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The rain had let up, leaving The Pride Lands covered in fresh dew and puddles of water. The sun was once again shining brightly in the sky. The animals went along their usual way.
There was still a mist of grief in the air.
Kiara stood at the border of The Pride Lands with Kion and Rani.
"Have a safe trip back." Kiara said, nuzzling her younger brother.
"We will." Kion said. "Are you sure you'll be okay?"
Kiara let out a small, dry laugh. "I ... I think I'll be okay ... thanks Kion ..."
Kion turned to Rani. "Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah ..." Rani groaned slightly, folding her ears back a bit.
Kion frowned. "What's wrong, Rani?"
"N ... nothing ... I'm fine,I'm fine!" Rani tried to reassure, forcing a rather pained looking smile.
Kion wasn't sure and went over to his mate's side. "You're not hurt are you?" He asked, worriedly, checking her over for any injuries.
Rani rolled her eyes slightly . "No Kion, I said I'm f ... Ow!" She stumbled to the ground.
"Rani!" Kion and Kiara shouted. Kiara rushed over to Rani's side, putting her paw gently on her back.
"Kion ..." She said through gritted teeth. "... Kiara ...."
"Please, tell me what's wrong!" Kion was nearly begging at this point.
"My stomach ..." She winced. "I ... I've got a really bad cramp ... Ow!"
"Can you get up?" Kiara asked, trying to keep her voice level.
"I ... I can try ..." Rani rolled onto her stomach and staggered up. "If ... if I can just make it ... to the ... Tree ... of Life ... I'll be ... fine ..."
As she took a step towards Kion, her legs wobbled and shook. "... I can ... make it ..."
Rani took another step and stumbled to the ground.
"Rani!" Kion crouched beside her. "... You can't make it to The Tree of Life like this ... you need help now!"
He turned to his sister. "Kiara! Get Rafiki!"
"R ... right!" Kiara breathed out anxiously. She ran towards the direction of Rafiki's tree, trying to keep herself calm.
You can do this Kiara ... You can do this! Keep calm! Keep calm! This is your first big task as queen ...
You can't let it get to you! You have to stay calm! You're the queen now, you can't let fear stop you ...
You need to be there for your Pride! Right now you need to be there for Rani and Kion ... your family!
Kiara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Rafiki's tree in the distance.
Sitting on one of the large branches, Rafiki was adding a fresh coat of paint to Kiara's portrait, highlighting it in various shades of blue and gold.
Rafiki looked up to the sky. "Oh Simba, your daughter is going to make The Pride Lands proud! The ceremony yesterday went very well. The Pride seems ready to accept Kiara as their queen."
He stuck his thumb into a darker shade of paint and touched up the mane on Kovu's drawing. "She and Kovu will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in the pride, I just know it."
A small breeze passed by as Simba acknowledged the wise mandrill's words. Groups of ants, dung beetles, and termites made their way up the branches of Rafiki's tree.
Even when they didn't have a message for him, Rafiki was glad to have their company.
Taking some pink paint, Rafiki put a small line over Kovu's eye. "We can finally let the scars of the past heal, and we'll be even stronger than before!"
Rafiki sighed happily as he pulled back to admire his work. "I think things can only go up from here ..."
A few of the bugs started to scurry around frantically, catching Rafiki's attention.
Something is wrong ...
He looked down to see the distraught lioness, looking up at him. "Kiara?"
"What happened!?" Rafiki asked.
"I ... I ... I don't know." Kiara said shakily. "She and Kion were about to leave and she just ... collapsed!"
"Oh dear ..." Rafiki sighed in worry. He hurried down the tree to Kiara's side. "Bring me to her."
Kiara nodded and took Rafiki to her brother and his mate.
Rani laid on the ground, groaning in pain, as Kion stayed beside her, grooming her fur.
"Rafiki ..." Kion sighed in relief. He moved out of the way so he could examine her.
"What is wrong?" Rafiki asked gently, stroking the young lioness' face.
"My ... my ... my stomach ..." Rani groaned.
Rafiki moved to the other side of her and put his hands on various parts of her stomach. "Tell me if any part hurts when I touch it, okay?"
"Ok ... Ow!" Rani winced.
Rafiki stopped and examined the area that had caused her pain in her lower stomach. He prodded at it again.
"Ow! Stop it! That hurts!" Rani whined.
