It was a beautiful spring morning, and Snufkin had just had his breakfast and was now sitting cross-legged in front of his tent, smoking his pipe. He looked like the essence of tranquility, but for once it was only in appearance. The day was beautiful, but in order to appreciate a beautiful day you have to have a tranquil mind. Snufkin’s mind was about as tranquil as a child’s birthday party.
Moomin. The mere thought of his name made the last shreds of his tranquility vanish like a smoke ring into thin air. He had travelled far during the winter, desperate to get as far away from his traitorous heart as possible. But it is impossible to leave your heart behind, no matter how you want to. And even though there had been many… adventures during the winter, they had never made him forget for long.
And now he was back in Moominvalley, no more at peace with himself than he had been when he left. Snufkin sighed deeply and put out his pipe. Perhaps fishing would prove a better distraction.
He had just pulled up some very fat fishes when Little My came running.
“Snufkin! Snufkin! You must come at once!” She looked as wild as she always did, rambunctious enough for a whole pack of mymbles. A few strands of very red hair had worked themselves loose from her ponytail.
“Little My, happy spring.” Snufkin said, not letting on how rattled she’d made him. His mind had been where it had no business being, and he was worried she had noticed. Little My might be noisy and angry and crass, but she was also very observant. If anyone noticed him daydreaming, it would be her.
“Moominmamma says you must come immediately!” She cried loud enough to be heard over half the valley. Snufkin sighed deeply, put his fishes into a bucket, and gathered up his things.
“Did she say why?”
“No, but I had to go straight to tell you and then straight to my sister and not come back until she called for me.” Little My was jumping around in agitation.
“Lead on, then” Snufkin said, knowing full well that Little My wasn’t going to obey Moominmamma the first time around.
Moominmamma ushered a very confused Snufkin inside with one paw and ushered Little My away with the other.
“You are too young for this, dear” She said not unkindly. “Now hurry home to your sister. I need to speak to Snufkin. Alone.”
“But I want to know what’s going on!” Little My protested, looking wilder than ever.
“You are too young” Moominmamma repeated firmly. “Now go, Little My. I will not ask you again.” Little My startled, shocked at the firmenss in Moominmammas tone. To Snufkin's surprise, the little girl left obediently. From the window, he could see her disappear down the road.
Moominmamma waited until neither of them could see even the tip of Little My’s ponytail before she turned to Snufkin.
“Snufkin dear, how much do you know about moomintrolls?”
Snufkin shook his head, confused. “I know that you are friendly and loyal and you sleep in the winter. And Moomin is my friend .” yes, and only that. But with every winter the longing to be more was getting harder to ignore. He loved to travel, truly he did, but he ached more and more to be back with Moomin. Speaking of which, where was Moomin?
Moominmamma poured him a cup of tea.
“Well, Snufkin dear, I have to explain something to you. Moomin is growing up, and that means some things are different.”
Snufkin felt sick to his stomach. Was this Moominmamma’s way of saying that she didn’t approve of his friendship with Moomin anymore?
“I… see.” he said but he didn’t.
“Snork maiden is aware of these changes, and she has accepted them, however reluctantly.”
Now Snufkin felt even more confused and worried than before. The nausea was increasing too.
“You are turning very pale, Snufkin. Are you feeling sick?” Moominmamma put her paw on his shoulder. That did it, Snufkin bent over and vomited onto the floor.
“I’m sorry” he choked, then heaved again. Moominmamma’s paw gently stroked his back.
“It’s alright dear, it must be something you’ve eaten.”
“Yes, must be” she handed him a mug of water and he drank it gratefully.
“I’m sorry, what was it you needed to tell me about… Moomin?”
“Before I tell you, I need to ask you a few things and I need you to be honest.” Moominmamma said firmly, making Snufkin feel like he wanted to run as fast as possible as far away as possible.
“Yes, Moominmamma.” He managed, feeling both sick and confused.
