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Sleeping Sun

Chapter Text

Summer had passed in Moomin valley and slowly but surely the days got shorter and colder while the leaves lost their refreshing green colour to change into brilliant reds and yellows before falling off the trees and onto the ground. One by one, a little piece of the passing summer gone and no one was able to stop it.

With a sigh Moomin watched yet another, already brown, leave escape it’s hold and being blown away by the wind that seemed to pick up with every passing minute. Another sigh passed his lips as he watched it fade in the distance until it was gone from his sight. Fall had come too quickly this year, the summer already a blurry memory among others. Moomin almost mourned it, as if it had been a friend. A kind of friend summer was for him, because as long as summer was there, it meant Snufkin was there. Now that fall had come he would leave again, going south, as he did every year. Sure, he always came back in time for spring and Moomin himself slept through the winter; he just couldn’t help but to want him to stay anyways.

A cold breeze blew across the meadow and Moomin shivered slightly, looking up. Dark clouds had gathered in the sky and Moomin believed to hear the distant sound of thunder. A thunderstorm seemed to be approaching. He stood up and hurried back to his house. As adventurous as he might be, being caught in a fall thunderstorm… not even he wanted to experience that.

Moomin hurried up the stairs and through the door that was luckily unlocked, just as he heard the rain starting to pour. He looked outside. “Oh dear…”

“Oh dear indeed.” He heard his mother’s voice behind him as she walked into the room. “You were quite lucky to come inside before the rain started. It looks as if it isn’t going to stop for a while.”

“I think so too, Mama. Let’s just hope nobody got caught in that rain.” Moomin looked back outside just as a bright flash illuminated the valley and made him jump in surprise.

“Come now, Moomin, how about we eat some dinner and then you go to bed. Surely the storm will have passed by tomorrow and you can play outside again.”

“Oh yes, dinner sounds wonderful. Thank you, Mama!” Suddenly Moomins stomach growled and he hurried past his mother to the dining room, the thunderstorm almost already forgotten.

Chapter Text

Just as Moominmama had predicted, with the next morning the storm had passed and the sun shone once again without disturbance, warming those who seeked some more sunshine before the approaching months of darkness and snow.

However the storm hadn’t passed without witnesses; some of the trees in the meadow hadn’t been able to withstand the winds and now lay on the ground with most of their roots torn from the ground. Even a few houses had taken damage, but luckily none too serious that it couldn’t be repaired before the first snowfall.

As Moomin walked through the muddy meadow his worries from yesterday came back and he wondered if all of his friends had been as lucky as him. As if on cue he spotted a familiar tent by one of the trees that had remained standing.

Sadly the same couldn’t be said for the tend. Or what was left of it. Almost all of the strings supporting it were snapped, leaving the soaked fabric lying on the muddy ground, outlining a small pillow and blanket, alongside the barest of things that had been put here for shelter.

Although worried Moomin just told himself that Snufkin simply didn’t have the time to gather his things before heading somewhere safer during a storm like that. But then why didn’t he come to Moominhouse? After all it was nearer than any other house…

Maybe he had been as surprised as Moomin by the sudden weather change and still somewhere farer off and seeked shelter somewhere else. That must be it! Moomin just had to knock everywhere and ask for Snufkin, he surely had to be somewhere! And by doing so, he could also check on his other friends.

With newfound determination he hurried down the path to the nearest house.

 

Almost two hours later Moomin had a trail of his friends behind him, all had been safe and sound during the storm; however there still was no sign of Snufkin anywhere. They had knocked on every door there was in Moominvalley, but no one had seen the young human. By now everyone had become quite worried.

“I am sure he is alright. You know how Snufkin is, he always finds a way.” Moominmama tried to comfort her son as he sat on the porch, looking into the distance.

“But where could he have gone to?” Moomins voice was thick with worry. Never before his friend had gone missing like that.

“I don’t know dear. But I am sure he will turn up soon enough.” She smiled and headed back inside.

Morning turned into noon and noon soon faded into afternoon. There still was no sign of Snufkin, by now even the Police Officer had joined the search.

“Oh, I know!” Little My suddenly jumped up. “What about the witch’s house? We haven’t been there yet!”

“You really think Snufkin would have gone so far into the forest?” Sniff mumbled from where he currently was taking a nap.

“Of course, he always does!”

“Little My’s right, we should go there right away!” Moomin stood up. “And even if he isn’t there, we can always ask the witch or Alicia for help finding him!”

“That is a great idea, let’s go!” Snorkmaiden put down her cup of tea and followed Moomin who was already running off to the witch’s house.

Chapter Text

The witch just shook her head. “I’m sorry, I haven’t seen your friend.”

“Oh… Could you maybe find out where he is?” Moomin asked, clinging to the last spark of hope.

“I certainly could. Wait here a moment.” She said before going off to collect multiple items from all around her hut.

Moomin and his friends retreated into a far corner of the hut as the witch started to throw all kinds of ingredients into her large bowl over the fire while mumbling a spell.

“Oh dear.” She turned around, worry in her eyes.

“What? What is it?” Immediately Moomin felt very anxious. When the witch was worried, it couldn’t be a good sign.

“Your friend is a little way down by the waterfall coming down from the lonely mountains.” The witch said while walking over to her broom. “I will go to him immediately, you better hurry too.” And gone she was.

For a moment nobody moved. Was Snufkin in danger? Was he hurt? Never before something like this had happened and the anxiety had long since settled in everyone.

“Well you heard her, come on!” Little My was the first to move again and jumped out of the door.

Moomin however didn’t even flinch.

“Are you alright, Moomin?” Snorkmaiden asked carefully.

“I just hope he’s alright…” Came the mumbled reply from him as he slowly set into motion to follow little My, down to the waterfall coming from the lonely mountains.

 

The sun already set when they finally arrived. The first thing they saw was Snufkins hat lying almost abandoned on the rocks. He never let that hat out of his sight.

As they hurried up the rocks they eventually spotted the witch. She was kneeling, Snufkin lying on the ground before her. Even from the distance they saw how pale he looked.

“What happened to him?” Moomin inquired while gasping for breath.

“I’m afraid he must have been caught in that horrible storm yesterday night. We should get him inside as fast as possible.” The witch explained.

“But how will we do that? It’s almost night and the way back to Moominhouse is so far.” Snorkmaiden quaked, grasping the hat she had picked up tightly.

“I will go ahead and tell Moominmama and Moominpapa what happened!” Little My proclaimed after a moment of silence.

“That is a very good idea, little girl.” The witch stated and turned to the others as little My already ran off. “I’m afraid you have to carry him somehow. I can’t carry him on my broom and he’s unconscious, it could be dangerous to try and wake him.”

