AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is technically a blend of the 1992 and 2019 films, but the only influence of the animated film is the addition of Prince Achmed. Otherwise, this is entirely based on the remake.
The title is from The Tyger by William Blake.
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The first man to call on Jasmine is Darius.
Rajah's hackles go up as he studies his fifteen-year-old mistress' suitor. The shah of Persia is not quite as old as Sultan Hamed, but the margin is slim. There are gray streaks in Darius' beard, but it is the lust in his eyes that makes the Bengal tiger snarl. He can smell the shah's arousal, strong as a tiger in full heat. This man wants to harm Jasmine, wants to pounce on her and sire his offspring in her youthful body, continue his bloodline no matter the cost. At least in the jungle a tigress can refuse a male's advances, but not here. Rajah feels the princess' hand tremble when it rests on his striped fur. She is trying to appear brave, but he can smell her fear as potently as the shah's desire.
Rajah would have bitten off more than Darius's hand if the tiger hadn't been dragged off the man so quickly.
Jasmine likes her second suitor. Rajah doesn't.
He is Yíjūn, the Chinese emperor's son only a few years older than the princess. Rajah growls every time he sees the Asian royal, but Jasmine always hushes the tiger and offers a broad smile to Yíjūn. Everything seems to go smoothly for the pair. They take moonlit strolls together - Rajah would rather take a potential mate hunting than walking, but humans never seem to follow tiger traditions - and Yíjūn even makes Jasmine laugh.
But then on one evening walk, things change. Yíjūn talks of ruling Agrabah in her place, of hiding her behind screens and hijab veils, of keeping her locked away in a harem. Jasmine protests, and when Yíjūn grabs her wrist, that is when she realizes what Rajah has known all along.
Yíjūn leaves the next morning nursing claw mark wounds.
Rajah wrinkles his nose.
Vain as a peacock, Prince Achmed positively reeks of hair oil and perfume. The scent is so thick the tiger knows he'll have to bathe himself twice just to get the aroma out of his fur. Then Achmed takes a threatening step towards Jasmine, and Rajah lunges.
It all ends rather quickly; five minutes is a new record for a suitor to flee. Achmed leaves with a hole in the seat of his velvet trousers, and Rajah's roar fills the palace.
Prince Anders smells of rain.
This one, oddly pale as he is, doesn't seem overtly threatening; Jasmine is annoyed more than anything. But then Anders waves a tassel in Rajah's face, irritating the tiger's whiskers. The huge feline swipes at the tassel, claws unsheathed, and finally tackles the prince when the northerner doesn't stop.
Rajah has never liked any of Jasmine's suitors. Until this one, that is.
Despite his fine clothes, Prince Ali smells of dirt and dust. It is faint, yes, but the tiger notices it all the same. The dark-skinned man in blue at Ali's side smells of magic, but the prince himself clearly knows of life outside of marble palaces, of hardship, of surviving. Yet most importantly, Ali doesn't look at Jasmine as a predator would eye its prey. Instead, there is kindness in his gaze, and nervous yet gentle lines to his body. Simply put, Ali is not a threat. But Jasmine grows tense as the conversation continues. Rajah understands the human word "jam", but can't fathom why it would put her on edge. At least she doesn't seem afraid of Ali.
A few nights later, Rajah lifts his head when he hears footsteps on Jasmine's balcony. The tiger gives a warning growl when a shape moves in the shadows. But Rajah recognizes Ali's scent even before the prince steps into the light. Once again, there is no aggression in the man's body language. Satisfied that Ali isn't going to hurt the princess, Rajah pads over to the prince. Jasmine says her cat's name, but Rajah is more interested in smelling Ali up close. The prince then scratches the tiger behind the ear in a spot that's almost impossible for the beast to reach himself. Purring, Rajah licks Ali's face in approval.
Rajah then lays down, rolling onto his back and exposing his stomach, and yawns. The tiger is still the most powerful one in the room, but this suitor has proved again he isn't a danger.
It is odd, then, that Ali jumps off the balcony and returns on a flying carpet. It is stranger still when Jasmine joins him on the floating rug. Rajah starts to follow his mistress, but she and the prince fly off before the tiger can join them. Rajah huffs and watches them disappear into the night.
When they return just before dawn, Jasmine is happier than Rajah has seen her in years. Her mouth meets Ali's - the human way of showing affection, apparently; tigers would rub heads to show the same - and when they part ways Ali and Jasmine are both smiling.
