The first day of the rest of his life began the evening Francis turned ten.
His papa had thrown him a surprise party with all his friends from school, and Francis had spent the day laughing and playing a myriad of games with them until the time came for them to go home. 'Pa had to go to, having asked for fewer work hours that day, but he kissed Francis on the forehead with a smile before promising to bring back his favorite food for dinner.
"I'll bring you some patties from that Jamaican place, aye?" Papa smiled, ruffling his hair. "I'll be back in three hours. Stay safe, sióg bheag."
Then Papa left, leaving Francis all alone, a not-uncommon occurrence and something he didn't mind, actually- he had always felt more at home with just himself. Dad said it was because he was an introvert, whatever that meant, and maybe he was? He got tired quickly if he spent to much time with other people, and preferred to rest by himself.
Francis 'rested' by talking walks in the forest.
As far back as he could remember, Francis had always loved the woods. His dad always said that it was either the inner-Celtic or fairy-blood in him, whatever that was supposed to mean. Francis didn't know whether or not to decide if his dad was right or not (he didn't know what a 'Celt' was and fairies were girls with magic cooties, which he was not!), but the lack answers did not deter him in any way. He felt… drawn? to the woods in weird way. When he had asked his Dad what that feeling was, he had called it 'yearning' before falling into that sad silence that happened when Dad thought of Mom.
Papa always gets sad when he thinks of Mom.
Francis got sad when he thought of Mom, too.
He didn't want to be sad on his birthday though, so, hauling himself off the couch where he had made himself comfortable, the boy got his coat, put on his boots, and grabbed one of the bags of trail-mix 'Pa liked to leave around the house
Then he was gone, out of the back door and into the sun, though not before making sure to leave a note scribbled in crayon for 'Pa. (the first time he had disappeared to the forest, Francis had done so without warning, and he had come back to find a police car in front of the house and papa frantic in a way that would have been funny if Francis hadn't realized how scared he had been). Then he making a beeline for the trees at the end of the acre, the ones that always seemed to beckon welcomingly to him.
Hello, their leaves seemed to wave, and Francis waved back. Papa had always taught him to be polite, after all.
"Hello to you too," he greeted happily as he entered the foliage, patting the trunk of a random tree as he passed it. Francis looked at his house again, just to make sure (of what, he wasn't really sure- he always found his way back home in time) before shaking his head and diving deeper into the woods.
Time began to fall away as Francis plodded through the woods, only the tell-tale glow of the sun giving any indication of it, not that Francis was worried. The path he was taking was one he was used to traveling a lot, it being his favorite. There was a pond up ahead on this path, in the middle of a clearing that Francis had claimed as his own, that he liked to hang around.
There was nobody to claim it from, yeah, since this was their land, his and 'Pa's, and no one was supposed to be here, but that didn't stop him from slowly turning the glade into his home away from home- mentally, at least.
Maybe I can find a way to bring some books with me and leave them here? Francis wondered to himself. Wouldn't I need a place to keep them from getting wet, though? It rains a lot around here…
The boy continued to ponder the question as he brushed aside several branches, trudging onward towards the opening in the trees he spied just up ahead. Or maybe I can leave them under some tree trunks? I know I saw some lying around-
Francis reached the edge of the glade faltered for a moment, before coming to a sudden halt.
There was someone in the glade.
Francis stood still, staring at the other person in the clearing, the one who was running one hand through the pond's clear water as she fiddled with a flower in her other.
She had feet like one of the goats the Duncans on the farm over raised (hooves, Papa had said they were called), with legs just as goat-like and furry. In contrast to the brown fur of her legs, the girl(?)'s hair was a shimmering gold, almost glowing in the beams of sunlight that cast themselves through the treetops, adorned with antlers that looked like they belonged on one of Santa's reindeer.
Oddly enough, none of those were the first things about her that Francis' mind registered.
The first things he actually noted about the girl was that she had starlight in her eyes, shining brighter than any of the ones in Galway's night skies.
It was as if she was the forest personified, nature incarnate. One of the faes Papa liked to read to him about before bed. As if someone had taken every aspect of the forest's beauty and combined it into one person.
It was only when the girl(?) whipped around in his direction that Francis realized he had spoken the word aloud, outing him to the other occupant of the clearing.
So, he did the only thing that immediately came to mind.
Francis raised a hand and waved.
"H-hello," he said, somewhat nervously. Most of his friends were boys, and like most boys his age, thought girls were gross.
He had been of that opinion until a moment ago, Francis realized abruptly. Weird.
There was a silence for several moments as the two children stared at each other, Francis with awe and the girl with mixture of wariness and curiosity- a curiosity that appeared to win out over the other, for the fae stood, raising a hand as well.
"Hello," she greeted back. "Who are you?"
Francis blinked, floored by the relatively simply question for some reason.
Shouldn't I be the one asking you that? he thought, confused. This was his papa's land, wasn't it? Why was she here? Who was she?
Deciding he needed to figure out the answer to that himself, tentatively, Francis clambered down from the edge of the clearing and began to approach the water, watching the girl on the other side as he did so. She did not move, but shifted, turning towards him, oddly enough.
Oddly enough, Francis didn't want her to run. Not yet, at least. She seemed to like the woods as much as he did, so maybe she would make a good friend? He wouldn't mind having someone to play with here, since most of the other kids lived too far away to come over a lot, and they were scared of the forest anyways (which Francis found stupid- there were no dangerous animals in the woods here, it was perfectly safe and fun!)
"...my name is Francis," he told her, sitting down on the opposite side of the pond. "What's yours?"
The girl sat quietly, star-lit eyes watching him with intent curiosity, before responding with a smile.
"...Lilly," she answered. "My name is Lilly."
A/N: SCP-4231 and the revised SCP-166 document awakened something in me, and I need to deal with that by making a world were Clef is happy, Lilly doesn't proceed to Phase 4, and Meri is not locked up in a containment-cell for the rest of her life.
So, yeah. This.