“But how are we going to carry him without hurting him?” Snorkmaiden now sobbed.

Sniff, who had been quiet in the background up until now, suddenly spoke up. “Oh, I know! We can use the branches and Snufkins coat to build a stretcher! I have read that in a book once.”

“Since when do you read any books, Sniff?” Snorkmaiden asked, but then quickly her mind came back to the current, more important situation. “He’s right, we should do that. It will be the safest way to take him back to Moominhouse.”

 

No sooner said than done. They quickly worked together to build a stretcher, carefully laid Snufkin on it and said their goodbyes and thanks to the witch before quickly heading off.

As the lights of Moominhouse came into sight they were greeted by little My and several other inhabitants of Moominvalley. It seemed as if the news had spread quickly for such a late hour.

The adults immediately took the stretcher from the children. Moomin basically collapsed onto the grass as soon as the weight was lifted, just to be picked up by his father.

“Oh dear, Moomin. You look so exhausted, you should go to bed immediately.” He fussed as he half carried him to the house.

“But what about Snufkin?” Moomin muttered.

“Moominmama will look after him, you should worry more about yourself right now.”

Moomin yawned, his mind protesting but his body too tired to follow any more orders. He didn’t even remember falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Moomin awoke feeling dizzy and confused for a moment. The room was quite dark, but it was day. A peek out of the nearby window showed him the reason for this, the sky was covered in thick, dark clouds. He was about to turn around and sleep some more when he suddenly remembered what had happened yesterday.

“Snufkin!” he called and jumped out of his bed. Oh dear, how could he lie in bed sleeping when he didn’t even know how his best friend was doing?

The door to the guest room creaked slightly as Moomin pushed it open carefully. The room was even darker due to the closed curtains, only a small ray of light from a crack illuminated the room. Slowly Moomin moved forwards, trying not to bump into something until he found the bed in the far corner. A candle sat on the table next to it. Moomin pondered for a moment, but eventually decided it would be better to light it. The flickering orange light spread around the room and Moomin suddenly wished he had stayed in the darkness.

Snufkin laid there on the bed, as still as the sea on a hot summers day. His paleness seemed to have faded a bit, but now there were pink spots on his cheeks and his forehead. Moomin didn’t have to touch them to know they were hot with fever.

“Oh Snufkin…” he whispered as he straightened the blanket and put a new wet towel on his forehead. He couldn’t help but to notice all the dark spots on his skin and several bandages. Like the witch already said, he probably was outside during that storm… During that horrible, horrible storm. All alone in the forest…

Moomin sniffed and rubbed over his eyes to get rid of the tears. He couldn’t get weak now! He had to stay strong, for Snufkin!

The door creaked behind him and he turned around to see his mother enter with a bowl of steaming soup in her hands.

“Good morning, Moomin. I hope you slept well after yesterday’s excitement?” She put the soup on the small table beside the lonely candle.

Moomin answered like he didn’t hear her question. “How’s Snufkin, Mama?”

She didn’t answer for a few moments. “He is quite hurt and running a very high fever. So far I did everything to help him.”

“Did he wake up?”

“Well, he opened his eyes at some point, but I doubt he actually was awake… At least he didn’t react when Papa tried to talk to him.”

Moomin looked back to Snufkin with deep worry in his eyes.

“I am very sure he will recover soon enough, my dear.” Moominmama said. “Do you want to come down and eat some breakfast?”

“Could you maybe bring it up? I don’t want to leave Snufkin alone.” Moomin gulped.

“Of course, dear.” With a silent sigh she left the room to prepare some breakfast.

 

The day was already turning into noon when Moomin was startled out of his nap, which he had taken unwillingly. Maybe he was more tired from the day before than he dared to admit.

There was a soft moan from the bed and suddenly Moomin was awake as ever. He jumped from his seat and carefully took the hand peeking out from under the blanket into his paws. “Snufkin?” he almost begged.

As if on cue Snufkin opened his eyes a little, but immediately closed them again with a pained sigh. Moomin didn’t dare to move, just stood there and hoped Snufkin would actually wake up.

Again he opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a moment before blinking a few times and finally moving his head to the side to look at Moomin. A small smile appeared on his face. “Hello Moomin.” He croaked.

“Snufkin!” Moomin’s face lit up. “How are you feeling? Are you in pain? Do you want to eat something? Do you want a glass of water?”

A soft chuckle escaped Snufkin. “A glass of water would be very kind.”

Immediately Moomin was on his feet and ran out of the room to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Relief made his feet light and quick. Now that Snufkin was awake he surely would be alright very soon and they could all play outside again!

He stopped dead as he passed by a window and saw the dark meadows outside. For a moment he had forgotten it was fall. Snufkin would leave as soon as he was better. Snufkin would leave very soon. For an instance the hope that Snufkin was really hurt came to his mind. He wouldn’t be able to leave and as soon as the snow came, there was no way out of Moomin valley anymore, Snufkin would stay for the winter.

As he realized what kind of thoughts he was having, Moomin immediately shook his head violently and hurried to get that glass of water.

Chapter Text

Even later the doctor had finally arrived. They had already sent for her in the morning, but it was fall after all and cases of colds or even flu here and there were spreading.

Snufkin was sitting up now, still a little paler than usual and still with reddish cheeks, but certainly looking better. “I fell asleep while fishing and when I woke up the sky was already very dark. Of course I immediately hurried back, but it seemed it had been too late for that. The forest was too dangerous to stay in, so I wanted to look for a cave by the river... I don’t remember anything after that.” Snufkin reported to the doctor and everyone else present in the room.

“But you said you had been fishing above the waterfall, how come we found you below it?” Moomin still held Snufkins hand. As if something really bad was going to happen if he dared to let go of it.

When Snufkin didn’t answer, the doctor made a worried noise. “Maybe you slipped on the wet rocks and fell down. That would explain your lack of memory and all of your bruises.”

For a short moment, anger crossed Snufkins face. “I never slip.” He snapped, before suddenly his expression relaxed again into the exhausted and defeated gaze he had worn before.

“It happens to everyone, my dear.” The doctor smiled at him, then turned to face the others. “I must ask you to leave now so I can examine him properly.”

Just before he left the room as the last one, Moomin threw one last gaze to the bed and anxiousness settled heavy into his stomach. Snufkin sat there, eyes downcast with a mixture of anger and humiliation, his hands balled tightly into fists. Never before had Moomin seen his friend like this and somehow he wished he never had to again.

 

In the end it was obvious that Snufkin had fallen down the rocks by the waterfall. All of his bruises, a concussion and a certainly broken leg led to no other conclusion.

The doctor left with a goodbye and the allowance to wake her during hibernation, should the situation change for the worse.

