The second they walked through the door, they knew somebody had been in the house. Their sense of smell, probably the keenest of all the families that lived in this woodland, immediately alerted them to the intruder who had been here. What also became evident pretty clearly was that they weren’t dealing with the usual sort of intruder. When the three of them had been forced to hurry out unexpectedly earlier, breakfast had been abandoned on the kitchen table. Looking at the bowls of oats the adults knew somebody other than them had been eating from them.
Her cub wriggled expertly from her grasp, loping over to his assigned place at the table and staring in surprise at the empty bowl which sat there.
“Somebody has been eating my porridge,” her mate muttered, a low voice designed not to alarm the child. Also an entirely unnecessary statement, she was perfectly aware.
“Yes, I know, mine too.”
Their son had been listening, piping up, “And somebodies been eating my porridge, and they ate it ALL UP!” He giggled, clearly thinking this was all some sort of game. She was rather relieved he wasn’t picking up on their anxiety, but at the same time she knew one day he would have to learn of the dangers that lurked in these woods for their kind. They were once fearsome creatures, but man was a wily one, and had found ways to overcome their brute strength.
Cautiously, her mate moved into the front room. The low growl he gave indicated that the trespasser had not remained in the kitchen alone. She walked in and then came to an abrupt standstill, despairing at the sight before her. The cushions and quilt she had spent hours stitching by hand or to make her chair more comfortable were strewn across the floor. Clearly they had not been to somebodies taste. Her mates chair had been kicked over, perhaps in frustration or perhaps just because whoever had been here enjoyed wilful destruction. Their chairs could be rescued though, but the one belonging to their child that her mate had spent so long crafting when she had first told him she was expecting – that had been destroyed entirely.
Their son had naturally followed them from the kitchen, and now he knew this was no game. He began to whimper at the sight of the splinters of wood that his chair used to be. “Mummy,” he sobbed. “Somebody sat in my chair, and they BROKE it!” It was a fully-fledged wail now, and she fell on to all four paws so that she could comfort him properly.
Her mate’s growl got louder now, with the cub visibly upset there was no need for him to hide his anger anymore. “I don’t understand, what sort of person breaks into a house to eat porridge and destroy chairs?” She keened, holding her cub close. “I thought we were safe here, I thought we’d gotten away from those who would hurt us!”
“Calm yourself, woman! I am as angry as you are but this does not look like the work of somebody who wishes to do us physical harm. This is something else, something strange I agree. We should check the rest of the house.”
He moved towards the stairs, clearly intending to check the first floor. She followed closely behind with her cub. She knew the safest place to be was always closest to her mate, he had proved himself as a protector and provider a hundred times over during the course of their time together. As the climbed the staircase, her alarm increased. The scent of the intruder that had lingered downstairs was getting stronger – assailing her senses. Whoever had broken in had not actually left yet.
They glanced into the room they shared. Both of the beds were mussed up, but she knew she had made them with care that morning.
“It looks like somebody has been sleeping in our beds…” Another less than typical intruder behaviour.
For the second time that morning, her cub slipped from her grasp and bounded down the hall crying out, “I want to see if they slept in my bed, too!”
“No, wait!” She cried, relieved when he came to a complete stop in front of the door to his room.
Their cub gave his own version of a growl, it completely lacked any menace at his young age but it still struck fear into her heart. “What is it, my dear?” She cried, hurrying to join him.
“Somebody has been sleeping in my bed, and THEY’RE STILL THERE!”
She skidded to a halt outside the door, her mate close behind her. One glance was enough to confirm what the cub said was true. It was incredible their intruder remained sleeping given the racket they had made, but sleep on she did. Yes, she, a small human girl – everything had pointed to a very unusual sort of trespasser, and the child sleeping in her cub’s bed fit that description. A beautiful child, in human terms that is, with long golden hair and skin so pale it almost looked like silver.
“How could something so innocent looking cause such destruction?” She whispered in amazement.
“She is less innocent than she looks, that is for sure.” Her mate walked into the room with purpose, neither of them had reason to fear the child – they could kill her in an instant if they so desired. “Shall we see what she has to say for herself?”
She realised her mate might actually intend to kill the girl. Despite his alpha male attitude in day to day life, he was very fond of their cub, would do anything for the boy. She knew his anger was less about the child breaking in, and more about her having destroyed the cub’s chair, eaten his porridge and then having the audacity to go and crawl into his bed to sleep the meal off. She placed her cub firmly in the corner of the room, with a look he knew well meant ‘do not move’ and stood on the other side of the bed from her mate. Together they leaned over the child, growling. Though she stirred, she did not actually wake until saliva from her mate’s mouth dripped on to her pretty little face. She grimaced, wiping it from forehead, then blinked sleepily up at them. For a moment, the site before her seemed to just confuse her, then her face became a picture of horror – it was very nearly comical.
She sat straight up and cried, “Gosh! I…uh…don’t eat me?”
“Why shouldn’t we?” He mate asked through his growling.
“I, um, I didn’t know you lived here!” Tears streamed down the child’s face, but she felt no sympathy. “If I knew I wouldn’t have eaten the porridge. And I’m sorry the chair broke, really I am! Please let me leave, I won’t come back.”
“It isn’t our porridge you ate, it belongs to our cub. It is his chair you broke as well. You should know, us bears are very protective of our cubs,” she told the girl menacingly.
“I…I promise I’ll be good in the future!” The girl surprised them then, before they could respond to her plea she leapt from the bed with the sort of agility they would not have guessed she possessed. She easily slipped past them, and they could hear her retreating down the stairs.
She saw her mate tense as he prepared to follow her – she may be quick but with his massive strides he would soon catch her, but she called out to prevent him, “No! It is not worth it my dear! Humans are as protective of their young as we are of ours, if she goes missing they will come for her, and if they figure out that we killed her, they will kill us. All of us.”
For a moment, she feared that her reason could not reach him through his anger. She held her breath, and relaxed when he fell back onto all fours – he was going to do as she asked.
“Come on, my little one, I shall make you more porridge.” She said to her son, shooing him out of the room. She glanced back to her mate, nodded at him in thanks for heeding her.
She knew the next intruder might not be so lucky.