To a faun, it is a lovely and lightsome thing, that which happens between males and females under the trees on a summer's day or a spring night, or perhaps in a snug cave in front of a fire on a winter afternoon or a chill autumn morning. Lovely, but fleeting - a thing of the moment and no more. Thus it has always been, and no more to be regretted or worried over than a happy dream.
For humans it is different.
Sometimes, when the young fauns are gathered around a bonfire they talk scornfully of the young human maidens they have known, of their wailing and persistent attentions, of the high drama when one learns that she is to bear a small faun or a daughter after a frolic. The youngsters don't understand - dryads and naiads make no such commotion, taking the business as lightly as we do.
There have been times when I have tried to explain, but I have never really found the words. In the end I generally advise them to stay away from humans. The pleasure is rarely worth the fuss, I say. Most of them take my advice, but I daren't actually forbid it. That would only add spice to the affair. And there is an element of hypocrisy in my advice that I cannot but feel uneasy about.
We live long, fauns. I was a child when my father went to war at the coming of the White Witch into Narnia, and a youngster when the army of the High King drove her out. I was only just beginning to come into my full strength and maturity when barely a decade later the humans were gone again, and my world fell apart. Now I am old, even for a faun, and I command what respect such flighty creatures have to offer. In old age I have time to consider my life, and the time I return to again and again is Narnia's Golden Age, when the four thrones at Cair Paravel were filled, and my life was full of joy and laughter.
My life was full of Lucy.
Queen Lucy the Valiant, I should say. I would, if I were in public, of course, but between us she was always Lucy and I was Mr Tumnus - and then later, just Tumnus.
At first she was the sweetest child to grace Narnia. King Peter had his hands full, and Queen Susan fell in and out of harmony with her sister. King Edmund's mind was always seeking to improve conditions for us all - making up for his sin long after it was needful, but there was a hole in him that was never fully patched. Lucy needed a confidante, a friend, and I was he.
I spent ten years living among humans and perhaps I grew more human myself. Sometimes I crept out of the palace to bonfire revels, but they weren't the way of life for me that they were for most fauns, merely an occasional taste of home. And one day I looked at the pretty willow-dryad I was tupping and felt sick at the thought of what my Lucy would say if she knew.
Not a very faunlike way to think, was it? I finished our game, but I never went back, not while the thrones at Cair Paravel were filled.
Lucy was seventeen at that time. I don't know if you could call her pretty or beautiful or any of those words. I was beyond that point - she was just Lucy to me, and the centre of all my days. She smiled and the sun rose, she frowned and the clouds covered the sky. I came back to my rooms from the willow-dryad's arms and I looked at her as if I was seeing her for the first time.
Queen Susan was undeniably graceful, but Queen Lucy moved as if the sap that filled her veins was made of joy. King Edmund strove in all things to improve Narnia, but Queen Lucy's care and concern was always utterly personal. King Peter was the embodiment of Narnia's Greatness, but Queen Lucy was its Soul. I looked at her and as much as any faun could - possibly no faun ever should - I fell in love.
Don't laugh. It was bitter to me, and unnatural. Fauns don't fall in love. Fauns are creatures of the light, but we are not made to consider the deeper matters as humans are. It hurt to love, and it took me a long time to understand what had happened to me. And having fathomed the problem it took me even longer to understand what it meant to Lucy.
For she loved me back, you know. She did. One day a naiad from a delegation flirted with me and I flirted back. It was completely meaningless - we were in the middle of the Court and neither of us had a moment or any serious intent - but I caught the look in my Lucy's eyes, and I realised that she was in pain. It took the breath from my lungs when I understood that the cause of the pain was me. That night when I was holding her in a partnered dance she was stiff in my arms and I knew without a word that she was fighting the hurt and jealousy, feeling that she had no right to them. Before I thought it through I told her, "I love you, Lucy Pevensie."
She stopped right there, in the middle of the great hall; stopped and stared at me. Her lips parted, just a little, and a light came into her eyes, and I knew what I had done. I stepped back and bowed low and no man can say that I ran away because I walked, although it may have been quite fast, and I hid in the library, which was full of dusty legal tomes and nothing that would interest my Lucy. I sat there and I thought, but I could not think that any good would come of this.
I do not think that she had anyone to talk to about it. As I have said, her brothers and sister were never her confidantes, and I, who was her best friend, was no use to her in this situation. I avoided her for a few days, but I could not bear the look in her eyes when I saw her, and eventually I let her find me in my rooms. My father's portrait, carefully restored, gazed reproachfully at me from the mantel as I let her in. She came straight to the point - would my Lucy ever do anything else?
"Did you mean it?"
I thought of dodging the question - humans mean so many things when they say they love everything from roast beef to kittens - but the lie stuck in my throat. I knew what she was asking.
"I mean it," I said.
She reached one tentative hand up to my cheek and I turned my face away, ashamed that I should be so weak. "I'm a bad faun and you, you are the best of all Queens," I said, "You deserve..." but she wouldn't listen to me.
"Tumnus," was all she said, but the voice she said it in... "Oh my Tumnus."
And then she kissed me.
Even fauns of the forest know that it is bad form to kiss and tell, and I was a faun of the Court of the greatest Kings and Queens that Narnia has ever known. At this end of time, I will just say that the merry sport of the forest fauns is a candle to the sun of my Lucy's regard.
I pray Aslan that I may one day see her again, in His country.