Moomin knocked and waited for a moment before entering the guest room. Snufkin was only half sitting by now, chin resting on his collarbones and glaring towards the snow white cast on his left leg. He didn’t look up when Moomin entered and closed the door after him.

“I won’t be able to leave.” His voice was smaller than usual, but it held enough frustration to mistake it for anger. Maybe there was some, Moomin couldn’t tell.

Normally the thought that Snufkin would stay over the winter would overjoy Moomin, but right now it caused his stomach to clench with anxiety. Over what, he couldn’t say.

“I can stay awake with you! Surely Little My and Snorkmaiden can come by and visit from time to time too.” Moomin climbed up the bed to sit in front of his friend. “And you could try to hibernate a little too, it’s not that hard.”

Finally Snufkin shifted his gaze and looked straight into Moomins eyes. “That is not the issue and you know it.”

Not able to hold his gaze Moomin lowered his head. “I know.”

Silence settled heavy in the room, along with a tint of awkwardness. Moomin knew how important it was to Snufkin to go south each and every year when it was winter in Moomin valley. He couldn’t imagine how he must feel now, basically trapped here, not being able to travel, not being free. Snufkin didn’t value owning, possessions and wealth was something he didn’t understand, sometimes Moomin got the feeling he even despised the people who owned much. If there was anything Snufkin valued, above everything, above the little things he owned, even above all his friends, it was his freedom. He went wherever he wanted, sometimes took what he wanted. And if anyone ever tried to stop him, he would turn his back and walk away.

But now his freedom was taken from him, he was trapped in a place he didn’t want to be. Moomin didn’t know much about the path Snufkin was walking when going south, but he was pretty sure even when his leg was healed, the snow would be too high; there was no safe path across the mountains until spring.

Moomin sighed and couldn’t help but to feel a little guilty. “I’m sorry, Snufkin.”

“It’s not your fault, Moomin.” Snufkin immediately replied, as if he knew Moomin would eventually say that.

“I think Mama is making dinner, should I bring you some when it’s ready?”

A small smirk appeared once again. “Yes, please.”

“Of course, you must be starving by now!” Moomin jumped off the bed. “You haven’t eaten in a while, have you?”

Snufkin chuckled. “I think the last time was my breakfast yesterday.”

“Then I’ll ask Mama to make a big portion for you!” Moomin laughed. “I will leave the door open, so just call when you need anything!” With that he hurried off to the kitchen from where a delicious smell originated.

“I will.” Snufkin mumbled after a moment.

Chapter Text

Before anyone knew the first snow fell and the first families went into hibernation. Sniff and Snorkmaiden promised to come by, should they wake up during the winter. Little My just stayed with the Moomins, she would be awake most of the time anyways.

Snufkin, who had recovered from the horrible cold he’d caught during his involuntarily sleepover in the rain, was hobbling through the kitchen, helping Moominmama prepare food for him, and maybe others should they be awake. He finally had regained his good mood and if Moomin listened closely, he could hear him humming a soft tune. It made him happy too, to see Snufkin happy again, not brooding with anger in his face all day.

“And you really are sure that it is okay for me and Moominpapa to go into hibernation too?” Moominmama asked. She, too, didn’t quite like the idea of Snufkin being the only one awake.

“Don’t worry about me, Moominmama, I’ll be just fine.” Snufkin replied. “After all, if I wouldn’t be here, I’d be on my own too.”

“Yes, of course. But you’ll get lonely if all of us sleep, won’t you?”

Snufkin actually chuckled at that. “Sometimes being lonely is quite refreshing. And if I ever get too lonely, I’m sure Little My won’t mind to be out in the snow a bit.”

“That’s where she’ll be most of the time anyways.” Moomin, who put away glasses of marmalade, added. He jumped off the stool and pushed it under the table to have it out of the way. “And I’ll try to be awake as much as I can, too!”

“You shouldn’t, Moomin.” Snufkins voice suddenly had a bitter edge which made Moomin cringe. Did Snufkin not want him to be there? “It can be dangerous to go against one’s nature. And it is in your nature to hibernate.” He explained, as if he had read his thoughts. “I really don’t want you to mess with your nature just because of me.”

“But what if I want to, Snufkin? I want to stay with you! This is the first and probably only time you’ll be here in winter and I want to spend as much time with you as possible.” Moomin exclaimed.

Snufkin didn’t answer him for some time. “You really shouldn’t.” he finally muttered, before standing up and leaving the kitchen without another word.

“Oh dear, I think I made him mad.” Moomin stated with sadness in his voice.

His mother put a paw on his shoulder. “I think he just needs to get along with the fact that he can’t go south this winter. It is quite unusual for him to stay in one place for such a long time.”

“I know, Mama. I just don’t like to see him in such a bad mood…”

“I am sure it’ll soon pass, my dear.”

Moomin sighed and let his shoulder drop, then resumed to help his mother. “I really hope so…”

 

That evening they had a nice big dinner as a last meal before hibernation. Outside the snow was already at least ankle deep and even though every oven in Moominhouse was running, they all couldn’t help but to feel a little cold every now and then.

The meal was all in all silent, the majority focusing on eating as much as their stomachs allowed, so that there was no need to wake up until spring. Even little My, who surely would be awake most of the time, ate far more than usual. Afterwards they all helped doing the dishes and putting them away.

“You really are sure you don’t need anything else?” Moominmama stood at the buttom of the stairs and watched Snufkin settling down on the sofa, now standing next to the oven.

“I will be just fine, thank you.” Snufkin simply responded and put another pillow under his broken leg. “And if anything happens, I will wake you immediately.” He added, before Moominmama could tell him once again.

“Well then…” She still seemed uncomfortable leaving him more or less by himself. “I’ll see you in spring.” With that she gave him a smile and went up the stairs.

Snufkin watched her leave to the upper floor before sighing and turned his eyes to the window, watching the thick, white snow settle on the ground. They buried everything under an innocent blanket, they buried his freedom.

“Snufkin?” Came a sudden whisper from the stairs.

Immediately he turned his head to see Moomin sneak down the steps, equipped with a thick blanket and a pillow.

“What are you doing, Moomin?” Snufkin requested, even though he already had a very good idea of what his friend was doing.

“I will sleep down here, with you! That way you can wake me every morning and we can spend the day together.” Moomin beamed as he placed his pillow on the other sofa.

Snufkin couldn’t contain a small sigh. “Moomin, I already told you-“

“Yeah, well I don’t care, I just want to be with you.” To prove his point, Moomin sat down on the sofa and wrapped the blanket around him. “I will stay with you, whether you want or not.”

