s e v e n .

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"Urgh, my paws are killing me," Sarafina complained, kicking over a twig in her way. "How far away are we?"

"Not far now," an elder informed, looking as if walking this long wasn't bothering her. "You need to learn to walk for long periods of time without being tired, we keep trying to tell you that."

The bare-pawed lioness rolled her eyes and kept walking, but slowed her pace to lag behind you and Sarabi. The walk was quiet aside from the creatures of the savannah going about their daily lives, and the idle chattering of other adolescents behind you. Eventually the unmistakable shape of Pride Rock could be seen through the long reeds.

"Finally!" Sarafina piped up, knocking you and Sarabi to the sides as she sprinted through the both of you. You grunted in frustration as she shoved you, and you take off after her, yelling angrily. You briefly hear the lionesses behind you panic and rush to keep up with the both of you.

The light-pelted lioness skids to a stop and you crash into her, sending both of you tumbling across the ground in a flurry of twisted limbs until you come to a stop, clenching your eyes shut. You hear a gasp come from where Sarafina had landed, and open your eyes, finding an upside-down orange lion staring down at you. "Wha-?"

"Welcome back Y/N and Sarafina," King Ahadi said, his two sons sitting on either side of him. You had fallen right in front of Taka, who was blinking down at you in surprise.

You pull yourself up onto your paws and shove your head into the younger prince's chest in a nuzzle. He looked surprised but hugged back. "I missed you so much, Taka!" You pull away to take a look at him. A mane had begun to fill out on top of his head, in an inky black colour. It seemed thin and scraggly, and not nearly filled out as much as Mufasa's red mane, but he still looked just like the small prince who was your best friend and who had protected you from a hyena. "Wow, look at you!"

He seemed embarrassed and ducked his head sheepishly, "I- I know, I don't look very manly, do I?"

"Are you kidding? You look great!" You smile, wondering where he got the idea from that he wasn't masculine enough.

In the meantime he was also looking over how much you had changed. You had physically toughened up since you were a cub, with strong legs and a more muscular body shape. Sarafina looked very similar, but she didn't have those kind and supportive eyes that you had. "You do too," he mumbled back.

The rest of the lionesses caught up just then, and Mufasa immediately ran to give Sarabi a hug. "Let's head inside, shall we?" Ahadi suggested, smiling fondly at both his sons.

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