Rajah can barely remember the last time she smiled.
Out of all the men interested Jasmine, Rajah despises Jafar the most.
The grand vizier has been watching her like a falcon for too many years. Long before the shah of Persia had come calling to the then fifteen-year-old girl, Jasmine had held Jafar's interest. The tiger always growls when the advisor entered the same room as the princess, baring his teeth and unsheathing his claws when Jafar gets too close.
But now, after so many years, Jafar stops hiding his intentions. It all reminds Rajah of Darius; the two men want to own Jasmine, wants to dominate and rule over her. Jafar - once the vizier, then the sultan, and now a sorcerer - tortures her father Hamed and handmaiden Dalia until Jasmine promises to marry the madman. Rajah won't stand for it.
The tiger lunges. Rajah has wanted to maim suitors before, but now he wants to sink his teeth into Jafar's jugular vein until the man stops breathing, disembowel Jafar with his claws, feast on the man's heart. But then Jafar snaps his fingers, and suddenly the tiger is in the dungeons in a locked cell.
Rajah throws himself at the bars, fighting with all his might to break free. His roar is so powerful he is sure Jasmine will hear him all the way in the throne room.
"I am sorry, Rajah, but you cannot follow us."
The tiger blinks, confused. Jasmine is refusing to let him into her chambers for the first time since Rajah has known her. Aladdin (formerly called Ali) is allowed in, but Rajah doesn't understand what's changed regarding himself. Yes, Jasmine and Aladdin were the center of a celebration all day, and Jasmine is wearing a white gown with a star-studded veil, but-
"I will see you in the morning, my oldest and dearest friend," Jasmine says as she closes the door behind herself and Aladdin.
It is a natural part of life, Rajah muses. Perhaps humans are not so different from cats after all. In the wild a tigress would seek out a mate and her own territory to raise a brood of cubs, and why shouldn't Jasmine?
So Rajah lays down at the closed door - not to seek entry, but to guard it.
Jasmine and Aladdin's cub is much smaller than Rajah expected.
She is the first one born to the pair, but not their first child; a year earlier, Aladdin and Jasmine had adopted two orphans Noora and Fahid. But the woman sultan is as proud as any tigress mother of her wards and of the child in her arms.
"This is Baldoura," Aladdin says as Rajah inspects the infant.
Jasmine, without fear, lets the tiger greet Baldoura, and the newborn smells of milk and new life. The nearby guards draw their scimitars when Rajah's great jaws open, but the tiger only licks the top of the infant's forehead. Just as with her adopted sister Noora and adopted brother Fahid, Rajah decides Baldoura must be protected, just as he protected their mother.
"Thank you, Rajah," Jasmine says as she strokes the cat's head. Rajah purrs and lays down by the bed. He looks up to see Aladdin kiss the sultan's forehead, looking at her with just as much love as any tiger could gaze at a tigress. Rajah purrs again, content once more that Jasmine has chosen well in her mate.
Leaving their parents and newborn sister's side, Fahid and Noora join Rajah on the floor. The girl leans against the tiger's side, and the boy sits on Rajah's shoulders, both completely unafraid of this powerful beast. When Baldoura grows, the tiger knows he must endure ear, whisker, and tail pulling, but endure it he will.
He does miss how close he once was with Jasmine. Long ago, his mother and father were killed by trophy hunters in the jungles of India. As an orphan cub, he had been given to the young princess after her own mother died. For years, Rajah and Jasmine had only each other for companionship, and they created such an inseparable bond she was almost feline at times. But now she has finally found a mate and created her own family; the tiger is no longer the center of her world. Jasmine doesn't need him as much anymore, and so now he will focus on defending her children.
Perhaps they can do what Jasmine - though she tried valiantly - had never quite succeeded in, and learn the language of cats. The chance is slim, but a tiger can dream.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is in my golden sands and green fjords series - a universe in which Aladdin and Jasmine adopt the two street urchin children and have their own biological (and of my own invention) daughter Baldoura in the fic a tapestry of many colors, and also where Anders and Rapunzel's Prince from Into The Woods are the same person in the fic of emerald and gold.
If your pet doesn't like your boyfriend or girlfriend, pay attention. Animals can tell a person's true character even if that person has fooled you yourself.