Long ago in a land not so very far there was a very young Lion. The little lion was headstrong as young lions are. The little lion was very curious, adventurous and would always get into trouble.
The Lion had been placed in the care of a Warbler, the Warbler like most Warblers was ill prepared, and had been cursed to the power of the Witch for all eternity. This meant that the little Lion was subjected to the whims and rules of the Witch because the Warbler was completely powerless against the Witch. The little Lion knew that she should please the witch because it would make her life so much easier, but it seemed as though the little lion could never make the Witch happy. No matter what. The mean old witch clearly disliked the little lion and reminded it at every turn just how much. Even if it was just a look, a look of discontent, a look of disgust, a guttural primal noise of the sour taste the lions very breathing inflicted upon the Witch.
There had been a Tortoise and a Hare under the care of the Warbler but they had raced off before the little lion ever got to really know them. Nothing the little Lion did went without the implied threat that the Lion would go the way of the Tortoise and the Hare if she were to not conform.
But that silly little Lion was so headstrong. That little Lion just knew that under no circumstances would she let the Witch win, or an even worse fate, be like the Warbler because that, would be worse than death.
As the little Lion grows she becomes stronger, smarter and way more clever than the Warbler in no time. The Witch however continues to reign over the entire kingdom with her limitless power and realizes that even with all her power, the little Lion has remained hard headed and independent.
One day the not so little anymore Lion decides she is big enough and smart enough to leave the Kingdom and be rid of the Witch forever. She has no pity for the Witch, and less for the Warbler. The Lion had realized the Warbler could have escaped the power of the Witch many times, but it would mean leaving the Castle. On that final day, the Witch flew into a rage and informed the Lion that it had always been a thorn in the side of the entire kingdom and nothing but a horrible reminder to the poor Warbler because if it weren’t for the Lion the Warbler would have had free will. The Lion ran off, far far away.
For a very long time the Lion looked for the Hare and the Tortoise but they had little interest in the Lion. They had been free for so long they had their own families and they simply had no need for a Lion in a family of Hares or Tortoises. So the Lion headed out to make her own Kingdom.
The Lion made horrible choices, and huge mistakes, it seemed like one directly after the next, but no matter how sad, lonely or hungry the Lion was she would not return to the Kingdom of the evil Witch.
Eventually the Lion grew up even through all her many mistakes and had her own family. Not perfect, not easy, not quiet, because well, they were baby Lions. Every mistake the Lion made she worried how it would affect her cubs, their safety, their lives, their happiness. Because even though the Lion always walked with her head held high and had a mighty roar the Lion had no clue what she was really doing, but she knew those cubs would know they were Lions and that was a thing to be proud of.
When the cubs were old enough, clever enough, strong enough, and proud enough, they learned from their Mother the stories of the Evil Witch and the wobbly Warbler . When the Lion was sure her cubs understood, the Lion took them to the Kingdom so they could understand what the Lion had fought so hard against. Now the Lions would enter the Kingdom, strong, united, and with mighty proud roars.
The Lion saw the Witch had grown so much older, and somehow more gentle, and the Warbler appeared to no longer be under the spell of the Witch but instead now held the real power. The Lion was confused as to how this Warbler who had never been able to protect the little Lion had stayed long enough and done enough that now the Witch couldn’t go a day without the Warbler, and the Warbler was in charge. For a moment the Lion had hoped there might be a glimmer of hope for the Warbler and now the Lion and her beautiful Cubs would become important, and of value. The moment faded fast and the Lion realized that it wasn’t the Witch who had made the choice all those years for the imprisonment of the Warbler but it was indeed the Warbler who had fed the Witch for so long, that the slow daily poisonings would soon pay off. The Warbler instead of seizing the power and freeing the Kingdom had become so like the Witch that when the Lion saw the Warbler speaking to her cubs she was reminded of how the Witch had spoken to her. She grabbed her cubs and left the Kingdom forever.
The Lion and her family did not live happily ever after. Her cubs grew up as all cubs do. The Lion was proud but scared for her cubs no matter how grown they became. She tried so hard to still hold her head up high and have a mighty roar, but the years had been hard on the Lion. The Lion missed her cubs so dearly but understood that they had to go and find their own Kingdoms make their own mistakes as well as conquests. Each time her cubs came upon a hardship the Lion would offer fate a drop of her soul in exchange for an easier way for her now growing cubs. The Lion reminds her grown cubs that they are indeed powerful wonderful, amazing Lions, and they can become the rulers of their Kingdoms. But eventually even with nearly the entire soul of the Lion traded one of the cubs fell away.
As the Lion lays quietly in her Den, depleted, she always tried to force her younger days and the heartbreak for one of her cubs out of her mind with the visions of her other cubs living a wonderful exciting and adventurous life, but she never forgets. As an older wiser Lion she grew to understand how the Witch became a Witch, and found out that the Witch was once too a Lion, but she held onto her sad past for so long that she turned each drop of pain into a magic brick to build a wall of anger around herself. She had become a Witch to protect herself. In later years the Warbler came to need the Lion. But the Lion never allowed herself to fully trust the Warbler because the Lion remembered how the Warbler had secretly poisoned the Witch for so many years. She often wondered which was more evil, the Witch or the Warbler.
Sometimes the Lion forgets that her cubs are grown, sometimes the Lion dreams that her cubs are still little and she can do things differently, better, and avoid all her mistakes so her cubs would have better lives, so they would know they are fierce amazing powerful Lions. Sometimes the Lion just hopes and dreams that her cubs know how very very much they are loved.
In my dreams my cubs live happily ever after.