All of them had been working tirelessly for days trying to fix up the abandoned boat they had found crashed onto the store. They all did their part to try and get the boat back into working order.
Before they took it out to sea though, Moominpapa wanted to do a test run first. Just him and Moomin out on the water to make sure it was safe. And hey, if they could have a heart to heart at the time…two birds, one stone and all that, he supposed.
Moominmama had been bringing up Moomin’s new little friend with his green hat at lot recently in that way she thought she was being subtle. And while the implications behind her prodding questions may have seemingly went over Moomin’s head, they didn’t get past Moominpapa. They both loved their son very much, but the boy sometimes had trouble seeing what was right in front of him, and it was obvious to them that Moomin was head over heels for the vagabond. He talked about Snufkin constantly, showering the boy in praise and flowers, similarly to how he treated Snorkmaiden years ago when they shared a short childhood infatuation. It was almost bitterly sweet looking at the way that Snufkin so obviously pined for their son afraid that Moomin was still infatuated with Snorkmaiden. But, Moominpapa was fairly certain the only two people that weren’t aware of this were the two people involved themselves.
So yes, for the good of their son, the young boy who had quickly become part of their home, and for everyone around them. It was time for a little nudge in the right direction.
Moomin usually spent all of his time with his friends and the Moominhouse was usually constantly filled with people, especially during the warmer months, so it was nearly impossible to ever get a minute alone with the boy.
Moomin rowed the boat further and further from the shore as Moominpapa tested the rudder and sails while he tried to figure out how he was going to broach the subject.
Moominpapa looked back to shore and saw everyone had started either cleaning up their supplies or search the sand for pretty seashells.
“I think that should be enough, Moomin,” Moominpapa broke the silence. Moomin let out a whoosh of breath.
“Does everything seem to be alright Moominpapa?” Moomin asked, looking around for any pools of water that may have gathered, or loose boards.
“Well you see, Moomin,” he started.
“Oh no! Do we have a leak?” Moomin cut in panicked.
Moominpapa laughed gently and tried to calm Moomin down.
He was a writer by trade, it really shouldn’t be this hard to get the words he wanted to say out.
“Don’t worry, Moomin, the boat is in perfect working order. I actually wanted to just talk about you instead.” He started again. “Me and Moominmama have noticed how much time you’ve been spending with that Snufkin.”
“Oh yes, Papa. Me and Snufkin have become the best of friends,” Moomin said, a little dreamily.
“Of course, very good friends. Just. Only friends, Moomin?” Moominpapa tried again.
“Best friends, papa.”
“Right. Best friends. And how are you and Snorkmaiden getting along? Are you not still best friends?” This was going to take a little gentle teasing and pulling. He was an author. He spun tales in his spare time. He would get to the end eventually it was just a matter of making sure Moomin was following along.
“Well. I mean, me and Snorkmaiden are still friends but I don’t know, Papa. It just seems so different?” Moomin seemed to deflate a bit, his ears drooping and back slouched.
Moominpapa felt bad for only a moment for making Moomin upset but soon Moomin unleashed a stream of feelings he had supposedly been bottling up. Moomin twiddled his thumbs and picked a spot on the boat to stare at and began.
“I really liked Snorkmaiden! And I mean I still do! But I seem to like Snufkin more than I ever liked Snorkmaiden. I know she’s so pretty, and she is, but there’s just something about Snufkin that just makes my heart beat faster. And I feel like I can tell him anything, and I just want to spend all day with him every day I can - not that I don’t like spending time with Snorkmaiden and all of my other friends but with her I always felt like I was constantly trying so hard to impress her.”
Moomin trailed off and got a little quieter, Moominpapa had to lean a little closer to hear him.
“When I’m with Snufkin I can just be myself. I never have to find something to impress him with or worry about saying something stupid – and even if I do around Snufkin he never makes fun of me for it. He just smiles and - oh Papa, I love it when he smiles. His whole face lights up and his eyes get so bright and I love it when he hides his face behind his hat whenever I complement him. He gets so bashful. And we can talk for hours or we can just sit in silence. I usually don’t like silence but with him it always feels so peaceful. And – and - ” Moomin hid his face in his paws.
Moominpapa’s heart was starting to melt. He glanced back at the shore where he could see Moominmama helping Little My look for shells and that spark of love he still had for her after all of these years still flickered in his heart. He was reminded of the all-consuming love they shared when they first met. It was the kind of love that eventually mellowed out into a deeper and steadier love that all good marriages have. That knowledge that someone will always stand by your side and support you is what gets you through anything. It was that feeling that Moominpapa wanted Moomin to be able to have. And maybe it was too soon to know if Snufkin would be the one to give Moomin it, but Moominpapa would definitely wager on Snufkin against anyone else.
“And my dear boy, what happens when the winter comes and he needs to leave?” Moominpapa asked gently. This was the one thing that always worried them. This was the one point of contention about the core of who the two boys were. Moomin loved to be close to people and stay in one place while Snufkin was a wanderer by nature. If either one of them gave that up or denied it, then there is no way they wouldn’t grow to resent each other.
“I’ll be sad, I always dread the start of winter. But I know he needs to leave. And anyway, he can’t come back to me if he never leaves can he!”
“No, I suppose not, that is the definition of returning,” Moominpapa chuckled. He looked back at the shoreline and noticed Snufkin sitting off to the side. He seemed to be half-heartedly helping Sniff look for shells but his gaze kept returning to their boat. Papa supposed they should probably wrap things up and start heading back. “So, all of that. That’s how you definite best friendship, Moomin?”
“Yes, yes I think so?” Moomin replied.
“But I thought you wanted to marry Snorkmaiden? You seem to like Snufkin just as much as you liked her, if not more.”
“Well, I mean…” Moomin trailed off. His nose flushed a bright pink.
“Love comes in all forms, Moomin.”
“L-love?” Moomin’s flush only got brighter. Moominpapa tried not to laugh.
“Yes, love Moomin. We love our friends, and our family. And every once in a while, we love a person like I love Moominmama. It can sometimes feel like friend-love, especially if you start off as friends, but sometimes it grows to be something more without us even noticing it.”
Moominpapa was trying his best to be subtle, but that had never really been his strong suit.
Moomin’s eyes widened and it looked like his mind was going a mile-a-minute. Moomin seemed to come to some sort of realization and turned back to shore. Moominpapa followed his gaze to the green-clad boy who seemed to notice Moomin watching, and in turn, smiled and waved to his friend.
Moomin smiled back shyly and returned his wave.
Moomin turned back around to face Moominpapa.
“Yes, Moomin?” Moominpapa picked up the boat oars and began the journey back to shore.
“Can Snufkin come over for dinner tonight?”
“Of course he can.”
“And can I ask him to stay over?”
Moominpapa tried to hide his smile.
“Snufkin is welcome to stay over whenever he would like.”
“Thank you, Papa,” Moomin said this a little quieter again, and Moominpapa paused in his rowing and smiled at Moomin. He was glad they could have this talk.
“Any time, Moomin.”
While the residents of the Moomin household sat around the dinner table, Snufkin finally included despite almost never accepting their offers for dinner, everything seemed to fit into place.
Later that night Moominmama and Moominpapa laid in their beds, ignoring the hushed voices of Snufkin and Moomin talking.
The boys’ intertwined fingers the next morning at breakfast said everything that needed to be said about what they had talked about the night before. It was like a breath finally being released in the Moomin household as Snufkin and Moomin seemed lighter and so deeply happy.