“I know you care very much for my son. Exactly how deep are your feelings for him?”
Snufkin froze. How could she know? He hadn’t as much as hinted at his regard for Moomin. He stared up at Moominmamma, eyes wide with panic and despair.
“I- I-” he choked, “I-”
“Calm yourself, Snufkin. It is alright. I just need you to answer honestly.”
Snufkin felt his eyes fill with tears. He hadn’t cried for months, not since that lonely night in the desert when the stars made him think of Moomin and his longing for him became unbearable.
Moominmamma seemed to understand the look in his tear-filled eyes.
“You love him very much, dear.” she wasn’t asking. Snufkin nodded miserably.
“You have no idea how glad you make me, Snufkin.”
She was about to say something else when Moominpappa came into the kitchen.
“Have you told him? He asked gruffly.
“I was about to, darling.” Moominmamma said calmly.
“Moomin needs to know soon, wife.”
“I know, but this is not easy for Snufkin. He doesn’t understand.”
“What do I not understand?” Snufkin cried, desperate. “What is wrong with Moomin?” The thought of his friend being sick was unbearable.
“He is growing up, dear.”
“Yes, you told me that!” Snufkin flew to his feet, beside himself. “What does that mean?”
“It means he is seeking a mate, dear.” Moominmamma’s voice was just as gentle as before. “We expected it to be Snork maiden, but-”
Moominpappa shook his head. “He wouldn’t have her.”
Snufkin’s head spun. “I- I don’t understand.” he managed.
“You are his dearest friend, and you love him very much. We think, maybe he will have you.”
Snufkin’s hand shook as he knocked on the door.
“Moomin?” He called, nervous. There was silence. He tried again. “Moomin?”
“Go away!” Moomin cried from inside, sounding highly distressed.
Snufkin tried the door handle. “Moomin! Let me in!”
“Moomin, please-” Snufkin begged, tugging at the door handle again. It was locked. “I spoke to Moominmamma-”
“What?” Moomin sounded more hysterical now than previously. Snufkin leaned down and spoke into the keyhole.
“I spoke to Moominmamma, she explained to me. Please, please Moomin, let me in.”
There was silence. Then he heard a key turn and the door opened just a bit. Moomin’s eyes were large and unusually dark, and Snufkin trembled at the look in them.
“Let me in” he whispered. “Please.”
Snufkin removed his hat and sat down on the bed, facing Moomin who seemed unable to look at him. The moomintroll instead paced the room, clearly agitated. Snufkin realised, with great reluctance, that this was going to be up to him. He drew a deep breath.
“Moominmamma told me what’s going on, Moomin. That’s why I’m here.” Moomin finally turned to face him, a tormented look in his eyes.
“I begged her not to tell you.” he said, his voice low and hoarse. A shiver ran down Snufkin’s spine.
“But she did. And I am glad she did.” Snufkin replied, sounding more confident than he felt.
“You don’t understand.” Moomin shook his head.
“I understands what’s important. I am here because I want to be here. With you.” Moomin stared at him.
“You-” he managed, clearly confused. Snufkin leaned down to remove his boots, then he scooted back up on the bed.
“I’ve wanted you for years” he said quietly, his heart beating unnaturally fast. “I just never thought… you always seemed more interested in Snork maiden.” He removed his coat, throwing it to the floor. Moomin stared transfixed at the way the white shirt strained over Snufkin’s stomach muscles.
“Snufkin...” Moomin breathed, standing very still, his eyes locked on Snufkin’s hands as they started undoing the buttons of the shirt. Pale skin slowly became bared for his ravenous gaze.
“I am here because I want to be” Snufkin breathed. “Do you want me to be here?”
“Snufkin… I never dreamed..: Never dared to dream.” Moomin moved forward, as if sleepwalking.
Snufkin held out one hand towards him.
“Moomin” he encouraged. “Come to me.”