I lie beside him, as he falls asleep, trying not to think about his confusion. I sit by the entrance to our cave, licking my paws lazily as he paces, agitated.
He feels trapped, even though he’s the king of the jungle. Even though he has been accepted by me as my king. He doesn’t understand why he is scared. I know exactly why.
He’s scared that he’ll be trapped in the same cave all his life. What he doesn’t understand is that I am a hunter too. But I can’t say that to him. This is something he has to figure out by himself.
He lets out a roar every once in a while, scaring all the lesser beings around us, who for the love of their lives, cannot recognize it as his anguish. He sees the chaos he has caused around the otherwise calm jungle and lets out another roar. This one is lower, deeper and full of sorrow.
I slowly get on my all fours and saunter over to where he stands, radiating anger and fear, all at once. I want to roar back at him, to try and make him see reason… But he’s not ready.
So, I nuzzle at the side of his mane and purr softly, appealing to his protective side. He turns around, his eyes darting around wildly, scanning for threats. He finds none, then looks down at me, licking my nose. It tickles and I jump playfully. We get into a play session and he forgets what had him on the edge since the morning.
All because he cares too much about me.
Never mind that I already dragged the carcasses of the two hyenas across the cliff, when they’d dared to venture out here while he was sleeping early in the morning.
I bow down, as a sign of giving up, and he lets out a true; magnificent roar, befitting a true king, reeking of male dominance. Then he bows down, recognizing where his true strength comes from, and licks me as its acceptance.
He walks over regally and settles beside me by the entrance of our cave, nuzzling protectively, and all is well in our little cave again.