snufmin: 5 times snufkin held moomin’s paw
Most of the time, it was Moomin who reached for Snufkin.
That was just the nature of their friendship. Moomin reached for him in many ways. When everyone was headed down to the beach to play, Moomin made sure to invite him. When Snufkin was fishing during lazy summer days, Moomin would ask if he could join him. When the sun set and the stars started to appear, Moomin would get a glass jar and suggest to Snufkin that they go and catch some fireflies. Most of the time, Snufkin happily reciprocated, but it was usually Moomin who had to take that first step.
Moomin sometimes reached for Snufkin in a more literal sense, too. He gave him hugs, but hugs were complicated; Snufkin was not always open to hugs, seemed to often find them awkward and overwhelming. Moomin gradually shied away from initiating those most of the time. He sometimes threw his arm about Snufkin's shoulders, but that too was not always a welcomed gesture for Snufkin, and could make him stiffen and fall quiet. Eventually, Moomin had settled on a single physical gesture that usually was well received; taking Snufkin's hand. It didn't always work, but most of the time it seemed to; Snufkin would sometimes get a shy little smile, but he usually kept holding Moomin's paw, and over time grew to expect it more. So Moomin started doing it more often, for any sort of flimsy pretext; perhaps the hill they were climbing was a bit steep and slippery, or perhaps Moomin wanted to show Snufkin something and grabbed his hand to guide him along, or perhaps he was just happy and had no excuse at all. Snufkin didn't seem to mind.
But, still, it usually was Moomin who had to initiate it. And as content as Snufkin seemed to be with the arrangement, it sometimes left Moomin wondering. Doubt was always a tricky little beast, which had a way of creeping in, even into the loveliest of things. So Moomin would sometimes wonder if his gestures were as appreciated as he'd assumed; if his friendship was, well, as reciprocated as he'd hoped. If Moomin were to stop-- stop reaching out to Snufkin, stop making those efforts-- what exactly would happen? Would their friendship simply fade away? It was a silly thing to worry about, Moomin knew. Yet he couldn't help thinking about it sometimes.
But then, there were the times when Snufkin would reach for Moomin instead.
Such as the nights when he'd sneak to Moominhouse and toss pebbles at Moomin's window until he woke and came to see what he wanted, and with a secretive smile Snufkin invited him on a late walk. Or the times he planned a trip to the Lonely Mountains, for just Moomin and him. Or the times he would appear on the veranda, mouth-organ in hand, and wanted to see Moomin's reaction to a new melody he was working on.
There even were times when he reached for him in more literal, physical ways, too. Moomin kept the memories carefully stored away. They were few in number, but they stood out as so important, so cherished.
One time, Snufkin held his paw in comfort.
It had been after Moomin found one of the birds he helped raise. You see, one year Moomin and his friends protected a nest of baby birds from a kite, and then brought them home to raise, because their mother was injured. Eventually the mother healed and the babies grew up, and they all took flight on their migration. They all returned a year later, during the breeding season once more. It had been wonderful, and Moomin enjoyed visiting the birds that had grown up so fast.
Except, one day, Moomin had been walking along to give them a visit, and he found one of the colorful birds on the ground. It was crumpled at an unnatural angle. Moomin rushed to it, picking it up, intent on bringing it to the Hemulan to nurse it back to health.
But it had been too late.
Overwhelmed with grief, Moomin went to Snufkin with the bird, his tears overflowing.
"I d-don't understand, Snufkin, it was barely more than just a baby, just one year old," he said, cradling the poor creature's delicate, lifeless body in his paws. He trembled.
"Why did it have to die?"
Snufkin looked at him, his eyes soft and somber. He spoke, his voice so very gentle.
"I'm sorry, Moomin. It's just a part of life, I'm afraid."
Moomin swiped at his tears and demanded,
"Why? Why does it have to be? Something so beautiful, so . . . wonderful, and it barely even got to live. It was supposed to have years and years to fly and be free."
Snufkin was quiet for a long stretch as Moomin wept. He then said quietly,
"Let's go back into the forest. We can bury him by those berry bushes he loved."
So they went and buried the bird. They laid a few stones as a marker, and found some flowers to put upon its grave. Moomin said his goodbyes, and Snufkin held his paw tightly. He continued to hold his paw as they walked back home.
