A/N: This is an early little Christmas present to all fans of Mr. Tumnus. Takes place one month after "A Faun's Tale".
Disclaimer: If I owned Narnia, then this story would be published! lol!
An Unexpected Gift
The sun was shining brightly down on Narnia, and the forest was alive: little streams gurgled happily as they sploshed over stones; vibrantly-coloured birds sang from every tree; delicate pink and yellow flowers dusted the forest floor. It was loudly and merrily springtime.
A Faun and eight Dwarfs were walking along the river's edge, enjoying the cheery atmosphere. This rather odd company was made even odder by the fact that the Dwarfs were carrying picks, hammers, and shovels, and that the Faun, who was obviously the youngest member of the group, was the one leading the expedition.
Mr. Tumnus abruptly stopped before a handsome spruce-tree and scratched his dark, curly head. Behind him, the Dwarfs grumbled good-naturedly at his obvious uncertainty. "I don't know…" the Faun was muttering. He stared at his surroundings, looking frankly baffled.
"Honestly, Tumnus!" the tallest Dwarf hollered, "You should be able to know the way to your own home!"
"Yes, but it is different now!" the Faun insisted, his forehead wrinkling in puzzlement. "I'm accustomed to everything being covered in snow, you see. This green stuff is so very confusing; it all looks the same…"
"You'd think it would be easier", another Dwarf said in a loud whisper, "What with being able to actually see everything". Tumnus blushed but decided to ignore his sniggering companions, and focused upon his predicament. Back in the days of eternal winter, he had often taken this very route back to his little cave. He usually turned away from the river at a particular spruce-tree, and he was fairly certain that he had just found it. The problem now was remembering exactly what direction to go from the riverbank.
Mr. Tumnus clutched his horns tightly, screwing up his eyes and squirming in an attempt to remember any little detail that would help him. The Dwarfs observed the little Faun's strange behaviour with steadily-mounting alarm. "Master Tumnus?" the tall Dwarf ventured to ask. "What are you doing?"
"Don't talk to me!" the little Faun squeaked. "I'm trying to think! Wait, wait, do wait!"
After a long and awkward silence, he finally straightened up and wiped his brow.
"Well?" the eight Dwarfs demanded, now more than a little anxious about the Faun's health.
Mr. Tumnus smiled broadly, something that did not reassure his fellow travellers at all. "This is the place", he told them confidently. "We are to head that way." The Dwarfs stared in the direction that he was pointing, and exchanged dubious glances; after witnessing the Faun's curious manner, they were not sure if they could safely trust his judgment; perhaps he'd had a little knock on the head, or too much wine with his breakfast. Mr. Tumnus noticed their uncertain expressions and hurried to explain. "Holding my head helps me to think", he clarified. "I'm sure this is the way. I remember turning at this tree, and passing a couple of boulders to the right – those boulders over there, you see? It is this way, for sure."
Slightly consoled, the eight Dwarfs grudgingly followed the Faun as he headed away from the river, striking deeper into the forest. Mr. Tumnus grew heartened as he started to recognize certain shrubs and stumps along the way. Finally assured that he was on the right track, the Faun allowed his mind to drift off, trusting his hooves to automatically follow the familiar path through the trees.
Today was exactly one month after the coronation of Narnia's new Kings and Queens. The four monarchs had granted Mr. Tumnus permission to take a team of Red Dwarfs back to his little cave in order to start repairing his home. It was not that the Faun wasn't enjoying his stay at Cair Paravel – quite the contrary – but he felt distinctly uncomfortable surrounded by the finery of the palace. To his mind, the sooner he was able to move back, the better.
The Dwarfs had a lot of work ahead of them, for much of Mr. Tumnus' home had been destroyed during his arrest. Chief among the casualties had been his beautiful carpet (burned full of holes), the crockery (smashed to hundreds of pieces), and his father's portrait (carved to ribbons). His flute, thankfully, had survived the devastation.
Already he was beginning to patch together his former lifestyle. The portrait had been expertly restored by the Dwarfs as a Christmas gift from Queen Lucy, and Mr. Tumnus had recently been presented with a lovely new set of dishes as a joint gift from the Kings and Queens. Furniture could be repaired, and new books could be purchased – in fact, Mr. Tumnus' only sincere regret was the carpet.