Snufkin just shook his head with a soft chuckle and looked out while Moomin got comfortable. He waited silently until he was all wrapped up in his blanket and yawning. Hibernation was setting in. It was natural, Moomin could try to fight it all he wanted, he would fall asleep eventually. 

"Good night, Snufkin." Moomin mumbled, eyes already closed.

Snufkin waited for a few minutes until Moomins breath had settled to a slow and steady rythm before he responded: "Good night, Moomin."

Chapter Text

Moomin had woken before during winter. It had been very cold in his room, but now it was nice and warm and somehow not quite as comfortable. Drowsily he blinked a few times before recognizing the ceiling as not the one of his room. He continued to lay there for a bit, his mind wandering here and there, before the memories hit him.

"Snufkin!" Immediately he sat up and threw the blanket off.

"I'm right here." Came the calm answer  from across the room. Snufkin was sitting next to the fireplace, reading a book. Next to him towered other various books Moomin recognized from his fathers library.

"Do you plan to read all of that?" Moomin stood up and sat down opposite of his friend.

"I already read them." Snufkin replied blankly, not taking his eyes from the page he was currently reading. More like staring at, if considering his expression. 

"Oh..." Moomin looked down as he realized what that meant. "How long did I sleep?" 

"Three weeks." Snufkin looked up and shut the book with a muffled noise. He hadn't even put a bookmark in. "Don't say you're sorry." 

"But I said that I-" Snufkins blank stare made Moomin silent and look at his paws in defeat. He heard his friend sigh and stand up with some difficulty. After all one of his legs was still in the cast and made his movement limited. 

"I wanted to make some lunch, would you like to join me?"  

Moomin nodded excitedly and followed him into the kitchen. "How is your leg? Does it still hurt?" he asked as he helped chopping some potatoes. 

"It's good. Still have to use a crotch to walk longer than to the kitchen and back." Snufkin chuckled a bit at that. "I'm surprised I never woke you with all that noise."

"Oh, maybe that was why I was dreaming of elephants!" Moomin laughed and received a glare, but then Snufkin broke into a laugh too. 

Moomin cooked the potatoes on the stove in the living room. It made no sense to have two fires going if you didn't need to. Also it would be a waste of firewood. 

Meanwhile Snufkin sat on his sofa and gave him an instruction every now and then. After all Moomin had never cooked all alone before, at most stood by his mothers side to watch her prepare the most delicious meals.

The potatoes were a bit burnt in the end, but still tasted decent enough. Moomin enjoyed the feeling of a warm meal in his stomach as he laid back, feeling the drowsiness wash over him again. With a yawn he looked over to Snufkin who had a different book opened on his lap. 

"Do you plan to read my father's whole library?" Moomin joked and giggled.

"It's not like there is much else to do, is there?" Snufkin was back to this blank state. He wasn't happy, but he wasn't angry either. While preparing and eating their lunch, he had been like usual. They had lead a pleasant conversation and made some jokes. Now Snufkin felt like he wasn't even there. Well, he was clearly sitting there on the sofa, but the Snufkin he knew seemed to be absent. Replaced by a bad copy of him, without emotions or reactions. 

"Well..." Moomin ignored the anxious feeling inside him as he thought about that. "I think I'm going to sleep some more. Good night!"

"Good night." came the answer, blank and dull like an empty piece of paper.

Chapter Text

The door slammed open and shut again, startling Moomin from his sleep. 

"We should paint your cast!" A high voice called. 

It took Moomin a moment to rub the sleep from his eyes and see Little My spreading pens in various colours on the ground. Meanwhile Snufkin just stared at her with a startled expression. He had just been eating some of the prepared jam, there was some sticking to his left mouth corner. It wasn't until his tongue licked the leftovers away that Moomin managed to tear his gaze away from Snufkins lips. 

Little My was staring at him. "What do you say?"

Perplexed Moomin blinked. "What?"

"Did you even listen to me, you bubblehead? I asked you what we should draw on Snufkins cast!" Little My jumped on Moomins lap and gave his nose a little slap.

"Now, now, little My. Don't you see that you just tore Moomin from his sleep? Give him some time to wake up." 

"Pah!" She jumped back to the ground. "He was busy staring at you, that's what he did." 

Immediately Moomin felt his cheeks heat up. "Little My!" 

"What? It was obvious." She sat down and started sorting the pencils. 

When Moomin looked up he noticed Snufkin smirking at him. "I will be right with you, I just need to... wash my face!" Moomin jumped from the couch and ran up the stairs. He could hear Little My say something, but didn't catch what.

 

When Moomin came back down, Snufkin and Little My both sat on the ground by the fire, the latter hunched over the cast and humming while drawing. 

Snufkin looked up when he heard him and smiled. It was a little forced around the edges, but Moomin felt the core was real. And it made his stomach fluster. "Come, I'm sure you can contribute to little Mys masterpiece." 

"Well I won't say no to such an offer!" Immediately Moomin grabbed the nearest pencil and began to work on the other side of the cast. 

With both of them busy the room fell silent once more, except for the occassional sound of a pen being dropped and another being picked up. Every now and then Moomins eyes would wander upwards and look at Snufkin. He was slouched against the wall, arms crossed and lips pressed into a thin line. His eyes glaring at nothing in particular. 

Moomin started to notice a pattern. Snufkin was like he always was around people, except for the occassional snap. He held conversations, smiled, told jokes. But as soon as he felt out of eye shot, it felt like a curtain being dropped. His expression would fall into angry brooding, sometimes annoyance. Moomin had observed it at a point or another when he woke briefly to see Snufkin sit on his couch, glaring out into the snowy meadow as if it had personally insulted him, huffing every now and then. As soon as he would notice Moomin being awake, the curtain was pulled up in haste and he would smile. Say he should go back to sleep. Everything was alright. 

Nothing was alright. And Moomin knew it. With each passing day Snufkin grew more and more restless, the details of his show falling apart, the curtain spotting more and more holes. And as desperate as he tried to patch them, it would only be a matter of time until everything would break apart. 

"What is it, Moomin?" 

With a shudder he was pulled back to reality. And noticed he had been staring right at Snufkin the entire time. Oh my, how embarassing. 

"I was lost in thought!" Moomin stated hastly, quickly looking down to hide his blush. 

Little My just laughed and threw a pen at him. 

"Ow! Little My!" Moomin demanded, glaring at her. 

"Little My, that was not very nice." Snufkin interrupted her laughter. 

"Come on, it was just joke!" She giggled and grabbed another pen next to her, only to have Snufkin snatch it away. 

"Apologize to Moomin."

"No." Little My jumped to her feet and put fists on her sides. 

"Little My!" Snufkin threatened in a voice that made Moomin shudder.

