by Twinkledru J.

He gives a soft 'pfff' as he approaches her from the darkness. Nala, lying down, did not hear him coming, but manages to restrain herself from starting or woofing.

Every sound he makes, and every movement too, suggests peace and friendliness. She lowers her head to Scar, she does not meet his dark eyes with hers, and she lets him lean on her in a greeting. He does not push hard once she tenses.

"The hunt will not go well tomorrow," she tells him as he waits for her to speak. It is not something that he likes to hear from any of them. From Sarabi it gets annoyed growls and roars, from the others, sometimes even worse, but from her, it gets indulgent smiles.

"Sarabi is in charge of the hunts, Nala. Why are you making excuses for her?"

"Because we are all hunters here."

She has become a good hunter, and a vicious one. When she has found prey, she does not show mercy. She cannot afford it, and she has rarely seen it these days to remember it.

"Are we?"

Nala remembers then the merciful king who helped scout the hunts and the cub whom she could pin in seconds. She says nothing.

"It's a shame," he continues after her silence, his tone soft and rough, "that there are no cubs around anymore."

There had been another cub in the pride when Simba disappeared and Mufasa died and the rains stopped coming, a young male. Scar had slaughtered that one, of course, but Nala had been spared. It was not his mercilessness towards the young cub that was unusual, her mother had told her later, but in fact his mercy towards Nala.

"There is no food for them," Nala answers shortly.

Scar is silent for several moments, and then gives a soft chuckle. He turns his head closer to her then, and she can feel his dark mane as he leans down and bites gently at the nape of her neck.

Nala can restrain herself no longer then, and she snaps at him, her teeth bared. Scar releases her, but does not move far away.

A breeze -- one of the few mercies they are still given at Pride Rock -- stirs her fur then, and she knows that this is her chance. She rises, sniffing the air casually, and bounds off. He will not follow; hunting is the task of the lionesses.

Zazu whispered to her of a coalition he glimpsed distantly months ago. Perhaps one of those males would be willing to help. The promise of a full pride, and no males or cubs to compete with, must have some worth. She does not know where he saw them, and she has barely given thought to it since first the bird told her, but she cannot stay here.

She hears some of his damned hyenas cackling about this or that, and she shudders as he roars, hearing anger in his voice. Silence rules again then; there are no night birds anymore, and very few insects, and she knows that no rain will come to Pride Rock tonight.


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