Another time, Snufkin held his paw as they sat under the stars.
It was deep into the night. They'd walked carefully, quietly, as if afraid to wake anyone, and reached the hill overlooking the meadow, lying down in the cool, damp grass. The air was a bit chilly but the stars were crisp and bright, and the milky way stretched across it all like the threads of some celestial loom that wove reality itself. They laid next to each other in companionable silence for a long time, gazing up at the countless, flickering points of light.
"They're so beautiful tonight," Moomin eventually said, in a hushed voice. Snufkin hummed softly in reply.
After a few moments, Moomin said,
"They make me feel . . . strange, though. Like . . . there are so very many. It makes me feel small."
"That's why I love them," Snufkin said, his voice as serene as the evening breeze. Moomin's brow crinkled.
"You like to feel small?"
"Not quite that, but sort of." He paused to think.
"It's easy for people to feel like the things they do in their lives . . . the things they build, the people they meet, the battles they fight, the wishes they make, the fears that vex them, that it's all so terribly important. That they are terribly important."
Moomin glanced to his side to see Snufkin's expression. His gaze was wistful, his smile soft.
"But really, we're just another point of light in the sky, among thousands."
Moomin frowned as he considered that.
"I'm not sure if I actually enjoy that idea."
Snufkin's smile grew crooked, affectionate.
"Well, I think it's comforting, in a way."
Moomin stayed quiet as his friend pondered things. He thought perhaps Snufkin was finished, but then he eventually said,
"It's nice to know that things will keep on turning with or without me. And that whatever I do with life, it's really up to me to decide what's important."
Moomin's eye traced the path of a familiar constellation as he thought about what Snufkin said. He thought about his life and all the things in it, and what he treasured most.
"I'm not sure what's most important in the universe," he said, ruffling the grass under his paws,
"But for me, what's most important . . . well. It's, um . . ."
He trailed off, suddenly feeling shy. But he could see Snufkin's gaze on him, and his brow arched, as if asking him to finish. Moomin murmured,
"It's just moments like these. Just sharing them with people I care about."
Snufkin was quiet for a while then. After a few minutes, he said,
"I like that."
They kept watching the stars in peaceful silence until Moomin began to feel a little drowsy, lulled by the chatter of crickets.
That's when he felt Snufkin's hand slip into his paw, warm and just a bit uncertain, but so very tangible.
Another time, Snufkin reached for him in a moment of unguarded glee.
Moomin had been running from tree to tree, huffing and puffing, diving behind them as he went. He leaned against a large oak, glancing carefully this way and that, ears perked and scanning the forest. The trouble with Little My is that she was such a tiny little creature, so she was easy to miss, but Moomin was determined to stay one step ahead of her. When he felt the coast was clear, he rushed ahead again, diving into a big bush several yards away. He peered out, surveying the territory.
Little My was nowhere to be seen. It was disconcerting-- Moomin would have preferred to know exactly where she was, but there was no helping it. He crept out of his hiding spot and jogged quietly ahead again, trying to avoid trodding on any fallen leaves or sticks.
And then, just past another stand of trees, Moomin spotted his target. Not far from him, the land sloped up into a hill. Stuck into the dirt, perched proudly at the very top of the hill, was a stick with a scrap of blue fabric waving in the breeze. Moomin snorted. They chose to put their flag there? It was the easiest thing to see in the world. What were they thinking?
Moomin heard a noise from somewhere, and he jerked, moving behind the stand of trees. Was it My? He waited, holding his breath. The noise didn't return. Moomin didn't like how much underbrush was around this part of the woods, because it meant My could be lurking just about anywhere. He also knew for a fact that the little Mymble was alarmingly fast-- she'd often caught him when they played tag. Biting a lip nervously, Moomin took one last look about the forest, and then decided he'd just gun for it.
He hit the ground running and rushed through the grass, not even trying to look around, just focusing on speed. As he charged up the hill, he realized it was a bit steeper than he'd guessed, and running up it at full speed was difficult. He plowed ahead anyway, briefly tripping on a rock but thankfully regaining his footing. His feet slapped hard against the dirt and his heart pounded, but he kept his eyes locked on his prize, determined.