"You can't make me!" She stuck out her tongue before dashing out of the door, leaving it wide open. 

With a sigh Moomin stood up and closed the door, shivering in the cold breeze that came through. "When you think she's naughty in the Summer, but that's when she actually behaves to avoid the grown ups..." He slumped down in front of Snufkin again. 

"She is young, I'm sure she will grow out of it." Snufkin still had that glare that made Moomin shiver, despite the pleasant warmth coming from the oven. 

"I really hope so..." Moomin picked up a pen. "Well, more space for me." He beamed at Snufkin and actually received a small smile in response. But it wasn't a smile that indicated him to continue drawing. It was more of an apology. 

"I think I should go to bed, Moomin." Snufkin stood up with the help of the wall. "I have been awake for a rather long time now." With that he limped over to his chouch and sat down, rearranging the blankets before slipping under them. 

"Oh, okay." Moomin mumbled, looking at the pen in his hand. "Good night." 

He never received a response.

Chapter Text

Moomin laid wide awake. His back was turned towards the room, his eyes staring at the fabric of the backrest connected to the couch he currently called his resting place. He had woken when something in the kitchen fell and broke. 

His first instict would have been jump up and look what had happened, but then he had heard Snufkins voice. Loud and angry, fuming words that made Moomin want to cover his ears. But he didn't dare. For the first time in his life he found himself to be afraid of his best friend, terrified even. 

So he laid there, back turned to the room, too scared to move. In a corner of his mind he thought that if he dared to turn around, even do as much as twich his ear, he would be the next target of Snufkins anger. From time to time Moomin stopped breathing. When it got too quiet, when he thought Snufkin would be able to hear his racing heart.

There was a clash and another one of Snufkins bad words, before it went quiet again for a moment. The sound of a door being opened and closed. Clinking noises, as if stacking plates upon each other. Another door opening and closing, a small icy wind. Wood clanking upon wood. Snufkin limping back into the living room. The sound of his cast made thump noise everytime he stepped on it. With every new thump, Moomin had to pull himself together. 

He was even more frightened, now that Snufkin was in the same room. Squeezing his eyelids together he wished this was just a nightmare. His dear Snufkin would never act this way. He was way too kind and caring! 

Moomins breath caught in his throat when he realized the thumps had stopped. Right next to his couch. He was frozen with fear, heart racing in his throat. The soft touch of fingers behind his ear, where Snufkin liked to tickled him on those special evenings when it was just the two of them. 

A deep sigh. Exhausted. "Oh, Moomin." 

The adressed forced himself to breath normally, reminded himself how to breath in the first place, distracted by his thundering heart. He didn't know he was awake. He couldn't know.

"I am sorry. I know this place is your home, but to me it is becoming a prison. A fortress to keep me where I don't want to be. And the snow and ice are the terrible guardsmen. The second my feet will step over the treshold, they will hunt me down, capture me and force me to go back. They show no mercy. If I refuse to go back..." There was a long silence.

Moomin knew Snufkin had little to now winter experience. He didn't even have clothes for temperatures that brought snow. He would freeze, wither away in the icy wind like the blossum of a flower. The thought made Moomins heart ache. 

"But I fear I have no other choice. These chains that bind me here drive me mad. If there is anything I could not bear, it is to see you unhappy. And I know, I know that if I stay here, it is only a matter of time until I..." Another deep sigh. A couple breaths of silence. "I fear I will scare you. I fear I will hurt you." The hand slowly withdrew. "I cannot loose you." 

Snufkin limped to his couch, the thumps soft now, growing ever quieter until they were gone. 

Moomin waited until the fire burnt low, then he allowed himself to cry into his pillow. 

 

A strong, heavy smell was what woke Moomin the fourth time. It wasn't choking like smoke, more an unpleasantness. A patch of dirt on a nice white shirt. A sting in the back of his head. 

Anxiously he turned around, his eyes scanning the room for Snufkin. His heart was still thundering, still remembering that last time, the terror still in his bones. It felt like his heart stopped at the sight of Snufkin. He was slumped over at the foot of the couch that had become his. Coat and hat and scarf carelessly tossed across the room. There was a stain on his trousers, a kitchen knife laying in one of his limb hand. 

Immediately Moomin understood and jumped up so fast it made him dizzy. He reached his friend with a few steps and kicked the knife away, sending it clatterin over the floor. Moomin wasn't stupid, he had seen blood before, knew the smell and even the taste of it. More often than not someone got a scrape, a cut, a nosebleed or bit themselves on the tongue or cheek. That's what came with playing outside all the time.

The noise of the loud steps and the clattering of the knife startled Snufkin out of his unconcious state. "Wha-" 

"What do you think you're doing?!" Moomin felt anger unlike anything else brooding inside him. "Why are you hurting yourself?! You don't do this! You never do this! I understand you don't like this situation, but don't do this! This is not the Snufkin I know! This is not the Snufkin I love!" Heartbeat slowing and adrenaline wearing off, Moomin suddenly started crying and clutched Snufkins undershirt. "Don't..." 

"Moomin." Snufkin breathed and closed his eyes, his hands carefully finding their way to rub soothing circles across the others back. "Moomin. It's alright. It wasn't my intention to hurt myself."

"Then what did you do with that knife? You're still bleeding, oh dear..." Moomin sobbed into his chest.

"I wanted to get my cast off. The time I had to wear it is over. I slipped with the knife and cut my tight a litte. It is nothing bad, it barely hurts and the bleeding really is not bad." 

"Oh Snufkin." Moomin relased his grip a little. "Oh Snufkin. Swear to me never to scare me like that again." 

"You know I can't." 

"Snufkin!" Moomin beat his fists against the others chest, as if it could possibly change his mind. "Swear it! Swear it to me!"

Gently Snufkin wrapped his fingers around Moomins wrists, securing them in place. "Moomin." he whispered. "Moomin." Until the adressed calmed down enough to finally lift his head and look into his eyes. 

"Please..." He sobbed. A desperate plea, a hand reaching into darkness. 

"I am sorry." 

And Moomin felt himself plunging into the endless darkness

Chapter Text

Moomin opened his eyes. He closed them again and let out a soft sigh. Exhaustion was deep in his bones, a heaviness weighing him down. He knew why. Didn't even have to think. He should not be so tired after sleeping.

With another small sigh Moomin streched and opened his eyes. He was greeted by a grey room. Shadows hung over the sofas and other furniture. Outside the window the sky was grey and low. Shadowy snowflakes danced in the breeze. 

Making as little noise as possible Moomin sat up. A shiver ran through him as he pushed the blanket off him. On tiptoes he made his way to the oven, the fire burnt down to crimson ashes. Quickly he put more wood on the dying fire, hoping to rekindle it soon. 

