Ever since he was a young boy, Snufkin has learned to look after himself.
Being alone most of his childhood, he’s found it quite easy to adapt to the independent lifestyle. Even when new people appeared in his life with the ability to look after him, he’s ignored it. There was no point in changing at this point.
But everyone gets afraid, including Snufkin. He remembered one night as a child when the wind howled like a pack of wolves and his entire tent shook along with it. He remembered the terror he felt when the roof ripped wide open, exposing him to the harsh rain which felt like needles on his skin. With nowhere to go, he had to cover up his face with his sleeping bag, and fix it the next morning.
Tonight felt like that storm, and Snufkin shivered with the wailing noises outside. He had tucked his knees into his chest, hoping to bring him warmth. His body was still cold, but he could feel his face burning up. His body was aching
It was too loud. The trees, the river, even his heartbeat was deafening.
He felt his breathing lose it's rhythm.
He needed somewhere to go.
Snufkin knew it was inappropriate to knock on someone's door this late, but the Moomin house was always open for visitors. In a way, he admired them for that. The Moomins made their guests feel safe, protected. And right now, that's all Snufkin needed.
The wooden door felt cold against his fist, as he tried to knock as gently as possible.
Inside, he could hear the quiet shuffling of footsteps. The guilt came washing in. Whoever was opening the door was probably upstairs, asleep, before he disrupted them.
Moominmamma opened the door, a look of relief in her eyes.
“Oh, thank goodness! I feared for you sleeping in that storm.” She sighed. Moominmamma reached out and gently held his paws, soaked from the rain.
“They’re awfully shaky,” She exclaimed “Is that because of the cold?”
“Er, I suppose so.” Snufkin replied. He hadn’t noticed his hands.
“Come on, dear,” She whispered “You may sleep in Moomin’s room tonight.”
Moomin was asleep when Snufkin entered his bedroom. He kept his heels flat on the floor, hoping the floor wouldn’t creak under his steps. When he peered over at Moomin’s face, the ache returned. Poor Moomin just wanted to sleep, and Snufkin was going to destroy that peace. He was a burden to his friend, to his Moomin.
Perhaps his thoughts were too loud, or maybe it was his scattered breathing, but somehow Moomin awoke. When he first saw Snufkin, he hoisted himself up from bed.
“Hello, Snufkin!” He said sweetly, covering his snout as he yawned “Are you spending the night?”
Snufkin was almost taken aback by his nonchalant reaction. Was he not mad? Snufkin had just shown up uninvited, in the middle of the night no less. His eyes were burning, but he inhaled deeply and answered Moomin’s question.
“Well, I suppose so. The storm is rather ferocious outside.”
Moomin clapped his paws together, appearing to be happy that his friend would stay the night.
“That’s wonderful, Snufkin! I love it when you sleep over!”
Snufkin gripped onto his coat. A pain shot through his entire body. Moomin couldn’t be telling the truth, could he? He was just trying to be polite. Snufkin is supposed to be a free man, a vagabond who can make it through the toughest of weather. Not a scared little boy who seeks comfort at the first sight of rain. Snufkin’s lungs sunk deeper into his body, his mind was fuzzy, full of guilt and feelings of worthlessness.
“Snufkin, are you alright?”
That’s when the floodgates opened.
Snufkin threw himself into Moomin’s arms, sobbing into his shoulder. His breathing became loud and desperate, and his body burned like a rising flame. Moomin seemed confused by this action, but he still let Snufkin hold on to him, softly rubbing circles on his back as he continued to cry.
“I’m so sorry,” He mumbled into Moomin’s fur “You- you shouldn’t have to deal with this, with me.”
“It’s okay,” Moomin spoke softly, and he repeated that over and over, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
Moomin eventually convinced Snufkin to lay down. He took off his coat and pressed his back against Moomin’s stomach.
“Are you feeling better?” Moomin asked.
“Very much so.”
Moomin pressed his snout into Snufkin’s hair. He wrapped his arms around him, feeling his heartbeat slow down and relax.
Snufkin felt warmth as he drifted off to sleep.