A/N: I made this into a narrated video. If you would like to see it, then check me out on YouTube as 'The Saturday Storytellers', and find the video, The Lion and The Mouse.

"Stop pretending that life doesn't terrify you!"

At first, the mouse had been terrified by the simple shock of a huge paw landing squarely on her back, pinning her into the dust. Then she had been afraid because the lion had extended his claws so that they curled down towards her, black and deadly. He had picked her up, and then she had found herself trembling and dangling by her tail, face to face with the biggest predator in the Savannah.

A young adult male lion with a thin mane and no scars on his face, yet.

And then the conversation had started. She might have climbed up her own tail and bitten his paw to startle him and free herself, but she had never been the cheeky type. And anyway, what if he kept his grip of her regardless? Instead, the mouse had let her body tremble and arched her back to look the lion in the face with all the calm she could manage.

Which, given the fact that he could drop her into his mouth and eat her whole at any time, was only a half-portion. She felt cold with fear, despite the oppressive, dry noon heat.

"I'm sorry," she said reflexively, and then realised that this answer didn't match up with his comment. "I-I didn't mean to wake you up. I didn't see you in the shade." She decided that perhaps she would feel more empowered if she did climb half-way up her tail, so she reached up to grab it.

The lion must have thought she was going to bite him, because he shook her until she gave up and hung again. Having all four feet grasping at thin air made her feel anxious, but there was nothing she could do about that for now. "It's the middle of the day, everybody sleeps in the shade until it cools down. Everybody knows that!"

"Yes, you're right, I understand. But it's easier for me to find seeds if I check under trees and bushes."

The lion's expression changed from one of irritation to sardonic dismissal. "And predators. You're not a very good huntress, are you?"

The mouse quickly swallowed down her feeling of outrage. "It hasn't worked out for me today, no. I have a lot to learn from great hunters like you. I'm sorry again for waking you."

The lion lay down on his back and dangled the mouse directly over his face. "What if your time for learning is up? Perhaps I want a snack."

She was alarmed at these words and decided then and there to climb up her tail and bite him. After all, what did she have to lose? There were half a dozen places to hide nearby no matter where he happened to drop or throw her...

He noticed her climbing, of course, and shook her loose again, transferring her from one paw to the other so that he could hold her instead by the scruff of her neck. "Like I said, life terrifies you. Stop pretending otherwise." He began to lower her to his mouth.

She gasped at the sight of his long teeth splitting apart and cried out, "Let me go! You don't want to do this!"

That was enough to make him close his jaws for a moment and regard her with some amusement, his brown mane spread languidly behind his head. "Is that so? Tell me why. I'm looking forward to this."

"Because I'm not worthy prey! Your lionesses are coming back," she lied, pointing beyond his head where he couldn't see. If he chose to get up and check, then perhaps he would loosen his grip on her for long enough to pull free and escape? "They won't think much of you if they see that all you caught was me."

Judging from the skeptical look he gave her, he didn't believe her for a second. Nonetheless, he mulled over her words. "Very well," he said. He moved his paw so that she could climb up it, and pressed it to the acacia beside them so that she could run onto the bark. Then he rolled over to go back to sleep.

The mouse's relief was so great that she spoke without thinking: "Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you ever need help, I'll return this favour!"

The lion chuckled. "No offense, Mousey, but if I ever saw you again I wouldn't know it. You all look the same."

The mouse bristled with fury as she climbed further up the tree to hide and let her heart rate slow. She found a dip in between two branches and rested there. To distract herself from her anger, she looked around. Where were his lionesses, anyway? Surely they would have been resting with their alpha lion during the intense heat of the mid-day sun.

They were nowhere to be seen, but what she did see was a pack of the one creature that even lions feared. Humans. Hunters, and they were striding across the short, tough grass, heading straight for the lion. Not by chance, either; she was certain they had spotted him.

He, however, had not seen them, nestled as he was among the long grass that grew in the lee of the acacia tree.

She looked down at the slumbering lion. She felt that she should warn him. She also felt that he should be left to be found by the hunters, for his attitude. The mouse was just about to climb down to warn him when she realised one other thing: he was already irritable from being woken once. What if he chose to eat her in return for waking him up twice? She decided that it was not in her best interests to go out of her way for him.

And so, the mouse remained in the crook of the tree and watched as the humans threw a net over him.

That most certainly woke him up! He clambered to his feet with a roar and an indignant swish of his tail, but the weights at the edge of the net dragged him back down. He roared again, bellowing in fury, but no amount of roaring was going to help him.

The humans walked steadily in his direction. They would be upon him in seconds.

The mouse saw all of this, and reached a decision. She dropped down onto the red, iron-rich dust, landing with a light plop. Ignoring the lion for the moment, she headed for a mouse-hole hidden between two acacia roots. "Brothers, sisters!" she called down into the darkness. "Come up - help me! Be quick!" Then she ran to the edge of the net. "LION!" she called up to him.

He looked down at her and took a breath to shout at her, but she spoke first in clipped tones as the first two of her kin joined her.

"I said I would help you. Friends, chew the rope. Free him."

The lion watched, awestruck, as a dozen mice, every one identical to the next and last, each bit through one piece of the rope. That was all they had time for.

And then the humans were upon them. Their strange, chemical stink announced their arrival. They smiled as they saw their prey beneath the net.

The lion took one look at them, and stepped backwards. But he was not trapped, for the mice had done their job well. The chewed pieces of string came apart easily and, to the humans' immense surprise, he ducked free. He took one final look at the hunters and bounded away, out of sight and far out of reach.

When the humans looked down at the net, all they saw were the multiple scatterings of a dozen pale brown mice.

The lion may have seen the mouse again, but he was never sure, because to him, they all looked the same. The mouse may have seen the lion again, but if she did, only she ever knew about it, for she chose not to speak to him again. Because you see, from that day forward the lion held his tongue around any mice he found, just in case.