He then fled back under his blanket, the remaining warmth made him shiver. Only when he felt the drowsiness take hold on his mind once more, he dared to turn around.

Greeting him was the soft and peaceful face of his friend. Snufkin was sound asleep. Wrapped up in his blanket he was safe and sound. The soft and steady breath a reminder how he was still here. Unharmed and safe. 

Already half asleep Moomin smiled and slipped his paw under the others blanket to take hold of his hand.

 

 

A soft feeling awoke Moomin. With a small yawn he snuggled into his pillow and received a chuckle in response. The feeling stopped for a moment, there was a sound of blanket, a short cool breeze and then warmth again. A more solid warmth, Moomin noticed, before the feeling continued. Someone was ruffling the fur behind his ears in a delicate manner. His sleep-drugged brain concluded that Snufkin must have slipped under his blanket and now was petting him. 

Immediately fully awake Moomin felt his cheeks turn hot with redness. "Snufkin?" He whispered into the semi-darkness of the room.

A confirming noise answered. The petting stopped and Moomin could hear his friend get up. "Show me the snow." he requested with a childish glee. 

Sitting up and blinking with confusion Moomin noticed an array of winter clothes spread around the room. Snufkin must've raided some wardrobes while he was asleep. 

"Snufkin, it's not even day yet." Moomin tried to protest as he already was getting on his feet. 

"It will be soon." Snufkin replied while putting on a snowcoat, then tossing another one to Moomin. "Let's watch the sun rise!" He grinned, his cheeks red. 

Feeling rather uneasy Moomin accepted the coat and put it on. This was a rather dramatic change of his friend's mood. But then again, Snufkin could request anything from Moomin, he would obey. 

 

 

Trudging through the deep snow Moomin kept a close eye on his friend. Wherever he got that coat from, it was too big for him, covering his mitten covered hands and hanging almost to his knees. The mouth and tip of his nose were covered in a thick scarf that he still dragged behind him. He must've borrowed those from a giant!, Moomin thought while grinning to himself. He had never truly noticed, but Snufkin was rather short for his age. Adult humans usually grew taller than Moomins, but still Snufkin lay behind all his friends in height. Except for Little My of course. 

"What is it?" Snufkin suddenly asked, tearing Moomin from his thoughts. 

"You look funny in those clothes." The adressed responded without thinking. 

Snufkin scoffed and sped up his pace. "Come on, or we'll miss it!" 

"Miss what?" 

"You'll see." 

With a sigh Moomin followed Snufkin up the hill. They had been walking through the winter forest for quite some time now and the sky was getting brighter and brighter, with each minute the clouds were clearing. 

Finally Moomin caught up to Snufkin who waited on top of the hill. Catching his breath was no longer and option as Moomin felt it being taken away by the view that lay in front of him. They had climbed on one of the hills in front of the mountains, the whole of Moominvalley lay before them. The soft hills, the lakes, the houses, everything buried under an indifferent blanket of white. 

"It's beautiful." Moomin breathed.

"Disgusting." Snufkin growled and sat down on a blanket he had spread on the ground. 

"Why do you think so?" Hesitately Moomin joined him.

"It's all the same. What's the point with no difference? It's boring, predictable." 

Despite himself Moomin laughed. "You really don't know snow, do you?"

Almost surprised Snufkin turned to look at him. 

"There is so much exciting about snow! You can build houses out of it! You can form little balls and have snowball fights. You can go down the hills sledding! And you never know what to discover underneath!"

"Well at least one of us is excited." Snufkin smiled and reached inside his coat to pull out a small object that reminded Moomin of a bottle, except it was flat and shiny. Moomin watched with interest as he unscrewed the top and took a sip. 

Noticing that he was being observed Snufkin offered him the bottle. The first thing Moomin noticed was the rather strong smell coming from it. The second was the same smell coming from Snufkin. And the last piece clicked into place when Moomin remembered the smell from the special juice his parents drank on rare occasions. 

"I'm not allowed to drink that!" Moomin immediately blurted out.

"Says who?" 

"My parents!" 

Snufkin rolled his eyes. "Your parents will never find out. And even if, it isn't that strong and just to warm up a bit." 

Moomin still eyed the offered bottle suspiciously.

"Look, you don't have to, it was just an offer." Snufkin took another sip and went to screw it shut again.

"Wait! I wanna try!" Moomin grabbed the bottle from his friends hand. 

Snufkin gave a laugh even he didn't expect. "Knock yourself out."

Moomin knew how this juice affected his parents and could already see Snufkin behaving similar. How much did he drink before Moomin woke up? 

Deciding not to think about that he took a deep breath and took a small sip. Coughs errupted from him as he felt as if the juice had set his throat on fire. 

Snufkin laughed and took the bottle from him. "It gets better." He grinned and securedly stored it back into his coat.

"How can you drink that?" Moomin gasped, wishing for some fresh water.

"It gets better." He merely repeated and looked over the valley, to the far east where the sky began to turn orange, then pink, then red. 

Together they sat in silence and watched the sun rise over the valley that was fast asleep.

Chapter Text

Soft patter filled the room as water was poured into the makeshift bathtub. Moomin had never had one, but after Snufkin had described it as a hot spring in your own house, he had desperately wanted it. So they had lifted the biggest bucket from the basement to the kitchen and were currently filling it with boiling water from the stove. 

"I think this is the last one!" Moomin grunted as he lifted the pot to pour the contents into the tub. 

"Yes, this seems good." Drying his hands, Snufkin seemed happy with the water temperature.

Climbing on the chair next to the tub, Moomin dipped a toe in and gave a shudder. After the walk outside in the snow and the heavy lifting, the hot water was just an incredible feeling. 

"Get in before it gets cold!" Snufkin, now stripped to his underwear stepped behind Moomin onto the chair. 

Moomin gave a startled cry and grabbed onto the back rest in an attempt to regain balance. "Okay, okay, I'm going!" He giggled and carefully stepped into the water. With a deep shaky breath he submerged up to his shoulders.

"Here." Moomin opened his eyes to see Snufkin hand him a towel, soaked in cold water.

"What's that for?" he asked, accepting it anyways.

"To keep your circulation going." Snufkin answered, now climbing into the tub too with a cold towel in his hand. "Scooch over a bit, will you?"

Moomin merely blinked in confusion and copied his friend in putting the cold towel on his forehead. 

"So you don't pass out because of the hot water."

"That can happen?" Moomin stared at him in disbelief.

"Yep. Very unlikely, but in the least you will feel bad." 

"Well am I glad go have you and your knowledge." He laughed. 

