His paws made deep wells in the snow as he padded through the quiet night. He could see puffs of his breath warming the cool air before him and his fur was thick with snow. He shouldn’t be here. This was not the time for bears. His mother was somewhere, snuggled beneath the snow, filled with warmth and sleep. He was not warm. And certainly not sleeping. And quite definitely hungry.
He skittered down the white smothered bank at the end of a garden, and found himself a short way from a house, glowing golden in the dark. Despite its brightness, the bear couldn’t see any creatures within; just a room with a spread on the table, and indiscernible shapes bobbing and floating on strings, colours dancing together in erratic twists. The garden was on split levels with a small shed next to one end of the glowing glass room. Dropping down onto the creaking wooden shed, the bear, eyes half closed in sleep, meandered himself lumbering yet agile onto the conservatory’s clear top. He eased his tired hulk of sodden fur to a stop, and lolled his head thoughtfully to one side. His rough tongue stroked the snow from his paws and then his ears, as he sat watching his breath in the moonlight.
At first the noise was a long low moan, which prickled the bears ears. Quickly it turned to a crack and a screech as the ball of fluff, snow and sleep careered down through the glass, arriving abruptly on top of the once unbroken table. Small triangle sandwiches scattered, neatly wrapped gifts cartwheeled into jelly, and at least a few of the brightly swaying balloons were overcome with excitement. The bear let out the sound of a sigh and scratched a damp paw down over one eye.
He shook free some snowy frosting and a stray cucumber slice and looked about him. His eyes fell upon the beautiful creation in what was once the middle of the table, layered and smothered in pink and yellow cream and icing, with 10 perfect candles sitting in the centre. His tongue fell out and rolled around his lips. A decisively lustful paw reached down and shovelled handful after handful of sweet delight into the bear’s face, tinging his fur a sugary pink.
He didn’t hear the door cautiously being pushed open, or the horrified shouts of a mother, or the excited squeals of six small people. All he heard was a blissful rush of sugar in his ears, lulling him gently back to his sleep; candles strewn around him like tiny soldiers, his paws full of cake.