Chapter 7: A New Life
The last thing Lily remembered was bolting out of the classroom and shifting into her cheetah form. She was trying to escape the unrelenting agony she was feeling. Now, she was in the principal's office on a couch. The principal was looking over her intently.
"Are you alright, Miss? What are you doing here?" the principal said.
"I don't remember," Lily lied, thinking it was the best way to solve her situation. Back then, she shifted forms because of the overwhelming agony she experienced. At least the pain was gone for now. "Where is the nearest hospital? I don't feel so well." It wasn't that she needed to go to the hospital, but it would allow her to get away from her current situation.
"Do you need us to call an ambulance?"
"No, I'll be fine. Thank you."
The principal gave her directions and let her walk away.
She made her way back home. It would be easier to explain her absence that way compared to if she went back to school and had to enter from the principal's office since it was well into the school day.
On the way back, she checked her text messages, Gabrielle left school because she was concerned about her. While composing a response, she heard a scream of agony. Wasting no time, she rushed towards the source in an alley. A group of predators were beating up a bunny kit.
"What do you all think you're doing?" Lily said in her cheetah form.
They scampered away without putting up a fight.
"Are you okay?" she asked. The grey bunny had several bruises on her cheek and appeared to be about eight years old. "What happened?"
"My family doesn't want me," the rabbit sobbed.
Something tragic provided such nourishment for her. It was superb even though she had no control over the emotions she consumed. "What do you plan to do now?" Lily asked.
"Can I live with you?"
"Yes," she said without thinking. The taste of emotions clouded her judgment.
"What's your name?"
"I'm Lily." She knew the Hopps were famous in a sense since that's where Judy Hopps came from. It was also unlikely that they cast someone out of their family. "Are you sure your family doesn't want you?"
"They set up the trap. Don't send me back." Buttercream sounded desperate, and that seemed to make her emotions taste all the sweeter.
"It's going to be okay. Come with me." She led the bunny to her home.
"Wow!" Buttercream exclaimed. "You live here?"
"Make yourself at home." Lily wondered how she should deal with Gabrielle now. Since she discovered a new source of food, there was no need to pretend to be a student at a high school anymore. Maybe it was best if she ignored it. It would be too awkward to explain her current situation anyway. If she ignored Gabrielle, Gabrielle should go away.
Unfortunately, as the concerned friend Gabrielle was, she came to her mansion unexpectedly. "Are you okay?" She was here, not even by the gate or anything. The door was open and she waltzed right in. The problem was that Lily was with Buttercream.
"More than okay," Lily replied, thinking of the best way to send Gabrielle away.
"Who is this?" Buttercream gestured towards Gabrielle.
"I'm her friend. Can I talk to you, alone?" Gabrielle asked.
"Sure." Lily thought with any luck, they could come to a mutual understanding where she would leave. "We'll be right back."
They walked far enough way that Buttercream wouldn't hear them talk.
"So, why are you in your cheetah form? And who is she?"
Lily thought of the best way to explain her situation. Buttercream was someone she saved that wanted to live with her, and she decided to move on from being a student. "It's complicated."
"Well, we have time. Do you know how worried I was when you didn't send any text messages? Especially since you were unconscious in your cheetah form?"
"I'm sorry. I was busy."
"With? Something to let me know that you're okay would've been nice. Instead, I find you here in your cheetah form with a bunny kit. What happened?"
Lily told the truth since she didn't want to dispose of Gabrielle if she could avoid it even though it seemed inevitable. "Well, I had to escape from school, then on the way home, I heard mammals picking on this bunny kit. I saved her and she wants to live with me. I'm also done being Lily the rabbit." She noticed that her friend's fur started bristling partway through the explanation.
Gabrielle shot her a furious look. "I suppose that also means you haven't apologized for your actions towards George. I'm also going to guess that the kit's family doesn't know that she's living here."
"Well, she is running away. Her family doesn't want her. Just for you, I will apologize to George as Lily the rabbit. Is this good enough? We can even go right now."
"Are you sure the kit wants this?"
"Can I talk to her?"
"Sure, her name's Buttercream. You'll see that she's perfectly willing."
"Fine, wait here." Gabrielle walked away.
Lily wondered if it was a mistake to trust Gabrielle. There was a chance she could try to run away with Buttercream. Gabrielle was her friend, but she could tell that Gabrielle was uneasy about the situation. Maybe she needed to dispose of her friend to prevent complications. It shouldn't be too hard to hide it from Buttercream yet she was somewhat reluctant to act on the impulse of killing Gabrielle. After all, Gabrielle cared about her and was one of her food sources.
It was a long and agonizing wait, hoping that her friend didn't run away with Buttercream. She wasn't ready to end their relationship yet even though it would've been practical to do so. Regrets and hopes preventing her from killing Gabrielle in cold blood. A part of her dared to believe that everything would work out just fine. She also wasn't sure how long Buttercream would remain a viable food source so alternatives were always good.
After what seemed like forever, Gabrielle returned here with Buttercream. "Fine, I'll keep this secret for now."
"You mean I'll get to stay?"
"Of course!" Lily exclaimed.
"Don't forget what you need to do by Friday at the latest," Gabrielle said. "I won't forgive you if you don't."
"It'll be fine," Lily said. There was plenty of time within the week where she could apologize to George for her actions. Part of her wondered how much Gabrielle revealed to Buttercream, but the kit didn't seem any different. The taste of her emotions improved slightly.
Her troubles could wait for another time, she could play with the kit now since Gabrielle left.