Throughout the morning, Terence stayed by Tumnus's side every minute. All through that time, at least one of his companions stayed with him. Susan would stay with him, then Oreius would take her place, and then Edmund later. Even Peter kept Terence company for a good while. No one had much to say, but it comforted Terence just to have them there, to know they cared. At one point, Sir Giles came into the room. The fox put his front paws on Tumnus's bed and rested his nose upon them, but he said nothing at all, only he looked very sad—sadder than Terence ever remembered seeing him look before. He did not object when Terence reached over and gave him a light pat on the head.
As the morning passed into the afternoon, and the afternoon dragged on, Tumnus showed no signs of improvement.
He didn't seem to be getting worse, but he was getting no better, either.
Once or twice, the girls tried to convince Terence to eat something, but Terence wouldn't eat. Terence hadn't had anything since the day before, and normally the boy had the appetite of two horses, yet for some reason his desire for food was curbed. He did accept a cup of strong tea from Lucy, however, mostly because Lucy had gone to all the trouble of putting it together just for him. Lucy had even added an extra pinch of cinnamon, for extra flavor. "Tumnus's favorite," was all Terence said, in a wistful tone, when she told him.
Although Tumnus never moved or spoke, they tried to keep the faun's strength up by feeding him a mild broth, courtesy of Mrs. Beaver. Mrs. Beaver claimed this soup could cure almost anything. At any rate, it looked and smelled good, and it surely tasted good, too. They fed the pottage to Tumnus very slowly, no more than a few drops at a time, and they would gently tilt Tumnus's head back and occasionally caress his throat to help him swallow it. Then they would ladle a little more soup into the spoon, and do it again.
By late afternoon, Terence was nearly at the end of his rope.
They were doing everything possible for Tumnus, but nothing seemed to be working.
When Lucy came in once again to check on Tumnus, the first thing Terence said to her was, "Couldn't we give him at least one more drop of your potion, Lucy?"
It took Lucy a moment to understand he was talking about her fireflower potion.
"I don't know, Terence," the girl said, in a troubled voice. "One or two drops really should be enough."
"But maybe one more will do the trick," Terence insisted.
Lucy wasn't so sure. If the potion didn't work the first time, who was to say it would make any difference this time? Still, Terence looked expectant, and Lucy didn't know what more they could do for Tumnus. They'd tried just about everything else. Besides, it couldn't hurt; after all, the potion was not poison. So, Lucy yielded.
"All right," she said, reaching for her belt, "we'll give him one more. Hold his head for me, will you please?"
Terence was already seated by Tumnus's head before she even asked. Without hesitation, he lifted the faun's unresisting head from the pillow, and held it steady in his own lap. Lucy drew out the little crystal bottle, and pulled the cork. She edged in closer to Tumnus, and, slowly and carefully, poured a solitary drop into his mouth. Terence then tipped Tumnus's chin upward a little, just to make sure it would go down. Now he and Lucy waited, watching and listening with baited breath, hoping against hope that Tumnus would come to his senses there and then.
But nothing happened. Tumnus didn't move so much as an inch.
Terence and Lucy waited a good five minutes, every fiber of them hoping and praying, and still nothing happened.
When it became clear that Tumnus was not waking up, or going to wake up anytime soon, if at all, all hope melted away, like dew melting in the sun. Lucy hung her head, looking upset, while Terence just sat with Tumnus and sorrowfully stroked the faun's hair back from his brow. "I'm sorry, Terence," Lucy quavered, as new tears brimmed her eyes.
"It's all right. It's not your fault."
If anyone was truly to blame, Terence was the one. Even though Oreius had apologized, and even though everyone kept insisting it was an accident, Terence was nevertheless the one responsible for this, and he knew it. He should have known better. Of course, it was already too late now. There was nothing anyone could do about what had already been done. Terence continued to stroke Tumnus's face, twining his fingers in the untamed hair, wishing the faun's eyes would open, wishing the faun could somehow see for himself how much they all missed him.
It would break his heart to lose Tumnus, his best and only friend. Losing Tumnus meant losing family—losing a literal part of himself.
