this, but he was afraid that the other cubs wouldn't like his interest into them. When he had become King, he had promised himself that he would treat every single lion equally. They would all get the same treatment, well apart from the heir because he would had responsibilities the others would never have. Could he break that promise? Could he change? Changing meant not following exactly his father's path any longer.

What would Mufasa do in such situation? That was a question Simba asked too often, but he never got any answer. Whenever he was lost, he would look up to the sky and talk to his father, but the echo was the only thing coming back.

Simba's father would try his hardest to help everyone. The other lions would understand, right? He could still look out for the other cubs. Just because he was making an exception for Nuka and Vitani didn't mean that he wouldn't care for the others.

So he looked at Nala, and he nodded. "Yeah. I'll take them. Kopa will be happy to have some company." He got up on his paws and went to get the cubs. They all seemed so thrilled.

Zira hadn't missed a single thing of that conversation. She'd seen the way Nuka's eyes had just lightened up when Simba had told him that he could come with them. She should grab both her cubs by the neck and take them very far away. But she couldn't do such thing. There was still one thing that she needed to do, and that was revenge.

Her plan was going well. She had gone back into Nala's good graces, and now her cubs were into Simba's. Soon, she would be no threat at all, and no one would care if she tried to talk to some lionesses.

But there was one thing that Zira hadn't seen, and it wasn't about Nala or Simba, not even about Kopa or Nuka. It was Vitani. She hadn't seen the way Vitani had looked up to Kopa, with her eyes filled with stars. She hadn't seen the way her daughter was always waiting for Kopa's approval before doing something. Zira hadn't understood that something was going on between Kopa and Vitani.

Maybe Zira was hiding a lot, but she wasn't the only one. Kopa and Vitani shared one secret that they had kept from everyone. No one else than them knew, and that was the only flaw of Zira's plan.

csinumberstlk lover: thank you for the review! hope you liked that chapter ! xx