A large smile formed on Rafiki's face as he let out a joyous laugh.
"Rafiki? What's going on?" Kion asked in confusion. "Is Rani okay?"
"Oh, Rani is perfectly fine!" Rafiki said.
"But my stomach.." Rani tried to protest.
"This ..." Rafiki said, grabbing her paw, and placing it where the pain was. "... is your baby ..."
"My what!?" Rani asked in shock.
"You're pregnant!" Rafiki proclaimed excitedly.
Rani tried to sit up. "Am I really pregnant."
"Yes! Congratulations, you two!" Rafiki said, pushing Kion and Rani together.
"I'm ... gonna be a father?" Kion breathed out, unsure what to think. He glanced over at Rani, and saw she looked anxious as well.
Kion smiled widely and nuzzled her lovingly, wanting to comfort her.. "I love you Rani."
"I love you too." She purred, relaxing into him.
Kiara bounded over to them. "Kion! Rani! That's great! I'm so happy for you!"
She nuzzled both of them, purring lovingly.
"Thanks Kiara." Kion laughed slightly.
Rani smiled before groaning again and falling back on her side. "I still can't walk though ..."
"You'll be okay in a little while." Rafiki said, helping her up again. "You may need to rest for a while."
Kion helped Rani onto his back. "Come on let's go back to Pride Rock."
"Pride Rock?" Rani asked. "I thought we were going home."
Kion shook his head. "I don't think I can carry all the way back there."
"All right.." Rani said, sounding a bit unsure.
"You're both welcome to stay as long as you want." Kiara said, going to Kion's side and helping him carry Rani back to the den of Pride Rock.
Gently they laid her down on her side on a pile of leaves.
"Thanks ..." Rani groaned, closing her eyes.
"Kion? Kiara? What's going on?" Nala asked worriedly, going over to them.
"Nothing's wrong, mom." Kion reassured her. "It's just that well ... uh ..."
"What?" Nala asked, frowning slightly.
"I'm pregnant ..." Rani groaned out,
"You're pregnant?" Nala asked, sounding excited.
"Yeah ..." Rani huffed out in pain.
"Oh, that's great!" Nala said, leaning down to nuzzle her daughter in law. She turned to Kion and gave him a loving lick on the cheek. "I'm so happy for both of you."
"Thanks mom." Kion said, silently relieved that she didn't seem upset by this.
"Is ... Is it supposed to hurt this much?" Rani asked.
"It can." Nala said. "I had the same problem when I was carrying Kiara. It got a lot easier when I was pregnant with Kion."
She looked at Kion. "Chewing on mint plant helped me with my stomach you can find some for her?"
"Right, good idea." Kion said.
"Do you want me to come with you?" Kiara asked.
"Sure." Kion said. "It'll give us time to catch up."
The two of them headed down Pride Rock together.
"How's living at The Tree of Life going?" Kiara asked as they walked through the savannah.
"It's been great!" Kion said. "Being with Rani ... is amazing! I love her so much. There's like...a warmness inside me that I've never felt before...does that make sense?"
"I get what you mean." Kiara chuckled a bit. "I feel the exact same thing when I'm with Kovu."
She sniffed the air. "I think there's a patch of mint nearby."
"There it is." Kion said, grabbing a chunk of mint out of the ground, holding them firmly in his jaw.
Kiara laughed a bit at how his cheeks puffed out, while holding the mint.
Kiara grabbed some mint too and they both headed back to Pride Rock.
Rani had managed to go from laying on her side to laying on her stomach.
Kion nearly spat out the mint leaves in front of her.
"That's gross." Rani teased.
"Hey, my mouth was starting to burn." Kion laughed.
Kiara placed her pile of mint leaves in front of Rani.
Slowly, Rani leaned forward and took a huge bite of mint leaves.
"I really hope this works." Rani said, laying her head back down on the ground.
Kion laid beside her and nuzzled her close. "Are you feeling any better at all?"
"A little...laying on my stomach doesn't hurt as bad anymore ..." She said. "I think I'll be fine."
She laid her head on Kion's shoulder and closed her eyes.
Kovu and Vitani entered the den.
"Hey, we heard the good news!" Kovu said excitedly.
Kion smiled. "Yeah, I'm so happy."
He leaned down and nuzzled Rani's stomach.