Terence thought back on everything he and Tumnus had been through together, over the years. He thought of what they had said and done, of the joy and laughter they had shared, as well as the pain and tears. He remembered how they would share tea and sardines together, how Tumnus would play his special pipe and Terence would combine his own beautiful voice with the beautiful tune, how the twosome would talk privately for hours at night while the rest of the castle slept. So many precious memories…and so many still to make.
Oh, please, Terence pleaded inwardly, as he peered down at Tumnus's face, don't let it end here. Not like this.
At length, Terence carefully laid Tumnus's head back onto the pillow, before he stood up. "Where are you going?" Lucy asked, when she saw the youth walking slowly towards the door.
"I'll be right back, Lucy. I just need a bit of time to myself. Keep an eye on Tumnus, will you?"
Terence was already gone before Lucy could give her answer, but Lucy would have stayed with Tumnus anyway. Besides, the girl had been wishing for a moment to be alone with Tumnus, with no one else around—no offense to Terence, or Oreius, or her siblings—and now she had such a moment. When it was just her and the faun, she slowly climbed onto the bed herself. Tumnus, as always, never stirred. Lucy felt her heart twist almost unbearably inside her at the sight of her sweet friend, in his poor state.
Why wouldn't he wake up? Why wouldn't he respond to them? It was so unlike Tumnus to leave them, even for a moment. Surely, he must know how much he was needed here.
"Where are you, Tumnus?" Lucy found herself asking out loud.
He was right there, yet he seemed so far away. His heart still beat, and his lungs still breathed in life, yet he might as well have already died.
Was this how it was going to be, from here on? Would Tumnus be forever lost in a deep, oblivious sleep?
Such a thought was too dreadful to think about.
Terence wouldn't be the only one utterly devastated if Tumnus never came back. Lucy also felt a very special connection with the faun. She had known him long before Terence came around; he was the first friend she'd made when she first set foot in Narnia. Lucy remembered the day they met, at Lantern Waste, like it was yesterday. She remembered how she and Tumnus screamed in surprise and fright at the sight of each other, and how they'd both hid themselves. She remembered being in awe at his appearance, and how Tumnus seemed in just as much awe of her, if not more. She remembered teaching Tumnus how to shake hands, how he took the expression literally and "shook" her whole arm from side to side. The memory made the girl smile, but it also brought on a sharp sting of tears. "You've got to get better, Tumnus," she entreated him. "You've just got to."
She groped for his unmoving hand, which she pressed fervently to her cheek, and kissed a fair number of times while the barrier broke and the tears proceeded to flow.
"I love you, Tumnus," the little girl could barely whisper, due to the thickness of the emotion in her voice. "I love you…I love you so very, very much."
~ * ~
Terence went out into the royal gardens, to be alone. The young man felt the need to pray, and he didn't want anyone else hovering over him while he did so.
Lucy had recommended praying for Tumnus, and Terence decided to take the girl's advice.
He needed some spiritual guidance, anyhow.
There was a good spot in the shade of one of the lime trees, flanked by dense shrubbery. So Terence headed for that spot.
Once he was there, once he was sure that no one lurked about, he settled quietly onto his knees in the tall grass. With his hands clasped fervently in front of him, he closed his eyes, dipped his head very low, and began. "Dear God," he supplicated, hoping God was really there, and could hear him from that spot, "my brother Tumnus has been gravely injured. We're doing all we can in our power to care for him, but it's no use. He never moves, or responds to us in any way whatsoever. I don't know what more I can do. Please, Lord, if it be possible, if it be Your will, bring him back to us. Please spare his life. Don't let him suffer the consequences of my foolish actions."
The young man's voice caught, and he felt his eyes grow wet. There was a painful sharpness in his throat, like a barbed hook setting in. His whole frame began to tremble.
Bending down further, he prayed all the more earnestly, as the pain built up steadily.
"Forgive me, for what I have done, Lord," he said in a broken voice. "I shouldn't have been so careless. I truly never meant to harm Tumnus, yet I have done so all the same. I cannot live with what I have done. Please forgive me, and let Tumnus be all right. Have mercy on him. Let him live. Take me, if You must…but I beg You, with all that is in my heart and soul, let him live." The tears were already flowing by the end of his prayer, and rather than return to the castle, Terence simply put his anguished face in his hands, and allowed himself to weep.