Vitani's questions ran through Zira's mind for the night, and for the following days. She did not once leave the place where Scar would go to when Simba was a cub, this rock high in the air, where she could spend some time to think. Not think about whether she was right to do what she wanted to do. She didn't once doubt Scar. She'd never doubt him.

How could she doubt him? After everything he'd done for her, doubting him would be betraying him.

Her whole life, no one had ever cared for her the way she felt that Scar had. He'd given her everything that she had never had when she was younger, everything that she never dared dream of.

To begin with, he had saved her life. Not only physically, but in many other ways.

Zira's cubs would probably say otherwise, but she believed that they had the best life. They had everything: food, water, friends, mother, babysitters, even. They lacked nothing. Nothing had been taken away from them. No one had turned their backs on them. They would grow into beautiful lions and strong spirits. They'd have it easy. At least, easier than Zira.

It'd never been easy for her. Hell, Zira didn't know easy. At the beginning of her life, she'd had to fight to survive. She hadn't been surrounded by love like Kopa was. Her parents never cared for her. They were way too busy hunting to save their lives or fighting to protect their family.

A voice interrupted Zira's thoughts. "Zira?"

Her head snapped straight up as she stared at the lioness that dared disturb her. Nala.

Zira shook her head and got up on her paws, trying to make the nostalgia go away. "Hello, Nala. What brings you here?" Zira asked.

Nala got closer to her, her brows furrowed, being very careful at each step taken. She didn't quite like being up here, but she knew it would be where Zira would be.

"It's been a couple of days, Zira," Nala reminded her. "Aren't you ... hungry? Nuka, Vitani and Kovu are worried about you. They didn't know where to find you. They thought you had abandoned them."

Nala's tone was matter-of-factly, but Zira knew that even she was very concerned about her friend's behaviour. Even when she was mourning Scar, she never stayed away as long. She would come by almost every day to check on her cubs and to hunt a little for the pride. That was one of her tasks and she ought to take care of it.

But this time was different. Zira hadn't eaten in days. She hadn't hunted either. She should have felt guilty a little because if she didn't hunt, it meant that someone else did it for her. The lionesses had enough to carry on their shoulders; they really did not need to do more.

But none of them had tried looking for Zira. They knew it was only a matter of time before the break down. They hadn't thought it would take this long, though. Even though half of them didn't like Scar and what he had put them all through, they still had some deep respect for Zira. They knew her story a little and were perfectly aware of the fact that she hadn't had it easy. They respected her strength and even admired it at some point.

In their minds, she'd been as much a victim as they had been. She'd been lied to, abused, and led on. Zira had never, not even once, tried to deny the rumours about her "relationship" with Scar. The ones that were against him thought he had forced himself on her, that she'd never wanted him in the first place.

That's where they were all wrong. If someone had wanted Scar, it had been no one else than her.

Zira tried to smile at Nala but she was pretty sure that it was more of a wince than an honest smile. She couldn't be honest about being content. She wasn't.

"I haven't," Zira said. "I just ... I needed some time for myself."

Nala nodded. "Yeah, that's what I thought. That's why I waited this long before looking for you. But ..." She paused. "You should get something to eat. Maybe hunt a little."

Nala would never say it, but they could have used Zira's help for the hunting part. Her three cubs ate more than it seemed possible for anyone to eat. They also could use her skills to teach the new cubs how to hunt. Nuka was getting old enough to be taught. For Vitani, Kopa and Kovu, it would take a while. They were too busy fighting with each other—just for fun—to wait just a single second, to give anyone the time to teach them something.

Kovu was, in fact, very glad of the few days of vacation he had been given by his mother. The training wasn't fun at all. And now that he had seen what it was like to be a normal cub, just like his sister and just like Kopa, he wasn't sure if he wanted to go back to the training his mother would put him through.

She said that it was because he was special that he could have this much attention from her. She turned the exhausting training into some bonding between mother and son.

Yes, Kovu used to feel special, but it quickly got old. He had never seen Nala bond with Kopa the way that Zira did with him.

"You need me to hunt?" Zira asked quietly. She didn't want anyone's attention on her right now. She wanted to be left alone.

Nala quickly shook her head. "No, of course not."

"Liar," Zira muttered.

Nala smiled as she sat down in front of Zira who decided to do the same. "You know we can always use everyone's help, but we can manage without you for a while. Don't take too long, though." Nala ended her sentence with a rather happy tone. She didn't want Zira to worry more than she already did.