He remembered playing on it as a child, tracing the endless woven patterns with his tiny fingers. He remembered scrubbing mud from the heavy fibres whenever he had visitors, and sweeping up piles of melting snow to keep it from getting soiled. He remembered hauling the carpet outside once a year in the blistering cold to beat the dust from it. So much tender and loving care put into so beautiful a thing. That carpet was of Calormene make, very rare and very expensive. There was no way that he could ever afford a replacement.
Mr. Tumnus sighed in disappointment. Maybe he could buy a nice rug instead – some of the nymphs were rather good at weaving. Perhaps one with a little pastoral scene…
"Oy! – Faun!"
Mr. Tumnus frowned at the red-faced Dwarf who had interrupted his musings. "My name is Tumnus", he explained irritably. "And I would appreciate it if–"
"Is this your house?" the Dwarf interrupted, ignoring his words.
Distracted, the Faun turned and noticed for the first time that they had come to the rolling hills where he had made his home. He'd been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't noticed. Thankfully, his feet had carried him unerringly along the accustomed path, right up to his front door. Or rather, right up to his front doorway, as the door itself had been ripped completely off its hinges by members of the White Witch's Secret Police. It now lay in pieces, scattered about on the ground. Tumnus heaved a sigh and nodded. "Yes. This was – is – my house."
The tall Dwarf whistled as he surveyed the damage. "Well then, chaps!" he bellowed suddenly, causing Mr. Tumnus to jump in surprise. "Don't just stand there gawking! Let's get to work and clear this out!" The eight Dwarfs trooped inside gleefully, silver picks, hammers, and shovels propped on their shoulders. A couple of them were even whistling. Mr. Tumnus shook his head – Dwarfs were mad! They did this sort of thing for fun, and were apparently determined to enjoy every minute of it.
The Faun did not follow them through the doorway; he did not think that he could bear the sight of his home all in ruins. Mr. Tumnus could hear the Dwarfs talking in their rough voices – they were gabbling on excitedly about something, but the Faun could not make out the words. Nor was he interested. He leaned against the cool stone beside the gaping doorway and closed his eyes, relishing the feel of the wind on his face. Although it was spring, the breeze was chilly enough for him to wish that he had brought along his old red muffler.
After only a few seconds, Mr. Tumnus heard the Dwarfs coming out again. The Faun opened his eyes, intending to reproach them for stopping their work so soon. However, the sight that greeted him made him momentarily speechless with surprise. On their broad shoulders the Dwarfs were carrying a gigantic package, shaped like a long cylinder, and wrapped up in parchment.
"We found this inside", the tall Dwarf explained, puffing and blowing. The Dwarfs set down the package and stood back, looking at Mr. Tumnus expectantly. The Faun edged forward and wondered what on earth it could be. He did not want to open the package; it was just so strange! Anything could be in there! Mr. Tumnus gulped, and nodded at the Dwarfs, who understood. They crowded around and ripped energetically at the paper, shredding it to pieces.
"Stand back!" they called, and Mr. Tumnus just managed to hop out of the way as the Dwarfs seized the edge of the object and pulled, causing it to unroll.
It was a carpet.
Mr. Tumnus stood mute, utterly overwhelmed by its magnificence. The fibres were delightfully thick and soft, and had been dyed a rich wine-red colour. And woven from end to end was an exquisite pattern of rampant Lions, all in gold and green. The Faun had never seen such skilful artistry. A new carpet, all his own! He was surprised to feel tears gathering in the corners of his eyes – it was just too good to be true.
Even the Dwarfs, beings who preferred the dark depths of caves to buildings of any sort, were giving admiring murmurs. "I'm no expert on cloths and such", one of them declared. "But that is one fine carpet!"
Another Dwarf bent and picked up a small folded square of paper that had been rolled up inside. "It's got your name on it!" he observed, handing it to the stunned Faun.
Mr. Tumnus opened the message dazedly, and forced his eyes to focus on the unfamiliar handwriting. The message was in green ink, written on creamy white paper of exceptionally high quality. As he read the note, the Faun's brown eyes widened in disbelief, and he hastily read it through a second time, and then a third. The Dwarfs noticed his astonishment and clustered about, demanding to know what it said and who it was from. In answer, Mr. Tumnus silently held up the message.
Written in large, flowing script were the words:
So sorry to have missed you.
A/N: I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas too, and that Santa gives you something nice; perhaps you won't get a carpet, but we can't all expect to have Mr. Tumnus' good fortune! Reviews always welcome!