The sun hung lazily, like a massive orange suspended by fishing wire against a kitchen wall of brilliant sky. Wind brushed softly through the tall grasses, whistling calmly. The valley was somber, as if the earth itself was taking a nap in the midday sunshine. The world spun slower here.
The sea of soft heather, almost pure green, was dotted at the base of a shallow dip in the earth by a bundle of pearly white. The unsuspecting visitor might just shrug it off as a particularly large puffball mushroom, or perhaps a nestling bird. But it was no fungi; it was Moomin. What is a moomin, you might ask. Simply put, a moomin is a moomin. Two gently pointed ears sat atop a gently sloping head, leading to a round snout dotted with whiskers. His soft, chubby body rose and fell gently with each breath. To most, the moomins were reminiscent of marshmallows that had simply decided one day to become sentient.
Snufkin had stood atop this hill many times before. It was only a minute away from the creek where he usually pitched his tent every spring, and gave a beautiful view of the surrounding valley. He sighed, letting his eyes shut gently. Sometimes he prayed winter would never come. This was most certainly one of those times. He let his eyes open slowly, wincing gently at the bright sun. Shifting the knapsack slung over his shoulder, he began the slow trek to the base of the valley where Moomin dozed.
Moomin had been Snufkin’s first friend in the valley. More came soon after, but all of them were pretty much a direct result of Moomin’s tendency to be friends with everyone he knew, and of his “friends of thy friends” mentality. But Moomin and Snufkin had always had a unique bond with each other. From the day they first met, when Snufkin had first tentatively knocked on the door of the tall blue house to beg for matches, they had seen eye to eye. Not on everything of course. The variety of their viewpoints was actually something Snufkin found quite amusing.
His long legs brushed against the sweet smelling heather, eyes upward to the lavender mountains in the distance. Ah, to be lost in thought. He mused dreamily. One of the few luxuries of the vagabond, I suppose. So lost in thought was he, that he almost tripped over the tufted tail of his sleeping companion.
His stumble brought him crashing into the soft grass, sending his hat askew.
“Oof…” He muttered, bringing his hand up to gently touch his neck. He wasn’t in much pain at all, but this sort of tumble always knocked him out of his equilibrium.
Moomin rustled in the grass next to him, one eye opening lazily. “Snuf?”
Snufkin smiled softly at the nickname. “You betcha, buddy. Tired?”
Moomin groaned, shifting to face his friend. “You have no idea. Little My kept us up all night.”
They both smiled knowingly at each other, painfully aware of her antics. Snufkin still had a patch of unevenly shorn hair where Little My had gotten a little too curious with a pair of Moominmama’s sewing scissors. He’d like to say her quirks were well matched with the positives, but well. Positives weren’t her strong suit.
Snufkin settled down into the soft heather, putting his bag to the side. “So my dear. What’ve you been up to this fine summer day?”
Moomin raised an eyebrow. “You’re looking at it. It’s too hot to do anything else.” He laced his fingers together across his chest. “Moomins melt, you know.”
“Ah yes, of course. It must have slipped my mind that moomins are just elaborate vanilla ice cream sculptures.”
“Ice cream doesn’t sound half bad right now. Especially vanilla.”
“Would a minnow suffice?” Snufkin held out a small metal canister, full with spring water and a few small fish darting around. They both marveled for a moment at how beautiful the fish looked, gleaming in the sun. They both shared a love for the small, lovely things life. They each couldn’t count how many times they had pointed out a particularly lovely bunch of wildflowers, of the pattern on a duck’s feathers. It was one of Snufkin’s favorite things to do.
Gently, Moomin dipped his chubby hand into the water, feeling around for a moment before plucking a wriggling fish from the canister and examining it. “Don’t you need these for bait?”
“Nah, these are a bit small for bait. You gotta give the fish something they can really bite into.”
Moomin eyed the fish, still jumping, with an air of suspicion. “What are you trying to catch, a whale?”
Snufkin smiled. Maybe he was. Fishing had always been just a necessary chore, akin to collecting firewood. But lately, spoiled by Moominmama’s hospitality and tendency to cook every meal for a small village, he had taken more to fishing for sport. He had mostly stuck to the small trout and pike native to the rivers in the valley, but lately the vast ocean that surrounded the land had been calling to him. Who knew what lurked beneath those azure depths, maybe even a whale, bigger than anyth-
Snufkin’s thoughts of fishing grandeur were abruptly interrupted by a loud gulp. The only evidence of the minnow ever having being in Moomin’s possession was found in a stray scale stuck to his fur. He had always been surprised by Moomin’s more animalistic traits. He remembered the time, some summers ago, when they had caught a beautiful swallowtail butterfly and meant to keep in a an old jam jar. However, Moomin had forgotten to poke any holes in the lid, and my morning, the butterfly was dead. He remembered how Moomin’s face had fell, eyes scrunched up with tears, before he unceremoniously shoved the butterfly in his mouth.
“Moomin!” Snufkin had exclaimed, still reeling from Moomin’s sorrow over the bug.
He hadn’t answered, just crunched determinedly.
Moomin sighed peacefully, settling back down into the grass. “You know, we should really go fishing together again. I know Moominpapa would love it, he does so admire you.”
“How can we ever go fishing if you keep eating all of my bait?” Snufkin was only teasing, but Moomin’s eyes still narrowed as he slurped down a second minnow.
The two sat for a moment, sighing peacefully. They each shifted closer to each other, little by little, until moomin was nestled into the crook of Snufkin’s arm. While neither spoke, they both internally marveled at how safe they felt with each other. Their bodies fit together like two softened-by-time puzzle pieces. Snufkin’s arms wrapped tighter around Moomin’s shoulders subconsciously, resting his chin on the spot between his companion’s two soft ears.
“I could lie with you all day, my darling.” Moomin’s voice was saturated with affection.
“And we could, but your mother would have my hat if I kept you out past dark.”
Moomin giggled. “She trusts you. You’d never hurt me.”
Snufkin shifted suddenly, placing his hands on Moomin’s shoulders and locking their eyes. His expression was soft, but incredibly expressive. “I would never hurt you, my love. Not for anything in the world.”
Moomin nodded, not breaking eye contact. “Of course… My love.”
He had never called him that. They had never used that word in regards to each other, but with its first utterance, there was a moment of clarity. The clouds cleared, and sunlight illuminated their minds with blinding light.
Moomin raised a hand, brushing it against Snufkin’s flushed cheek. “My love.”
Their foreheads came together, their eye closed gently. “My love.” Snufkin whispered, interlocking their fingers.
Snufkin placed a kiss delicately on Moomin’s forehead, slow and deliberate. He moved down slowly, dotting him with kisses like so many sown seeds. Moomin wrapped his arms around Snufkin’s neck, pulling him closer. “My love... “ His voice was breathless.
The two closed the distance between each other, kissing softly. Moomin ran a hand through Snufkin’s hair absentmindedly.
They eventually parted, smiling softly at each other. Moomin was blushing red underneath his fur, and Snufkin’s cheeks were tinged pink. They both giggled, letting the happiness set in, and wrapped each other in a tight embrace.
“...what on earth will Little My think?” Asked Snufkin after a minute.
They both laughed heartily, and everything was well.