As Moomin scaled the top of the hill, he slipped on some loose dirt and scrambled to catch himself. A little too late, his body struck the ground, but as he fell he reached out, paws seizing upon the stick. He grinned triumphantly, panting for breath, but just as he was about to stand . . .
A pair of hands seized the stick as well, grabbing at it just above his paws. Moomin blinked and looked up.
From behind the other side of the hill, Snufkin had appeared. He locked eyes with Moomin, the both of them holding onto the flag, and for a moment they just awkwardly looked at each other.
Uncertain, Snufkin asked,
"What do we do now?"
Moomin pushed himself to his feet. He said,
"Um, well . . . I guess we're supposed to . . . fight for it?"
"I don't really want to fight for it. Why don't I just give it to you?"
Moomin swished his tail.
"You can't just give it to me, I don't think."
"I don't see why--"
Suddenly, there was wrathful screaming from below, and they both turned to look. Little My's eyes were sharp and gleaming and she was galloping through the woods like a terrifying little beast, exclaiming,
"Oh no you don't you're going down!"
Moomin's fur fluffed and he yelped,
"We'd better decide now!"
Snufkin took a second to weigh his options, and then a rather sneaky smile overtook him.
"Why don't we take the flag together?"
Moomin looked at him in confusion and exclaimed,
"We're on different teams, Snufkin!"
Snufkin grabbed Moomin's paw and grinned at him.
"Wanna make a new team?"
By now, Little My's terrifying pace had carried her up the hill and she was scrambling over the loose dirt, nearly within striking distance. Together, Moomin and Snufkin broke into a cold run, tearing down the hill like they were fleeing the wind itself.
Moomin let out a whoop, his legs and lungs burning and yet feeling positively elated. Snufkin laughed, waving the blue flag defiantly in one hand while the other hand clung to Moomin's paw like a lifeline, and as they ran they could hear Little My chasing after, indignant shouts echoing through the woods:
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET BACK HERE, THAT'S OUT OF BOUNDS AND YOU CAN'T BOTH TAKE IT--"
They ran and laughed and they didn't even know where they were headed, but they really didn't care.
Another time, when Snufkin held Moomin's paw, it wasn't a goodbye, it was a promise.
That year was harder than the others had been. It was still a lovely day in spring, when the bees were swarming on the fields of lavender and Moominmama was making cherry pies, when Snufkin told him about his winter plans. He said he'd learned some fantastic tales about an island he wanted to visit, and that he was going to book passage on a boat to get there.
"It's . . . quite a long voyage," he'd told him, with a wary look in his eye. Moomin still remembered how he'd felt a sudden pit in his stomach, and the cold wave of dread that followed it.
"Longer than a single winter," Snufkin admitted.
"So you'll be leaving early," Moomin surmised, the words sour in his throat.
"Or returning late," Snufkin said, looking at him calmly.
"I thought . . . I'd ask what you'd prefer."
Moomin balked at the thought.
"I-I, uh, I'm not sure, I . . ."
"It's ok, Moomin. Just think about it."
Moomin did think about it. He agonized over it, in fact. He was grateful that Snufkin was offering him a choice, which was incredibly generous and not something he'd needed to do at all. He knew Snufkin had meant it as something to help ease the blow, for he knew how terribly Moomin missed him when he was gone. But the problem was the choice itself was so impossible to even make. Send Snufkin away early this year, before the leaves had even fallen? Or enjoy a full spring and fall, but sit in the shadow of the knowledge that Snufkin wouldn't be returning until the middle or end of spring next year?
Moomin fussed over it until he felt sick. Perhaps it was just his weakness, but he eventually chose the option of Snufkin returning late. The idea of waking to the first day of spring without Snufkin there felt wrong on so many levels, that Moomin could not begin to describe it, and yet . . . and yet the idea of Snufkin leaving that early was something he hated even more. He knew that future Moomin would suffer and regret the choice, but current Moomin was selfish.
Snufkin, of course, had brought it up quite early in the year with the idea of giving Moomin plenty of time to mentally prepare for it. Again, it was a very thoughtful thing to do, and Moomin had to admit to himself, if it had been sprung on him last-minute, he's pretty sure he would have just spent the winter in anguish and wouldn't even be able to sleep. Yet, again, as merciful as it was, it was also difficult. Because it meant that Moomin knew what was coming for a rather long time. It gave him a lot of time to dwell on it. Even when the spring was still so young, and they spent the hours wandering the beach together or goofing off with their friends or launching into a new building project, in the back of Moomin's head, he thought of how next year would not be quite so delightful.
