The lion and the Cheetah

"I want to be your friend." He said to the cheetah.

"I would love that, but you know that we must not. Lions and cheetahs are not meant to be friends." She told her lion companion. His beautiful mane shone brightly in the lazy afternoon sun. They were both stretched under the shadow of a small almost leaf-less tree, lying closely together to stay out of the scorching heat.

"Who are they to tell us we cannot," he said referring to their respective packs. "I don't care. I promise not to hurt you or put you in harm's way. "

"I trust that you wouldn't, but that is not the problem. Others will speak badly about us. There is nothing worse than being alone, in a world as terrible as this." Lately, there had been numerous hyena packs roaming the lands, and an abandoned lion or cheetah would be a sure and swift death. "We cannot risk the consequences."

The lion looked away, thinking to himself that he could do it. He could survive out here, anything was possible if he wasn't alone, and he wouldn't be, if it came down to that. He looked to his cheetah companion, who he also loved dearly. They had been friends for many seasons now, without allowing themselves to be known as friends. He knew she felt the same way, for she risked being found an amazing amount of times. He only had to convince her, that there had to be another way. Skulking around, walking all morning just to find a cove to talk, or spend time. It was humiliating for an animal as proud as he. He couldn't have his love for her be in the shadows anymore. She was beautiful, her black spots gracing her dangerously lean body. Her black tear marks were always amazing to stare out, and he sometimes thought to himself that they were tears of her ancestors, though from what or why, he would ponder for many seasons to come.

She stared back at him silently, thinking to herself, "Why not?" She loved him fiercely and would fight for his life, but she knew, her pack would evict her, and she would be stranded, and without his protection and love, she would either be found helpless by predators, or die of a broken heart. She could never tell him how she felt though, because lions were never meant to be with cheetahs, and he would not feel good about being her friend anymore. She would lose him and that was something she could not risk.

"Then I will go and speak with your father. He will understand."

"No! You mustn't! He will kill you on the spot!"

Smiling to himself silently, for he knew a matured cheetah was no match against a strong and youthful lion, "No, he will not. But we will go, and I will show him how sincere I am. I will prove to him I am worthy of his offspring."

Smiling, though intensely fearful and worried, she convinced herself it would be fine, so long as they proved to her father that this was not a trap her lion-friend was setting.

"My dear and respected father," the lion kneeled in the customary position cheetahs used for elders in their clans, "I come to you with a private matter of the heart"

Regarding him suspiciously and nearly angrily, "What can I do for you?"

The lion left silently, and saw his love pacing outside the cave anxiously. He purred to her quietly signaling her to follow, but he kept walking. She caught up to him quickly pranced around him excitedly, asking how it went.

"So!? What did he say?? I knew he would love you! COMON! Talk!! What happened!!"

"He said no."

"What? What do you mean he said no!? What did you say?" She had stopped walking and stared at him sadly, but since he didn't stop, she ran back up to him, "Please tell me."

"Lions have no business with cheetahs. You will be disowned if you are caught with me."

"There are a million things he will say, but we must try again! You ARE good enough for me. We just have to prove it!" She pleaded helplessly.

"No, our cubs will look all wrong, and no matter what, that is what they will object." The sun was setting and he knew he had to get back to his pack immediately, "Good night." He nuzzled her for a moment, a long and sad moment, but no matter how sad they both were, the feeling of touch between them for the first time sent them both in rivets of happiness. That border had been breached, and they both knew what it meant.

He looked at her one last time, and felt that those black tear marks known only to cheetahs, really were true tears. She stared back sadly, without speaking, as they both felt the setting sun bearing down on their hearts. "I will think of something," he promised her. "We will be together"

For the next few days, she didn't see him and couldn't find him anywhere. He refused to meet with her at all of their old hideouts. It broke her heart tremendously, and she wondered what could have happened. She cried to her father to look for him, but to no avail. He had deserted her, and the thought of that left her so weak she didn't leave her corner of the cave for many nights.

One day, loud laughing and greetings came to her, and she woke up with a start. She cared not for the noise, and was quickly reminded of her friend the lion. "Oh why have you left me" she whispered into her arms. She got up, needing to walk around, lest she break down again.

She passed a group greeting a new cheetah, and as she met the eyes of the stranger, she felt a sad tug at her heart. It was a male, and he would undoubtedly meet a female in the cave, and they would be mates.

He stared at her and made a move to speak with her, but she kept her crawl towards the outside. He was held back by the elders and asked which tribe he came from, for he looked like no cheetah they had ever seen. His big strong body under the black spots was extremely intimidating. He had a tail that they had never seen before, and his color was all wrong and the tear marks were unexplainably off. But they accepted him as one of their own.

After being interrogated and left to roam the cave, the stranger went to try and follow the female cheetah he had spotted before. After hours of searching, he found her, and she was lying in an uncomfortable position that he knew was foreign to cheetahs. He recognized it as the customary relaxed position of the lions, his family.

His heart sped up as he noticed how deeply she missed him. It was significantly symbolic to him, for her to be imitating the lions. As he crept up to her she turned around quickly, her eyes wide with excitement. As she noticed him though, her face turned into a horrible scowl as she leapt up.

"What are you doing here!" She purred angrily.

He felt his heart breaking as he noticed how much weight she had lost, her fierce color under the spots turning to a dull yellow. He saw the red eyes, underneath the black fur, and he came closer but stopped when she jumped back. "I was humiliated when I spoke with your father. I could do nothing to have the love of my life. I wanted you so deeply and thought of nothing else. Life could not go on without you." As he told his story, he saw her face softening, and turning into surprise, love, and then shock, as she looked him up and down,

"I didn't know what to do, so I didn't dare come close, as I was threatened of your safety had I ignored your father. So I thought, and thought and thought," He began to circle her slowly and she watched him warily unable to do anything but listen, "and then I thought, what better way… I am still the lion I know you love," and with a triumphant pose, "But now I am also the cheetah I know they love."