Snufkin hummed in agreement and smiled softly. Cramped into this glorified potato collector with his friend, he felt oddly at peace. The alcohol had long since worn off and he really didn't want to loose control of his consumption. So back to freezing and hating everything about winter it was. It was his mother's favourite season. Maybe that's why he hated it so much. Not that he hated his mother, oh no, Snufkin still adored her like only a child could. She had just always been... distant. He gave an unconcious snort and looked out of the window.

"What is it, Snufkin?" Moomin asked carefully. 

Despite himself, Snufkin answered truthfully. "I'm thinking about my mother. She loves the season of winter." 

At that mention Moomin found himself sitting up straighter. Snufkin never talked about his family, sometimes he wondered if he even had one. Then again, he had to. Everyone had a family. "Will you tell me about her?"

Snufkin stayed silent for a minute before tearing his gaze away from the steamed up window. "She has a lot of children. She tries her best to take care of every one, but every now and then someone gets left behind."

"You got left behind?!" 

Snufkin chuckled at that. "Everyone did at some point. She would always come back and pick us up though. It is hard to look after such a hoard of children after all. We all had to learn how to be independent, I found my peace in that more than most. You see, the place I grew up in was always full of life, full of voices, full of light. I liked it, until I didn't. One day I just left." 

"Does your mother know where you are?" 

"No. I guess it doesn't matter. She has other children to look after." 

Moomin stared in silence at his friend. "H-How about your father then? Does he know you are safe?" 

Snufkin shrugged. "I think? I don't really know him. Met him a few times. I guess he just isn't very keen on being a father." 

"Oh Snufkin, that's horrible! You don't have any family at all! Who takes care of you when you're sick? Who do you talk to when something is troubeling you? Who comforts you after a nightmare?" 

Snufkin shrugged. "No one." 

"Oh, Snufkin!" Moomin sobbed and assailed his friend with a hug, sending water splashing everywhere. "I am so sorry!"

Hesitantly Snufkin returned it, smiling softly. "Don't be. Besides, I think I have found myself a very fine family right here." 

 

The sun had long since set as the two friends had finally cleaned up the kitchen and found themselves sitting in front of the stove in the living room, wrapped up in a blanket. The silence was peaceful, the fire emitting a soft orange glow over the shadowy room. 

Moomin gave a content sigh and closed his eyes. Just sitting here, with Snufkin by his side, it made him feel a peace he hadn't known in a while. His Snufkin, the one he had always known, not the one he had gotten to face in the past weeks. But he knew, now he had seen his darker side, there was no going back. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing, Moomin pondered. He doubted anyone else had ever seen the Snufkin he had, and that made him special. He now knew all of his friend. Not just the kind boy who loved his friends and his travels, but also the young man, forced to grow up too soon, unable to deal with his insecurities and not knowing how to make a home.

Leaning against his friend, Moomin gave another sigh. "I am really happy to be here with you."

He felt Snufking chuckle. "There's no one I'd rather spent a winter with than you." he whispered in response.

Moomin felt his arm shift around his shoulders, caressing him softly. 

Shrouded in silence, accompanied by the crackling of the fire, they sat there.

Chapter Text

"You know what we should do?" Moomin was hanging upside down from his couch, bored out of his mind.

"We will not build a slide down the stairs." Snufkin answered, not even looking up from cleaning his pipe. 

"Pancakes for dinner!" Moomin declared and rolled onto the floor. "Mama and Papa are not around to forbid it! Oh Snufkin, let's make pancakes for dinner!" 

The adressed gave a chuckle and looked to his friend, lying on the floor. 

"Well, if you insist." 

"Pancakes!" Moomin cheered and ran into the kitchen.

"How much Jam did you have?" 

"Too much!" 

Together they mixed the pancake dough and baked them, one by one over the stove. Both tried their luck, neither turned out as good as Moominmamas. 

Deciding they did not deem it necessary to set the table, they ended up on the kitchen floor, eating pancakes off a single plate. Less dishes to wash. 

In his enthusiams Moomin even brought out the sweet syrup they had brought back from an adventure to the north. A strange one that had been, with huge deer and lights in the sky. Moomin chuckled to himself as he hurried back into the kitchen with the jar, just in time to catch Snufkin taking a sip from his little bottle. 

"Snufkin!" Moomin gasped, almost dropping the syrup.

The adressed just looked at him and took another sip. Well, what did he expect? Snufkin did what Snufkin wanted to do and no one would be able to stop him. Then again there was this story about an old Hemulen who had went for him with a shovel after Snufkin had ignored all his warnings about not trespassing. The next morning he left Moominvalley, leaving almost all of his belongings behind, in such a hurry he had been. It scared Moomin to think about what had happened.

Wordless Moomin sat down and carefully placed the syrup next to the plate. 

With a sigh Snufkin put his bottle away. "Moomin, I-"

"No!" The young troll suddenly felt angry. All he ever gave Snufkin was love and respect, he had no reason to treat him like that. "I'm done playing this game! I understand you don't like being here, but that's no reason for you to be mean! It is not my fault, nor is it yours or anyone else's! So how about for once, one single time in your life, you try to understand my feelings?" During his rant Moomin had stood up and was now panting, paws balled to fists. 

Snufkin was silent for a moment, looking away. "Moomin,-"

Not knowing why, the adressed stormed out of the room. He felt hurt, an ache spreading in his chest. Gasping for breath he reached his room and locked the door behind him. He hadn't been here for weeks, dust had started to settle on every surface. Moomin shivered, it was cold here, all his blankets were downstairs. Tears welling up in his eyes he sat down behind his door and cried. 

 

 

A knock on the door tore Moomin from his light slumber. He was shivering, his nose running. His room was unbearably cold.

Another knock. "Moomin?" A long stretch of silence in which he didn't dare to move.

"Moomin, I know you're in there." A knock, more like a tap. "Please answer me."

"Go away!" Moomin called, voice thick with tears.

"Moomin..." A soft sigh. Noises. Someone sitting down on the other side of the door. Silence. Wind blowing outside. 

"I am sorry." 

Moomin couldn't hold back the surprised gasp. 

"You were right. I wa- I am selfish." One breath. Two breaths. "All I ever do is think about me. Going south in the winter. Coming back sooner or later in the spring." One breath. "You tell me you are sad when I leave. I know it. I never understood it. I am sorry." 

Moomin felt himself crying again. Never before had he heard his friend talk like that. 

"I know I cannot be perfect and I don't want to be. I just want to be good enough for you." 

"Snufkin?" Moomin sniffed.

"Yes, Moomin?" came the immediate response. 

"Can you promise me something?" 

Silence. One breath. Two breaths. "What is it?" 

"Promise me you'll never leave me forever. I- I understand you want and need your freedom, your time to yourself. Just promise me you'll always return."

