Simba was exploring a far part of the oasis. He didn't go there often but he still he wasn't expecting much. But as he made his way through, he found something completely unfamiliar. Just on the other side of a small pond, the trees had some-what darker leaves and thicker trunks and there were considerably more rocks and bushes.
"Cool!" he thought. Despite the urge to run right in and explore, something told him to keep his distance. He tried to tell Timon and Pumbaa about it but they didn't believe him.
"We've never seen anything like that," they said.
"But, I saw it! I know it!" insisted Simba.
"Sure, you did, kid. Sure, you did," said Timon dismissively.
"Then why don't I show you," inquired Simba, "If there's nothing there, you've got nothing to lose."
Timon and Pumbaa agreed and Simba lead them to where he had seen the pond. When they got there, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
"I could've sworn it was here," said Simba.
"Yeah, sure," said Timon dismissively, "Isn't it convenient how the whole place can vanish before we get there?"
Simba scowled at him.
"I just hope you never go in that place," said Pumbaa, humoring the lion, "If you do and we can't find it, we may never see you again."
Simba, reluctantly, promised he wouldn't. But that was the only thing he promised. Simba ventured to the far part of the oasis a few times afterwards and there was the pond and the strange foliage. Often, he thought he could see something moving. He didn't bother telling Timon and Pumbaa, He knew it was real and was more than a little curious to see what was on the other side of that pond. Despite this, Pumbaa's words kept repeating in his head and he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
Bambi was familiar with a lot of the forest but one day, in an area he thought he thought he had been to before, he discovered a new pond of his own. It was on the edge of a strange part of the forest. There was a bigger variety of plants and they all seemed brighter and more saturated.
The young deer never said anything about it, mainly because no one else did. While he was a bit curious about the lush green area on the other side of the pond, he didn't really seek it out. He did, however, stumble upon it every now and then. He never went near the pond, though. He had a strange feeling that there was something on the other side.
One day, he came across it again. As usual, he felt uneasy but today the feeling didn't seem as bad. He slowly came up to the edge of the water, checked to make sure nothing was around and started to drink from the pond.
Meanwhile, Simba was making his way to the mysterious part of the "oasis".
"Today is the day I'm finally going to see what's on the other side of that pond," he thought. This wasn't the first time he thought this but now he meant it. This wasn't the first time he meant it, either.
He was just approaching the pond and the darker green trees when he began to have second thoughts again. But this time, something else crept into his view. There was a deer drinking from the far side of the pond. Of course, Simba didn't know exactly what to call this creature but he guessed that it must've been what was moving before. He didn't know what to do with an animal like this, it was just fascinating to see.
Then he grinned slyly. Prey or not, he thought it would be fun to practice pouncing with it. Suddenly, Pumbaa's words weren't so loud.
"Well, hakuna matata," he said to himself as he crouched down.
Bambi was enjoying his drink when that uneasy feeling started the grow again. He stood alert just as Simba pounced towards him. Bambi scrambled away and Simba just barely missed him, landing in the water. The pond was shallow and he shook himself dry easily.
"Come back!" he shouted, "I'm only practicing!"
Bambi wasn't familiar with animals like this, either. All he knew was that it just tried to pounce him. "Practice what?" he asked, "Catching prey?"
"So you are prey, then?" asked Simba and lunged at Bambi again, truly in the deer's territory now.
Bambi was taken aback. "No..." he said slowly.
Neither of them noticed faint light particles starting to form around the lion.
"I'm not trying to hurt you," said Simba in a mockingly sweet tone, "I just want to see if I can pounce you."
"Is that what you've been doing?" said Bambi, who was starting to get a little cocky himself, "You'll have to try harder than that!" He dashed into the lush-green oasis and light particles began to form around him too.
Simba, still in the forest, was about to try to pounce again when he began to feel funny. He stopped and began to look over himself, turning away from Bambi in the process.
Bambi himself started to feel funny too. The light particles became more prominent as they exchanged themselves between lion and deer. That's when it began.
Simba's funny feeling began to build all over, mostly focusing on his tail. He stared as his tail begin to shrink until a little more than his tuft remained. The fur of his now much smaller tail fluffed-up a little. The under-side of his new diminutive tail matched his under belly and the top turned the color of what used to be his tuft.