Still, Moomin did his best to focus on the present. And when he sometimes got a sad, distant sort of look in his eye, Snufkin seemed to know what he was thinking about. His friend always tried to snap him out of it, remind him of the beauty of what they were doing, here and now. It usually worked, and Moomin had to admit they had a very wonderful spring.
As the first notes of autumn appeared, though, and the breeze turned just a little bit nippy, it grew harder for Moomin to remain sanguine. And that was frustrating for him, because he berated himself for feeling that way. He told himself that he was being very silly, that he was overreacting and it was childish. So what if Snufkin wanted to go on a longer trip for a change? It wasn't as though he was never returning. Moomin should be perfectly capable of going on with life without Snufkin for a while. He needed to stop being like this, because his gloominess was just going to bring everyone else down.
As much as he fought it, though, he couldn't seem to help how he felt. Five or six months wasn't very long in the grand scheme of things, but when you were living it day-to-day, it could feel like an entire chapter in your life. And life without Snufkin, well, it's not as though it was completely miserable. But it . . . it really wasn't the same. Snufkin knew him in ways that no one else did, and they could speak of things he really couldn't with anyone else. Not only that, but Snufkin's mere presence itself radiated joy into Moomin's life like no other. Something about the way Snufkin thought, about the way he lived, about his energy, his imagination, his ideas, his spirit . . . it cast the entire world in a new light for Moomin. The whole world was so much more exciting and delightful when Snufkin was around. Even Moomin was more wonderful and delightful when Snufkin was around. So, it was hard to face the idea of so much time with all that missing.
Maybe even harder, though, were the little whispers of worries in Moomin's mind. The voices that asked if maybe Snufkin might start to grow very fond of all the exciting new things he was doing, all the new people he was meeting, all the new places he was seeing. Perhaps Moominvalley would be pushed further and further from his mind. He might start to grow used to a different sort of life, and he might be tempted to stay just a bit longer, and then just a bit longer. And what if those 'just a bit longers' started to bleed into just a bit longer still? Until, not intentionally, but all just the same, Moomin would fade from the forefront of his mind. And then, perhaps . . . he'd fade entirely.
It wasn't so radical an idea. So, yes, Moomin did still worry that Snufkin may never return.
Autumn passed both very slowly and very quickly. They had some pleasant trips, but Moomin was usually solemn. He would often take walks alone in the woods, watching the leaves fading from green to yellow, orange and brown, and he would glumly think to himself. He did this because he was trying to avoid being so obviously gloomy around others, not wanting them to catch on to how he was really feeling.
Snufkin knew anyway, of course. Moomin could never hide anything from him.
When the land began to chill and the first snow finally fell on Moominvalley, Moomin found himself in the moment that he had been dreading. He stood on the little bridge overlooking the half-frozen river, right beside where Snufkin liked to pitch his tent. Snufkin, wrapped tight in his scarf, back laden with all his earthly possessions, stood there in silence. A few snowflakes were drifting down, wisping around his friend like he was some sort of wintery wraith.
Moomin thought he was going to manage to remain calm this year and not make a scene. After all, he felt more glum than he did anxious. But as he stood there and looked at Snufkin, his wonderful Snufkin, all packed up and ready to go out into the far reaches of the world, Moomin felt the tears come as rapidly and easily as they always did.
Moomin turned his head, swiping quickly at his eyes with his paws.
"I-I'm sorry," he muttered, embarrassed.
"For what? For crying?"
Moomin nodded. Snufkin took a step closer, his hazel eyes full of empathy.
"Oh, Moomin . . . my dear Moomintroll. Don't ever be sorry for that."
Moomin sniffled, still struggling to keep a calm expression.
"I know you don't like to see me sad when you go."
Snufkin sighed softly.
"It's true I don't like to see you sad, but you musn't ever think that means you shouldn't cry. You always express yourself so freely, Moomin, it's . . . one of the reasons I admire you so."