"You are asking a lot."

"I know. But I feel like I have the right to."

Silence again. "Moomin-"

"Promise! Promise or leave now!" Moomin cried.

A sigh. "Moomin... I promise. I promise to come back to you whenever I can. I cannot promise when that will be, but I will come back. Always." 

At these words Moomin found himself crying even harder, he didn't even hear Snufkin stand up and knock on the door. "Now open that door, please. You'll catch a cold in there." 

Crying tears of anger, fear and happiness all at once, Moomin only came back to his senses when familiar arms settled around him and held him tight. "It's okay." His friend whispered. "Please stop crying, Moomin. I don't like to see you sad." 

"Snufkin." Moomin sobbed and held him tighter than ever. Safe and warm, he felt the fatigue overcome him until he fell asleep in his friends arms. 

Chapter Text

„You’re either late or very early.“

„Don’t play stupid, you already know.“ Snufkin replied into the dark hut he had just entered and closed the door behind him.

A figure moved in the darkness. „Sometimes I feel like you’re too bright for your own good.“

Snufkin dropped his loaded bag on the rug and hung his hat on the nearest coat hook before proceeding to drop into an empty chair. „You can thank mum for that.“

There was a jokingly offended gasp followed by a chuckle. „You got it?“

Snufkin pulled out his pipe and prepared it. „In my bag.“, he simply replied.

The other person stood up and rummaged through the bag in question. Eventually he pulled out a glas of yam. „So you’re leaving for a whole year? Leaving Moomin alone for such a long time?“

„He isn’t alone.“ Snufkin replied almost defensively. „He’s got his friends.“ He added in a small voice.

„But you are his best friend.“

„Dad.“ Snufkin exclaimed with a hint of embarrassment.

Joxter laughed heartedly and walked towards the kitchen corner with the yam. „Come on, you got at least some of that smart from me.“

The other one didn’t reply, simply lit his pipe and stared into nothingness. „I made a promise.“ He said eventually, making Joxter choke on the spoonful of yam in his mouth.

„You? Promise?“ He cackled. 

Rather unimpressed Snufkin waited until he calmed down again. „Things changed.“ he whispered, more to himself than his host. 

Joxter eventually shrugged and kept eating the yam. „You do you.“

Snufkin puffed his pipe a few times, still looking ahead. He considered asking about his mother, about his siblings. He knew that his father visited them every now and then. 

„How’s My?“ Joxter asked.

„Reckless, disrespectful, minding business that isn’t her own.“

„Same as ever.“

They shared a chuckle.

„Your mother asked about you.“ The older said quietly, almost sad.

„What did you say?“ Snufkin asked after a few moments of silence.

„You’re fine. Independent as always, she still worries.“

„She shouldn’t.“ 

„Snufkin… There is nothing wrong with family. I don’t know why you try so hard to run away from it.“ 

„I’m not.“

„Then why don’t you ever visit her?“

„My family,“ Snufkin almost hissed. „Is neither here, nor with her.“ 

Sighing in defeat Joxter sat down. Sometimes he didn’t believe Snufkin was his son, his own flesh and blood. But then the similarities were too striking, too obvious, sometimes to the point that it scared him. He had never known how to be a father, he had tried, but Snufkin had decided from a young age to spent his life in solitude. Being a father without being able to find your son is a though challenge. So he had just given up. Often he wishes he hadn’t, he should’ve tried harder, been more persistent… Joxter sighed again. At least he had the comfort of knowing that Snufkin was under the care of his old friend’s family. He knew the Moomins were kind and caring. 

The news that harm had come to his son had shocked him, had worried him deeply. But then he had known, he had been hurt in Moominvalley. He would receive all the care he would need. 

„I want you to be happy.“ he mumbled.

„Do we really have to do that again?“ Snufkin sighed in annoyance.

„You can’t spend your life all alone.“

Had it been a year earlier, or any year before that, Snufkin would have laughed and said „Watch me.“, before disappearing out of the door. This time however, he stayed. Suddenly his whole body felt heavy, it became difficult to breathe. I don’t think I want to anymore.

 

 

The sun was warm and gentle on the low horizon. The first birds had returned, singing their cheerful melody of far lands and many miles travelled. Flowers jumped out of the ground wherever the snow had given away. It was a perfect spring morning. 

All the people of Moominvalley slowly woke from their slumber, rubbing sleep from their eyes and stretching their tired limps. They all still were sleepy, exhausted from such a long rest. But they also were excited. With a new spring, new life came into the valley, new adventures to have, new stories to tell, maybe even new friends to meet. 

The first chimneys were smoking, food being prepared on hot stoves quickly, but not hastily. The people were hollowed out, their bodies had taken all they could during hibernation. Now it was time to eat again. To fill their bellies and to gain new strength for the coming seasons. 

Some were out, stretching their legs, taking in the fresh and still chilly spring air, enjoying the first rays of sunshine. 

Meanwhile, Moomin still lay in bed. He was only half awake, blinking at his wall across the room. The last seasons had been hard on him. After the winter he and Snufkin had spent together, his best friend had left. For a whole year, he had been gone. Moomin had tried his very best to keep going, playing with his friends and having adventures together. It just hadn’t been the same. 

There had been no Snufkin waiting on the doorstep in the morning to show him a new place up in the mountains. 

There had been no Snufkin whistling him awake at the darkest hour to take a stroll under the moon.

There had been no Snufkin to sit with next to a campfire and listen to stories.

There had been no Snufkin to go fishing with.

There had been no Snufkin. 

Moomin felt his eyes water up as he thought about all those lonely hours over the last year. Yes, he had Snorkmaiden and Sniff and Little My. But there still had always been something missing. Sometimes it had felt like a limb had been cut off of him. 

The birds singing didn’t help. It felt as if they were mocking him. He kept imaging Snufkins whistling and sometimes even mouthorgan. But as many times as he had suddenly sat up and looked out of his window, it had just been another bird. So he just turned around and blinked sleepy at the other wall. 

A noise dragged him out of his drowsiness. So familiar and comforting. As soon as he was pulled from sleep, he felt himself being lulled back into it. But the a spark reached his brain and he shot up from his bed. He knew that sound. He had waited so long to hear it again. His heart beat to his throat as he leapt to his window and looked outside. 

And truly, there it was, the soft melody drifting to him trough the air. A lone young man sat on the bridge that crossed a little river, a backpack next to him. His face was obscured by a wide trimmed hat with an embroidery. His clothes were patched up neatly. A mother’s gift. 

Immediately Moomins face lit up. „Snufkin!“ He called and started to climb down his ladder. Towards Snufkin. Towards a future, surely together.