The sight before Lilly was absolutely breath-taking. Crystal clear yet aqua blue water shimmering with the sparkles of a thousand sunbeams. A slight waterfall fell softly into the pool, and creatures sat under it, rinsing their hair and spraying each other by cupping their hands to form fountains. It was a purely magical setting.
The human girl was simply awestruck by the tails of the pretty sirens. Even her bountiful imagination had never prepared her for this. She had always pictured colorful, scaly creatures with huge hair and a completely bubbly attitude. Though the mermaids were beautiful, their tails were a silver grey, nearly matching the rock shore surrounding the lagoon, and their hair was as black as coal and straight as a sheet. Their skin, in comparison, was completely white; they were nothing like the picture-book stories Lilly had grown up reading.
One by one each caught of her peering out from behind the rock and instantly they froze. No more laughter-not one sound save for the roaring of the waterfall. Lilly didn't know what to do. She looked to Afreeda for guidance, and the little fairy placed a finger to her tiny lips, motioning for Lilly to stay still. Slowly approaching the mermaids, she circled their heads and spoke softly to each of them. Lilly strained to hear what she was saying, but it was too far away.
Silently the mermaids slipped into the water, disappearing below its surface. A slight twinge of disappointment shot through Lilly like a tiny electric shot. If only to herself, she admitted that she had wanted to meet the mermaids, to talk with them—get to know them, really. Even if they were so different than her childhood stereotype, they looked absolutely fascinating. She was brought back to the present by a tug on her hand. Jumping slightly, she looked down to see Afreeda trying to lead her to the edge of the water. "Come, they're waiting for you!" she said impatiently.
Lilly raised an eyebrow in confusion, but allowed the fairy to pull her to the water. She looked down, but could see nothing. There seemed to be no end to the water; it only grew slightly darker and darker until the deepest water Lilly could see was as black as a midnight without a moon. But so slowly, she could barely make out silohuettes rising from the deepest waters. As light penetrated the water, Lilly's eyes began to adjust, and she saw the mermaids swimming up to the surface. Oh, how graceful they were! Their sleek bodies moved back and forth through the water like an eagle swooping through the air.
Nearing the surface, the tallest mermaid slowed, and the others quickly followed suit. She left them waiting below, all of them staring at Lilly as she looked down at them. The water was barely shaken with the slight swishing of their tails; one could almost see as clearly as through the air.
The apparent leader inched closer and closer to the surface of the lagoon. Finally, after what seemed like almost an eternity, she surfaced just a little so the water was just above her eyes. The two stared at each other for a long moment, and Lilly realized she had been holding her breath. Silently she exhaled and saw a bit of a sparkle in the mermaid's eye. The siren rose her head up out of the water and grinned at her. Lilly gasped and pulled back a tiny bit. The mermaids teeth were skinny, long and sharp! They reminded her of a pirahna. Quickly she glanced down, embarrassed at her rudeness.
When she had the courage to look up again, she saw the mermaid staring at her mouth closed—which made it much easier to look at her—and eyes full of—was it understanding? Lilly attempted a small smile, feeling terrible now. The mermaid swam to the edge of the lagoon where Lilly sat.
"What do they call you, human?" she asked. There was no menace in her voice, no mocking, only simple curiosity. Her voice was a bit like her mother's singing voice—the one when she had sang very softly to Lilly as a little girl at night.
"I…have always been known as Lilly," the human girl answered. Not knowing the formalities of merfolk, she simply asked, "May I know yours?"
"I am called Caro."
Lilly nodded and smiled politely in acknowledgment.
"May I sit with you?"
"Oh, of course," Lilly said, scooting over slightly so there was room on the ledge which she sat. Caro pulled herself up with her arms and flicked her tail over the water, pulling it up around her—for balance, Lilly assumed. When she glanced down in the water again, all the other mermaids had disappeared.
"What brings you here, Lilly?" Caro asked.
Lilly wasn't sure exactly how to answer that. She looked around for Afreeda, but saw her nowhere. "Well, I was walking with a fairy, but I don't see her at the moment."
"You mean Afreeda."
Lilly nodded yes, turning back toward her.
"She'll be back in a little bit. Those fairies are always up to one thing and then another the next moment."
Lilly wasn't so sure how she felt about being left alone in a strange place with someone she had never met before, especially when that someone was a mermaid she didn't even know existed in the first place! But she knew that she could not place blame on Afreeda alone. Of course she would have other duties; Lilly surely didn't expect her to be with her all the time, even though she was a stranger here.
"Lilly, did you not hear me, or did you simply not wish to answer? I understand either way, but I would like to know…"
Lilly's head snapped up. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I have a habit of disappearing into my head when I'm thinking about something very much." Her red face looked at the ground.
"Not worry about that. I simply asked about before that."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean how did you come to be on Neverland?"
The question was unexpected, to say the least. At least for moments before they had not known each other. Looking into Caro's eyes, Lilly felt a strange sense of immediate trust. Could this be some manipulative trick that mermaids had which she did not know to be wary of? But no, something in Caro's eyes rang sincerity. Lilly found herself telling almost everything, from following the fawn to the battle with this mysterious Peter. She intentionally left out any mention to Captain Hook and Smee. For some reason the people here seemed bothered when she mentioned them. When she had finished, Caro simply nodded. "I might be able to answer a lot of your questions, but I'm going to have to do some things before I can tell you."
Lilly didn't understand at all, and said so.
"Come back to the lagoon in a few days, and I might be able to help you figure out some of the questions you have. I might not be able to say exactly why you are here, but maybe together we can bring some light into the darkness of your confusion."
Lilly smiled and patted Caro's hand. "I thank you for the help that you have given me already." The mermaid's eyes looked puzzled. "For listening." At this Caro smiled, and with a wave slipped back into the water, diving into its black depths.
Standing, Lilly once again looked around for Afreeda, but saw her nowhere. It was getting a little bit darker, and honestly Lilly wondered if Afreeda might have forgotten about her. Not that she held it against the tiny fairy, but it was easy to get busy with other things. Lilly understood that. Not knowing what else to do, she set off across the beach on her own, trying to retrace the steps she had taken in her memory.