Hearing Snufkin talk of admiring him was too much to bear, and Moomin's eyes welled up, tears streaking down his fur. Something in Snufkin seemed to break, for his face crumpled into such a stark expression of sorrow.
And then suddenly, he reached down and took up both of Moomin's paws, pressing their palms together and threading his fingers with Moomin's. He pulled Moomin close, gripping his paws tightly and gazing directly into his eyes, their foreheads nearly touching. He looked so serious, more serious than Moomin had ever seen.
In a low, soft voice, Snufkin told him,
"I'll come back, Moomin. I promise."
Moomin realized he could feel Snufkin's pulse flickering through his fingers, and was surprised that it was beating rapidly, almost erratically, similar to his own. Their pulses seemed to almost beat as one.
Moomin pressed his forehead against Snufkin's, closing his eyes and letting his tears fall. He drew in a shaky breath.
Years later, Moomin no longer needed the keep memories like these carefully tucked away, like a collection of something so rare and precious that it needed to be perfectly preserved. Because now, the memories overflowed in their abundance, nearly endless in their variety and richness. They made new memories each and every day, as the two friends grew closer and learned so much more about each other.
But despite all that they had shared, when the day came to tell Moomin's parents something important, it was that same simple gesture that seemed to work best.
"T-they're both in the kitchen," Moomin muttered to Snufkin as he slipped back into the hall. Snufkin looked at him, uncertain. Quietly, he asked,
"Are you okay?"
"Y-yeah, I'm not sure why I'm so nervous. I guess I just . . . oh, you know how I overthink things. I'm ready, if you are."
Snufkin smiled and nodded.
Okay. Moomin turned and entered the kitchen, with Snufkin right behind.
As they came into the room, Moominmama looked up from washing dishes, little soap suds all over her paws. She smiled and said,
"Why, hello there Snufkin, it's so nice to see you. We haven't seen you around for a few days now."
Moominpapa glanced up from the newspaper he'd been perusing, humming,
"Hmm, Snufkin, the fish been biting, or are they still giving you trouble?"
Snufkin smiled and said,
"I caught a rainbow trout yesterday, actually. Around this big!" He gestured an impressive length.
"Good, good," Moominpapa said, sipping his coffee.
"Just remember, if you ever run into a dry spell, we're always happy to have you join us here for supper."
"Oh, yes, definitely," Moominmama said, smiling as she rinsed a plate.
"That's very kind of you, thank you," Snufkin said sincerely. He glanced to Moomin, trying to encourage him with his gaze.
Moomin cleared his throat and flicked his tail nervously,
"A-actually, there was something we wanted to tell you both . . ."
Moominmama started soaping up another plate.
"What is it, dear?"
Moomin swallowed, feeling tongue-tied.
"W-well, you see, Snufkin and I, w-we . . . um . . ."
His face reddened. He had this all planned out, but somehow getting the words out was a lot harder than he'd thought.
Moominmama looked at him when he trailed off. Kindly, she asked,
"Well, what is it, Moomin?"
Moominpapa glanced over the top of his paper again, raising a curious brow.
Moomin started again,
"Snufkin and I, we wanted to tell you, that, erm, we're . . ."
Wordlessly, Snufkin reached out and took Moomin's paw, clasping it tight and looking back to Moominmama.
Moomin blushed, embarrassed, but elated at Snufkin's easy openness.
"We're together," Moomin finally said, giving his tail a swish. Then, he added,
"B-boyfriends, I mean. We're boyfriends."
Moominmama smiled lightly at the both of them and rinsed off the dish, replying,
"Yes, dear. We're both so happy for you two. You've been so wonderful for each other."
Moominpapa nodded and sipped his coffee.
"Yes, of course. We're proud of both you boys."
Then he turned back to his paper. Moomin blinked. He glanced at Snufkin.
"Umm . . . but . . . aren't you, uh, surprised?"
Moominmama chuckled, and then ruffled her son's hair fondly.
"I'm afraid not," she admitted,
"We've known for a rather long time now."
"Oh," Moomin said. Snufkin squeezed his paw and laughed, and Moomin felt impossibly happy and warm.
(If you want more Snufmin and some action/adventure, you can check out my current multi-chapter WIP, Fleeting Fireflies. Deltarune crossover, but you don’t need any knowledge of Deltarune to read!)