Chapter 3: Simba and Nala's Prideland Adventures
Part 4: Confession
“Ow!” Nala instinctively clutched her side as a jolt of pain shot through her young body. Gingerly, the girl rubbed her soft paw over a large bruise that had formed beneath her matted fur. Her body was still stiff from her encounter with the python in the jungle, and the long walk home wasn’t helping matters any. “Hey, Simba, let’s stop for a few minutes.”
“Sure,” Simba nodded in agreement as he worriedly turned to face his friend. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I just need to rest for a bit. I’ll be fine.” But the young lioness could tell Simba wasn’t convinced by her answer. Her labored breathing betrayed just how exhausted she truly was, and the waver in her voice exposed the pain she was in. Putting on her most reassuring smile, Nala gently leaned against the prince’s side. “Really, I’m just tired. We’ve been walking for a long time…”
Simba quietly stroked the fur on Nala’s back as the two sat down in the shade of a large tree that had grown on the edge of the grassland. Shadows from its leaves danced playfully across the coarse ground, and a cluster of weeds rustled nearby against a rotting log. The gentle breeze felt great in the warm afternoon sun, but Simba found he was unable to relax. His heart was pounding, and it felt like he had a lump lodged in his throat. The young prince was painfully aware of just how close he had been to losing his best friend back in the jungle, and even though he had ultimately saved her from the serpent, the fight had clearly taken a toll on Nala. This was the first time either of the cubs had ever really been injured as a result of their adventures. Even back in the elephant graveyard, the two had emerged largely unscathed thanks to the timely intervention of King Mufasa. But not this time.
The young lion began to pace across the dusty ground as he silently struggled with his thoughts. Why was this bothering him so much? He had saved Nala! He was the hero! So why did he feel so guilty? Simba found his mind constantly drifting back to the fight with the snake, replaying the moment Nala had been captured over and over. Could he have done anything different to protect her? Why didn’t he push her out of the way? Why didn’t the snake try to eat him instead? Why was he even asking these questions? He was the prince, after all. Others were supposed to protect him!
“Hey, Simba,” Nala called, breaking the golden-brown cub out of his trance. “What’s wrong? You look worse than I do.”
“Huh? Oh, uh, it’s nothing.” Simba finally stopped pacing and draped his front legs across some brush that had grown up next to the tree. With a sigh, the cub gently rested his head against one of the branches and closed his eyes. The conflicting emotions were starting to give him a headache. Simba felt miserable, and Nala could tell.
“Come on, Simba,” the girl gently prodded. “I know you better than that. You can tell me.”
“Well…” Simba’s gaze fell to the ground. His mind raced as he struggled to articulate his thoughts, but when he finally opened his mouth, it felt as though it was someone else speaking. “I just… I was thinking… Maybe we shouldn’t go on adventures like this anymore.”
Nala tilted her head to the side, unable to believe what she was hearing. “What? But you love these adventures!”
“Yeah, but…” Simba muttered dejectedly. “It’s just… I, uh, I don’t… I don’t want you to get hurt.”
The cream-colored cub shook her head in confusion. She didn’t understand why her friend seemed so worked up over this. “Simba, I told you, I’m fine. What’s this really about?”
Simba groaned in frustration. How could he make the girl understand how he felt when he didn’t even understand himself? “Nala, I’m trying to say… I… I care about you too much to let anything happen to you!”
The silence that followed was deafening. Simba’s legs felt numb, and he was pretty sure his heart had leapt into his throat. The prince had been just as shocked to hear the words that came out of his mouth as Nala had been, but there was no way to take it back now. Nala was just staring at him, presumably waiting for him to elaborate, but there was nothing else to say. He could try to play it off as a joke, but he knew the girl would never buy it. There was nothing else to do but wait for Nala’s response. Suddenly, Simba felt something soft wrap around him. Nala’s body was pressed tightly against his, held in place by her strong paws which had wrapped beneath Simba’s legs and around his chest. “Nala? What are you -”
Nala slowly, tenderly licked Simba on the cheek. Her tongue lingered in his golden-brown fur for a moment before she turned and affectionately nuzzled her face against his. “Simba…” the girl whispered softly, “I… I really care about you too.”
“You…you do?” Simba slowly lowered himself from the brush until he and Nala were sitting on the ground facing each other. With one gentle motion, the prince reached out with his paw and softly caressed Nala’s cheek. Before either knew what was going on, the two cubs were locked in a passionate kiss. Lost in the moment, Nala grabbed Simba by the back of his neck and pulled him closer until their noses were mashed together. Simba responded by fervently running his paw through the fur on Nala’s neck and head before pausing to gently stroke her soft ears. Finally, after several moments, the young couple broke away for air.
“What…was that?” Nala panted happily as she again nuzzled Simba’s cheek.
“I don’t know,” Simba laughed blissfully. “It just…seemed right.”
“Yeah!” Nala giggled. “That was amazing!” The two sat together in silence for a while as the warm afternoon sun sank lower in the sky. It would be getting dark in a few hours, but the cubs didn’t care. Neither wanted this moment to end. Eventually, it was Nala who broke the serenity with another gentle lick on Simba’s face. “Simba…” the girl’s tone grew more serious as she looked her friend in the eye, “I don’t want you to be so worried about me. I mean, you protect me, and I protect you. As long as we look after each other, we’ll be fine. Right?”
“Right,” Simba nodded. “I’ll…try not to worry so much. I just… I don’t know what I’d do without you, Nala.” Simba gave the girl a soft smile, relieved that his inner turmoil seemed to be resolved for the moment. Nala always knew how to cheer him up. And, she was right of course. The two of them seemed to be an unstoppable force. “Come on,” the prince sighed happily as he affectionately licked the young lioness on the cheek. “We’d better get going if you’re feeling better.”
Nala nodded in agreement. “Oh, by the way, Simba,” the girl grinned slyly, “why don’t you, uh, sleep with me tonight? I’ve…got an idea.”
As the two cubs jogged back towards Pride Rock, Simba mused just how great a friend Nala truly was. There was no one else he'd rather spend his time with than the cream-colored cub running next to him. He silently swore to himself then that he'd protect Nala until his last breath. Even if it meant defying the great circle of life itself, he'd make sure that, in the end, she was safe from whatever dangers came their way.
, digital art
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3 months ago
09 May 2020 23:06 CEST
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