Bambi's tail grew out long, and ropy. The fur of his new tail was thin but remained fluffy at the end as it grew a black tuft. It lashed about as he tried to take control of it.
He didn't have time, though. His hooves began to expand while the front-most part separated and reformed into white toes, matching his belly. What was left of his hooves shrank and reformed into claws, leaving him with four paws. His legs straightened and filled out as their joints rearranged. Bambi's new legs felt very foreign to him but he managed to keep himself upright.
Simba's claws popped out of his paws. His claws expanded across his toes, flattened out and fused together. His toes themselves fused together too, forming hooves. His legs thinned out and stretched as their joints rearranged. Simba's thinner legs trembled as he tried to hold himself up. The new joint arrangement only made things more awkward for him. He tried to use his tail for balance but it didn't help and he flopped onto his belly.
Simba's body began to shift and slim down. His belly fur connected to the fur under his tail. Cream spots, matching his belly, formed on his fur and a dark strip, matching the top of his tail, formed up his back. With less bulk, Simba was able to sit up but his legs bent awkwardly with his new joint arrangement.
Bambi's body bulked up as it shifted. He lost his spots, leaving him with a brown coat of fur.
His ears became more rounded and his muzzle stretched out width-wise. His dull teeth sharpened into fangs. The white fur that connected from under his muzzle to his belly turned brown while his neck bulked up to match the rest of his body.
Simba's neck slimmed down to match the rest of his body. The fur on the front of his neck turned the same color as his belly and the underside of his muzzle, connecting the two. His ears grew out and pointed while his muzzle and nose narrowed. His teeth flattened to that of an herbivore.
And it was over. Simba was now a deer and Bambi was now a lion. Both stared at each other, dumbfounded over what just happened and what they were looking at. Neither knew what to say.
Bambi broke his stare and looked into the pond to try to see his new form but much to his surprise, he saw a deer staring back at him. He raised a paw and his reflection raised a hoof. He didn't notice that Simba's reflection was a lion.
At last, Bambi broke the silence. "I'm not a deer, am I?" he asked.
Simba couldn't bear to look over his new form. Knowing what animal he was now wasn't comforting. "I guess not," he said weakly. It was all he could manage to say.
"Well, what exactly am I?" asked Bambi.
Simba turned to face Bambi directly, still sitting and looked him over for as long as he could stomach. "You look like a lion, to me," he said at last, "Of course, I'm supposed to be the lion here. Look at me! How am I supposed to hunt with these?!" asked Simba, raising a hoof. Realizing exactly what he did, he recoiled in horror. He. Had. Hooves.
"Well, I don't really hunt," replied Bambi, "Grass and leaves should be enough for you. How exactly do lions hunt, anyway?"
Simba was horrified. "I'm not touching plants!" he almost shrieked. Bambi looked down at Simba's hooves. "You know what I mean," retorted Simba, "and there's no point in teaching you how to hunt, either."
"What do you mean? We have to eat sometime."
"Yes but I'll, (I mean) we'll be back to normal before then!"
"Uh... hm..." Simba wasn't sure how. "Okay," he said at last, "Well..." he said at last, "Maybe... There's Rafiki."
"Who?" asked Bambi.
"A friend of the family," said Simba. Shakily, he stood up. "I think I know where to find him." He took a few uneasy steps before he lost his balance and fell over.
"Do you need help?" Bambi offered.
"No," insisted Simba. He got up and tried to walk again but the just fell on his face. "Ok, just until I learn how to control these legs," he conceded.
Bambi stood alongside Simba while he got to his hooves again. He leaned against Bambi to help steady himself.
"I'm Bambi, by the way."
"Simba," replied Simba.
With Bambi there to lean on when he lost his balance, Simba got the hang of walking with his new form. Bambi took to his new form more easily but, although lean, it was bulkier than he was used to.
After some distance, Simba and Bambi arrived at a giant baobab tree in the middle of the savannah.
"Well," said Simba, "this is it."
"So, what do we do now?" asked Bambi.
Simba opened his mouth to speak and stopped himself. "I'm not entirely sure," he admitted, "I guess we wait until he comes out."
"Can I help you?" asked a voice from behind.
Both deer and lion jumped and looked behind them. There was a baboon holding a staff.
"Oh. Uh, hello Rafiki," said Simba, "You probably don't recognize me. I'm..."
"Of course, I recognize you, Simba," said Rafiki.