"I won't be long," Zira promised.

Seeing it as her cue to leave, Nala got up on her paws and left after flashing a friendly smile toward Zira. Whatever it was that was on her friend's mine, Nala knew that she would not open up. At least, not to her. If she wanted to talk about it, she would. That's what Nala had learned about Zira throughout the years. Don't ask. If you're meant to know, you will.

"Nala," Zira called.

She turned around, "Yes?"

"Take care of my cubs for me, will ya?"

"How long?" Behind that question was another, How long will it take for you to be back?

"I'll be back tomorrow," Zira said.

Nala stared for a minute before nodding. And she left.

Zira waited for Nala to be out of sight before getting up, too. Nala was right: she needed to hunt a little. She wouldn't catch anything too big since that would be a waste. She'd just catch a rat or two. She escaped Scar's repair and started to run. Raising her head a little, she tried catching the scent of any animal. The wind blew in her face the odor of a rat, hidden behind the grass very near.

It didn't even have the time to blink before Zira was on it. One second later, its neck was broken. Three huge bites and the rat was eaten. Calmly, she walked to the oasis of water. She hadn't drunk in a while and somehow, just felt the need to drink. She wouldn't have eaten if Nala hadn't stopped by, though.

The fresh water felt good on her tongue. She hadn't noticed how dry her mouth was until then.

Drinking now, it reminded her of the day she met Scar. Her parents had just been killed by a bunch of hyenas. They had been eaten alive before her eyes. How she had managed to get away, she still didn't know.

She had run for days under the warm sun. She didn't know how to hunt by herself then. She was so young. She hadn't known anything else than the warmness of her parents, of the way they barely had time for her but still took care of her the best they could.

She had been running for hours that day and still hadn't found any place to drink. She was scared the hyenas would eventually catch up with her and slaughter her the way they had with her parents.

She had more and more trouble to pay attention to her surroundings. Everything around her was just so hazy. Hence why she didn't see the hill in front of her until she was trying to run on it. Of course, she fell, tumbling down of it, heads over paws, not able to stop.

The contact of the freezing water against her fur had been like a wake-up call. She had tried to swim, try to get to the shore, but the water was so strong, the waves were too big for her to keep swimming.

Why would she keep going, anyway? She had no one else left. She knew no one else. Her family had died. And she knew that she wouldn't manage to do this on her own. She needed someone, but hadn't found anyone in the days that she had been alone.

Slowly, she felt that the flow was sucking all her energy. She had more and more trouble moving her paws to swim. She felt like something was dragging her down, downer every time. She swallowed cups of water and it was more and more difficult for her to keep her head out of the water.

She couldn't even roar for help.

And when she finally gave up, that's when he came. That's when he saved her and dragged her out of the water, saving her life, giving her hope for the first time. Hope that she wouldn't be alone. Hope that someone would be her new family. Hope. Just hope.

Raising her head up, stopping to drink, Zira knew. She couldn't wait any longer. She had waited long enough. It was time. Too bad if Kopa didn't trust her. Too bad if Nala or Simba didn't think she was free of Scar's hold.

She needed a new plan to have Kopa away from everyone else.

That's when she reminded something that Vitani had asked her a couple of days ago. She had wanted to know if what Kopa had said was true. She wanted to make sure that Zira hadn't told her lies.

Vitani.

That's how she'd get Kopa alone and very far away from everyone else, too far away for anyone to hear him when he'd scream his pain or when he'd beg for mercy.

There was no mercy for him.


cook563: that's what I was aiming for when I first started this fanfiction! thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed!

DarthRushy: woow, I love your enthusiasm! I'm sorry there was no Vitani and Kopa in that chapter. That'll come very soon! Hope you enjoyed!

Calise Serana: I hear you very well. This chapter was longer, so I hope that it makes you .. happy? Anyway, I'll try to make the chapters longer. And yeah, I wanted to make what I believe should have been the real "The Lion King 1 1/2". I'm also making up "The Lion King 1/2" to fill some holes left in the movies, and what I think should have been explained. There's so much to say, it's just crazy. Anyway, hope you enjoyed!

I'll stop promising anything because that's obviously not working. This chapter was longer, but hopefully the wait won't be. Thank you for still reading even though I'm a sucker at updating fast.