Simba was surprised. "How did you know?"
The baboon waved his staff.
"Ok...?" Simba decided not to question it.
Rafiki turned to the brown lion in front of him. "I am afraid, I do not know who you are."
"I'm Bambi," said the lion.
"A pleasure to meet you," said Rafiki kindly.
Simba cleared his throat. "You can probably guess why..."
Rafiki held up his hand for silence. He looked over the pair and waved his staff above them. "Tell me what happened," encouraged Rafiki.
Both Simba and Bambi told him their story. "...but when I looked into the pond, I was still a deer," finished Bambi.
"Wait, what?" asked Simba.
"I see," said Rafiki thoughtfully. He paused. "I am not sure of the nature of this," he said at last, "but it is powerful."
Simba's ears drooped sadly. Bambi wasn't sure how to respond and smiled awkwardly.
"However, I can, at least, try to reverse it," the baboon finished. Simba and Bambi's faces lit up. Rafiki gestured to a pool of water. "Meanwhile, you can view your new forms over there."
Rafiki started back towards his tree while Bambi made his way towards the water. Simba hesitated.
"Simba," said Rafiki, "are you alright?"
"I'm sorry," said Simba, "I just can't."
"I will not force you to do anything, Simba but you should look," said Rafiki firmly, "It is a part of your experience."
Rafiki disappeared into his tree. Simba looked towards the water. He stood up but couldn't bring himself to move.
Bambi reached the pool of water and looked at his reflection. He turned so he could see his profile and saw just how bulky and monochrome his body actually was, at least compared to before. His now-longer tail lashed behind him. He couldn't believe the lion looking back at him was him. He had to admit, that lion did not look bad.
He was so captured by his reflection that he didn't notice Rafiki and Simba had come up behind him.
"Bambi," said the baboon, "we are ready."
Bambi broke away from the water. "Huh, what? Oh, right."
Rafiki had two halves a coconut, one in each hand. They had some kind of liquid in them.
"Now, both of you, drink this," ordered Rafiki. Both did so without hesitation. Their bodies tingled for a moment then stopped.
"Did it work?!" asked Simba excitedly. He quickly turned to the water, anxious to see his old self. He looked in... and saw a golden-ochre deer staring back at him. Simba stood there, stunned. Then he screamed. "What? What?!" he shrieked turning to Rafiki, "It didn't work! I'm still... I'm not... I'm... I'm...!"
"Not a lion?" ventured Bambi, trying to help.
Simba glared at him. Slowly, he smiled nervously. "Oh well," he said, "We can just try something else." He turned to Rafiki again. "Right?"
Rafiki looked serious. "What?" asked Simba.
"Simba, Bambi, I do not know the nature of what did this to you. I made the most powerful brew I could make with information I had." Simba began to cringe. "If that did not work, then nothing I can do will," finished Rafiki.
Bambi stared; Simba's jaw dropped. He couldn't find his voice. At last he said, "So, I'm stuck like this?"
"We're stuck like this," Bambi corrected.
"Shut up!" burst out Simba, "You're not stuck! You got an upgrade. I'm not supposed... you stole... you have..." He was tempted to tackle Bambi right there and then but his body, his foreign body, felt numb. "This isn't happening. I can't be a deer. I'm not a deer!"
"Simba, calm down," said Rafiki but it was too late for that.
"I said shut up! I'm not a deer! I AM NOT A DEER!" His feeling returned in an instant and, not knowing what else to do, Simba ran off.
"Simba, wait!" cried Bambi. He tried to chase after him but Rafiki grabbed him by the tail.
"No, Bambi," he said, "There is nothing we can do for him right now."
"But he has no idea how to be a deer!"
"I know that but he is in no state to learn. He needs to calm down first."
"When will that be?"
Rafiki sighed. "I am not sure. This is something you cannot go through together now. But your paths will cross again. I know it."
Bambi gave in. Then a thought struck him. "I have no idea how to be a lion."
He turned to face Rafiki but he was no where to be seen. Both Bambi and Simba were own their own.
This was inspired by this piece https://www.deviantart.com/sirzi/art/Exchange-718964688 by Sirzi (https://www.deviantart.com/sirzi) (It deserves more attention, it really does)
He said in the description that it could be a story so I thought, why not?
Characters belong to Disney
Original art and concept by Sirzi (https://www.deviantart.com/sirzi)